States Requiring Operating TPMS

Thursday, January 27, 2011 by Bart Blackburn
All new vehicles built for sale in the United States, as of September 2008, must be fitted with a T.P.M.S. (tire pressure monitoring system). Maintaining proper tire pressure for a vehicle is an important factor in how much load its tires can carry. To help ensure driver's safety, some states require the T.P.M.S. to be operating in order to pass their vehicle inspection tests.  Currently Hawaii, Rhode Island, Vermont and West Virginia require a functioning T.P.M.S. to pass inspections. Regardless of where you live, it is best to have a tire pressure monitoring system that works and Tire Rack offers many options for your convenience.

Mixing Tires

Thursday, January 13, 2011 by Bart Blackburn
I only need to replace one tire. What tire should I get to match the other tires on my car?

Drivers should avoid mixing tires with different tread patterns, internal constructions or sizes and use identical tires on all of their vehicle's wheel positions in order to maintain the best control and stability. Additionally, drivers should never mix winter tires with all-season/summer tires or mix run-flat tires with non-run-flat tires.

Unfortunately wearing out all tires at the same time isn't always possible. Sometimes vehicle design, the use of differently sized tires on front and rear axles, insufficient maintenance and/or driving conditions conspire to prevent it from happening.

The first recommendation is to always keep the same level of grip all the way around the car. To do this simply choose the exact same tire as the others on your vehicle.

Or, choose equivalent tires from the same tire performance category that share the same speed rating, handling and traction characteristics of the original tires. While this isn't as desirable as selecting the exact tire currently on the vehicle, it can become necessary when the original tires are no longer available.

Comparing Shoes and Tires

Thursday, November 4, 2010 by Bart Blackburn

As technology advances, modern winter tires improve and provide ice and snow traction that is better than before. The research and development used to create the tread designs and rubber compounds has evolved beyond what you may have experienced previously.

All of the tire companies we represent and seven out of ten vehicle manufacturers recommend four winter tires be used on rear-wheel, front-wheel or four-wheel drive vehicles. Opposite ends of the vehicle won't react and perform the same as the other in the dry, wet, slush and snow conditions you'll encounter before the end of winter without matching tires. In emergency maneuvers, you'll find that your vehicle will probably understeer in one condition and oversteer in another. It is best to keep your vehicle's handling as consistent as possible by "matching" all four tires.

Think of it this way, mismatching your tires is like walking with a golf shoe on one foot and a tennis shoe on the other. Always maintain the same level of grip all the way around the car to ensure optimum acceleration, braking, handling and control through winter's challenges.

Snow Tires aka Winter Tires

Thursday, September 23, 2010 by Bart Blackburn
The term "snow tires" or the more modern phrase "winter tires" are interchangeable for the same products that are designed to give added traction or more importantly, control, for driving in snow and ice.

The performance gains are provided by either designing the tread pattern to give the tire a bigger bite (tread lugs farther apart) or making the tread compound soft and more pliable with microscopic bite particles usually of fiberglass to give the tread compound more bite on the ice and hard packed snow. For newer performance vehicles run-flat winter tires are available as well.

Some of the most popular winter tires are the Bridgestone Blizzak WS70, Bridgestone Blizzak DM-V1, Bridgestone Blizzak LM-50 RFT (shown below, left to right).

Bridgestone Blizzak WS70   Bridgestone Blizzak DM-V1  Bridgestone Blizzak LM-50 RFT

Continental Winter Contact

Friday, August 20, 2010 by Bart Blackburn
Continental ExtremeWinterContactRecently we conducted testing for winter tires here at Tire Rack. The Continental ExtremeWinterContact is a very strong winter performer that outperforms the number one rated Michelin Xice Xi2 in cornering and braking. While riding and driving on this tire, it was very evident the Continental delivers more control.

I would have no problem putting this tire on my car; it is that good!

Firestone Destination A/T

Thursday, August 12, 2010 by Bart Blackburn
Firestone Destination A/TWhen it comes to a good value for an On/Off-Road All-Terrain tire, an often overlooked, particularly good value is the Firestone Destination A/T. In the P-metric sizes, this tire comes with a 50,000 mile tread life warranty from the manufacturer along with a 30-Day Buy and Drive guarantee. All of this is standard while providing superior performance in all categories.

Compared to competitor's tires, this tire is consistently more attractive in the pricing category, too.

Bridgestone Blizzak WS70 Studless Ice and Snow Tire

Wednesday, August 4, 2010 by Bart Blackburn
Yesterday I had the opportunity to test four different Studless Ice and Snow winter tires. Comparisons were conducted on an indoor hockey rink here in South Bend, Indiana and included acceleration and braking tests along with a cornering demonstration.

We drove on the Continental ExtremeWinterContact, Dunlop Graspic DS-3, Michelin X-Ice Xi2 and the Bridgestone Blizzak WS70. As in years past the Bridgestone Blizzak WS70 provided the most control for acceleration and braking and was head and shoulders above the others in the cornering demonstration.

These are not your father's snow tires! All the results will be online soon! Check this page frequently.

Explanation of Tire Speed Ratings

Thursday, July 22, 2010 by Bart Blackburn
All cars, SUVs and CUVs have a minimum recommended speed rating that Tire Rack use as a guideline for making tire recommendations. This speed rating is often misunderstood by the public. The minimum speed rating does exceed the legal speed limits of the United States but is not the main focus of speed ratings for practical purposes. Speed ratings provided by vehicle manufacturers provide a minimum level (base if you will) of tires that allow the vehicle to drive, handle and respond as the vehicle manufacturer intends. When replacing tires on your vehicle with a lessor speed rated tire, you are adversely affecting the way your car drives. When we recommend the minimum speed rating or above, we are trying to maintain the quality of your vehicle that you have grown accustomed to.  If you have any questions feel free to contact us.   

Measuring Tread Depth

Wednesday, July 14, 2010 by Bart Blackburn
Did you know you that you can use U.S. coins as a substitute for a tire tread depth gauge? Of course, this method is not as accurate as using an actual tread depth gauge, but it is a reasonable substitute.

Tread depths can vary from one tire size to another. As your tire wears, it loses its ability to process the water on the road. Even though a tire is considered to be worn out at 2/32“ remaining tread, it loses its efficiency for traction as it wears. If you live in an area where frequent rain is an issue, it is recommended that you change your tires at 4/32” remaining tread so that you do not experience a drop in wet weather performance.

Have you heard the saying, “A chain is only as strong as its weakest link?” A similar thing can be said about tires since a tire is no better than the most worn spot on its tread. When looking at a tire’s tread, you may find irregularities have occurred as it has worn. The most worn spot is its weak link!
The Penny Test for Tire Tread Depth

Place a penny into several tread grooves across the tire. If part of Lincoln's head is always covered by the tread, you have more than 2/32" of tread depth remaining.

The Quarter Test for Tire Tread Depth

Place a quarter into several tread grooves across the tire. If part of Washington's head is always covered by the tread, you have more than 4/32" of tread depth remaining.

Yokohama Tires

Friday, July 9, 2010 by Bart Blackburn
At Tire Rack, we do our own tire testing and at the end of every test session, I walk away from the track with a favorite "go-to" tire. In August of 2007, when we tested the Yokohama I ended up favoring it as my "go-to" tire for the Ultra High Performance Summer category. The’s radial is designed to use Yokohama's technological advancements to deliver extraordinary grip and handling on both wet and dry roads. This is a tire that I recommend with confidence and it is still a well-rounded favorite at  Tire Rack. After retesting the tire this summer, I was happy to see that it still does not disappoint.

Sumitomo HTR A/S P01

Wednesday, June 30, 2010 by Bart Blackburn
sumitomo HTR AS P01Recently, Tire Rack conducted a test that included the Sumitomo HTR A/S P01. The performance of this tire was consistent with the Sumitomo brand of recent years. Noise levels for this tire showed a noticeable advantage over its competitors. It also does an excellent job of minimizing the harshness of impacts. When tested against competitors on a dry track, this tire posted the quickest lap times. Although we do not have winter experience with the tire, I believe that it shows great promise in that area, too. I found the tire to be a very nice handling option that I can recommend with confidence.

Michelin Cross Terrain SUV

Thursday, June 24, 2010 by Bart Blackburn
MichelinAs the owner of a 2002 Oldsmobile Bravada SUV, I have had the opportunity to use the Michelin Cross Terrain SUV tire. This tire was the Original Equipment tire for the Bravada and living in northern Indiana, I used this tire year-round. I found that the Cross Terrain SUV delivers sufficient traction for wintertime conditions and, typical of Michelins, delivers superior ride quality when compared to most other products. When the tires wore out at 64,000 miles, I replaced them with the very same tire. If you are in an area where you need snow traction but prefer not to use a dedicated winter tire such as the Bridgestone Blizzak LM-25 4x4, then the Michelin Cross Terrain SUV may be the tire for you.

Goodyear Eagle F1 GS- D3 Max Performance Summer Tire

Wednesday, June 16, 2010 by Bart Blackburn
Goodyear Eagle F1 GS-D3As the owner of a 1992 Chevrolet Corvette LT1, I use the Goodyear Eagle F1 GS-D3 with a great deal of satisfaction and success. It provides superior cornering and dry weather traction along with adequate wet traction. I would not deliberately take the car out in the rain but during an occasional downpour when I'm already out, I have no complaints. I find this tire to be low maintenance and a pleasure to own. I would buy it again!

Goodyear Eagle GT

Friday, June 4, 2010 by Bart Blackburn
I have a 27 year-old daughter who is the owner of a 2005 Saab 9-3 Arc 2.0T sedan.

When it came time to replace her tires, good old dad (me) chose to send her Goodyear Eagle GT tires. Living in Indianapolis, she is at the southern edge of the snow belt. Rather than expect her to do a winter tire change over in the spring and fall she was a good candidate for all-season tires.

The tires being replaced were the Pirelli P6 Four Seasons tires. While not giving the performance of dedicated winter tires like the Bridgestone Blizzak WS60 or the Michelin X-Ice Xi2, this tire does give her the traction and performance for year-round driving. Two weeks after the Goodyears were installed she called to tell me replacing the tires was like buying her a new car. Noise levels were much improved as well. 

             Goodyear Eagle GT

General Grabber HTS Tires

Thursday, May 27, 2010 by Bart Blackburn
Living here in northern Indiana we experience extreme summer and winter conditions. I am the owner of a 2005 Jeep Grand Cherokee. Last October I purchased a set of General Grabber HTS Tires for my Cherokee and used them through our harsh Indiana winter. My Original Equipment tires removed were the Goodyear Wrangler SRA. Both sets were outline white letter tires. I have owned two sets of the Wrangler SR-A on past Jeeps but find that the Generals have superior wet and dry traction above the Goodyears even when new.

I had an incident where I underestimated the amount of room i needed for a turn into a subdivision and turned at much too high of speed. The Generals stuck like glue in the loose gravel of the intersection! The ride quality and noise comfort are at a level that gives me confidence in recommending this tire for luxury SUVs and CUVs. Today the tires have 6,000 miles on them.    

The General Grabber HTS is a symmetrical tire allowing the tires to be cross switched as well as rotated front to back.

Although this is not a substiute for dedicated winter tires like the Bridgestone Blizzak, Continental 4x4 Winter Contact or the Michelin Lattitude X-Ice, in my opinion it provides adequate levels of winter traction when needed. 

I have told countless Tire Rack customers about my experience and the best compliment I can give the tires is to say I would buy them again.  

General Grabber HTSGeneral Grabber HTS


Directional Treads

Friday, May 14, 2010 by Bart Blackburn
One of the fequently asked questions about installing tires is "is it possible to put my tires on backwards?" The answer is "yes!" Some tires made by Hankook, SumitomoBridgestone and many more tire makers are "Directional" or "Unidirectional tires."

Directional (Unidirectional) Tread Patterns

A directional (also called a unidirectional) tread pattern is designed to roll in only one direction and incorporates lateral grooves on both sides of the tire’s centerline. These point in the same direction resuin v-shaped tread blocks. These grooves enhance hydroplaning resistance at high speeds by pumping water more efficiently through the tread pattern. Directional tires are to be used on one side of the vehicle unless they are dismounted and remounted on their wheels. They are intended to be rotated from the front axle to the rear axle. If different tire sizes are used on the front vs. rear axle, they become location-specific and prohibit tire rotation unless remounted. Read more here.                                  

Some examples of the mentioned tire brands and the directional tread patterns are shown below.  
     Sumitomo HTR ZII                            Bridgestone RE960AS Pole Position                         Hankook Ventus V12 evo K110

Symmetrical, Asymmetrical or Directional??

Wednesday, May 5, 2010 by Bart Blackburn
Regardless if you're shopping for Continental Brand Car tires or for your Lincoln Continental, more tires show tread patterns of unique shapes. One of the most frequently asked questions is "I mounted my asymmetric tread car tires purchased online and it looks like two of the tires are running backwards. Did I get two of the wrong tires?" 

The answer is "no," you did not get the wrong tires! The critical part of the tires in question is the outboard side being mounted out. Typically the outboard is going to have bigger tread blocks to stand up to the stresses of cornering better than the smaller tread blocks on the inside of the tread. Between the shoulder tread blocks some tread patterns seem to be running backwards, the significance of this appearance is overshadowed by the necessity to mount the outboard shoulder on the outside of the wheel.

So if you have the appearance of two of the tires running backward when looking at the tread but have the outside sidewall mounted out the tire is mounted correctly.

Below are examples of asymmetrical tread patterns:
Bridgestone Potenza RE-11

Goodyear Eagle F1 Asymmetric 
Continental ExtremeContact DWS

30 Years of Down and Dirty

Thursday, October 1, 2009 by Bart Blackburn

Greetings,  in order to add a little credibility to my ramblings let me begin by saying I was a working manager in a retail tire store for 28 years. My responsibilites included everything form hiring and firing to overseeing accounting and training. I have seen and worked on tire and wheel applications from bicycles and wheelbarrows to Buicks, Porshes and pick up trucks. 

My personality requires me to gather as much information as I can to make the best decision possible for the situation. Whether you have questions about all weather tires Bridgestone Blizzaks or Bilstein shocks if I do not have the answer have the resources to locate the answers.   

                                                                         Until next time, Bart