Even though winter is over, our cold-weather testing continues. We've just completed two tests with our latest tire group: stopping on ice and resistance to hydroplaning on standing water. And as the testing rolls on, we wanted to share some interesting new findings.
These latest tests follow our deep-chill adventures measuring snow traction at Jay Peak in Vermont.
When it comes to testing tires for stopping on ice, thankfully, we don't have to travel as far. Rather than head north, we use a local ice skating rink for measuring the ability to stop from 10 mph. Low speeds ensure we can stop the car without hitting the boards inside the rink. We also we disable the car's ABS brakes, which simplifies sampling the tire's grip without the influence of the braking system.
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Ultra-high-performance all-season and performance winter tires were put through their paces for these ratings. We didn't test summer tires at the rink, since they tend to grip as well as a hockey puck.
Through these tests, we found significant trends between all-season and winter tires and a significant spread in performance of models within categories. For instance, the average stopping distance for all-season and winter tires was 39 and 32 feet, respectively. That seven-foot difference between all-season and winter tires from just a 10 mph stop should impress, but more glaring was the 21-foot difference between the best and worst tires.
The Nokian Hakkapeliitta R2 and the Bridgestone Blizzak WS70 stopped the shortest in just 26 feet, while the not-so impressive Falken Ziex ZE912 took a long 47 feet to stop.
This is further proof that if you need a tire with good ice grip, you'll need to review our tire Ratings.
Tires are all about compromise
Although the Nokian Hakkapeliitta R2 and Blizzak WS70 are ice-braking champs, their resistance to hydroplaning was anything but impressive. The "Hakka" was the worst, hydroplaning at a relatively slow speed of 44 mph, followed by the Blizzak WS70 at 47 mph.
For contrast, ultra-high-performance all-season and summer tires hydroplaned at 53 and 55 mph on average, respectively. The Maxxis MA-Z1 summer tire was tops, reaching hydroplaning levels at an impressive 60 mph treading through our 3/8-inch deep puddle.
Down the road
Our next batch of testing will be dry and wet braking. Also, as the track testing progresses, our test contractor is working feverously running convoys of vehicles around a tread-wear course in San Angelo, Texas, averaging about 1,000 miles a day. Meanwhile, rolling resistance testing—measuring a tire's fuel efficiency—is being wrapped up in Ohio. Things are certainly humming along.
We should have an update on tire rolling resistance in the next month.
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