When the weather gets nasty, getting to work is still high on my priority list. That’s why I ordered a set of Bridgestone Blizzak W965 tires for my SuperDuty. We don’t get a lot of snow on the valley floor where I live, but any direction I go from here takes me into the snow zones of our mountain passes. The DOT often requires traction devices in these snow zones and the Blizzak meets the requirements as indicated by the snowflake-on-the-mountain symbol on the tire sidewalls.
Specially formulated soft tread compounds and zigzag siping provide the grip on ice that makes this an exceptional winter tire. Also exceptional is the fact that this tire is both studless and E-rated, which means it performs well on dry pavement and under a load. It can be used through an extended winter season.
The first thing I noticed after having our local Bridgestone dealer mount LT265/75R16 Blizzaks on my Super Duty was a quieter, smoother ride. With the softer and thicker tread compound between the truck and the road surface, rough roads felt less so. Obstacles that normally caused some teeth rattling, like highway expansion joints and bridge transitions, were barely perceptible.
Things got much quieter as well. The Blizzaks rolled right through a variety of speed ranges without emitting noticeable road noise.
We also experienced a marked improvement in wet pavement traction. The high torque output of today’s pickups can produce unwanted wheel spin on wet roads, especially when the bed is empty. The soft tread compounds and siping of the Blizzaks make big torque manageable even in the wettest conditions.
But the Blizzak really earns its keep in icy conditions. When tread blocks put pressure on ice, a thin layer of water forms, which is the primary reason why gripping on ice is so difficult. “Directional tires channel water out laterally, but the Blizzak is designed with lots of void to give the water a place to go within the footprint,” according to Bridgestone Engineer Bill VandeWater. This allows the tread blocks to touch the road surface.
The siping not only absorbs water, it also presents a lot more surface area and biting edges, which further increases grip on the ice.
If you’ve ever experienced freezing rain, you know it is among the worst of driving conditions. Soon after the Blizzaks were mounted we got a chance to test them in these very conditions. We had a big project going in Albany about 45 minutes north on Interstate 5. Ground level temperatures were below freezing and it was raining when we noticed something we didn’t like at all: no spray coming off of the tires of the big rigs.
Soon after noticing this warning, we saw southbound headlights in the northbound lanes – lots of them – belonging to spun-out vehicles.
We went around several cars that were stopped, facing the wrong way, against guardrails or on the shoulder. The Blizzaks performed remarkably well in these conditions. The biggest challenge we had was positioning our truck so it was not a target for vehicles with less grip.
The Blizzaks were right at home on our trips above the snowline in the Cascade Mountians. The voids in the treads stayed clean in fresh snow, and we found that the Blizzak performed well in both fresh snow and packed snow. We got better starts, improved handling, and surer stops in both snow and ice.
Another feature of a good winter tire is softer tread compounds. “Tread compounds are designed to operate within specific temperature ranges,” says VandeWater. “Above that range, tires tend to get too soft and wear rapidly. Below that range, tires will become too hard and not conform to the road surface.” This latter condition results in reduced traction.
The soft tread compound that helps make the Blizzak so superior as a winter tire also means it wears quickly in summer conditions. The Blizzak is not an all-season tire.
The Bridgestone Blizzak tires we tested delivered outstanding performance in winter driving conditions. We’re looking forward to putting them back on the truck when the winter driving season approaches again-for the comfort and quiet but most of all for the confidence that comes with having the right tire for the worst the winter can dish out.
Tire: Bridgestone Blizzak W965 with UNI-T
Load range: E
Max load (lb. @ psi): 3,042 @ 80
Sidewall: Two-ply polyester
Tread: Two-ply polyester, two-ply steel, one-ply nylon
Approved rim (in.): 7.0-8.0
Tread depth (in.): 18/32
Tread width (in.): 7.6
Section width (in.): 10.5
Overall diameter (in.): 31.9
Static loaded radius (in.): 14.8
Revs per mile: 653
Weight (lb.): 46
Test vehicle: Ford F-250 Super Duty 4×4 Crew Cab