Winter Tires: Keep Staggered Sizes or Not?

Saturday, November 20, 2010 by Jim Holloman
Even if your car comes with staggered tires front to rear as Original Equipment you may want to look at the same size all the way around for winter tires.  BMW, for the new M3, recommends 235/40R18 on all four corners in th winter. The narrower tires are going to create more pounds per square inch on the contact patch and they are going to cut through the snow better. By running the same tires all the way around you are also able to rotate the tires and it will cut down on understeer as well.

Keep a lot of the handling in your performance car by choosing Performance Winter / Snow tire. The Dunlop SP Winter Sport 3D and the Bridgestone Blizzak LM60 would both be excellent options. So why park that car for the winter? Outfit it with winter / snow tires and let's go drive.

Best Bang for the Buck Performance Tire

Saturday, November 13, 2010 by Jim Holloman
Looking to put on a performance tire but funds are a little low?

Take a look at the Hankook Ventus V12 evo K110

In testing that was done by Car and Driver magazine, they were rated number two overall and came in right behind the Dunlop Direzza Sport Z1 Star Spec in the test. They are a little longer wearing than the Star Spec and have better wet braking as well. 

Sizes and prices
are available here. Have fun with a little money left over for an aggressive drive.

Winter is here now!

Saturday, November 6, 2010 by Jim Holloman
You thought you could get by with your worn all-season tires, but that first snow fall has started to change your mind. Should you stick with your all-season tires or go with dedicated winter / snow tires? And since so many new cars have Original Equipment tires that are very low profile performance tires and can't be driven in the winter, a Winter / Snow Tire & Wheel Package is the safer option for driving on the ice and in the snow.

It also means you will never have to pay for mount and remount again and all the necessary hardware comes with the package at no charge.

Winter / snow tires are the best insurance policy you can buy. The difference in traction is at least 30 percent better! Here are our test results outlining their winter performance.

Winter Tires for General Cold Weather Performance

Friday, October 29, 2010 by Jim Holloman
Even if there isn't snow on the ground, winter tires can and do help keep a car under control. The performance tires that come on the Porshce, BMW or even the Honda S2K are going to give you no traction at 45 degrees and lower. That same corner you can make all day long in the summer has the car severely understeering when it's cold. Someone pulls out in front of you on that cold morning and instead of stopping on a dime you are hoping the car stops before hitting them.

So what do you do? You get a set of four winter / snow tires. They are going to work better in dry, cold weather as well. The Bridgestone Blizzak LM-60, Dunlop SP Winter Sport 3D and the Michelin Pilot Alpin PA3 are all very good options -- in fact, much better options than parking the car all winter long.

Don't let Old Man Winter get the upper hand.

All-Season Tires

Friday, October 22, 2010 by Jim Holloman
While I am not a big fan of all-season tires, there are places where they do make sense -- for example, you live in North Carolina or Dallas, Texas and you may get some ice and snow from time to time but you don't want to go with dedicated winter tires.

A tire like the Continental ExtremeContact DWS, Michelin Pilot Sport A/S Plus or the Bridgestone Potenza RE960AS Pole Position would all be good options. These tires offer very good handling, but will also work in light snow and colder weather. They are not going to give you the same ice and snow traction of a winter / snow tire but they will get you home.

These three tires are all rated very highly in surveys by customers driving on them. In testing them in the winter, they all proved that they could handle light snow.

So if you need a little snow grip, these All Season Tires should do the trick.

Honda S2000 STR Class Tire & Wheel Package

Saturday, October 9, 2010 by Jim Holloman
If you are looking to be competitive in the STR autocross class, here's a very good package of wheels and tires. Take a look at the TRMotorsport C3 and the Bridgestone Potenza RE11

In 17x9, the wheel works on all four corners and only weighs 19.2 lbs. They are available in three different finishes depending on the look you want.

The Bridgestone tire is as good as it gets for a street tire. In fact, they are almost a track tire for the street. With this package and a little added negative camber, the car will be very quick in the autocross. 

So if you want to be the top dog in your area, start here.

Honda S2000 in the Snow?

Saturday, October 2, 2010 by Jim Holloman
I know a lot of people don't think the S2000 is good in the winter, but with the right tire choice they are a fun car in the snow. 

If you live in the snow belt, the correct choice of tire is different than if you live in St. Louis where you can get away with a tire like the Dunlop Winter Sport or the Michelin Primacy Alpin PA3. On the other hand if you are in Buffalo or South Bend, Indiana, I would suggest the Bridgestone Blizzak. In the worst conditions they offer the best traction that I have experienced. 

Whether you decide on a Winter Tire and Wheel Package or simply switch tires back and forth, consider winter tires as the best insurance you can buy. The way I look at it is I am making my other tires last longer and with winter tires on the car for the colder months, I can put even higher performance summer tires on the car for the rest of the year.

SUV and CUV Bridgestone Tire

Friday, September 17, 2010 by Jim Holloman
If you like the flexibility of the SUV or CUV but you want it to drive and feel more like a car, take a look at the Bridgestone Dueler H/L Alenza. After driving these tires, I found they are the quietest and smoothest riding tire for the SUV. They are also a very good wet traction tire and have a unique dual layered rubber compound that as the tires wear exposes a stickier rubber compound. This will help the tire retain more of its original wet traction for the life of the tire. With over 14 million miles of customer feedback, 80% of the people that drove this tire would buy them again. 

Who Says You Can't Drive a BMW in the Winter?

Friday, September 10, 2010 by Jim Holloman
I drive a 5 series BMW in the snowbelt and don't have any issues. With the correct tires, the ice and snow is nothing to fear.  You don't have to peel your fingers off the steering wheel when you get to work.

I have a separate set of wheels and winter tires ready for the first sign of the white stuff. I have tried a number of winter / snow tires in my 20 years with BMWs and the best that I have driven on is the Bridgestone Blizzak WS70. They provide excellent ice and snow traction without giving up all of the ride that I am used to. 

We have done both ice traction tests on a skating rink and snow traction tests on the road and the track and they are excellent. So if you live in fear of the winter commute, look into a set of the best winter tires.

Mazda Lightweight Wheels

Friday, August 27, 2010 by Jim Holloman
Looking for a lightweight wheel for the Mazda to reduce the unsprung weight so the brakes and suspension don't have to work as hard? Take a look at the Enkei Racing Series RPF1. It is a nice upgrade without breaking the bank on a tough durable lightweight wheel. In 17" they weigh 15 lbs. (17X7.5 wheel). The current cost is $233.00 per wheel.

Shown here is the Enkei Racing Series RPF1 on a couple of the Grand Am Continental Challenge cars.

Throw on some sticky tires and you have improved the car dramatically. Most people like the new Bridgestone Potenza RE-11 on the car. They are about as close to a race tire as you are going to get in a street tire. So for around $1,500.00 you can make the car handle like a race car. 

What should I do with my car for the winter?

Thursday, August 19, 2010 by Jim Holloman
You just got that new BMW 3 Series with the summer only run-flat tires and you're wondering how you are going to drive in the winter.

A new set of wheels and winter tires are going to make all the difference in the world. The traction in the ice and snow make the car better than a 4-wheel drive sport utility with all-season tires. The sport utility vehicles with all-season tires probably won't get stuck, but they don't stop or steer any better than any other vehicle on the road. I don't know about you, but I think stopping on a snow- or ice-covered road is a very good thing. One accident would pay for the winter wheel and tire package.

The other advantage of the wheel and tire package is you are not paying somebody twice a year to switch tires back and forth. You can install the package yourself. You'll also save the wear and tear on your summer wheels. Damage one of the BMW wheels and that would almost pay for the cost of the winter tires. In the long run you come out ahead this way. I have driven BMWs for 20 years and it is the only way to go in the snow belt.

As far as tires go, I have tried them all and I like the Bridgestone Blizzak line of tires. They offer the best combination of ice and snow traction. I no longer have to think about stopping on an incline or wondering if I am going to be able to make it up a hill.  

So bring on the ice and snow.  Well, maybe in a couple months anyway.

Replacing Run-Flat Tires

Friday, August 13, 2010 by Jim Holloman
If you are driving a MINI or a BMW, you know how stiff the ride can be. One option would be to replace the tires with non-run-flat tires. While you may not have a spare tire, there are options for that as well. Roadside assistance is available on the new cars and you could get a spare to put in the trunk. The other option is a Continental ContiComfortKit

Take a look at the new Yokohama AVID ENVigor if you need longer wear and an all-season tire. It  has a low rolling resistance rubber compound that will work in the cold weather and they are still a good handling tire.  You will have a big advantage over the much heavier run-flat tires that came on the car. I have driven these tires and they are very quiet, smooth riding tires.

So if you want to make a change to improve ride quality, an easy fix is replacing the run-flat tires.

Brighter Lights for your BMW

Saturday, August 7, 2010 by Jim Holloman
You are driving down that back country road and can't see far enough ahead of you to avoid something in the road.

I found a simple solution in the PIAA Extreme White Plus lights. They are simple plug-in solution to improve country driving.  They are made for most BMWs in high, low and fog light options with a whiter, brighter high efficiency light that doesn't up the wattage consumed. (Even though they only consume 55w the output is similar to a 110w bulb.)

So before that next deer jumps out in front of you, think about installing PIAA bulbs and save yourself a possible trip to the body shop.

BMW Lightweight Wheels

Saturday, July 31, 2010 by Jim Holloman
You have decided to take the BMW to the track and you don't want to use its original wheels and tires.

The Kosei K1 Racing is a proven wheel that is used by autocrossers and track guys every weekend. They are lightweight in a 17x8.5 wheel and 16.8 lbs. currently priced at $175.00 per wheel. Easy-to-clean and keep looking good, the 6-spoke design and open look will also help keep your brakes cool. 

Pictured here are Grand Am Continental Challenge cars in the ST Class with Kosei K1 Racing wheels installed.

Mazda Miata Wheels

Saturday, July 24, 2010 by Jim Holloman
You have a Miata that you are tracking or auto crossing and you want to go faster. The right wheels and tires will help get you there. Use what the pros use! Take a look at the Enkei Racing Series RPF1. The 17x7.5 wheel only weighs 15.2 lbs. By increasing thewheel size and reducing unsprung weight, your car will be quicker in acceleration, stop faster and the suspension does not have to work as hard.
Freedom Autosport is running these wheels on their Grand Am Continental Tire Challenge cars. In the street tuning class they ended up 4th in points last year overall.  At a recent Mid-Ohio race I attended, the Miatas from Freedom Autosport ended up in 12th and 24th in the street tuning class.

If you want to run what a pro racing team uses, see which Enkei Racing Series wheels are available for your street car.

Lightweight, Track-Proven Wheels

Saturday, July 10, 2010 by Jim Holloman
So you’ll be doing some autocrossing or track days and you’re looking for some lightweight wheels for your BMW 3 Series or Mazda.

Take a look at the Kosei K1 Racing or the Enkei RPF1. Both of these wheels will reduce unsprung weight and make your car stop faster and accelerate quicker. Both are goals of every track and autocross racer.

Next Generation Motorsports is just one of numerous teams running the K1 Racing wheel from Tire Rack. The BMW 330i (shown here) looks really good with the orange and white paint scheme but is also a true race car. With a wheel that can hold up to track abuse of Pro Racing you know it is going to hold up to whatever comes your way on the street.
Match them with some R compound tires from BFGoodrich or Hoosier and you are ready to go. If you are not quite ready for the R compounds, a set of Bridgestone Potenza RE-11 tires will do the trick for track and street.

Grand-Am Racing and Kosei Racing Wheels

Friday, June 25, 2010 by Jim Holloman
I recently attended the Grand-Am races at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course. In the Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge, many of the cars were running a very light, strong street wheel, the Kosei K1 Racing wheel. These wheels have been used for years by club racers driving Mazdas to BMWs. A number of the front-running BMW 3-Series racecars at Mid-Ohio were on the Kosei wheel. And all the cars in this series were running Continental racing tires.

The series consisted of great door-to-door racing with a lot of banging. The BMWs using the Kosei K1 Racing wheels took the top three spots in the Grand Sport class. You can run this same wheel on your street car!

Grand-Am Racing

Friday, June 18, 2010 by Jim Holloman
I am going to the Grand-Am races at Mid Ohio on Saturday, June 19.  There will be all kinds of different cars in this series -- BMWs, Porsches, Mazdas, MINIs and more. Continental tire is the title sponsor for Grand-Am’s Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge event. They are running on true race tires, but the cars are as close to a street car as you can get.
The Grand-Am Series is the most competitive road racing series in the US with two classes of cars on the track at the same time. The GT class will be made up of Corvettes, Vipers, Porsches, Mustangs and BMW M3s. The Daytona Prototype class is made up of mid-engine, 500 horsepower, purpose-built race cars. When the two car classes are on the track together the racing is very intense because of the large differences in speed and handling.

More to come next week…

Lowered Cars the Right Way

Friday, June 11, 2010 by Jim Holloman
You have the new plus one or plus two Wheel & Tire Package on your BMW and you are thinking you don't like the wheel well gap. What do you do?

The correct answer -- lower the car with some new springs from H & R. That will take away the wheel well gap without giving up the ride quality you like. H & R Sport Springs have the handling characteristics and aggressive appearance that you are looking for. The good thing is you don't have to give up the comfort to get it. You also get more control from springs engineered for the street. They are crafted from special spring steel to ensure quality and performance and come with a lifetime defect warranty. 

Vehicle performance is also improved by sport springs in two ways: they reduce ride height and have higher spring rates that are carefully tuned to the vehicle. This ensures sufficient load capacity and lowers the vehicle’s center of gravity for added stability. It also improves the vehicle’s responsiveness by reducing body movement, allowing the tires to function more effectively when performing at their limits.

Now that you have the look and the performance for the street that you want, what can you do next?

Tires & Wheels for BMW Club Racing

Friday, May 28, 2010 by Jim Holloman
K1 RacingFor club racers, I have found the TRMotorsport C2 and the Kosei K1 Racing wheels work really well on the E36 M3 cars. They are both very light -- the C2 at 19 lbs. and the K1 at 16.8 lbs. Reducing unsprung weight and getting to the same size wheel and tire on all four corners is a good thing for racing. By doing this you will reduce the understeer and make the car more neutral handling.

For tires most guys are running 245/40R17 all the way around with this set up. The tires we recommend the most are the Hoosier R6, Kumho Ecsta V710 and the BFGoodrich g-Force R1. All of these tires are going to give plenty of grip in all conditions.

If you are new to racing, look at the BFGoodrich R1 tires because they are a liitle easier to drive and very consistent. The other two tires do not give as much feedback but can be ultimately faster.

Have some fun and go racing.