Bridgestone Blizzak DM-Z3 Tire Review
Published: January 29, 2017; updated: February 14, 2017
I bought a pair of Blizzaks for the rear axle of my Dodge Ram 1500 after I got stuck on the all-season tires trying to get my trailer out of an unpaved parking lot. Following the logic in Snow Tires: Wide vs Narrow I bought the widest DM-Z3s that would fit on my wheels to get the best ice traction. The size I went with was P285/70R16. These are 40 mm wider than the P245/75R16 Firestones I had on the truck and retained on the front axle.
As DM-Z3s were nearing the end of their life, I moved them to the front axle of the truck since they are rated for less weight than LT tires and I had a pair of LT tires to put on the rear axle.
Mixing all-season and snow tires on a vehicle is generally advised against. Depending on how one drives the vehicle this indeed can be an issue, but not necessarily.
Most of my driving is spent towing, and therefore there are three sets of tires to consider: front axle of the tow vehicle, rear axle of the tow vehicle and trailer tires. Of these I expect the trailer tires to generally have the least amount of grip, both because they are narrower and because trailer tires are generally not built for grip. As I do not want to ever exceed the grip capabilities of the trailer tires, having lower-grip tires on the front axle of the tow vehicle is an early warning system for exceeding the grip limit of trailer tires.
Having lower-grip front tires does reduce overall capabilities of the vehicle, in particular the braking grip, however it can increase overall stability of the vehicle when towing.
Lastly I bought snow tires not to go faster but to not get stuck. Their superior traction should only matter in low speed conditions and under acceleration, when limited traction of the front tires and the trailer tires should not matter.
In practice having snow tires only on the rear axle worked out exactly how I expected it to - the truck was traction-limited by the front tires but I did not have instances of trailer trying to pass the truck in snowstorms.
An important thing to note is that my truck was 2WD - had it been a 4WD truck I would have bought all four snow tires, again for the same reason - maximum traction over ice at low speeds.
Ice And Snow Traction
Blizzaks are renowned for their traction on ice, and DM-Z3s are no exception. The tires were outstanding on ice including icy highways and pure ice surfaces like frozen lakes. I never got stuck as long as DM-Z3s were mounted, and this included ascending a long steep hill without being able to get a run on it, with a trailer, in a snowstorm, before it was sanded - the tires were slipping at maybe 5 mph but I made it up. At the time the truck had an open differential too. This was the tires' most impressive showing.
Less demanding conditions like slush and light snow posed no traction problems.
As I retained all-season tires on the front axle, the truck was limited by those tires in poor weather, hence I did not get to find out the limits of DM-Z3s. I simply never worried about traction of the rear axle which was great.
After DM-Z3s wore out I spent a winter on another set of all-season tires, this time with a limited slip differential. The truck managed to get stuck at a gas station on ice over a frozen puddle. Good snow and ice tires provide better traction than a limited slip differential, and 4WD when dealing with ice. If one of the wheels can bite non-icy surface then 4WD can come out ahead, but when dealing with ice everywhere there is no replacement for having good winter tires.
Wet grip of Bridgestones was quite good. Old DM-Z3s had more wet grip than Firestone Destination A/Ts when both were mounted on the front axle. I would say DM-Z3s' wet grip is that of a slightly above average all-season tire.
When I had DM-Z3s on the rear axle I never had to worry about rear axle traction in wet conditions unless I was purposefully trying to kick the back end out.
Dry grip of Bridgestones was in the ball park of a good all-season tire. As I ran DM-Z3s on the front axle toward their end of life their grip level would naturally be at the lowest; still they performed very well.
One pleasant aspect of DM-Z3s was their sidewall stiffness. I expected a soft sidewall for this tire but it seemed roughly equal to Destinations' in roll resistance. In practice this meant I had no more truck/trailer sway with DM-Z3s on the rear vs Destination A/Ts, and steering responsiveness of DM-Z3s was also on par with Destinations.
Braking grip of Bridgestones was easily superior to the Destination A/Ts, lateral grip was the same or better.
The tradeoff of a soft snow tire is reduced tire life. I only mounted Blizzaks in the winter and they probably lasted me 20,000-30,000 miles. Toward the end I ended up running an entire summer on the same pair of tires and I was surprised to find that they did not blister or chunk at 70+ mph speeds in 80+ degree ambient temperatures.
I ran Blizzaks down almost all the way but their snow and ice traction diminishes around half tread depth point.
As I had a lot of weight on the rear axle where Blizzaks were mounted and that weight was close to the tires' load carrying capacities, I had to operate the tires at close to their maximum inflation pressure. This produced significant center wear. On a vehicle not used for towing the tires would see probably half to a third of the load that I had them carry, permitting more reasonable tire pressures which should produce much more even tire wear.
I do not recall noticing tire noise of DM-Z3s. They probably did have noise but less than the Destinations, considering other Blizzak tires I used.
There is no substitute for snow and ice tires when grip is required in winter conditions, and Blizzak DM-Z3s deliver that grip all around. I would certainly buy DM-Z3s again if I needed snow tires on a truck or an SUV.