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- Exceptional handling and braking on snow
- Outstanding handling and braking on ice, especially with the studs attached
- Safe handling and short braking distances in rainy weather
- Excellent treadlife for a winter tire
- Cheaper than the premium competition, yet comparable in terms of performance
- Can become noisy on the highway
- The ride quality feels bouncy on uneven roads
Most drivers can utilize all-season or all-weather tires throughout the year. Thanks to modern and advanced technologies, these tires work very well across various conditions, including light snow. Nevertheless, if you live in areas with harsh wintry conditions, you might want to invest in a set of winter tires. The traction on snow and ice you’ll get from those will be much, much better.
There is another type of tires that can make things even easier and safer for you in the winter. These are called studdable winter tires, and they are by far the best choice for the most severe snow and ice conditions. That’s because the optional studs can create much more traction on snow, and especially ice. One such tire is the Firestone Winterforce 2, a successor to the super-popular Winterforce.
Now, sure, you need to install the studs whenever you encounter deep snow or icy roads. However, in this case, your labor will definitely pay off. With studs on your winter tires, you can overcome even steep roads covered with snow and ice. Your next mountain adventure will be much more enjoyable – you (almost) can’t get stuck.
So, why doesn’t everybody put studdable tires on their vehicles? Well, that’s because not everyone needs studs in the first place, of course. Moreover, the holes where you put the studs might spoil the performance of the tires in other conditions, such as dry and wet roads. On top of that, the studs cost money, and not a lot of people are ready to invest in such a thing.
Nonetheless, if you’re put into a situation when you must utilize studded tires, I suggest you continue reading. In my Firestone Winterforce 2 review, I’ll cover the most important aspects of the tire, including traction, handling, and braking in severe wintry conditions. I’ll also tell you how this tire handles daily driving in good weather, how comfortable it is, and how long it will last.
Fortunately for you, the Winterforce 2 is available throughout North America. Almost every tire retailer has this tire. Besides, Firestone offers the tire in many dimensions, including the most popular ones.
The company decided to start with a 14-inch wheel diameter and up to 18-inch wheel diameter. With these dimensions, Firestone covers a large portion of the cars that roll down the roads today. These include city cars, compact cars, family and mid-size sedans, minivans, station wagons, crossovers, and even some coupes. Only larger premium cars aren’t covered.
Nonetheless, Firestone has a version for larger vehicles, such as SUVs and trucks, called the Winterforce 2 UV.
Additionally, the Winterforce 2 isn’t very expensive, especially for the type of tire. And, given the fact that most manufacturers don’t have products in this category, it is one of your only options as well.
Which, of course, brings us to the question – is it any good? That’s impossible to answer in just one sentence since each tire has its advantages and disadvantages. Needless to say, you will find them in my detailed review down below.
Before we do that, though, let’s see what features Firestone utilized in the Winterforce 2 to make it stand out from the competition.
What are the features of the Firestone Winterforce 2?
On its website, Firestone says that the Winterforce 2 is a tire certified with the 3-Peak Mountain Snowflake symbol. Thanks to that, this tire offers a much better grip in wintry conditions compared to a regular all-season tire.
To achieve the high levels of grip on snow and ice, Firestone utilized a special cold-weather compound. Thanks to this compound, the tread of the tire stays pliable at freezing temperatures, which improves traction on slippery surfaces.
Firestone molded the compound into a full-depth directional tread pattern. This is important for wintry conditions because the deeper tread allows for more biting edges, which in turn improves traction on snow.
The pattern features deep circumferential grooves, wide lateral notches, and open shoulder slots. All of these help to channel water out of the tread of the tire in wet conditions, but also in slush. The result of that is better hydroplaning resistance and improved traction.
Furthermore, the high-sipe density tread pattern makes sure that there are enough biting edges for the most severe conditions. This helps in snow, but also when driving over ice. The sipes also have a zig-zag design, which further increases the number of edges.
As for studs, the Winterforce 2 accepts optional TSMI #11 blue-colored metallic winter studs. You need to install these studs at your nearest tire dealer or technician.
The internal construction of the Firestone Winterforce 2 is standard for the category. It consists of twin steel belts on top of a polyester casing, which provides the driver with high-speed stability, durability, and smooth ride quality.
What are the maintenance indicators?
Firestone utilized the industry-standard tread wear indicators (TWI’s) in the Winterforce 2. These help the driver easily monitor the tread depth of the tire. But why would you want to do that, you ask? Well, because winter tires perform well only when the tread depth is sufficient. Without adequate tread depth, there will be no biting edges to help you in snow or ice.
The TWI’s are narrow rubber bars that sit inside the circumferential grooves of the tire. They are recessed when the tire is new, but you can still see them upon close inspection. As the tread wears down, the wear indicators will become more visible. When the tread depth comes to 5/32-inch tread depth, the TWI’s will be completely flush with the surface.
When the Winterforce 2 reaches that point, you should immediately replace it. Otherwise, you risk severely worsened traction on snow and ice. Moreover, 5/32-inch is the minimum legal depth for winter tires, so driving further might get you into trouble.
Fortunately, the owners of the tire are very happy with the tread life of the tire. You can probably use a set of these for three to four winters, which is excellent for the category. Firestone doesn’t provide any treadwear warranty, though. Nevertheless, you won’t find any other studded tire with a treadwear warranty, so this is not exactly a disadvantage.
How does it behave on a dry tarmac?
Studded tires always suffer in the handling department, and the Winterforce 2 doesn’t escape that faith. Nonetheless, this tire handles better on dry roads than most studdable winter tires. The tire lacks responsiveness, but it still has good levels of traction and cornering grip. It brakes very well, too, and behaves well on the highway.
How is it over wet and slippery roads?
Well, it’s actually surprisingly good. The hydroplaning resistance, like on most winter tires, is amazing. Additionally, the traction is very good for the category, and the handling feels predictable. The braking distances aren’t overly short, either. Overall, the Winterforce 2 feels completely safe to drive in the rain – no objections here.
With that being said, how is it on snowy roads?
In one word – it performs outstandingly well. But let’s take one step at a time. Most often, drivers will utilize the Winterforce 2 without any studs attached. And, at least on snow, the tire performs outstandingly well. Not on the level of the more expensive Blizzak WS90, sure, but still excellently for such a budget-friendly tire. Handling feels surefooted, there is ample traction for acceleration, and the braking distances aren’t very long.
On icy roads, the Winterforce 2 struggles a bit without the studs attached. The tire is still usable, don’t get me wrong, but there are better options out there. However, as soon as you attach the studs, the traction increases immensely. Now, you can corner much more safely – your vehicle will feel almost like on a dry surface. The braking distances are also very, very short. It’s unbelievable how much traction you get with those metallic studs.
Is it suitable for off-road driving?
The deeper tread and soft rubber might help you with off-road traction. However, that doesn’t mean that you should utilize this tire on those surfaces. The soft rubber can get easily damaged, especially on hardpacked surfaces, to the point of making the tire unusable.
Is it comfortable and refined?
Sadly, this is the area where the tire suffers a bit. Noise is an issue, especially on the highway, and the ride isn’t particularly pleasing, either. If you’re into comfort, you might want to look elsewhere.
You can see more Firestone Winterforce 2 Review here: videos created by HILLYARD’S RIM LIONS
Should I buy the Firestone Winterforce 2?
Well, if you live in areas with very harsh wintry conditions, the Winterforce 2 is one of the best options out there. The traction you’ll get on snow and ice is exceptional, especially with the studs attached. Besides, the tire performs very well on dry and wet roads and isn’t overly expensive. It easily gets my recommendation in the studdable winter tire category.