Michelin Pilot Super Sport: Best Handling Max Performance Summer Tire?

Monday, March 12, 2012 by Alex Mouroulis

High performance tires derive their technology directly from the manufactures' motorsports activities. The tire technology is a game of leap frog and Michelin has set the bar impressively high with the Pilot Super Sport.


The steering response I felt was very confidence-inspiring. It felt as if the car was on rails, specifically through the slalom section of our test track. Around the skidpad I was able to feel how easily this tire modulated at the slip angle.


When driving on the original Pilot Sport, I felt the tire offered razor quick turn-in response, but once you had crossed the limit, it was a matter of recovery vs. modulation. The PS2, like a pendulum, swung back to a very easy modulate feeling, which was a welcomed improvement over the first-generation tire. With the Pilot Super Sport, Michelin was able to strike a fantastic balance! The turn-in is lively, while the grip is very easy to predict and work with in aggressive-driving scenarios.


I did find the ride quality of the Pilot Super Sport to be firmer on the street than the previous models. It was a trade-off I was more than willing to make given its performance attributes. The tire also eclipsed its competition in wet conditions, which was a welcomed surprise. If you're looking for the best handling street tire, with a 30,000-mile treadwear warranty (another first for a Max Performance Summer tire), look no further than the Michelin Pilot Super Sport. To see how the tire performed during our testing, view "Clash of the Titans: Testing Two New Max Performance Summer Heavy Hitters."

Weekend Autocross and Daily Driving Tires? Bridgestone Has You Covered!

Thursday, March 8, 2012 by Alex Mouroulis

There comes a time during a weekend warrior's motorsports activities that he or she realizes their daily driving tires just aren't cutting it. You end up chewing up the tires and imposing uneven treadwear. Participating in autocross events can literally shave the tread blocks at their sides. Track driving can easily overheat and blister or chunk the shoulder and intermediate tread blocks, rendering your tires as unusable.

Extreme Performance Summer tires are a great bridge between street tires and DOT approved slicks. The Bridgestone Potenza RE-11 came out on top during our testing of tires in this performance category. This tire brings higher grip levels than a performance street tire in both wet and dry conditions, with durability that far exceeds a Track & Competition DOT tire.

The RE-11 is also a great learning tool if you'd like to make the step up to a dedicated track tire. Slick style tires remove much of the audible feedback, and most of the seat-of-the-pants feel to approaching the limit of grip. This tire offers more grip than Max Performance Summer tires, but keeps all the feedback tendencies, making it an ideal learning tool.

Bridgestone's Potenza RE-11 is also offers a great combination of aggressive performance with radical styling. Take a look at what a few of our customers are saying about this tire:

"Best handling tire I have ever owned. Perfect for street and and track. I love the RE-11s." -- Tire Rack Consumer Review, 2001 Acura Integra R

"Awesome tire for on/off track. Very responsive and easy to identify the tire's limits. Used at autocross events and I blow cars away." -- Tire Rack Consumer Review, 1997 Toyota Starlet, Glanza V

How to Get Your New Tires Installed

Friday, March 2, 2012 by Alex Mouroulis

We offer many options when it comes to shipping destinations. Many customers prefer to receive their order at home so they can take their tires to an installation facility. We are able to ship to your place of work, home or alternate address. There's also the option of shipping directly to your local garage.

If you don't have a garage in mind, be sure to find one of our independent Recommended Installers near you. We've carefully screened each facility to ensure they have the right equipment and experience to satisfactorily serve our customers. In fact, to become a Recommended Installer a company must:

  • Use proper mounting and balancing equipment including touchless or rim clamp, European-style tire changers and high-speed computer spin balancers.
  • Employ properly trained technicians capable of safely performing damage-free installations.
  • Be an automotive business that can offer additional services to customers (alignments, complete repairs, auto detailing, etc.)
  • Possess a positive attitude and the ability to treat Tire Rack's customers with the highest level of professional courtesy.

Only after these criteria are met is a company approved to be a Recommended Installer for Tire Rack. So go ahead and find one near you.

Weds Sport Wheels at Tire Rack

Thursday, February 16, 2012 by Alex Mouroulis
Weds Sport designs race inspired, super light alloy wheels. With a rich motorsport history that has proven to be highly successful in the JGTC (Japanese Grand Touring Car Championship) series, these ultra-light street wheels contribute a race look while improving the performance of your sport import car. All the rims are engineered, developed and manufactured with space-age technology for Acura, Audi, BMW, Honda, Infiniti, Lexus, Mercedes-Benz, Mitsubishi, Nissan and VW cars. Here are a few Weds Sport styles we offer:
Weds Sport was founded in Osaka, Japan in 1965 as an automotive supplier to Nissan. In 1977, the company's Racing Forge was introduced as Japan's first 3-piece forged wheel. They opened their North American headquarters in 2008.
Take a look at all Weds Sport wheels we carry.

Better Ride with Bridgestone's RE960AS Pole Position RFT

Wednesday, February 15, 2012 by Alex Mouroulis

Bridgestone Potenza RE960AS Pole Position RFTI was thoroughly impressed with the advances Bridgestone's made in their next generation of run-flat tires. With my time behind the wheel, I was able to test the Potenza RE960AS Pole Position RFT in dry conditions and on our wet test track.

Driving with and without air pressure on the street, the tire without air pressure felt strikingly similar to the fully inflated set. In fact, on the track it really shined, coming in a close second to its non-run-flat counterpart.

The tread design was a proven winner, particularly in wet conditions with the help of Bridgestone's UNI-T technology. As the tire wears, its wet traction maintains as the silica infused lower level compound is exposed.

One of the innovative features of the tire is Bridgestone's Cooling Fin Design molded into the tire's sidewall. A tire's number one enemy is heat build up, case in point is when running without air pressure. The sidewall tends to build up a large amount of heat with no air and the Cooling Fin Design helps to lower sidewall temperatures.

For a full test report, review "Is the Third Generation Bridgestone Potenza RE960AS Pole Position RFT 3G Run-Flat the Charm?"


Quiet Tires: Look No Further Than Michelin

Wednesday, February 8, 2012 by Alex Mouroulis
The Michelin brand is synonymous with quality tires. As a brand, they often showcase some of the quietest and smoothest riding tires.  

The Michelin Primacy MXV4 is known for longevity as it's offered with a 60,000 mile tread life warranty and provides good snow-handling capability for an all-season tire. Michelin's LTX M/S2 is also extremely long-lasting with a 70,000 mile warranty, along with nimble handling characteristics for your truck or SUV. If a great value in a passenger tire for your cruiser is what you're after give the Michelin Harmony a try. After testing all three tires, they are some of my go-to recommendations. You would be in good shape with any of them.
Michelin Primacy MXV4
Michelin Primacy MXV4
Michelin LTX M/S2
Michelin LTX M/S2
Michelin Harmony
Michelin Harmony

Take a look at what customers are saying about their experience with each tire:

"An extremely impressive tire that performs as advertised regardless of the climate or geography. I've ridden these tires coast to coast and many destinations in between and they have NEVER failed me. In addition to remaining quiet and comfortable even after all these miles, I was recently reminded how well they (still) perform on winter roads as our first real winter weather arrived with the new year. In short, if you're willing to pay for the best, look no further than the Primacy MXV4. It doesn't get any better in my opinion." -- Tire Rack Consumer Review, 2008 Lexus ES350 (Michelin Primacy MXV4)

"Amazing, I bought these roughly 4 years ago and have driven in just about anything with them. The tread is still there, but I am selling the truck. These tires are by far the best I have ever had on ANY vehicle. Little noise, OK traction in snow and water, and great traction in dry terrain. Simply amazing!
" -- Tire Rack Consumer Review, 2007 Chevrolet Avalanche (Michelin LTX M/S2)

"We're very pleased with our Michelin Harmony tires and would highly recommend them to anyone with a minivan. I bought a set of 4 at 80,000 miles and now have over 100K on them! They had approximately 80% expressway and 20% city driving (Chicago metro weather too!). Its time for them to be replaced due to low tread (3/32 on two and 4/32 on the other two). Regular tire rotations at 7-8,000 miles along with the use of Nitrogen helped prolong the life of these tires! We'll be buying another set of these within a few weeks. Thank you Michelin!" -- Tire Rack Consumer Review, 2001 Chrysler Town and Country LXi (Michelin Harmony)

KMC XD Series Monster - Aggressive Style

Monday, January 30, 2012 by Alex Mouroulis
KMC XD Series MonsterThe KMC XD Series Monster brings an aggressive style to your four-wheel drive pickup truck or SUV. Featuring a split-spoke design, the Monster's center is tucked back further than the lip section, offering a wide stanced, off-road appearance.

Designed using the gravity casting construction method, the wheel offers excellent quality at a very affordable price. It has a multi-piece look that emulates the appearance of more expensive beadlock truck wheels. Lug heads are actually cast into the wheel to create the two-piece effect.

Featuring a covered lug design, the Monster keeps the appearance of your 4x4 smooth and sleek. Monster wheels are offered in the modern 5- ,6- and 8-lug bolt spreads to fit your rig, with offsets ranging between +35 and -44. The wheel is available in the following sizes:
  • 18x9
  • 20x9
  • 20x10
  • 22x9.5
  • 22x11
  • 24x10
Available in black (shown above) and chrome, the Monster from KMC XD Series is a great option to improve the appearance of your vehicle.

Keep Your Windshield Clear in the Rain

Friday, January 13, 2012 by Alex Mouroulis
Aquapel Glass TreatmentIf you have ever used a Rain-X product and felt it helped your vision in the rain, then you should take a look at Aquapel Glass Treatment. The primary advantage Aquapel has over Rain-X is durability. It's been my experience that Rain-X lasts a few weeks.
However, when I used Aquapel Glass Treatment on my vehicles, I noticed it lasted for about six months while reducing the friction that makes a wiper blade judder as it wipes. The key when applying Aquapel is to apply when the temperature is at least 40 degrees or higher. Personally, Aquapel is one of my favorite automotive products and is much easier to buff back off the window than Rain-X.

A good set of wiper blades will also help provide excellent visibility. I have enjoyed the performance of Valeo wiper blades. Typically, my blades last about 18 months even though I'm very picky about how well they work. One huge safety advantage of Aquapel is how well the windshield will bead water. Viewing the picture above, you can see how the product gives drivers the peace of mind when driving during rainy conditions.   

How to Properly Tighten Your Lug Nuts

Thursday, January 12, 2012 by Alex Mouroulis
Lug nuts are handled differently at almost every garage. If you've experienced a lug that is extremely hard to loosen they were likely tightened with an impact tool. There is a device called a torque stick which can make pneumatic tools much more effective at avoiding over-torque. In most every shop, I see impact tools used, while I often do not see torque sticks. Maybe this is just my luck, or possibly I've only seen a small sample of garages.

I take lug nut torque responsibility into my own hands, literally. When one torques a lug nut or bolt, they're effectively stretching the lug stud or bolt. This is why I recommend always using the lug torque specified in your vehicle's owner's manual and tightening lugs in a crisscross sequence. To gain a better understanding of how to properly tighten and loosen your vehicle's lug hardware, read "Wheel Lug Torquing."

To keep the lugs moving like new on my vehicle, I clean the corrosion off of them with a wire brush. Speaking of new wheels, always make sure to re-torque them after the first twenty miles of driving.

The most effective way to set your lug torque is with a torque wrench.

Tire Rack Adjustable WrenchThe Tire Rack Adjustable Torque Wrench is great for handling tire and wheel duties. I'm going on my tenth year with the tool which equals approximately $4 a year (wrench cost me around $40) to have the correct torque settings.

When the time comes to break lugs loose, use a breaker bar.Gorilla Extendable Power Wrench Personally, I carry the Gorilla Extendable Power Wrench in every one of my vehicles as it's easier to work with than stock lug wrenches for roadside tire changes.

Snow Tires Part 2: How to Make Your Winter / Snow Tires Last

Friday, December 16, 2011 by Alex Mouroulis
Now that you have taken the plunge and made an investment in safety, let's talk about how to maximize the life of your winter / snow tires. Snow tires are truly different, so consider the following factors to ensure you get all you can from your investment.

Winter tires use the same pressure as shown on your door's placard. The key is to set it in the coldest temperatures outside that you will be driving in -  first thing in the morning before you drive and not in the sun. I do this by leaving all my garage doors open for a few hours. Also, I fill and drain my compressor each time it's used. An alternative if you don't want to freeze your garage out is to add a few extra pounds of air pressure to each tire. And, since many vehicle's owner's manuals recommend operating winter tires several psi higher than recommended, read "Higher Tire Pressures for Winter Driving."

Snow tires are soft. You'll want to rotate them regularly and usually more often than your all-season tires. If you're looking for a mile schedule, I rotate mine every 2,500-3,000 miles. I like to keep my winter / snow tires wearing out at the exact same time and matching treadwear keeps them as quiet as possible. The moment I see a 1/32" deviation between axles, I rotate them - you could say I measure tread depth often! Metal tread depth gauges are awesome and that's what I like to use. However, they can tend to get expensive, so if you are looking for something that works well at a great price, take a look at the Dill Digital Tread Depth Gauge.

Rotation Pattern

Designed to stay in contact with the snow and ice, winter / snow tires need to be connected to be effective. As it's not necessary to carry momentum when you have grip, you can reduce the vehicle's wheel spin. My car has Haldex four-wheel drive, the minute my traction light flashes I respond. I pull much larger vehicles out of snow drifts and ditches at less than 2 mph. Remember, keep that connected feeling.  

Each tire manufacturer has their appropriate temperature cutoff, as snow tires wear faster in warm weather. My rule of thumb is 50 degrees Fahrenheit, when the temperature regularly is around this mark, I consider taking the tires off.

Since measuring your tire pressure is so important, be sure to take a look at our selection of air and tread depth gauges.

Winter Tire Options for 3/4-ton and 1-ton Trucks

Tuesday, December 13, 2011 by Alex Mouroulis
There are often times when your 3/4-ton or 1-ton truck needs additional snow and ice traction. In many cases, a good highway or all-terrain tire will cover your needs. When you plow in severe conditions or need to tow in adverse weather, higher grip levels are required. If you regularly find yourself driving in conditions with packed snow or ice, there's a huge advantage to owning a set of winter / snow tires. There are many snow tires on the market, but not very many that maintain the 3000+ lbs. load rating requirements for a heavy-duty truck. Take a look at the following LT-rated snow tires. While a set of Firestone truck tires in the Winterforce LT model are a great option, along with the Continental ExtremeWinter Contact LT and Michelin LTX Winter, I personally have excellent luck with the Bridgestone Blizzaks and highly recommend them.

Firestone Winterforce LT
Firestone Winterforce LT

Bridgestone Blizzak W965
Continental ExtremeWinterContact LT
Continental ExtremeWinterContact LT
Michelin LTX Winter
Michelin LTX Winter

"We've had several snowstorms back-to-back here and I've driven in every one and these tires worked great. I have no problem accelerating/braking or slowing with transmission (5-speed) on snow. At this time I only have a 1000 miles so I've yet to experience any noise issues but I'm not worried ,the truck is a diesel with 4" exhaust and noise isn't a concern. I would recommend to anybody that drives in snow."
-- Tire Rack Consumer Review, 1999 Dodge Ram 2500 Reg Cab 4WD (Firestone Winterforce LT)

"This is my second set of Blizzaks, the first was on a 2wd Chevy 2500. Night and day on that truck, just the ability to handle on ice makes the price of the tires worthwhile. The confidence of sure footing in rough conditions is priceless! The tires do sing a little bit on dry pavement. My friend has those tires and they still look like new, they are about 10 years old! The wear on them is far better than expected. The set on the Ford were on my old Ford, 6 years later and they are not past the 'snow' wear bar yet. Don't be fooled by my 'location', I do lots of winter driving with trailers. Extremely satisfied all the way around. " -- Tire Rack Consumer Review, 2001 Ford F250 4WD Super Duty (Bridgestone Blizzak W965)

"These tires work very well in the cold weather. Good cornering and response and excellent traction in all kinds of snow. Glare ice traction is good but weight in the back of truck helps. Much better than all-seasons." -- Tire Rack Consumer Review, 2007 Dodge Dakota Quad Cab 4WD SLT (Continental ExtremeWinterContact LT)

"Just put them on in time for a 4x4 chain-only situation, 1st time in 12 years here I have seen this, I bought chains so they would allow me to pass, but, never put them on, hammered up through the canyon at almost normal dry speed with zero slippage. Wet, to slush, to snow over ice and I didn't even kick out the rear, unreal tire for an incredible price." -- Tire Rack Consumer Review, 2001 Dodge Ram Wagon B3500 (Michelin LTX Winter)

Next Evolution: Goodyear Assurance TripleTred All-Season

Monday, December 5, 2011 by Alex Mouroulis
Goodyear Assurance TripleTred All-SeasonThis summer, I had the opportunity to test the Goodyear Assurance TripleTred All-Season on our wet track. I was impressed with its ability to resist hydroplaning and in fact, its overall wet traction felt like it belonged in a performance category with tires that are known for being "sticky." With changes made to the tread design to decrease road noise, as well as better road manners, a set of these Goodyear car tires are an improvement over the the previous TripleTred model.

The tire also features more continuous shoulder tread blocks that help with wear and noise, while improving the dry cornering feel. When you're looking at the Goodyear reviews for the Assurance TripleTred All-Season, you'll see that the tire stacks up well against its competition. For a full test report, check out "Testing the Goodyear Assurance TripleTred All-Season."

If you are an owner of a coupe, sedan or minivan looking for Goodyear tire dealers to purchase a set of Assurance TripleTred All-Season tires, look at the sizes and prices available at Tire Rack to find the perfect match for your vehicle.

What Truck Tires Are Best in Snow?

Thursday, December 1, 2011 by Alex Mouroulis
Many SUV and truck owners need excellent snow and ice traction. In some cases, it's not practical to have a dedicated set of winter / snow tires, therefore I'd like to showcase a few tires that perform well during all seasons while maintaining great snow traction. Each snow tire, as well as the following all weather options from BFGoodrich, General and Goodyear are marked with a mountain/snowflake symbol. To learn more about the mountain/snowflake symbol, read "How to Confirm a Winter Performer."

BFGoodrich All-Terrain T/A KO
BFGoodrich All-Terrain
General Grabber AT 2
General Grabber
AT 2
Goodyear Wrangler SilentArmor
Goodyear Wrangler

Take a look at what customers are saying about their experience with these On-/Off-Road All-Terrain tires:

"I have put 80,000+ on this set of BFGs and they are still going strong. I had a 2000 Jeep Grand Cherokee before and I put 93,000 on those. I live in Michigan and I hardly use my four-wheel drive in the winter. I tow a 16 foot enclosed trailer, my friends 21 foot boat sometimes. Deep snow, slush, mud and sand are not a problem. These tires respond very well to the load and handle them with ease. The rim protector is great for protecting your rims from curbs. The trick to getting the mileage out of theses tires is to rotate them every 5,000-6,000 miles. I do plan on buying another set here once mine wear out. As the saying goes 'Why mess with something that works?' These tires have been proven through the years on-road and off-road.
" -- Tire Rack Consumer Review, 2003 Dodge Durango 4WD (BFGoodrich All-Terrain T/A KO)
How to Confirm a Winter Performer
"I originally bought these when I had a selectable 4WD Explorer and never had to use 4WD during the winter and always had excellent traction. Now I have them on an AWD Explorer and they make the AWD traction, in any weather, insanely good. There is some tire noise which is expected and personally doesn't bother me at all. Advice on these tires, have them rotated and balanced every 5,000 miles to keep the treadwear even and these tires will last a long time. The tires also made my SUV look more aggressive compared to the previous tires that were on it, and have had a few people comment on them." -- Tire Rack Consumer Review, 2000 Ford Explorer (General Grabber AT 2)

"I had a set of these on my 2004 2500 Silverado. They were the best tires I've ever had. I literally got 65,000 miles out of them and NEVER had a flat. Mine are 10 plys but I drive in absolutely miserable conditions. Frequently on scrap steel sites which destroyed other tires. Frequently towing heavy loads. Frequently overloaded. Driving on mountain roads. These are more expensive than other 10 plys out there in the same size range but I will stick with the Wrangler SA. They are worth it." -- Tire Rack Consumer Review, 2004 Chevrolet Silverado C2500HD Crew (Goodyear Wrangler SilentArmor)

If you decide to buy BF Goodrich tires, Goodyears or Generals this winter, be sure to look for that mountain/snowflake symbol!

How Do Winter / Snow Tires Work?

Wednesday, November 23, 2011 by Alex Mouroulis
Modern winter / snow tires utilize soft compounds that bring high levels of snow and ice traction. This level of grip is offered by having three very important characteristics. The first factor is tread depth. The best snow traction comes from a tall, deep tread pattern that will pack snow in, causing snow on snow contact, and therefore, providing excellent traction. When there's less deep tread depth, the tire is less likely to hold snow. This is why tires designed for muddy conditions don't do as well in snow.

Michelin X-Ice Xi2
Michelin X-Ice
Bridgestone Blizzak WS70
Bridgestone Blizzak
General AltiMAX Arctic
General AltiMAX
The second factor is tread pattern. A big functional feature is the amount of siping a tire has, as sipes are engineered slits in the tire's tread pattern that come open as the tire rolls over the snow, creating more biting edges. Certain retailers offer a service to cut your tires for more all-season traction, however this service hurts the way the tire handles and also imposes uneven treadwear. Tires are extensively engineered, why would you want to cut up the only connection you have with the pavement? 

The final factor is tread compound. And while there is diversity among some of the manufacturers on this topic, one common point is a compound that remains flexible at low temperatures. Michelin and General both utilize a high silica compound that improves traction in wet and slushy conditions, while Bridgestone goes one step further with Tube Multicell technology. Tube Multicell is a compound with many long tube-shaped voids in the tread compound that gives the water somewhere to go as the vehicle passes over snow and ice. Bite particles are also a feature in many tires and on a very small scale, bite particles act like little tiny studs and offer more biting edges for snow grip. 

If you're looking for more information on identifying winter / snow tires, read "How to Confirm a Winter Performer."

Winter / Snow Tires for Winter's Worst Conditions

Friday, November 18, 2011 by Alex Mouroulis
The Bridgestone Blizzak WS70, Michelin X-Ice Xi2 and Continental ExtremeWinterContact tires are three of the top contenders in the Studless Ice and Snow category. The old approach to winter was that tires with aggressive tread patterns and studs were the best way to handle winter driving. It's been our experience that the advanced Studless Ice and Snow traction technologies have surpassed the studded tire. Watch "Testing Winter Weather Specialists - Studless Ice and Snow Tires" to see how tires in this performance category deliver excellent traction in winter's worst conditions. The following three tires offer slush, snow and ice traction that easily surpasses even the best all-season tires:

Bridgestone Blizzak WS70
Bridgestone Blizzak
Michelin X-Ice Xi2
Michelin X-Ice
Continental ExtremeWinterContact
Continental ExtremeWinterContact

Take a look at what some customers are saying about their experience with the Blizzak WS70, X-Ice Xi2 and ExtremeWinterContact:

"This snow tire never disappointed during last winter's record snow fall (98 inches) here in eastern Massachusetts. As long as I had ground clearance they went through every drift and snow bank they were challenged with. My driveway has an upward-sloping incline which frequently ices over, and these tires always made the climb without slipping or losing grip." -- Tire Rack Consumer Review, 2010 Volvo XC70 3.2 AWD (Bridgestone Blizzak WS70)

"For years I considered the G35 as a car requiring two lanes to safely drive in the snow. I purchased the X-Ice Xi2 with the expectation that I could at least endure driving in snow. Honestly, I was greatly surprised at how easy to drive in the snow this car has become and feel like now I could thread a needle with it. A greater surprise is how great the car performs on wet pavement. Definitely these tires transformed the car from barely livable in the winter with all season tires to a point where I do not care much about the type of winter weather I will encounter." -- Tire Rack Consumer Review, 2005 Infiniti G35 Sedan (Michelin X-Ice Xi2)

" I just purchased these [Continental winter tires] and had them installed Saturday. Sunday night the first freezing rain and snowfall hit. By Monday morning we had a few inches of slush and snow sitting on a layer of ice. I tried to get these tires to slide in a corner and couldn't. I tried slamming on the brakes to engage ABS, and instead the car just stopped. It was like driving with my summer tires on sticky pavement. There were accidents all around me, but I had zero issues." -- Tire Rack Consumer Review, 2007 BMW 335i (Continental ExtremeWinterContact)

And when it comes time to make your tire buy online, shop by vehicle to find the perfect winter / snow tire for your vehicle.

Are Your Tires Worn Out?

Tuesday, November 15, 2011 by Alex Mouroulis
According to most states' laws, tires are legally worn out when they reach 2/32" of remaining tread depth. It's important to note that the tire's performance in rain and snow can be reduced before it no longer meets the minimum tread depth requirement.

You can substitute a tire tread depth gauge with a U.S. coin to measure those critical few 32nds of an inch of remaining tread depth. When placing 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.
Measuring Tire Tread Depth with a Coin Measuring Tire Tread Depth with a Coin Measuring Tire Tread Depth with a Coin
It's been our experience that a tire's ability to handle water is greatly reduced below 4/32" of remaining tread depth. An easy way to measure this is by getting help from George Washington. When putting a quarter head size down in the tire's tread, if Washington's head is always covered, you have the necessary tread depth to navigate wet roads.
We believe that snow capability is greatly diminished when your tire's tread depth dwindles to approximately 6/32" of remaining tread depth. The rule of thumb on measuring this amount of tire tread is to once again use a penny. If after placing the penny into several grooves across the tire the Lincoln Monument is always covered by the tread, you have enough remaining tread to handle snow-covered roads. 

To gain a better understanding of how adequate tread can help you in different weather conditions, watch "Panic Stopping: How Much Tread Depth Do You Need?."

If the change in your pocket tells you it's time to look at tire websites for a new set, let us help you find the perfect match by shopping by vehicle.

Value All-Season Car Tire Options

Friday, November 11, 2011 by Alex Mouroulis
Tires in the Standard Touring All-Season category offer lower speed ratings like S (112 mph) and T (118 mph). These tires are known for longer mileage - usually greater than 50,000 miles of service life. They are not an aggressive handling group of tires due to their lower speed rating. However, you'll receive the benefit of a smoother and more comfortable ride.

Pirelli P4 Four Seasons
Pirelli P4 Four Seasons
Kumho Solus KR21
Kumho Solus KR21

Take a look at what consumers are saying about their experiences with these Standard Touring All-Season tires, starting with a Pirelli review of the P4 Four Seasons:

"I have waited nearly two years and 47,000 miles to give this review. These are hands down the best overall tires I have ever owned. The mileage speaks for itself, the lack of noise, hum, harmonic sound was as quiet as the day I bought them, and they were near silent on that day. Snow traction was good even last winter here in New England and we had a long hard winter. Unbelievable tire. I have driven over 1 million miles and have owned 24 vehicles, foreign and domestic, had Michelins, other Pirellis, Goodyears, Bridgestone, Goodrich, Toyo, Kumho, Hankook, Brand X's claiming to be just as good as a Michelin and these Pirellis eclipsed all of those to the very end."
-- Tire Rack Consumer Review, 2008 Ford Taurus SEL FWD (Pirelli P4 Four Seasons)

"I have put 45,000 miles on this set of tires, and still have almost half the tread left! Ride has been smooth and comfortable since day one. For the money, could not honestly purchase a better set of tires. Will definitely buy again, whenever these finally wear out."
-- Tire Rack Consumer Review, 2008 Mitsubishi Galant DE (Yokohama AVID TOURING-S)

"7000 ft in the foothills of the Rockies in Colorado with winter temps sometimes 20 below zero with substantial snow and ice has been a great testing ground. We live 3 miles off of pavement and put on approx. 125 miles a week in these conditions on rock and dirt/mud. Both vehicle and tires have been totally reliable and have never been stuck with them in the AWD even in all wheel lock. Winter is almost here and I'm putting on a new set this week...great tires!!!"
-- Tire Rack Consumer Review, 2009 Nissan Murano S (Kumho Solus KR21)

And since choosing the right tire for your vehicle is such an important decision, read "Selecting the Right Tires" to help ensure you enjoy your driving experience over the life of your new automobile tires.

Four Winter / Snow Tires: Are They Worth It?

Wednesday, October 26, 2011 by Alex Mouroulis
Winter / Snow Tire Testing at Tire RackAt Tire Rack we pride ourselves on real-world testing data that we gather through testing tires on the street and on the track. We also take over a local ice rink and test our vehicles on the ice to simulate packed snow that has become glazed over and turned to ice, as these conditions are very common at intersections during the winter months. To get a better understanding of how we test winter / snow tires, read "We Know How They Go in Ice and Snow."

We have performed quite a few tests on the ice rink, with our rear-wheel drive BMW 3 Series and all-wheel drive Porsche Cayenne. This season we decided to use one of the more popular front-wheel drive vehicles in the U.S., the 2012 Honda Civic. The Civic was equipped with traction control and ABS, as well as front-wheel drive.

We ran two separate tests with one comparing the winter capabilities between a vehicle equipped with four all-season tires against a vehicle with four winter / snow tires. The test results prove that a set of winter / snow tires will make your winter driving much easier as they accelerated quicker and stopped in a shorter period of time. For full results, watch "Are Front-Wheel Drive and All-Season Tires Enough for Winter Driving?." 

Think you can get away with purchasing only two winter / snow tires? Take a look at "Why Gamble With Winter Tire Selection When Four of a Kind Always Beats Two Pair?" and see why you should buy winter tires in a set of four to make this winter your safest yet.

And when it comes time to price tires online for this winter season, shop by vehicle to find the right winter / snow tire for your vehicle!

All-Season Tires for Handling Water

Friday, October 21, 2011 by Alex Mouroulis
With winter on its way, parts of the country will experience wet conditions instead of or on top of snow. When it comes to tires, it's important to understand that there are always compromises. A particular tire may have certain performance characteristics, however there are residual effects to those advantages. Tires that are directional offer excellent hydroplaning resistance and as a result of not being able to rotate side-to-side, they do tend to get noisier as they wear. Of the three tires listed below, only the Bridgestone Potenza RE970AS Pole Position is a directional tire.

Another feature that contributes to a tire's water handling capabilities is compounding. Silica is a common additive to tires to increase their grip levels in water. Silica infused rubber also resists getting firm in the last half of a tire's life. Hydroplaning is one of the last things we want to experience as drivers and to better understand how your tires affect your ability to drive in wet conditions, read "Hydroplaning: The Roles Tires Play."

Each time a tire is brought up to its operating temperature by driving is known as heat cycling. A heat cycle is completed when the vehicle has been parked after driving and the tires return back to a cooler temperature. As a tire ages and the amount of heat cycles increase, often times the rubber becomes firmer and less compliant as a result. Silica infused rubber resists the firming tendency due to heat cycling.

Below are a few of the all-season tires that have good wet handling capabilities:

Dunlop SP Sport Signature
Dunlop SP
Sport Signature
Michelin Primacy MXM4
Michelin Primacy
Bridgestone Potenza RE970AS Pole Position
Bridgestone Potenza RE970AS Pole Position
We tested each tire on our closed track that was watered heavily by sprinklers to simulate standing water. All of our sales specialists tested the aforementioned tires by driving one of four identical BMW 3 Series test vehicles. To see how we test the tires that we recommend, check out "Tire Rack's Tire Testing Program."

And, if you're looking for all-season tire reviews, take a look at the Tire Test Results to see how each tire performed, then shop by vehicle to find the tire that works best for your vehicle.

Which Shocks Are Right for My Car?

Monday, October 17, 2011 by Alex Mouroulis
KYB Gas-A-JustHave you ever felt that your car bounces more after you go over a bump? It just doesn't feel as connected to the road as it did when it was new? Shock absorbers are an expendable item that has a big effect on your ride quality. When it comes time to replace shocks, you're going to have access to your springs. This is a great time to add lowering springs.

Not every shock is designed for all driving circumstances. There are two major categories for aftermarket shocks: performance and touring.
  • Performance shocks give the firmer ride, and help reduce body roll. They are often combined with lowering springs for the ultimate handling combination.
  • Touring shocks are more focused on a soft, compliant and comfortable ride. Touring shocks add to that supple, luxurious ride by soaking up more impacts and road imperfections.
Listed below are a few terms that will help you better understand the characteristics of a shock adjustment:
  • Compression - The collapsing stroke of a shock, directly correlated to the movement of your axle.
  • Rebound - The return stroke of a shock, directly tied to vehicle pitch and ride quality. To learn more about shocks check out, "Damper Dynamics."

Take a look at a few of the shocks available at Tire Rack:
  • KYB Gas-A-Just: An Original Equipment replacement shock.These are your excellent-value option, as they are self adjusting.
  • KYB Monomax: Increased load control, and a firm planted feel for your light truck or SUV. These shocks have been known to offer a firmer ride, but the trade off is better control. These shocks are self adjusting. They completely transformed my Chevy Blazer back to the consistent like-new handling I missed.
  • Koni STR-T:  A cost-effective performance shock, designed to offer better handling, without a harsh ride.
  • Bilstein 5100 : Designed with the lifted truck or SUV in mind. These are ideal for your Jeep or pickup truck with mild body and suspension lifts. The articulation in off-road circumstances is superb.
Shop by vehicle to find the suspension components that work best for your vehicle.