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Mixed Pairs of Winter & All-Season Tires
While tire and vehicle manufacturers specify if winter / snow tires are applied to the front axle of any vehicle they must also be installed on the rear, some drivers still doubt the industry's requirement for equipping front-wheel drive vehicles with matching winter tires all the way around. To address those doubts and demonstrate what can happen when mixed tires reach their limits on hard-packed snow and ice, Tire Rack installed a pair of Bridgestone Blizzak WS70 Studless Ice & Snow tires on a Civic EX sedan's front axle with Bridgestone Turanza EL400-02 Standard Touring All-Season tires on the rear to compare acceleration, braking and cornering performance at our local skating rink where the glare ice replicates the slippery intersections often encountered during winter driving.
NOTE: We used the same vehicles, wheel and tires featured in our test to compare sets of Studless Ice & Snow tires to all-season tires on a front-wheel drive car. Read more.
Our comparison of how long it took to accelerate across the ice began with the test cars sitting stationary with their rear tires on the goal line. Allowing the vehicle's traction control to help the driver utilize the available tire grip, the drivers accelerated as fast as their tires would allow. We timed how long it took the car to cover the final 60-foot distance to the center of the ice rink.
The front-wheel drive Civic EX equipped with matched and mixed tires ran equivalent straight-line acceleration times since both had Studless Ice & Snow tires on their drive axle.
We measured the distance it took the tires to bring the Civic to a complete stop from 12 mph (20 km/h). The car's speed was stabilized and the driver fully applied the brakes to engage the vehicle's four-wheel disc anti-lock braking system (ABS) until the vehicle came to a complete stop.
The matching Studless Ice & Snow tires took 35.1 feet to stop the Civic, where mixed tires needed 40.0 feet. While front tires do most of the braking, the rear tires' reduced traction increased straight-line stopping distance by about 12%.
To simulate turning at a slippery intersection, our team also drove each tire around a 90-degree right-hand corner marked by traffic cones that represented the outside edge of the driving lane.
The matched set of Studless Ice & Snow tires reached 11 mph (18 km/h) as they completed the 90° corner without hitting any cones. However, when the Civic equipped with mixed tires attempted to go around the corner at the same speed, the all-season tires on the rear couldn't provide enough traction to prevent the driver from losing control as the car spun out. Even Honda's Vehicle Stability Assist (VSA) could not restrain the vehicle when the tires were mismatched.
Bridgestone Blizzak WS70 (Studless Ice & Snow): The Blizzak WS70 is Bridgestone's Studless Ice & Snow winter tire developed for the drivers of coupes, sedans, minivans and crossover vehicles looking for traction on winter's slushy, snow-covered and icy roads. The Blizzak WS70 represents the fourth generation of Bridgestone WinterBiter tires designed to deliver wintertime traction and control that inspires driver confidence. Read more.
Bridgestone Turanza EL400-02 (Standard Touring All-Season): The Turanza EL400-02 Standard Touring All-Season tires were developed to meet the Original Equipment needs of coupes, sedans and vans. Turanza EL400-02 tires are designed to provide good wear and responsive handling along with dry, wet and year-round traction, even in light snow. Read more.