Ever since Goodyear invented the all-season tire in 1977, tire manufacturers told us that these tires could perform adequately in all conditions. And, sure, an all-season tire will perform better than a summer tire in the winter. Moreover, it will also perform better than a winter tire in the summer. Much better, in fact.
Nonetheless, no all-season tire is truly usable in harsh wintry conditions. You might get some traction in light snow, but the handling still won’t be very safe. For deep snow and ice, the best choice has always been a winter tire. Lately, though, manufacturers started producing all-weather tires. These are a variation of all-season tires, only with better snow and ice traction.
The Firestone WeatherGrip is one such tire. From far away, you might mistake the heavily-siped tread pattern for a winter tire, even. However, Firestone markets the WeatherGrip as an all-weather grand-touring one. Until now, term all-weather was mostly used by publications to make a difference between it and all-season tires. It’s good to see that a company starts to use this term to differentiate its products.
But what are the real advantages of all-weather tires, really? Well, they definitely offer much better traction on snow and ice. Not on the level of winter tires, sure, but at least the traction is usable in most areas in the world. In my experience, all-season tires are only suited for very light snow, and won’t work on ice. All-weather tires, on the other hand, work both on snow and ice.
Fortunately, if you drive a passenger vehicle in the U.S., the chances are that the WeatherGrip will fit. Firestone offers its grand-touring all-season tire in many popular sizes, ranging from 15-inch wheel diameter and up to 19-inch wheel diameter. With these dimensions, the company covers compact cars, mid-size sedans, coupes, station wagons, minivans, and even crossovers.
But is the Firestone WeatherGrip any good? Well, to answer that question, I prepared a detailed review of the tire. Below, you can read everything that’s important about the product. Things that I cover include dry and wet performance, snow and ice traction, comfort levels, and durability.
Before we do that, let’s see what features Firestone utilized in its product to make it stand out. The American tiremaker can use technology and materials from Bridgestone, so it’s definitely cutting-edge. Let’s dig in!
- What are the features of the Firestone WeatherGrip?
- What are the maintenance indicators?
- How does it behave on a dry tarmac?
- How is it over wet and slippery roads?
- With that being said, how is it on snowy roads?
- Is it suitable for off-road driving?
- Is it comfortable and refined?
- Should I buy the Firestone WeatherGrip?
What are the features of the Firestone WeatherGrip?
According to Firestone, the WeatherGrip “is engineered to help keep you in control, no matter the weather.” The manufacturer continues by saying that the tire is designed to “provide confident wet performance” and that it has the coveted 3PMSF (Three-Peak Mountain Snowflake) rating.
To achieve those things, Firestone utilized an advanced all-season tread compound. The rubber is molded into a traction-focused directional pattern, which improves road-holding on wet and snowy surfaces.
Firestone also utilized its Hydro-Grip Technology Package in the WeatherGrip. It consists of a rounded footprint that pierces through standing water, thus limiting hydroplaning and improving wet traction.
The package also includes full-depth grooves and open shoulder slots, which additionally help with hydroplaning resistance.
Meanwhile, the shoulder blocks are chamfered to make additional contact with the road, thus improving the braking. The Snow Traction Claw technology is another advantage of the WeatherGrip. Firestone utilized it on the center and shoulder ribs and paired it with snow vices on the intermediate ribs.
Furthermore, the tire has high-density zig-zag sipes all over, which create more biting edges for snow traction. Ultimately, Firestone even equipped the tire with TractionTech Package, which includes interlocking grooves. Thanks to this technology, the tire can perform at a high level on wet and snowy surfaces later in its life.
The internal construction of the WeatherGrip is standard for the grand-touring category. It consists of a single-ply polyester casing, aided by twin steel belts and nylon reinforcement for high-speed durability and cornering performance.
Lastly, let’s say a thing or two about the 3PMSF rating. The Three-Peak Mountain Snowflake symbol is given to tires that provide additional longitudinal snow traction when compared to regular all-season tires. This doesn’t mean that the tire can replace a winter one, but it should still give you more confidence in the winter months.
What are the maintenance indicators?
Firestone used the traditional tread wear indicators in the WeatherGrip. Other companies, such as Continental and Goodyear, already have better maintenance indicators in their products, and I think that companies like Firestone and Bridgestone should also include them.
Still, the tread wear indicators (TWI’s) should give you a general idea of the tread depth of your tire. These indicators are narrow rubber bars built into the circumferential grooves of the tire. They are recessed when the tire is new, but you can still easily discern them.
The TWI’s are protruding by 2/32-inches from the bottom of the tread. That’s because the minimum legal tread depth of all-season tires is 2/32-inch. Below that, your tire won’t be able to provide you with usable traction in wet conditions, and it won’t work on snow as well.
As the tread on your tire wears down, the tread wear indicators will become more visible. When the grooves are only 2/32-inch deep, the TWI’s will be completely flush with the surface. That’s when you should immediately replace your tires. In my experience, though, you should replace your tires even sooner, especially if you want reliable snow traction.
In terms of durability, the WeatherGrip won’t be as long-lasting as all-season tires. That’s because the rubber is softer for increased traction on snow and ice.
Still, according to Consumer Reports tests, the tire has a projected treadlife of 60,000-miles. That’s still excellent, albeit not on the level of tires such as Bridgestone Turanza QuietTrack and Continental PureContact LS.
Interestingly, Firestone provides a 65,000-mile treadwear warranty on all sizes. That’s excellent for an all-weather tire, albeit slightly longer than the projected treadlife by Consumer Reports.
How does it behave on a dry tarmac?
The WeatherGrip doesn’t impress at first. Behind the wheel, it feels almost like a winter tire. The tire is very slow to respond to steering input and doesn’t feel direct at all. In terms of feel, there are many better options out there.
That said, the traction is adequate. Not class-leading, mind you, but adequate. I think that most drivers will never tell the difference between the WeatherGrip and the all-season competition. The Firestone is completely safe on dry roads, with good cornering and braking, and excellent directional stability.
How is it over wet and slippery roads?
The WeatherGrip works excellently over wet surfaces. The hydroplaning resistance of this tire is second to none, and there is a lot of traction on offer. Also, the cornering feels very safe and predictable, even in very heavy rain. The braking distances are also adequately short.
Overall, the Firestone WeatherGrip might not be the best tire for rain out there. More importantly, though, it handles the rain safely and doesn’t surprise the driver with a sudden loss of traction.
With that being said, how is it on snowy roads?
In one word – excellent. Well, as far as all-season/all-weather tires go, that is. Compared to any other grand-touring tire, the WeatherGrip has much better traction on snow.
With a set of these tires, you can easily accelerate, turn into corners, and stop on time on snow-covered roads. I never tried an all-season or all-weather tire that fares better.
Ice traction is also better than the class average. However, for very harsh wintry conditions, I’d still recommend going for a proper winter tire.
Is it suitable for off-road driving?
Firestone didn’t design the WeatherGrip with off-roading in mind. The tire simply lacks enough traction for slippery off-road surfaces. It might be better than all-season tires, but the difference is very small. Furthermore, the tread compound isn’t resistant to cuts and chips, and you can easily damage it.
Is it comfortable and refined?
In terms of ride quality, the WeatherGrip feels super soft and supple. Smaller and larger imperfections on the road are easily ironed out. However, in terms of noise, the tire is only average. It isn’t loud, but it isn’t quiet, either. There is a noticeable tread growl at highway speeds, but it’s not overly intrusive.
You can see more Firestone WeatherGrip Review here: Video created by Tire Rack
Should I buy the Firestone WeatherGrip?
Well, if you want an all-in-one package, I can’t think of many tires that do it better than the WeatherGrip. The combination of safe traction on dry, wet, and snowy surfaces makes Firestone’s all-weather tire unique among the competition. And, when you put the fair price into consideration, it becomes hard to beat. It deserves my highly recommended rating, absolutely.
LIST OF FIRESTONE TIRE REVIEWS