Blake's Take On Tires

My name is Blake, why do I have a take on tires?
I have been a tire and wheel specialist at the Tire Rack since 2002. However, I have been in the automotive industry most of my adult life. With my experiences at the Tire Rack as well as at other companies, I have learned many things  (tricks of the trade if you will). I have seen it all, from snow tires to track tires, big truck tires to low rolling resistance tires for hybrid vehicles.

The one thing I have learned is that nothing stays the same in the tire industry. This industry is always striving to do more and get more out of the product that is produced. There are many new advances in tire design and construction that come out on what seems like a daily basis at times.

If you would like personal help, or just my take on a tire you may be interested in, just drop me an e mail, or give me a call. I will be happy to give you the help that you require. At the Tire Rack we carry 18 major brands of tires from Avon tires to Yokohama tires. I am sure we can find a tire that will fit your needs.

Blake.

1-800-981-3782 ext 621
blake@tirerack.com








It is almost here!

Thursday, March 10, 2011 by Blake Bauer
Michelin Pilot Super SportJust like summer, the Michelin Pilot Super Sport is almost here. The Pilot Super Sport is the long awaited replacement for the Pilot Sport PS2. However, this tire is being touted as more than just a replacement.

Building on the development of racing tires designed to carry Prototype and GT class cars to endurance race victories at the 24 Hours of Le Mans, 12 Hours of Sebring and Road Atlanta's Petit Lemans, Pilot Super Sport tires are designed to provide consistent performance and longevity by blending Max Performance driving characteristics with extended tread wear.

Extended tread wear in a Max Performance Summer tire? Michelin is applying a 30,000 mile tread warranty to the tire. I am looking forward to the snow melting and testing these tires on the track.

Did You Know?

Friday, January 21, 2011 by Blake Bauer
Tire Rack also sells tire racks. Having a separate set of winter and summer tires is a great idea and properly storing each set will help ensure you get the full life out of your wheels.

Tire Storage RackThe Tire Storage Rack is easy to assemble and mount on the wall which keeps your extra tires safely stored and out of your way. The design allows room for today's performance-oriented Tire & Wheel Packages or can be adjusted to accommodate less aggressive tire widths.

The rack quickly attaches to wall studs providing a convenient and safe storage method and its heavy-duty construction has been load tested to a weight capacity of 400 lbs.

Great Tire Available in a Few Hard-to-Find Sizes

Thursday, January 6, 2011 by Blake Bauer
If you have an older sports car with smaller (15- or 16-inch) tires, you may have noticed it is getting harder and harder to find performance tires in your size. Well we have just the thing for you.

Fuzion ZRiThe Fuzion ZRi.

The Fuzion ZRi is Fuzion's Ultra High Performance Summer tire for sport compact and sports car enthusiasts. The Z-speed rated Fuzion is designed to provide outstanding handling and traction in both the wet and dry.

Fuzion's Ultimate Network of Intelligent Tire Technology (UNI-T) features three base elements: CO•CS, a Computer Optimized Component System that allows design and manufacturing processes to work closer together for a more efficient tire that doesn't greatly sacrifice one area of performance for improvements in another; O-Bead, a more round structure that reduces overlapped joints in the bead area for a better ride; and L.L. Carbon (Long Link Carbon) to help the rubber compound resist microscopic tread tearing related to wear.

Fuzion molds a Long Link Carbon and silica-reinforced tread compound into a directional tread design that enhances dry traction and also evacuates water from between the tire’s contact patch and the road. On the inside, the Fuzion ZRi’s casing and steel belts deliver great handling and cornering stability. The steel belts are reinforced with spirally wound nylon to provide high-speed durability while reducing weight and maximizing ride. The Fuzion ZRi features Rim Guard rubber ridges on its lower sidewalls to help protect your wheels from curb damage.

During my test drive on this tire, I found it to be very responsive and sharp. Some of you may know that the Fuzion line is made by Bridgestone. Given what Bridgesone brings to the table, you really can't go wrong with the Fuzion ZRi. And the fact that it is produced in a few smaller sizes is a very nice bonus. For a complete list of available sizes click here.

Winter Rocks!!

Thursday, November 11, 2010 by Blake Bauer
Brdgestone Blizzak WS70If you are driving on Bridgestone Blizzak WS70 tires, that is.

The Blizzak WS70 features Bridgestone's famous winter fighting Tube Multicell compound. The Tube Multicell compound features thousands of microscopic tubes and cells uniformly distributed throughout the compound that draw away the water that often forms between the tire's contact patch and snow-packed and icy roads. The flexible rubber compound improves the tire's grip in cold conditions and tiny bite particles attached to the tubes provide traction by scratching away at packed snow and icy surfaces.

Molded into a directional compound, the tread design consists of a circumferential center rib surrounded by independent intermediate and shoulder blocks that feature zigzag sipes to enhance dry road performance and snow, ice and wet traction. To increase hydroplaning resistance and enhance braking force on snow-covered and icy roads, four main circumferential grooves help disperse water and slush away from the tire's contact patch

As always, the Blizzak WS70 should be used in matching sets of four only. This is true for any winter only tire.

Still the King of the Hill for Summer Performance

Saturday, October 30, 2010 by Blake Bauer
Michelin Pilot Sport PS2I give you the Michelin Pilot Sport PS2.

While this tire may look a bit boring to some, its asymmetrical tread design really does provide outstanding performance.

Across the tread cap the PS2 features two different tread compounds molded into an asymmetric design with very large outer shoulder blocks and continuous intermediate and center ribs to enhance steering response and cornering stability. Both tread compounds are specifically designed for their location to combine dry and wet traction with sharp cornering and high-speed capability. The tread design also features wide circumferential grooves and lateral notches that help move water through the footprint to enhance wet road traction.

During my test drive on this tire I found it to be very nimble, responsive and crisp. And at the same time, I found it to be a very comfortable and quiet tire. The tread pattern does look a bit boring, but it works very well. Bottom line, don't judge this book by its cover.

Funny Looking Tread? Or Ahead Of Its Time?

Friday, October 22, 2010 by Blake Bauer
ExtremeContact DWSThat would be the Continental ExtremeContact DWS.

While this tire may look a bit awkward to some, its unique asymmetrical tread design provides outstanding performance.

The Continental ExtremeContact DWS has stable shoulder blocks and a continuous, notched intermediate rib on the outboard side to enhance responsiveness and cornering stability. The center of the tread features independent blocks separated by high-angle, criss-cross grooves to provide more of the biting edges necessary to deliver wet road and light snow traction while independent inboard shoulder blocks help disperse water to further enhance hydroplaning resistance and bad weather traction. 

During my test drive on this tire I found it to be very nimble, responsive and crisp for an all-season tire. And at the same time, I found it to be a very comfortable and quiet tire. The tread pattern does look a bit odd, but it works very well. I would say this tire is ahead of its time, and I would look for other manufacturers to offer similar tread patterns in the future.

General AltiMAX RT Still a Great Choice

Thursday, August 26, 2010 by Blake Bauer
We recently completed a test of four Standard Touring All-Season tires -- three all new and one tried-and-true older model.

Firestone Precision Touring           BFGoodrich Premier Touring        Yokohama AVID TOURING-S
Firestone Precision Touring       BFGoodrich Premier Touring     Yokohama AVID TOURING-S
*NEW*                                               *NEW*                                          *NEW*
 
And the tried-and-true tire of the group, the General AltiMAX RT.
General AltiMAX RT

All of the new tires tested were genuine improvements over the older models that they replaced. However, I still feel none of them were quite as good as the General AltiMAX RT.

The General AltiMAX RT still has the best ride comfort and great low noise ride quality not normally found in the entry level Standard Touring All-Season tires tested. This tire is very smooth and quiet and it has very good road manners as well. After over three years of service in its category, it continues to deliver and put a smile on my face every time I drive it.

More details on the General AltiMAX RT can be found here. Also see how the General AltiMAX RT stacks up in our survey results in the Standard Touring All-Season category.

Do You Drive Your SUV Like A Sports Car?

Tuesday, August 3, 2010 by Blake Bauer
Do you have a sport utility vehicle that you drive a bit more spiritedly? Guess what, Firestone has you taken care of. The Destination S/T is Firestone's new Street/Sport Truck All-Season tire designed with you in mind.

The Firestone Destination ST is designed with large stable outboard shoulders that turn into independent tread blocks. These blocks are separated by large, water evacuating, crisscrossing grooves that provide multiple biting edges to promote good all-season performance. The inboard shoulder has a wide circumferential groove and independent shoulder blocks. This helps with water evacuation and promotes hydroplaning resistance as well as aids in inclement weather traction. 

While this tire may look a bit awkward to some, its unique asymmetrical tread design provides outstanding performance no matter the season.

Firestone TiresDuring my test drive on this tire I found it to be very nimble, responsive and crisp for a large Street/Sport Truck All-Season tire. And at the same time, I found it to be a very comfortable and quiet tire. The complete test results are here.

Tire Tests. Who's Got Them? We Do!

Friday, July 30, 2010 by Blake Bauer
As you may or may not know, not all tire retailers test the products they sell. We feel testing and experiencing the tires ourselves is the best way for us to know what tires to recommend.

As a tire professional, testing allows us to describe all of the features and benefits a tire possesses. We are trying to provide you with the best tire for your needs. Buying tires should be a two-way conversation. You explain what is important to you, and a tire professional tells you based on his/her experience what tire best fits those needs.
 
At Tire Rack, not only can you call a tire professional on the phone and get our take on tires—but you can also read our unbiased test results on the tires we carry. 

The next time you are looking for tires, don't just get "sold" a set of tires. Get the right tire based on your needs. Call us or look at the tests posted on our site. You just may learn a few things, and maybe have some fun along the way.

Now That You Have Removed Your Run-Flat Tires...

Tuesday, July 20, 2010 by Blake Bauer
What will you do if you get a flat tire? Most newer vehicles that came equiped from the factory with run-flat tires do not have the space in the trunk for a spare tire and wheel.
 
The perfect solution for trunk space-challanged people is the Continental ContiComfortKit, designed to be just what you need in a pinch. The ContiComfortKit is capable of temporarily sealing typical tire punctures making it possible for you to complete the drive home, to work, an important appointment or a tire repair facility. It is small and compact and will fit almost anywhere without taking up your limited trunk space. It also costs much less then purchasing a spare tire and wheel. See pricing and a detailed explanation of how the system works here.

Burger Without Fries?

Thursday, July 8, 2010 by Blake Bauer
When was the last time you had a hamburger and did not get fries? You probably order the fries without even thinking about it. This may seem like an unusual topic, but work with me for a minute. We as humans are creatures of habit, once we settle into a routine it becomes almost second nature to us.

Say you just got your new Tire & Wheel Package from Tire Rack and you are getting ready to install it. You get all the lug hardware on and get ready to tighten the lug nuts down, but you don’t have a torque wrench. D’oh!, Strike one! What will you do? Call your buddy and hope that he has one? What if he doesn't? Now what? Now you need to go to a shop and pay them to torque down your wheels properly.

While at the shop, the mechanic comments on your nice, new wheels and asks where your locking lugs are? D’oh!, Strike two! Now you need to try and track down locking lugs or call Tire Rack and order a set. The simple and enjoyable task of putting on your brand new wheels and tires  just became an afternoon long headache.

The next time you purchase a Tire & Wheel Package, think to yourself, "Do I have a torque wrench to put these on?" If not, you can get one at Tire Rack for around $40. Also ask, "Do I have the locking lugs to keep my nice, new wheels and tires safe?" If not, you can get a set from Tire Rack for around $30. Once you get in the habit of making sure you have the required tools to do the job correctly, it becomes second nature. Just like always getting fries with your burger.

Is the Continental ExtremeContact DWS the best tire ever?

Wednesday, June 30, 2010 by Blake Bauer
In a word, Conti TiresNO. Don't get me wrong; it is a very good tire and an outstanding performer. But at the end of the day, it is still just a tire. Despite what you may have read or heard, it will not give you superpowers, it will not get you a promotion at work and it will not make your kids do what you ask the first time you ask.

I had the unique opportunity to test the ExtremeContact DWS at Continental's Uvalde, Texas proving grounds. I was very impressed with the level of dry and wet grip the tire provided. For an all-season tire I would say it was very similar to a summer tire. Uvalde is only 30 miles or so from Mexico so there was no snow for me to test the tire in. Because of this, I cannot comment on the tire’s snow performance. However, if the tire performs anywhere near as good as the older model (ExtremeContact) did in the snow, the new DWS will be an all-around winner for sure. 

If you are looking for a rock solid all-season performer, the ExtremeContact DWS should be at the top of your list. If you are looking to bend steel with your bare hands, become CEO of the company you work for, or be voted parent of the year, I don't think the ExtremeContact DWS will help you.
                                          

Got Torque?

Wednesday, June 23, 2010 by Blake Bauer
Well, the correct torque anyway. Most people are unaware that when putting on your wheels, you need to make sure you are torquing them down to the correct foot pounds of torque. This is true if the wheels are your original equipment wheels or a brand new set of aftermarket wheels and tires you just purchased from Tire Rack. This can be done inexpensively with a torque wrench from the Tire Rack.

Why do you need to torque your wheels correctly? This needs to be done for three simple reasons.

1) Not enough torque can cause a wheel to loosen up and fall off.

2) Too much torque can strip or damage a lug stud causing the loss of a lug. This can cause vibration or the loss of a wheel over time.

3) Uneven torque can cause vibrations or warp your brake rotors, causing poor brake performance and brake vibration.

Torque specs vary by car and manufacturer. To find out your vehicle's specific torque spec, simply check your owner's manual

Our Adjustable Torque Wrench sells for $39.95 (plus freight) and is adjustable up to 150 ft./lbs. This is plenty of foot pounds for most automotive applications.

What is that goofy looking new Firestone Tire?

Monday, June 7, 2010 by Blake Bauer

That would be the new Firestone Destination ST Street/Sport Truck All-Season tire.

While this tire may look a bit awkward to some, its unique asymmetrical tread design provides outstanding performance.

The Firestone Destination ST is designed with large stable outboard shoulders that turn into independent tread blocks. These blocks are separated by large, water evacuating crisscrossing grooves that provide multiple biting edges to promote good all-season performance. The inboard shoulder has a wide circumferential groove and independent shoulder blocks. This helps with water evacuation and promotes hydroplaning resistance as well as aids in inclement weather traction.

During my test drive on this tire I found it to be very nimble, responsive and crisp for a large Street/Sport Truck All-Season tire. And at the same time, I found it to be a very comfortable and quiet tire. Way to go Firestone!

Newer does not always mean better.

Thursday, June 3, 2010 by Blake Bauer
We recently completed our first tire test of the 2010 test season. This was a test between three all new High Performance All-Season tires.

Firestone Precision Sport



Sumitomo HTR A/S PO1



Yokohama AVID ENVigor


 
And the oldest tire of the group, the good old tried and true Michelin Pilot Exalto A/S.



I do feel that all of the new tires tested were genuine improvements over the older models that they replaced. However, I still feel none of them were quite as good as the Michelin Pilot Exalto A/S

The Michelin still has the best ride comfort and low noise ride quality not normally found in an all-season performance tire. Plus when you push the tire a bit hard, I continue to find that this tire will take all you can give it and more. After over 5 years of service in the High Performance All-Season category, it still continues to deliver and put a smile on my face every time I drive it.

Details on the Michelin Pilot Exalto A/S can be found here.

To see how the Michelin Pilot Exalto A/S stacks up in the High Performance All-Season category look here.

Looking for Firestone tires?

Thursday, May 27, 2010 by Blake Bauer




Firehawk Wide Oval Indy 500


Firehawk GT


Firehawk Indy 500


Destination A/T


Destination LE


Destination M/T


Destination S/T

No matter the vehicle you drive, Firestone has a tire for you. In fact, Firestone has been building tires since 1900. So not only do they have the tires for you today, they have had them for your entire family for the last 110 years.

If you drive a performance car like a BMW, Corvette, Mercedes-Benz, or Audi, Firestone has you taken care of with the new summer only Firehawk Wide Oval Indy 500 or all-season Firehawk GT

Classic muscle car guys are also in luck. Firestone makes the Firehawk Indy 500 with you in mind. 

If pick up trucks or sport utility vehicles are your thing, Firestone has the off-road Destination A/T or the on-road Destination LE

If you are a serious off-road enthusiast they have your tire needs covered with the Destination M/T

Do you have a sport utility but drive a bit more spiritedly? Guess what, Firestone has you taken care of there also. The Destination S/T is Firestone's new street/sport truck all-season tire that was designed with you in mind.

All tire brands we carry can be seen here.

                                                      Firestone Tires                                 

Need New Wiper Blades?

Friday, May 7, 2010 by Blake Bauer
Are your current wipers leaving more water on your window then they're wiping off? Do you want a premium wiper but don't want to pay a premium price? Well, you are in luck. We offer Valeo wiper blades for your car. 

              

For a limited time get the Valeo Hook Lock style wiper blade at a buy one get one free special. That is two of these premium wipers for only $19.95* for most applications.

Visit the Tire Rack and look in the Upgrade Garage to see if these are available for your car.

*Cost does not include shipping or any applicable taxes.

Tire Construction Differences.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010 by Blake Bauer
Recently I had a customer send me a question asking about the differences between a P-metric listed tire, (i.e. P225/45-17), and one without the P in the size, (i.e. 225/45-17). So I thought this would be a good topic to post a quick blog about.

To understand the differences in these types of tires, you must first realize that tires are designed for a true global market. Bridgestone, Michelin, Yokohama, Goodyear, to name a few, all produce tires for this global marketplace. If they can produce one tire in a given size that meets all the requirements for every market that tire is sold in, it simplifies production,and gives shorter production lead times.

Let's start with passenger tires, or P-metric tires, as they are called. P-metric tires are the tires with the P at the beginning of the tire size, P225/45-17 for example. This type of tire was was introduced in the United States beginning in the late 1970s and eventually replaced bias ply style tires. These tires are intended for use on vehicles primarily used to carry passengers, including cars, station wagons, sport utility vehicles and even light duty pickup trucks. The load carrying capacity of a P-metric tire is based on an engineering formula that takes into account the physical size (the volume of space for air inside the tire) and the amount of air pressure (how tightly the air molecules are compressed). Because all P-metric tires follow the same formula for load, vehicle manufacturers can design new vehicles around existing or new tire sizes created with the new load formula.

Euro-metric sized tires do not have the P at the beginning of the size, 225/45-17 for example. Using metric dimensions to reflect a tire's width began in Europe in the late 60s. Euro-metric sizes were developed over time based on load and dimensional requirements of new vehicles. The tires were developed based on load and size dimensions, along with the vehicle it was intended for use on. While this did give you a tire that fit a particular vehicle's needs perfectly, this approach was not quite as proactive and uniform as creating sizes using a formula. It did work however and created many new sizes that are still in use to this day.

Both P-metric and Euro-metric tires with the same calculation (i.e. P225/45-17 & 225/45-17) are equal in size to each other. The one slight difference is in their load carrying capacity and maximum inflation pressure. Euro-metric tires have a slightly higher load capacity, and can be inflated to a higher pressure. Because P-metric and Euro-metric tires have the same physical size and the same tire performance categories, the two are regarded as equivalent and interchangeable. As long as they are used in axle pairs or sets of four you can use either type on your car. Just continue to follow your vehicle manufacturer's recommended inflation pressures and rotation guidelines.

So you can see there is no real huge difference between these tire types. They were developed to accomplish the same thing at around the same basic time frame. Just in two different parts of the world using two different construction guidelines.

For more information on tire construction and tire types review our library of tire tech articles.