Four Common Winter / Snow Tire Myths and Facts

Tuesday, January 27, 2015 by Gary Stanley

With many drivers looking to purchase their first set of winter / snow tires, we've been receiving many questions about the overall performance of snow tires. To help customers better understand winter tires, take a look at the following myths about these tires.

Myth #1: Snow tires are only needed on the drive axle of a vehicle. 

Fact: Dedicated winter / snow tires are meant to be installed on all four wheel positions. Using just two winter tires can cause very unstable handling, especially during cornering, emergency maneuvers and at highway speeds. This is the most common, yet most dangerous, myth of all. Check out the following video for more information on why mixing winter tires is an accident waiting to happen.

Myth #2:  Bridgestone Blizzak tires turn into all-season tires after they are half worn, so they are no better than all-seasons at that point. 

Fact: It has been over a decade since any Blizzak tire used an all-season compound. Even those old tires didn't "turn into all-season tires" at 6/32". Their more aggressive tread patterns and siping still provided better snow traction than all-season tires. Regardless, the more recent generations of Bridgestone Blizzak tires have a winter compound in both layers of their dual layer tread compound. 

Myth #3: Snow tires "burn up" or wear out very quickly on dry roads. 

Fact: Driving on cold, dry roads in normal winter driving conditions will not prematurely wear out winter tires. Rather, it's warm temperature driving that will cause them to wear out much more quickly. These tires are designed for temperatures below 50 degrees Fahrenheit and work best at lower temperatures. Prolonged warm weather driving (typically caused by leaving snow tires on year-round) will lead to premature wear, but driving on cold dry roads will not harm your winter tires.

Myth #4: All snow tires have very poor handling and slow steering response. 

Fact: The Performance Winter / Snow category addresses this issue. If you live in an area that receives mostly light and occasionally heavy snow, and wish to maintain much of the quick steering response and handling your vehicle offers, you'll want to consider tires from this performance category.

Note: These tires do give up some snow and ice traction compared to Studless Ice & Snow tires. For help deciding which category fits your needs best, take a look at "Choosing Between Performance Winter / Snow Tires and Studless Ice & Snow Tires."

Continental TrueContact: A Competitive High Mileage Option

Monday, January 26, 2015 by Marshall Wisler

The Standard Touring All-Season tire market is a competitive place filled with multiple options from many reputable manufacturers. Traditionally featuring speed ratings of S and T, the goal of a Standard Touring All-Season tire is not to provide the most crisp handling or on-center feel, but rather to provide good all-season traction, a quiet and comfortable ride and long life. Make no mistake, tires in this performance category will not set any track records, however they will be one of the more practical items to choose from.

Earlier this year, Continental released the TrueContact and it features a 90,000-mile treadlife warranty, and thus far, has proved to be very popular with consumers. Featuring good all-season traction and having done well in our internal testing, the TrueContact has been a very strong seller and adds to Continental’s great all-season line-up. This is a tire that meets all the criteria of a good all-season option and slots itself into the mid-price point segment in many popular sizes.

Take a look at what some customers are saying about their experience with the Continental TrueContact:

"I love this tire and what a great tire for the price. My Subie feels well planted and secure with these tires. They are excellent on wet and dry surfaces, and absorb road imperfections exceptionally well." -- Tire Rack Consumer Review, 2015 Subaru Forester 2.5i Limited

"Tire does everything claimed and then some: traction, quietness, comfort, directional response and enhancement, smoothness -- you name it! This is the most remarkable tire I have owned!" -- Tire Rack Consumer Review, 2011 Honda Odyssey EX-L

Shop by vehicle to view all options available for your application.

Tires for Your Eighth-Generation Honda Accord

Friday, January 23, 2015 by Cy Chowattukunnel

The second car I ever owned was a 1978 burgundy Honda Accord 5-speed. Ever since owning this vehicle, I've been an Accord fan. Honda has done an awesome job in constantly improving the Accord, and the eighth-generation (2008-2012) model is a car that can do just about anything!

If you already own one of these Accords, there's no reason to get a new one. With proper maintenance, your vehicle is good for many more miles. Part of that maintenance includes replacing your tires. Depending on the trim level, your Honda Accord came with either 215/60R16, 225/50R17 or 235/45R18 Original Equipment tires. The following are replacement tire options for your 2008-2012 Accord:

215/60R16 Tire Options

If your Honda is equipped with the 215/60R16 (LX and LX-P sedan) size, then your O.E. tire is the Dunlop SP Sport 7000 A/S. The Dunlop has a track record of average treadwear. If your parameters are wet grip, overall handling, treadwear, low noise and ride compliance, a great replacement choice is the Continental PureContact with EcoPlus Technology with the Michelin Premier A/S a close second. The PureContact has better steering response, so it's easier to make an evasive maneuver, as well as better snow grip. Another option to consider, that's a great bang-for-your-buck tire, is the Fuzion Touring.

215/60-16 Continental PureContact $107*
215/60R16 Continental PureContact with EcoPlus Technology
215/60-16 Michelin Premier Assurance A/S $136*
215/60R16 Michelin Premier
A/S


225/50R17 Tire Options

The 225/50R17 Michelin Pilot HX MXM4 is Original Equipment on the LX-S, EX and EX-L, but not the EX-L V6 Coupe. Optimal choices to replace the Pilot HX MXM4 would be the Continental PureContact with EcoPlus Technology and Michelin Premier A/S. If you're looking for a good tire at a low price, then be sure to consider the Kumho Ecsta PA31.

225/50-17 Bridgestone Turanza Serenity
225/50R17 Continental PureContact with EcoPlus Technology
225/50-17 Pirelli Pzero Nero All Season
225/50R17 Michelin Premier
A/S


235/45R18 Tire Options

Were you lucky enough to purchase the EX-L V6 Coupe? Honda chose the 235/45R18 Michelin Pilot HX MXM4 to handle the vehicle's torque. If you're in need of replacing the tires on this vehicle, select the Continental ExtremeContact DWS if you live in a northern climate and the Michelin Pilot Sport A/S 3 if you do not need to worry about light snow conditions. The ExtremeContact DWS is a great overall tire at a reasonable price that offers above average snow grip for its performance category. The Pilot Sport A/S 3 offers amazingly good wet and dry grip, but is average in the snow. A great tire to consider at a low price is the Goodyear Eagle LS-2.

235/45-18 Continental Extreme Contact DWS $181*
235/45R18 Continental ExtremeContact DWS
235/45-18 Michelin Pilot Sport A/S 3 $198*
235/45R18 Michelin Pilot Sport A/S 3


Shop by vehicle to view all options for your Honda Accord.

Meet You at the Starting Line

Wednesday, January 21, 2015 by Tire Rack Team

The Tire Rack SCCA Starting Line school kicked off its 2015 season in Los Angeles, California recently. A partnership between the Sports Car Club of America and Tire Rack, the school allows enthusiasts a professional, all-inclusive entry into the world of performance driving.

While at the school, you’ll develop key concepts of all forms of motorsports while working with a professional performance driving instructor certified by Evolution Performance Driving School. Along with receiving instructions from accomplished autocrossers, the Starting Line package also includes:

  • SCCA membership
  • Helmet
  • Regional event entry
  • National Series event entry
  • Magazine subscriptions

Before you take the course, your vehicle will need to pass a technical inspection and will be checked to ensure it has functioning brakes, throttle return, properly installed and tightened wheels and that all loose items have been removed. Tire preparation is also key, as underinflated tires can results in increased wear and even damage while autocrossing. To keep tires in good condition, and to give your vehicle a quicker response, students are generally advisable to inflate their tires 5-10psi more than what is recommended for normal driving.

The class is not only educational, but a ton of fun. Take a look at what some participants have said about their experience with the program:

“It's amazing how much faster you can get in just one day with the direct feedback from the instructors. What's more, everyone had a blast playing with cars all day. It was worth every penny.”

“I've always been into racing and this is really the first time I've gotten to experience it firsthand. The instructors were great, I learned a lot through out the day and was able to put it all together on the course they set up for us. Over all great experience and tons of fun. Would recommend it to anyone.”

Create your own experience and sign up for a Tire Rack SCCA Starting Line class today!

Tires and Wheels for Your 2012+ Porsche 911 Carrera S (991 C2S)

Wednesday, January 21, 2015 by Cy Chowattukunnel

There may not be a substitute for a Porsche, but if you're taking your new 911 to track, there's definitely stickier tires that will help you achieve faster lap times.

Streetable Track & Competition tires, like the Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2, let 911 drivers run great times at the track without the hassle of switching tires or towing. The Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 builds on the Pilot Sport Cup's blend of dry grip and street capability. It's not surprising that the Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 is an Original Equipment choice for the 2015 Porsche 911 GT3. 

O.Z. Racing wheels boast a unique combination of low weight, strength, overall quality and value that make them ideal track wheels. When it comes to matching tires and O.Z. Racing wheels, take a look at the following options:

20" Bright Race Grey O.Z. Racing Leggera HLT and 20" Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2

245/30-20 Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 N0 $486** & 305/30-20 Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 N0 $554**
245/30R20 and 305/30R20 Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 N0
20x9 Bright Race Grey OZ Leggera HLT $549** & 20x11 Bright Race Grey OZ Leggera HLT $599**
20x9 and 20x11 Bright Race Grey O.Z. Racing Leggera HLT


19" Black Painted O.Z. Racing Ultraleggera HLT and 19" Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2

235/40-19 Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 $410** & 285/35-19 Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 $489**
235/40R19 and 285/35R19 Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2
19x8.5 Black OZ Ultraleggera HLT $419** & 19x11 Black OZ Ultraleggera HLT $469**
19x8.5 and 19x11 Black Painted O.Z. Racing Ultraleggera HLT

 

20" Black Painted O.Z. Racing Ultraleggera HLT and 20" Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2

245/30-20 Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 N0 $486** & 305/30-20 Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 N0 $554**
245/30R20 and 305/30R20 Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 N0
20x8.5 Black OZ Ultraleggera HLT $519** & 20x11 Black OZ Ultraleggera HLT $555**
20x8.5 and 20x11 Black Painted O.Z. Racing Ultraleggera HLT


Be sure to view the data comparing the tire and wheel combinations you're considering for your vehicle:

Tire and Wheel Combination Tire Size Rim Size Tread Width Overall Diameter Comb. Wt.
O.E. 20" Front Pirelli Pzero N0 on O.E. Sport Classic 245/35R20 20x8.5 ET51 8.8" 26.8" 45*
O.E. 20" Rear Pirelli Pzero N0 on O.E. Sport Classic 295/30R20 20x11 ET70 11.7" 27.0" 57*
Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 N0 20" Front on O.Z. Racing Leggera HLT 245/35R20 20x9 ET50 9.6" 26.8" 46
Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 NO 20" Rear on O.Z. Racing Leggera HLT 305/30R20 20x11 ET65 12.1" 27.2" 55
Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 N0 19" Front on O.Z. Racing Ultraleggera HLT 235/40R19 19x9 ET49 8" 26.4" 44
Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 N0 19" Rear on O.Z. Racing Ultraleggera HLT 285/35R19 19x11 ET 65 10.0" 26.9" 51
Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 N0 20" Front on O.Z. Racing Ultraleggera HLT 245/35R20 20x8.5 ET50 9.6" 26.8" 46
Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 N0 20" Rear on O.Z. Racing Ultraleggera HLT 305/30R20 20x11 ET65 12.1" 27.2" 57


These are all good choices, however the wider front wheel, lower rotational weight and wider footprint of the 20" O.Z. Racing Leggera HLT package is tough to beat. Whichever one you choose, there's no substitute for an awesome day at the track.

*Tire Rack customer supplied data

Can I Use Studded Tires in My Area?

Tuesday, January 20, 2015 by Turk Turkleton

While many states/provinces prohibit or restrict use of studded tires due to the road damage they cause, some drivers still prefer studded tires for winter driving situations. Tire Rack's testing has shown that modern Studless Ice & Snow tires, like the Bridgestone Blizzak WS80, can provide equivalent ice traction to a studded tire in most conditions, including dry and wet roads. Because municipalities can establish their own restrictions, drivers will need to double check with their local law enforcement or department of transportation.

The following lists of states and Canadian provinces describes the laws on studded tire use. The dates on the list show when studded tires are allowed, unless otherwise specified.

United States:

  • Alabama- Not Permitted
  • Alaska- North of 60°N 9/16-4/30, South of 60°N 10/1-4/14 (permit fee)
  • Arizona- 10/1-5/1
  • Arkansas- 11/15-4/15
  • California- 11/1-4/30
  • Colorado- Permitted unless using chains, M+S & A/S tires required with minimum of 4/32" tread depth
  • Connecticut- 11/15-4/30
  • Delaware- 10/15-4/15
  • Florida- Not Permitted
  • Georgia- Only when snow and ice are present
  • Hawaii- Not Permitted
  • Idaho- 10/1-4/30
  • Illinois- Not Permitted (persons with disabilities living in unincorporated areas can use them 11/15-4/1)
  • Indiana- 10/1-5/1
  • Iowa- 11/1-4/1
  • Kansas- 11/1-4/15
  • Kentucky- Permitted
  • Louisiana- Not Permitted
  • Maine- 10/2-5/1 Studded tire permit fee applies
  • Maryland- 11/1-3/31 only in 5 mountainous western counties
  • Massachusetts- 11/2-4/30 unless otherwise authorized by registrar
  • Michigan- Not Permitted (except rural mail, police, and ambulance use)
  • Minnesota- Not Permitted (may be used by non-residents for temporary travel less than 30 days)
  • Mississippi- Not Permitted
  • Missouri- 11/2-3/31
  • Montana- 10/1-5/31
  • Nebraska- 11/1-4/1
  • Nevada- 10/1-4/30
  • New Hampshire- Permitted
  • New Jersey- 11/15-4/1
  • New Mexico- Permitted
  • New York- 10/16-4/30
  • North Carolina- Permitted
  • North Dakota- 10/15-4/15
  • Ohio- 11/1-4/15
  • Oklahoma- 11/1-4/1
  • Oregon- 11/1-4/1 Studded tire permit fee applies
  • Pennsylvania- 11/1-4/15
  • Rhode Island- 11/15-4/1
  • South Carolina- Permitted if studs do not project more than 1/16"
  • South Dakota- 10/1-4/30
  • Tennessee- 10/1-4/15
  • Texas- Not Permitted
  • Utah- 10/15-3/31
  • Vermont- Permitted
  • Virginia- 10/15-4/15
  • Washington- 11/1-3/31 (might have a fee involved)
  • West Virginia- 11/1
  • Wisconsin- Not Permitted (may be used by non-residents for temporary travel less than 30 days)
  • Wyoming- Permitted

Canada:

  • Alberta- Permitted
  • British Columbia- 10/1-4/30 (winter tires required- min 3.5mm depth, except lower mainland and Vancouver Island)
  • Labrador- 11/1-4/30
  • Manitoba- 10/1-4/30
  • New Brunswick- 10/15-5/1
  • Newfoundland- 11/1-4/30
  • Northwest Territories- Permitted
  • Nova Scotia- 10/15-4/30
  • Nunavut- Permitted only on roads built on ice
  • Ontario- 10/1-4/30
  • Prince Edward Island- 10/1-5/31
  • Quebec- 10/15-5/1 (winter tires required 12/15-3/15, restrictions apply)
  • Saskatchewan- Permitted
  • Yukon- Permitted

Remember, studded tires must always be used in sets of four on any vehicle, regardless of driveline. This is not to be considered a comprehensive list, it lists all the information we currently have. Tire Rack is not responsible for your decision to use studded tires, and you should always check with local law enforcement or DOT before installing studded tires. State and province regulations are subject to change at any time, and this list may not reflect these changes.

For additional information on studded tires, take a look at "Studded Tires for Winter Driving."

All-Season and Winter Tire Options for the Chevy SS Sports Sedan

Monday, January 19, 2015 by AJ Vest

Chevy's new SS sports sedan is awesome! This machine offers 415 horsepower, Brembo brakes, state-of-the-art suspension, forged wheels and room to haul the family and golf clubs. What more could an SS owner possibly want? 

A performance vehicle like the SS sports sedan comes equipped with summer performance tires. Summer tires aren't to be used in temperatures below 45 degrees. What should an SS driver do if they live in an environment where the car will be driven in a cold climate? The best situation would be to purchase a Winter / Snow Tire & Wheel Package

If you desire a performance winter tire, check out the Bridgestone Blizzak LM-32 and pair it with the Anzio Turn. However, if you live in an area that typically experiences harsh winter conditions, you'll want to consider the Michelin X-Ice Xi3.

Another option is to swap the summer performance tires for a performance all-season. In the factory sizing, there are many great options, such as the highly rated Continental ExtremeContact DWS, Michelin Pilot Sport A/S 3 and Bridgestone Potenza RE970AS Pole Position. Both the Michelin Pilot Sport A/S 3 and Bridgestone Potenza RE970AS Pole Position are considered excellent three-season tires because they lack good snow traction. If driving in light snow conditions is a concern, go with the Continental ExtremeContact DWS. 

Shop by vehicle to find the right tire for your Chevy SS sports sedan. 

Best Tire Choices for the 1999-2005 Honda Odyssey

Monday, January 19, 2015 by Marshall Wisler

The Honda Odyssey is one of the most popular minivans on the road today, while having a reputation for not being easy on its tires. Due to the weight of the vehicle and the way its suspension is set up, many Honda Odyssey owners are disappointed with the wear rate of their factory Original Equipment tires. 

When searching for replacement tire options for the Honda Odyssey, take a look at the General AltiMAX RT43 and Continental TrueContact.


General AltiMAX RT43

Continental TrueContact


The General AltiMAX RT43 is popular with consumers and is currently the highest rated tire in the Standard Touring All-Season performance category. It features a 75,000-mile warranty, good all-season capability and offers a very quiet ride. Drivers often find that this tire is also one of the most cost-effective options available and that its value is hard to beat. 

Continental's TrueContact, much like the General AltiMAX RT43, is very well liked by consumers. It features an extremely high 90,000-mile warranty and also works very well in all seasons, including light snow conditions. While slightly more expensive than the General AltiMAX RT43, the tire is popular due to its 800 treadwear rating. 

Both tires are available in most popular sizes for the second-generation Honda Odyssey and are excellent options available at a good price.

Is it Too Late to Buy Winter / Snow Tires?

Monday, January 19, 2015 by Gary Stanley

The winter season of 2014-2015 has been a tumultuous one! First, we had a very early cold snap with several inches of snow in early November. This caught many drivers off guard and forced quite a few drivers to install their winter / snow tires a few weeks ahead of schedule. Following that early chill and snowfall was nearly a month of unseasonably warm temperatures and almost no snowfall.  

Now that Christmas and New Year's Day are over, it may seem like there is not much of winter left. Don't be fooled. Keep in mind, most drivers in the snowbelt still have at least two months of wintry driving conditions ahead of them. Also, much of the country has its coldest temperatures of the year through the month of January.  

This weather has brought with it some of the most brutal driving conditions of the season. You don't have to settle for mediocre all-season tires and white-knuckle driving. Winter tires provide a huge advantage in snow, ice and slush traction for added driving safety and confidence. Take a look at "All-Season vs. Winter / Snow Tires" to see how much a difference winter tires make, especially in stopping distances.

If you haven't yet considered purchasing winter / snow tires, it's not too late to experience the difference that they can make in winter driving. Find the right winter tires for your vehicle and have them shipped directly to one of our Recommended Installers

Conquer the Snow with Your Jeep Grand Cherokee

Thursday, January 15, 2015 by Cy Chowattukunnel

About twelve years ago, our SUV-test fleet consisted of 2002 Jeep Grand Cherokees. Since then, we've had sportier SUVs like the Touareg and Cayenne. However, there's a part of me that misses the Grand Cherokee. There is something about sitting in a Jeep that makes you feel like you're unbounded and that you can travel anywhere. And apparently, there are many other drivers who feel the same way as dealers have been besieged with customers clamoring for the 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee.



Winter / Snow Tire Performance Categories

Given the Grand Cherokee's weight and advanced four-wheel drive performance that helps place an emphasis on its off-road capabilities, Cherokee owners should take a look at Light Truck/SUV Studless Ice & Snow tires for their winter driving needs. To gain better insight on choosing the correct snow tire, take a look at "Understanding the Tire Performance Categories for Winter / Snow Tires."

Winter / Snow Tire Size

With the Jeep Grand Cherokee's weight, going to a skinnier tire isn't necessary, so any of the Original Equipment sizes will be effective. Although a skinnier tire might be more effective in deep snow, this advantage will be offset by less dry road, ice and packed snow traction. For example, if your Jeep Cherokee Overland is equipped with the 265/50R20 O.E. tire, going to a 265/60R18 has a subtle advantage with the 18" wheels increasing the sidewall. The added sidewall softens steering inputs for smoother driving, while providing drivers with slightly better control on ice and hard-packed, snow-covered roads.

Tire Pressure Monitoring System (TPMS)

Each wheel has a valve stem-mounted TPMS sensor that you can run with or without the sensors for winter. If Jeep owners run without the TPMS sensors, a warning light will appear, but there's no functional issue associated with the light. When you reinstall your summer wheels, the TPMS will work as normal once you've activated the sensors by driving your Cherokee for about 15 minutes at a speed of over 20+ mph. We have Original Equipment TPMS sensors available for your Cherokee that will automatically adjust without visiting your dealer. If you decide to purchase sensors as part of a Tire & Wheel Package, they will be installed free of charge.

Best Winter / Snow Tire & Wheel Package
 

Bridgestone Blizzak DM-V1
Bridgestone Blizzak DM-V1
18x8 E53 Bright Silver Rial W10X $189*
Bright Silver Rial W10X


For most Grand Cherokee Limited and Grand Cherokee Overland drivers, the best Winter / Snow Tire & Wheel Package available in 18" may be the 265/60R18 Blizzak DM-V1 on 18x8 E53 bright silver Rial W10X wheels. The DM-V1 combines grip in snow and on ice with reassuring handling on wet roads and in slush. They are designed with a focus on ice traction and braking, as well as wet road handling and hydroplaning resistance to provide winter driving competence.

When you combine legendary Jeep capability with awesome Blizzak grip, winter doesn't stand a chance!

Michelin Premier A/S vs Michelin Defender: Which is Best?

Tuesday, January 13, 2015 by Marshall Wisler

Often times when tire manufacturers produce several popular models, loyalists of the brand are confused on which to select. On paper, both the Michelin Premier A/S and Michelin Defender do everything extremely well, however they are two completely different tires meant for two different jobs. Both tires work very well as an all-season option, are quiet and both reflect the high level of quality that Michelin tires are known for. However, there are a few key differences.

The Michelin Premier A/S with its higher speed rating and softer tread compound will have more immediate response during lane changes and sharp steering inputs. It will also maintain grip longer during hard cornering on dry pavement. In exchange for the higher levels of cornering performance, the Premier A/S has a lower treadlife warranty than the long-lasting Michelin Defender.


Michelin Premier A/S

Michelin Defender


In comparison, the Michelin Defender is all about practicality. This tire is designed to get its driver from point A to point B thousands of times over. What it lacks in dry road handling abilities it makes up for in ride comfort and long treadlife. With its 90,000-mile treadlife warranty, this tire is one of the longest-lasting tires currently on the market. This is not a tire that will set any track records, yet sets its sights on a casual consumer who doesn't consider his or herself an aggressive driver. It's important to note that the speed rating for the Michelin Defender (T for 118mph) doesn't allow it to be used on all vehicles. For example, a BMW 3 Series or Audi A4, both of which mandate an H-speed rated tire, would benefit better with the Premier A/S.

To view all options available for your application, shop by vehicle.

Eibach Sportline vs Eibach Pro-Kit: The Must-Read Differences in Lowering Springs

Tuesday, January 13, 2015 by Turk Turkleton

Interested in lowering your car, but aren't sure if the Eibach Sportline Spring Set or Eibach Pro-Kit Spring Set is right for your vehicle?

How much wheel gap do you want to eliminate? The Pro-Kit Spring Set will lower a vehicle generally 1.00" to 1.25", while the Sportline Spring Set will provide you with approximately 1.50" to 2.00" of lowering capabilities. To help you decide, check out "A Look at Lowering" to view the difference in ride height adjustments on various vehicles.

How important is ride quality to you? Lowering the car requires using higher spring rates to keep the car from bottoming out over bumps, but it comes at the cost of some ride smoothness. 

Are you also looking to replace the dampers with aftermarket shocks and struts? If you want to re-use the Original Equipment dampers, you can do so with the Pro-Kit, although they may be a little soft for these springs (especially when worn) and may cause a bit of high-frequency undulation over severe bumps in the road, but it isn't a terrible sound. The Sportline kit is even lower and stiffer, so look into some new dampers with that kit, as well as an Eibach Recommended Alignment Kit to get your suspension geometry back into alignment. When you lower a car, the camber and caster can, and usually will change. It's important to get an alignment after installing either of these spring kits. 

To see if these lowering springs are a good fit for your vehicle, visit our Upgrade Garage!

Eibach Pro-Kit Spring Set vs Sportline Spring Set: Which to Choose?

Tuesday, January 13, 2015 by Ben Rooney

Eibach springs are one of our most popular suspension products. For most applications, Eibach offers both Pro-Kit and Sportline springs. Which one is best? The answer, as always, depends on what you are looking for.

The Pro-Kit is an excellent blend of ride and handling. Moderate lowering, usually an inch to an inch and a half, gives a sportier appearance but does not look radically customized. Since the lowering is not extreme, special alignment kits are generally not required. The ride is firmer than stock, but still comfortable. The feel is generally similar to the sportier end of what factory sport packages are like. For an enthusiast looking to enhance the fun-factor of their daily driver, this options is usually just right.

The Sportline gives more substantial lowering, usually more than an inch and a half, and often two inches or more. A more aggressive drop means that the springs need to be stiffer. While still meant for street driving, they're suited to a more hardcore enthusiast. The additional lowering may require special alignment parts, particularly a camber kit, in order to maintain proper alignment specs.

Shop by vehicle to view the suspension products available for your application.

Is the Continental PureContact with EcoPlus Technology or ExtremeContact DWS Your Best Choice?

Tuesday, January 13, 2015 by Cy Chowattukunnel

Germany is known for many things, including awesome cars, but their tires are pretty good, too. Based in Hanover, Germany, Continental has plants all over the world with plants in Illinois, Ohio, Kentucky and North Carolina. A few of Continental's great offerings include:

For drivers who reside in states with fair weather, the superior wet and dry grip of the Continental ExtremeContact DW makes it a great choice. However, if you have a long commute and are willing to give up some at-the-limit grip for better treadwear, take a look at the ExtremeContact DWS. For moderate drivers who experience light snow conditions, you'll want to consider the ExtremeContact DWS and PureContact with EcoPlus Technology. 

Ultra High Performance All-Season
Continental ExtremeContact
DWS
Grand Touring All-Season Continental PureContact
Continental PureContact with EcoPlus
Technology


Typically, Grand Touring All-Season tires ride better and are quieter options, but lack steering response. There are always exceptions to the rule and in this case, a few tires that outperform their category. For example, the Ultra High Performance All-Season Continental ExtremeContact DWS rides well and is a relatively quiet tire. And in the Grand Touring All-Season performance categeory, Continental's PureContact with EcoPlus Technology is known for handling responsively.

In general, what are the critical differences between the PureContact with EcoPlus Technology and ExtremeContact DWS? We don't test across different performance categories so there's no hard data to analyze, but we have enough seat time from separate summer and winter tests to judge them. We feel that the PureContact with EcoPlus Technology comes out ahead in overall snow performance, tread and impact noise, treadwear and ride comfort.

Attribute PureContact ExtremeContact DWS
Overall snow advantage  
Noise - tread and impact advantage  
Treadwear advantage  
Ride comfort advantage  
Wet traction pretty close pretty close
Dry traction   advantage
Steering response   advantage
Overall handling   advantage


To see if any of these tires are available for you car, shop by vehicle.

Review of Winter Tires for a Honda Civic

Monday, January 12, 2015 by AJ Vest

In "Best Winter Tires for Honda Civic" I discussed outfitting my 2014 Honda Civic Si with Bridgestone Blizzak WS80 winter tires and Sparco Terra wheels in preparation for the upcoming winter months. After our initial blast of winter in October and November, I really haven't had a chance to try this tire in a real-world winter environment, outside of our in-house testing. The initial winter blast didn't last long and I was still using my factory 225/40R18 Continental ContiProContact tires, which did not perform well at all.  

As expected, the Honda Civic with the Bridgestone Blizzak WS80 is handling the snow, ice and slush amazingly well. Downsizing to the narrower 205/55R16 size is paying off. When approaching slush or snow, you can feel the car and tire slice through the wintry mix with ease. Handling and braking do suffer a slight bit with the more narrow tire, but I opted for this size for winter use, not for ultimate handling and braking. The ability to brake, turn and accelerate in harsh winter weather provides a level of confidence and capability that really needs to be felt to appreciate.

Search by vehicle to find a Winter / Snow Tire & Wheel Package for your Honda today!

Second Season with Dunlop Winter Maxx Winter Tires

Monday, January 12, 2015 by Gary Stanley

Last year, I purchased Dunlop Winter Maxx tires in the middle of winter for my 2009 Infiniti G37X coupe. These tires replaced the Graspic DS-2 and performed very well in their first season of use. But, how would they perform in season two? 

So far, this winter season has provided me with a variety of conditions in which to further evaluate these tires. First, our area was hit with heavy snowfalls and unseasonably cold temperatures earlier than normal. Next, Northern Indiana experienced nearly a month of warmer-than-average temperatures with very little precipitation and dry roads. Finally, we are now experiencing sub-zero temperatures and nearly a foot of snowfall this week that began with freezing rain. This may sound like a nightmare to many, but this allowed for another great opportunity to put the Dunlop Winter Maxx tires through a variety of winter driving conditions.  

During that initial snowstorm, the Dunlop Winter Maxx tires performed just as well as they did last season. They provided me with traction and confidence in snow and slushy conditions and handled the wintry roads with ease. As the weather warmed and snow turned to slush, and finally to wet roads, I had no problems with braking or handling. Even as temperatures climbed into the 40s, I felt safe and secure even at highway speeds.

This latest bout of sub-zero temperatures didn't phase the tires at all. They still performed just as well on snow-covered roads in below-freezing conditions as they did at near- or above-freezing temperatures. 

Bottom line: I am still happy with my Dunlop Winter Maxx tires!  

If you're concerned about winter driving in your area, install a set of dedicated winter / snow tires to increase your driving confidence.

Tire Pressure Monitor Systems

Thursday, January 8, 2015 by AJ Vest

Recently, there's been a push for consumers to better understand their vehicles both for safety and efficiency. We now have oil life monitors, tire rotation reminders, monitors that will tell us if we have a light bulb out and since the mandate was introduced in 2007 by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), Tire Pressure Monitor Systems (TPMS).

TPMS monitors the vehicle's tires' inflation pressures. There are two types of systems, a direct TPMS and indirect TPMS. A direct TPMS uses a serialized sensor inside the wheel, often attached to the valve stem which sends a radio frequency to an on-board computer. An indirect system uses the vehicle's anti-lock brake system (ABS) to monitor the tire pressure. For more information regarding the differences between the two systems, read "Tire Pressure Monitoring Systems (Direct vs Indirect)."

Most vehicles with a direct TPMS sensor require a synchronization of the sensors to the vehicle each time a new TPMS system is introduced or changed. With the TPMS sensors we offer, the vehicle manufacturer dealership most likely will need to synchronize the sensors to the vehicle, unless a local installer has the tool to perform the task. It's best to check with the installer or dealership prior to purchase to understand the cost and ability of this procedure. 

A brief list of popular vehicle manufacturers that require this synchronization for most of their vehicle offerings: 

  • Honda
  • Acura
  • Toyota
  • Subaru
  • Ford
  • Chevy
  • Hyundai
  • Cadillac
  • Lexus     
  • Mitsubishi
  • Nissan
  • Scion

To be sure whether a vehicle requires a synchronization, be sure to check "View Important TPMS Information" for the wheel you wish to purchase on our website. The notification to visit a dealership for synchronization will also be given upon check-out. If the vehicle does not require a dealership TPMS synchronization, your owner's manual will include the instructions for the synchronization procedure. 

Disabling the system does pose some risks. The way the NHTSA mandate is worded indicates that a service facility can not knowingly disable a TPMS system. Additionally, some states now mandate a vehicle owner can not disable the TPMS system. Some vehicles also use this tire pressure data for electronic stability systems (ESA). Of course, not having the sensor will induce a light to be on your vehicle display system. 

While we applaud the use of data systems, there is needed improvement within the standards. We also feel there's a need for a manual check of tire pressure. Also, be sure to take a look at our TPMS synchronization tools to see if one is available for your application.

All-Season Tire Options for 20" Wheels Equipped on BMW X5 / X6

Wednesday, January 7, 2015 by Marshall Wisler

If you own a BMW X5 or X6 with staggered 20" wheels, you know that finding all-season tires can be extremely difficult. While many manufacturers supply us with the front size of 275/40R20, very few manufacturers produce a matching rear fitment in size 315/35R20. Currently, there are no run-flat tire options that allow for all-season driving, as every option available is meant for either dedicated summer or winter use. 

However, if you're willing to take off the run-flat tires in exchange for non-run-flat tires, two popular options exist. Manufactured by Continental, the Ultra High Performance All-Season ExtremeContact DWS, allows drivers to run one set of tires year-round. While you will lose the security of having a tire that can run while flat, many drivers report increased wear, better ride comfort and a quieter experience. This tire is a class leader in its performance category, works exceptionally well as an all-season tire and is priced attractively given its large size. 

Another option worth considering is the Michelin Latitude Tour HP. While this tire doesn't receive quite as high of a consumer review as the Continental ExtremeContact DWS, it is also a very popular option for X5 and X6 drivers willing to shed run-flat tires. While the tire doesn't have the same level of steering input and responsiveness as an Ultra High Performance All-Season, this Crossover/SUV Touring All-Season tire exchanges some performance and dry grip for increased comfort and road manners. 

Shop by vehicle to view all options for your BMW X5 or X6.

How Long Do Summer Tires Last Compared to All-Seasons?

Wednesday, January 7, 2015 by Gary Stanley

As a moderator of several forums, I was recently asked the following question in a forum in regards to the wear of summer tires compared to all-season tires:

"Gary, I currently have Bridgestone Potenza RE760 Sport tires (Ultra High Performance Summer) on my car. However, I do a lot of long-distance travel, and I am thinking that it may be better to get all-season tires. How big a difference is the treadlife between summer and all-season tires? Is it big enough to justify the loss in performance?"

My response to the customer was:

"The difference in treadlife can be quite large since many all-season tires can routinely see 60,000 miles of treadlife. With mostly highway driving, it's even more likely you'll see longer wear. On the other hand, most summer tires are more in the neighborhood of 20,000-25,000 miles. For longer wear with a smooth and quiet ride, I'd suggest the Bridgestone Turanza Serenity Plus and Michelin Premier A/S."

 Bridgestone Turanza Serenity Plus
Bridgestone Turanza Serenity Plus
 Michelin Premier A/S
Michelin Premier A/S


Many drivers do not realize how dramatic the difference in treadlife can be between some of the industry's top summer performance tires like the Michelin Pilot Super Sport and Bridgestone Potenza S-04 Pole Position compared to some of the best all-season tires. The most noticeable performance difference is typically the slower steering response that all-season tires have compared to summer tires. The plus side of the softer sidewalls of all-season tires is a softer, more comfortable ride, and of course, much longer treadwear.  

If you've already decided that you want the best handling tire regardless of treadwear, take a look at "Bridgestone Potenza S-04 Pole Position vs Michelin Pilot Super Sport."

Changing Wheel and Tire Sizes, What Pressure Should I Run?

Friday, January 2, 2015 by Turk Turkleton

If you're going from 17" Original Equipment wheels to 18" aftermarket wheels, what tire pressure should you run with your new tires? Many times, the service description (e.g. 98H) is still the same on the tires when the size is adjusted, so the same pressure can be used. If the load index is higher on the new tires, then you still follow your vehicle's door placard specifications. If the load index is lower than the O.E. tire, you will want a slightly higher tire pressure. How much higher sometimes varies, so contact us to verify. However, if the tire size is a good fit for the vehicle, you're typically safe using the following pressures (all options will carry the max load listed on the tire):

  • 35 PSI for standard load tires with the "P" in front of the size (P-metric tires), e.g. P205/55R16 89T
  • 36 PSI for standard load tires without the "P" in front of the size (euro-metric tires), e.g. 205/55R16 91H
  • 41 PSI for extra load (XL) tires with the "P" in front of the size (P-metric tires), e.g. P205/55R16 92T
  • 42 PSI for extra load (XL) tires without the "P" in front of the size (euro-metric tires), e.g. 205/55R16 94H

If the service description on your new tires is higher than your stock tires, you're fine running the tire pressure listed on your vehicle's placard. 

For LT-metric tires, use the following list:

  • Load Range C (LRC) - 50 psi (350 kPa)*
  • Load Range D (LRD) - 65 psi (450 kPa)*
  • Load Range E (LRE) - 80 psi (550 kPa)*
  • Load Range F (LRF) - 95 psi (650 kPa)*

*Industry standards specify selected large LT tire sizes be designed with reduced maximum load pressures

To learn more about your tires' air pressure, take a look at "Checking Tire Inflation Pressure."