We Know How They Go in Ice & Snow(Lea en español)
Since "experience is the best teacher," the Tire Rack team drives on as many of the tires we offer as possible. This testing allows us to better understand a tire's ride and noise qualities on the road, and its performance capabilities on the track. And even though Mother Nature is very generous with her snow allotment for South Bend (averaging over 70" annually), when it comes to winter tire testing we don't even wait for it to snow!
We Test on the Ice Before it Snows!
For a number of years a hockey rink has been used to provide the ultimate simulation of the icy road conditions that we'll face later in winter. By conducting acceleration, braking and cornering tests on the ice we've confirmed the differences between various winter tires and the traction advantage they have over All-Season and All-Terrain light truck tires. We've also confirmed the importance of matched tires on all four corners. Our tests have shown that a rear wheel drive vehicle equipped with all-season tires on the front and winter tires on the back will require slower cornering speeds and longer stopping distances than the same vehicle equipped with four winter tires.
We realize that even in areas that receive lots of snow, most winter driving is done on dry roads after they've been plowed and the snow has melted. One of our dry road tests compares three vehicles; one equipped with four all-season tires vs. another with four winter tires vs. the final one with two winter tires on the drive axle and two all-season tires on the other axle. The results of these tests confirm that matched tires on all four wheel positions best maintains the handling traits engineered into the vehicle. When a combination of tires is used, front wheel drive vehicles tend to lose some of their responsiveness while rear wheel drive vehicles lose some of their stability during transitional maneuvers like lane changes.
In addition to our winter experience with our own vehicles on the road, when snow covers our test track, we compare various all-season and winter tires back-to-back to learn more about their traction and handling capabilities. The Tire Rack's test track allows us to explore the tire's limits in snow in ways that we can't duplicate on the street. In the past, this testing has clearly demonstrated the lower level of overall traction provided by snow-covered roads, and the differences between all-season and winter tires. In one test, the rear wheel drive all-season tire equipped car repeatedly required a push just to get it started on the course, while none of the winter tires required any help at all!
The combined results of all of these tests help us select the correct tire to meet your winter driving needs. After all, it gets pretty slippery out there!