UTQG... Does it Matter to Me?

Friday, November 18, 2011 by Hunter Leffel
Uniform Tire Quality Grade (UTQG) is a required marking on the tire sidewall intended to provide a standardized metric that helps consumers purchase tires based on relative treadwear, traction and temperature capabilities. When viewing UTQG ratings, it's important to note that the grades are assigned by the tire manufacturers and not the originators of the test, the U.S. Department of Transportation. The following three components will help you better understand how the UTQG rating works:

1. 100-700 - The first number is an indication of how long the tire will last based on how the tire wears during a predefined test. Each manufacturer assigns Treadwear Grades based on wear during a 7,200 mile test. The test includes a vehicle running a prescribed 400-mile loop for a total of 7,200 miles in which the tire's wear is measured during and at the conclusion of the test. Since most tires last longer than this, interpretation of the data can vary. It was intended to be used as a multiplication system, meaning a grade of 100 would indicate the tire tread would last as long as the test tire, a 200 would last twice as long, 300 would indicate three times as long, etc. With each manufacturer interpreting the data differently, this system is somewhat helpful while attempting to compare the grades within a single brand and not as helpful when comparing two or more brands.

2. C-AA are the Traction Grades and they measure how much force the tire generates in the wet at lock up. Most cars on the road today don't lock up as ABS is pushing almost 20 years as standard equipment. When ABS is working, the tire rotates, allowing the tread shape to help disperse water. Besides hydroplaning resistance, the test also doesn't take into account dry braking, dry cornering or wet cornering. It's only testing the rubber compound itself.

3. C-A are the tire's Temperature Grades. This is important if you live in a climate that is warm and drive at high speeds. Typically, the size of the tire and the speed rating are more appropriate for consideration, but this does play a backup role in indicating what types of temperatures your tire can disperse. Every tire sold in the United States must be capable of earning a "C" rating which indicates the tire's ability to withstand 85 mph speeds. While there are numerous detail differences, this laboratory test is similar in nature to those used to confirm a tire's speed rating.

While the UTQG was designed for most passenger car tires, it's not required for deep treaded light truck tires, winter / snow tires, temporary spare tires, trailer tires, tires under 12" in diameter and other select tires. The Uniform Tire Quality Grade Standards hasn't met its original goal of clearly informing customers about the capabilities of their tires. With tires being so complex and their uses being varied, the grades don't always reflect their actual performance in real world use. To better understand each category of the UTQG test, read "Uniform Tire Quality Grade (UTQG) Standards."

Cost-Effective Quality Brake Rotors from Centric

Wednesday, October 19, 2011 by Marshall Wisler
As a sales speciCentric Premium Rotoralist at Tire Rack, I get the opportunity to test all of the tires we sell. This includes performance auto tires, Passenger All-Season tires, truck tires and more. Occasionally, I like to step outside the box and review products that don't catch as much attention on our test track as the tires. It's nice being able to recommend all products we carry to customers through first-hand experience.

Having recently purchased a Mitsubishi Eclipse to use during the winter months, this vehicle was long overdue for random maintenance. One project at the top of my list was to fix the vehicle's brake system. Following years of driving abuse, the brake pad's metal backing plate had worn its way into the OEM rotors surface prompting immediate need for replacement brake rotors. 

With the issues that arose from the driving abuse putting me in the market for new rotors, I went with the Centric Premium Rotor for several reasons. Featuring a high quality casting with a good internal cooling vane structure, these rotors help protect against warpage. In addition, the rotor face on both sides is machined to have a cross-hatch design to improve pad bed-in. Once more, these castings are completely dipped in an anti-corrosive material to resist oxidation. From my experience, this final measure is very rarely done and is not found on most cost-effective brands. Without this coating you will most often be left with a rusty rotor that isn't pleasing to the eye and is damaging to the rotor.

And, to help you choose the proper braking equipment for your vehicle, read "Choosing Brake Components." The Centric Premium Rotors have worked well on my new Eclipse and are available at a great price for a large variety of applications.

Shop by vehicle
to find the rotors that will help get rid of your vehicle's unwanted noise and vibration.

Winter Wonder Wheel: Sport Edition A7

Thursday, September 8, 2011 by Jonas Paeplow
Many of my customers ask, "Why should I purchase an aluminum alloy wheel for use in the winter?"

Pound for pound, aluminum alloy wheels are stronger and lighter than steel in the same size. Any time you can decrease the rolling (unsprung) weight of your vehicle, you potentially increase braking effectiveness and reduce wear and tear on suspension components. Any vehicle weight reduction also goes a long way towards improving fuel economy. Both of these factors alone are a definite plus in winter weather. Aluminum alloy wheels also enhance the appearance of your vehicle and are sized to precise standards to meet exact fitment and performance needs. For a comparison of alloy and steel wheels, read "Alloy vs. Steel Wheels in Winter Tire & Wheel Packages."

Sport Edition A7A great alloy wheel for use in the winter is the Sport Edition A7. It is a gravity cast, anodized aluminum alloy wheel that is primed, powder coated silver with a clear finish coat. The simple casting process keeps cost down and the finish is very resilient against the harsh conditions that winter has to offer. The slightly angled open spoke design stays cleaner and less susceptible to ice and snow build-up.

The Sport Edition A7
comes in over 50 different fitments in 15" through 18" sizes with some sizes available in a new black finish. The Sport Edition A7 is "hub centric" for many BMW and Subaru applications. This can really simplify seasonal change-out without the need for centering rings that can get lost or damaged. BMW owners will find in many cases that they can use their O.E. center cap to add additional curb appeal.

For a sturdy, clean looking, low cost alternative to plain black steel wheels, pick the Winter Wonder Wheel, Sport Edition A7.

Seeing Red

Friday, August 5, 2011 by Jonas Paeplow
After putting a nice Tire & Wheel Package on my son's car, we noticed that we could see a lot more of the brake caliper than we could with the old wheels. We had previously upgraded the brake system with good looking and great functioning Ate PremiumOne Slotted Rotors and Goodridge Stainless Steel brake hose, but the brake calipers looked dull, faded and rusty.

Front Brake CaliperRather than buy new calipers, we decided to clean and coat the existing parts with the G-2 Brake Caliper PaintSystem. The PaintSystem Sets are available in nine high-gloss, wear-resistant colors. Available colors include: red, yellow, blue, silver, gold, black, purple, green, white, pink and orange.

We decided to paint the brake caliper mounts silver and the calipers red, so we had to purchase two kits. The G-2 PaintSystem Set provides sufficient material to paint four brake calipers, or two brake calipers and two brake drums. However, vehicles with large brake calipers on the front axle and large brake drums on the rear axle may require two complete PaintSystem Sets to assure adequate coverage. We had plenty of paint for two coat coverage and even had half a can of each color left over when we were finished.

G-2 Brake Caliper PaintSystem's two-part paint system does not require caliper removal, however because we decided to use two different colors we removed and cleaned the caliper mounts. We then masked the brake hose and bleeder screw and supported the caliper at each corner with coat hangers.

G-2 Brake Caliper PaintSystem
has a shelf life of six months and must be used between 56-70°F (13-21°C) ambient temperatures. Higher temperatures will cause paint to harden faster than normal. Unfortunately the day we had to complete this job was much warmer, so we had to work fast. We did our best to shade the area we were working in but, once the paint and reactor are mixed, there are only 4-6 hours working time. After that, paint left in the can will harden and will not be useable. I still had plenty of time to apply two coats of paint on both the calipers and the mounts. Give yourself at least two hours curing time before reinstalling wheels and don't use the vehicle for 24 hours to allow the paint to fully harden. Plan application accordingly.

The G-2 Brake Caliper PaintSystem Set consists of:

  • Detailed Instructions
  • Brake Cleaner Spray
  • Brake Caliper Paint
  • PaintSystem Reactor
  • 1 stir stick
  • 1 application brush
Since our calipers were not new and accumulated rust over the years from exposure to Northern Indiana's weather, I spent a little extra time with a wire brush, a little sand paper and a Scotch-Brite pad on the exposed metal surfaces initially. I then used the brake cleaner spray provided to degrease the surfaces to be painted and let them dry thoroughly prior to paint application.

As you can see from the photos of our final product, this kit will give your stock brake calipers the lookRear Brake Caliper of expensive, high performance calipers. The final coating will even help protect vital brake components from potentially harmful oils, chemicals and rust. When you are all done you will have:
  • High-gloss finish
  • Fade resistant colors
  • Seals and protects exposed metal
  • Heat-resistant up to 950º F
  • Oil and chemical resistant coating
If you do it right, you can be seeing red too.

Choosing the Best Brake Rotors for Your Vehicle

Tuesday, August 2, 2011 by Logan Woodworth
Tech Article - Brakes 101Selecting the best brake rotors for your vehicle can be more difficult than you think. This is especially true if you have a specialty application for track use, heavy towing or face challenging road conditions such as steep hills.

Essentially, your brakes transfer motion into heat, sound and sometimes light. This energy transfer allows the car to slow down as the motion energy is converted. The ultimate goal in braking is to convert motion energy as efficiently as possible, that creates the least amount of heat. The reason you need to reduce heat is to reduce brake fade and increase the life of your brake components.

Listed below are different types of rotors that are available for your application:

Solid/Vented - This is the most common O.E. application and is used on both front and rear. Venting rotors help reduce heat but are not efficient enough for demanding applications.
Slotted/Vented - Best combination of efficiency and value, slotted/vented rotors are perfect for sports coupes and sedans. These rotors are also great for truck and SUV applications where demands on the brakes are high for towing or mountain driving. The slotting allows for very good heat dissipation to reduce fade and increase rotor/pad life.
Cross-Drilled/VentedSimilar performance to the slotted/vented, however these rotors are not recommended for demanding applications due to the chance of cracking between drilled holes. Cross-drilled rotors look and perform great, but are less durable than slotted. 
Cryo-Treated - Cryo-treating is a process of increasing the durability of the rotor metal through a controlled heating/cooling process that can be applied to any of the above rotor styles.

Shop by vehicle to find the brake components that work best for your vehicle.

Choosing the Right Brake Pads

Monday, June 27, 2011 by Logan Woodworth
With all the talk about horsepower, torque, 0-60 times and top speed, what often gets overlooked is the performance of a vehicle's braking system. Let's face it, how important is 600 bhp and a 0-60 in 2.9 seconds if your car takes a country mile to stop? This may be obvious to some, but ask yourself when was the last time you saw a commercial for a car or truck bragging about engine performance without ever mentioning the brakes?
 
Brake pads, referred to in the industry as friction material, are the least expensive component of the braking system, yet they offer the most impact on performance. Like tires, not all brake pads provide the same performance characteristics and it's important to know which products best fit the vehicle and the driver's needs.

Ceramic pads are designed for very low dust and noise, but compromise on braking force. Ceramic pads are O.E. on most domestic and Japanese coupes and sedans.  

Semi-metallic pads provide maximum braking force or bite but are louder and leave heavier dust on a car's wheels. These pads are commonly O.E. for performance European vehicles and the most aggressive semi-metallic pads are used in specialty applications such as cars used in racing events.

Composite friction material offers a balance between braking force and low dust/noise. Think of these pads as a happy medium over ceramic and semi-metallic.

Akebono ProACT Ceramic Pads
Akebono ProACT Ceramic Pads
Hawk Blue 9012 Track Only Pads
Hawk Blue 9012 Track Only Pads
Satisfied GranSport 6 Pads
Satisfied GranSport 6
Pads

Shop by vehicle to find the brake components that work best for your vehicle.

Day Brake

Friday, June 24, 2011 by Jonas Paeplow
What do a Sumo wrestler, a high-speed train and a sunrise have in common with brake pads? On initial examination not a lot but read on.

In Japanese, Akebono means dawning, such as daybreak or sunrise.

Akebono ceramic brake pads are some of the finest made in the world. With more than 75 years of brake design and production expertise, Akebono provides the world’s automotive industry with advanced braking and noise, vibration and harshness (NVH) solutions.

Akebono ProACT Ceramic Brake PadsBeginning in 1929 in Japan and since 1980 in the US, Akebono's commitment to innovation, process improvement, quality control and customer service has positioned it as a key resource for leading Original Equipment (O.E.), and the premium automotive aftermarket. According to Akebono, their products are Original Equipment in North America on all of the top 10 best-selling cars and six of the top 10 light trucks. Key automotive O.E. customers include Audi, Chrysler, Ford, General Motors, Honda, Isuzu, Mitsubishi, Nissan, Toyota and Volkswagen. Police departments and other fleet managers across the U.S. rely on Akebono brake pads for high performance power, responsiveness, durability and long-term value. The ceramic technology used withstands enormous pressure and heat for a long periods of time. Each pad is refined specifically for every make and model to perform efficiently and quietly. The revenues that Akebono devotes to R&D are proportionately the highest of any brake manufacturer in the world.

The first development of the modern ceramic brake was made in 1988 by British Engineers working on railway industry applications for the TGV (high speed rail system in France). The objective was to reduce weight, the number of brakes per axle, as well as provide stable friction from very high speeds and all temperatures. The result was a reinforced ceramic process which is now used in various forms for automotive, railway, and aircraft brake applications. Akebono Euro Ceramic Brake Pads

Akebono Tarō is a retired American born-Japanese sumo wrestler from Hawaii. After two consecutive tournament championships in November 1992 and January 1993 he made history by becoming the first foreign-born wrestler ever to reach yokozuna, the highest rank in sumo. Upon initial examination, a Sumo wrestler looks kind of soft, but in fact they are some of the strongest athletes in the world.

The brake pads on your car have a certain degree of compressibility that make them softer than the other brake components, such as the rotors.

Brake Akebono Street Performance Brake Padspads are designed to be sacrificial, in that, when doing their job, they must absorb great amounts of heat energy without causing undue wear to the rest of the rotating, heat absorbing mass. This process also results in a fine dust given off as the pads wear. Ceramic compounds and copper fibers in place of the semi-metallic pad's steel fibers provide high brake temperatures with less heat fade, generate less dust and wear on both the pads and rotors. They also provide much quieter braking because the ceramic compound helps dampen noise by generating a frequency beyond the human hearing range and use less metal. This, coupled with special harmonic-dampening, guarantees a good fit for superb performance. So like a Sumo wrestler this Akebono is soft, but strong and can really handle the heat.


Looks like a new dawn in brake technology, it's Akebono.

Full Line of Brake Pads Available from Hawk

Monday, June 13, 2011 by Marshall Wisler

Every day I receive calls from motorsport enthusiasts keen to get back out on the track this summer season. Although wheels, tires, horsepower and suspension components are very important (and often times more fun), it is important to remember what is stopping your vehicle.

Paying close attention to your brakes will not only improve your lap times but more importantly keep you out of the grass. 

Using the one of the most sophisticated manufacturing processes available, Hawk Performance produces some of the finest brake pads on the market. In addition to their very popular line of Performance Ceramic and HPS Street Pads, Hawk carries several different ranges of race pads for every race and skill level. Considering ceramic brake pads for your vehicle? Read "Why Ceramic Brake Pads" to learn important characteristics about ceramic pads and how they can improve your vehicle's stopping power.

Hawk Products

Shop by vehicle to see which brake components are best for your vehicle.

The Necessity of Aftermarket Shocks / Struts

Wednesday, May 25, 2011 by Marshall Wisler
Since their inception into the market, the 2011 Mustang GT and the 5th Generation 2010+ Camaro have attracted much attention, and I must note I too fell prey to their new designs.

In February, I took ownership of a 2011 Mustang GT 5.0 6-speed. The only options on my car were the Brembo performance brake and wheel package and the 3.73 rear gears. I wanted the fastest base Mustang GT I could buy, but yet even that was not without room for improvement.

My first step toward correcting the lackluster steering response and turn-in feel was to replace the spring and strut / shock assemblies. My components of choice were the off-the-shelf 2011 Mustang GT Eibach Pro-Kit Spring Set and a set of 2010 Mustang GT model Bilstein struts and shocks. Although Bilstein does not yet have a 2011 Mustang GT specific fitment at this time, the use of 2005-2010 Ford Racing strut mounts and the 2010 model Bilstein struts allowed me to successfully use the components. For a more plug and play application and a user friendly guaranteed fitment, consumers can purchase the matching Eibach Pro-Damper Kit which is specifically tuned for Eibach springs on the 2011 models and bolts up without any modification to the strut mount units.

Strut Rod Diameter
Although the Eibach springs are not the stiffest available, their progressive rate is far beyond the factory rate of 150lbs/in. For that reason, it is important to increase the compression and rebound rates of the shock assemblies, not only to increase the life of the shock, but also to increase performance while cornering, and reduce unfavorable motion on transitions and rough surfaces.

At left is a picture of the factory 2011 Mustang GT front strut and its Bilstein rival. The differences in shaft size should be obvious. Upon installing this aftermarket suspension package, my 2011 GT feels like an entirely new car. It doesn't exhibit the floating feeling associated with the stock pieces, and generally feels firmer and more responsive. The steering inputs are met with crisp turn-in and the car behaves very neutral at the limit, which left me quite surprised.

For questions on suspension and more, contact one of our sales specialists.

Big Brake Kits at Tire Rack

Monday, March 21, 2011 by Chad Hocker
Brembo Big Brake Kits upgrade the look and performance of your vehicle's braking system. The brake systems combine fixed 4-piston aluminum calipers and high performance brake pads, with 1- and 2- piece vented discs and Goodridge® steel braided brake lines. These race inspired Brembo Big Brake kits are designed to offer superior stopping power for drivers that are serious about getting their sports cars, sedans, sporty coupes, light trucks and SUVs to slow down in a hurry.

In most cases,the Brembo Big Brake Kit's massive aluminum calipers and large diameter brake discs require an aftermarket wheel with the necessary brake clearance. Take a look at the chart below to see the full line of Brembo Grand Turismo Big Brake kits.

Contact one of our sales specialists to ensure product compatibility as they have developed a list of appropriate wheel options per vehicle based on exact brake kit options.


Brembo Gran Turismo Brake Systems
Caliper
Styles
Style 1 Style 2 Style 3 Style 4
4-Piston
Black
4-Piston
Black
4-Piston
Red
4-Piston
Red
Rotor
Styles
Style A Style B Style C Style D
1-Piece
Drilled
Vented
2-Piece
Drilled
Vented
2-Piece
Drilled
Vented
2-Piece
Slotted
Vented

Style 1A

Style 2B

Style 3C

Style 4D

Shop by vehicle to see which braking options work best for your vehicle.

Additional Information:

Squeaking Brakes?

Tuesday, February 15, 2011 by Mac McNabb
Hawk Performance Brake PadsHere are a few steps to help prevent squeaking in your brakes:

1. Grease the slide pins and use appropriate lubricants on all brake components.

2. Do your brake pads have noise abatement? Good brake pads have pre-installed shims to defend against vibration in the pad. Tapered leading and trailing edges on the surface of the pad also prevent chattering against the rotor.

3. There is a sequence that must be completed after installing new brake pads that beds/brandishes the pad to the rotor properly. It involves laying down a thin layer of brake pad material into the rotor to help with proper adhesion. It is important to remember that you must replace or turn your rotors after replacing brake pads to help ensure there is no more squeaking.

4. Reinstall the spring clips, as they are designed to prevent resonance and vibration. Without the spring clips you may experience excessive vibration that leads to brake noise. 

To see our complete selection of brake pads, shop by vehicle. Product information includes stopping power, noise and dust ratings.

Project STR to Continue Development in 2011

Tuesday, October 5, 2010 by Tire Rack Motorsports
Tire Rack and Grassroots Motorsports are excited to announce our drivers/test team will be returning in the 2010 Mazda MX-5 for another season of SCCA Solo competition and STR vehicle development. 2010’s competition success exceeded our expectations as the car and drivers scored: Project STR turns toward victory at the CENDIV Divisional Championship
  • Three divisional championships
  • Two ProSolo class wins
  • Second place overall in the year-end ProSolo class standings
  • Two Tire Rack SCCA National Championship trophy positions (6th and 9th of 51)
  • STRL Tire Rack SCCA National Championship
The results were accomplished by resisting the temptation to throw all the go-fast parts at the car at the beginning of the season. Instead, we followed a systematic approach of installing and testing the major component changes so we could share the real world gains with readers along the way.

Plans are already in place for more car development and product testing -- a wet and dry extreme performance tire shootout, a brake pad comparison, further suspension changes and by popular demand, a heavy versus light weight wheel track test.

Do you have additional SCCA Solo-related comparisons you would like to see tested? Myths to bust or confirm? Give us your ideas below.

Paint Your Calipers

Wednesday, August 18, 2010 by Porter Pryde
Here's an easy project that increases the bling appeal of your brakes and makes your calipers easier to keep clean.

G2 Brake Caliper PaintSystem SetG-2 Manufacturing Brake Caliper PaintSystem Set shows off a vehicle’s brake components through open-spoke style alloy wheels like Borbet rims. It can be used to give a vehicle’s stock brake calipers or rear brake drums the look of expensive, painted, high performance calipers. It applies easily and is engineered for universal application on all automotive brake calipers and drums.
 
Application is fairly simple -- just three simple steps: preparation, application and cure.

Available in nine high-gloss, wear-resistant colors, select a color to complement or contrast a vehicle's primary and/or accent colors.
 
Red Yellow Blue Silver Gold Black Purple Green White Pink Orange

Too Many Tire Choices, Not Enough Time

Friday, August 13, 2010 by Larry Shead
If you are as busy as I am, it is hard enough to sit down to eat dinner with your family once a month, let alone try to research what product best suits my needs when shopping for the best value.

At Tire Rack, we do the product research to shorten your time spent selecting tires, wheels, suspension or brake components. You are just a click away from enough information, consumer reviews and test results to make choosing products simpler.

Please take the time to visit our website. You can specify your vehicle and the kind of product you are looking for and we pretty much do the rest by just showing you only the products that will fit your vehicle.

As always, you can call and speak to a sales specialist and get good old fashioned recommendations.

Enjoy the ride.

Consider KMC aftermarket wheels for your Ford Mustang.

Friday, July 30, 2010 by Tire Rack Team
If you're looking to spice up a Ford Mustang with some aftermarket wheels, consider KMC wheels—they're "like no other." Point proven in the image at right, where we've chosen to install the Nova style. They feature a machined finish with black accents, and they're mounted on a set of Firestone Firehawk Wide Oval Indy 500 tires. These Ultra High Performance Summer tires promote excellent steering on dry roads. Together with the KMC Nova wheels, they make one pretty (literally) impressive tire and wheel package.

Click here to start building one for your Mustang. Or, you can start by shopping our entire collection of KMC aftermarket wheels. And if you're feeling really adventurous, enter our Upgrade Garage and find an entire list of aftermarket products—like Mustang brake pads and Mustang suspension components, even Mustang shocks—for your vehicle.

The right brake rotors mean everything on the track.

Thursday, July 8, 2010 by Tire Rack Team
All aftermarket brake products are not suitable for the high speeds associated with track use. For example, stay clear of drilled or dimpled rotors. They may look high-performance and they can resist some of the gasses that tend to build up between the brake pad and the rotor, but they can't handle the temperatures that result from track speeds and repetitive stops. If you do choose to use these types of rotors on your race vehicle, which we do not recommend, we suggest you carefully inspect your brake components before each and every use—and definitely stop driving on them if you see any sign of deterioration.

It is probably best to just stay away from racing with drilled and dimpled brake rotors since improper use will negate their warranty. And you never know if or when you'll need to call upon that warranty for help. Instead, consider the following:
Centric Premium Rotor


Centric Premium Rotors




Brembo Brakes


Brembo Sport Slotted Rotors








DBA 4000 Series Rotors







DBA 5000 Series Rotors




This, of course, is not the complete list of race capable rotors. Click here for a complete list of rotors and then filter your search to view track-appropriate options.

Breaking In Your New Tires

Tuesday, June 22, 2010 by Roger Laughlin
A question we often get from our customers is, “Do I need to break in my new tires?" The answer is yes! It is highly recommended that you follow a break-in procedure whenever you purchase a new set of tires.

Easy cornering, braking, and acceleration for the first five hundred miles usually works best. Braking in your new tires this way allows the various components (rubber, steel, and fabric) used in the construction of the tire to slowly work together and to perform their duties within the tire to deliver maximum performance and ride quality.

In addition, it allows the lubricants used to release tires from their molds to wear off the surface of the new tire. Until this lubricant wears away, your new tires will have a reduced level of traction, especially in wet conditions.

By following the tire break-in procedure outlined above, you will set your new tires up for the best possible performance and to deliver results to meet your expectations! For more information on tire break-in and other related tire topics, please visit our web site.

Special or Sport: Which KONI product is right for your vehicle?

Friday, June 18, 2010 by Tire Rack Team
Shock absorbers can be complicated if you're not precisely sure about your individual needs. There are a variety of shock options, and each option directly affects ride comfort and stability—even safety. Take a look at the following force velocity graph:
The red portion of the graph represents KONI Special shocks and the yellow portion represents KONI Sport shocks. Any crossover in performance is indicated by the color pink. In essence, the graph is a visual representation of the adjustment range. The column marked "A" represents damper speeds that result from braking, accelerating and rolling. Column "B" represents road hazards like bumps and railroad tracks.

Based on the chart, you can see that KONI Special shocks compromise the most in terms of road handling and comfort. Sport shocks, on the other hand, are made for aggressive driving. Read "Comparing KONI Special vs. KONI Sport" in our library of Suspension Tech articles and then shop by vehicle for a specific list of components that are right for yours.

Ever wonder why aftermarket wheels are so great?

Thursday, June 17, 2010 by Tire Rack Team
Visually speaking, the answer to that question is fairly obvious. But there's more to an aftermarket wheel than simply the good looks. Aftermarket alloy wheels produce a number of performance benefits for your vehicle, starting with reduced unsprung weight compared to steel wheels. What is unsprung weight? Any portion of your vehicle not supported by the suspension system. Without that support, those components get hit with road shock and cornering forces. To combat that, wheels make steering precise and improve "turning in" characteristics.

Aftermarket rims are also lighter than steel rims, which helps reduce the overall weight of your car. Clearly a lighter car handles much easier than one with significant weight to it. In addition, alloy wheels are quite strong. And strong wheels support your tires in the corner.

Finally, alloy wheels are made with metals that conduct heat most excellently. Heat is moved away from the brakes, which reduces brake fade. And often, alloy wheels are designed in a way that allows air to flow away from the brakes a little easier.

Still wonder why aftermarket wheels are so great? Let's go back to that visual note. Play around in the Upgrade Garage to see what some of Tire Rack's best aftermarket wheels look like on your vehicle. You just might find yourself sold on a particular set from one of our manufacturers. A list that includes BBS, moda, MSW and more.

You have to watch out for more than just the other drivers on the track.

Monday, June 14, 2010 by Damon Witters
Michelin Pilot Sport Cup Tires. Check.

Hawk Blue 9012 Track Only Brake Pads. Check.

Forged Racing Wheels. Check.

A day booked at the track. Ahhhhhhhh. Bliss. The smell of hot brakes, tires and engines. Old, bald men going through their midlife crises and standing around their new Porsches and BMWs comparing the size of their tires and scratching their bellies at the price they paid for the wheels that will no DOUBT take valuable seconds off their lap times. Seconds that will make them KING of the water cooler on Monday morning. As they are removed from the trailer and installed one by one, how many of them are inspected for cracks? You'd be surprised.

"These wheels are FORGED, and they won't break!" I hear it more than you'd think. Thing is, what most people don't realize is that while lightweight and strong, any wheel , even forged wheels, can crack due to stress or impact. There may not be an obvious bend in the wheel. Where there is a crack, there is a break waiting to happen.

While it's fun to tease (out of jealousy, really), it is important to remember that regardless of what you are racing on, it's imperative that you periodically check your wheels for cracks.

Modern performance cars with high output engines, huge brakes and well tuned susspensions put as much force and stress on wheels as many dedicated race cars. Race teams go through great trouble to inspect wheels for signs of trouble. You should inspect yours, too. The intense extended heat and stress caused on the entire vehicle requires that drivers take extra time and care to ensure there is no hidden damage to any vehicle component.

We have a great tech article that track drivers find useful.

Being king of a Monday morning water cooler means you have to be able to get to it first.