Welcome to Cody's Corner

Welcome to Cody's Corner.

This is a good space to discuss anything car related, or just a place to catch up on the ramblings of a car nut.

As a little background let me explain where I'm coming from. I've been certified car crazy for some time now and have a job where i can play and talk cars. Short of working on the BBC's "Top Gear" this is a pretty sweet deal.

I'm a little biased to Audi's but love anything with a motor. I currently have a B5 S4 and frequent the Quattro World Forums, (RIP AW.)

Welcome and remember. Friends dont let friends apex early.

Michelin Pilot Super Sport Sizes

Friday, February 4, 2011 by Cody Rollins
Pilot Super SportDesigned to help sports cars, sporty coupes, performance sedans and supercars achieve their full potential, the Michelin Pilot Super Sport provides superior performance at very high speeds and in wet conditions.

With most sizes scheduled to be released in early April, a tentative list of sizes for the Michelin Pilot Super Sport can be found below.

  Pilot Super Sport in Action

255/35-18Pilot Super Sport in Action
265/35-18 (May 2011)

225/45-19 (May 2011)
275/30-19Pilot Super Sport in Action

275/30-20 (Sept 2011)

295/30-21Pilot Super Sport in Action
295/25-21 (May 2011)


Currently Available (Original Equipment for Ferrari 599 GTO)


For more information on Michelin's newest Max Performance Summer tire, watch the video and read "Michelin Pilot Super Sport Introductory Track Drive."

Michelin Pilot Super Sport Introductory Track Drive (Video)

Michelin Pilot Super Sport Introductory Track Drive (Text)

Extreme Weather and Your Tires

Thursday, January 27, 2011 by Cody Rollins
Winter Tire PressureWhen was the last time you checked your tire's air pressure? If the answer is some time last season, get the air pressure gauge out and take an accurate reading. Did you know your tire pressure can dip 1 psi for every 10ºF drop in temperature. The change in air temperature could mean your tire's air pressure is significantly lower than the recommended amount.

Winter Tire PressureA properly pressured tire is better suited to deal with slush and snow as its contact patch is working at its peak efficiency. It is important to note that if you take the reading in a warmer garage, consider adding three to five psi higher than recommended, as the car will be operating outside the insulated garage.

For more winter tire pressure tips check out this tech article.

The Michelin Pilot Super Sport is Coming

Wednesday, January 5, 2011 by Cody Rollins
Pilot Super SportChristmas may be over, but the elves at Michelin are busy making toys for us big boys and girls. They are feverishly making the new Pilot Super Sport for its spring debut in the North American aftermarket. While there still isn't any official sizing information available they should have a strong initial release.
Super Sport Drive
The Pilot Super Sport has the latest in tire compound technology with different zones across the face of the tread. Trickle down technology from Michelin's success at Le Mans has given the Super Sport a shoulder for hard cornering, while the inboard compound will keep us planted in the wet. Special internal construction tuned the Pilot Super Sport's contact patch while cornering for optimal traction and feel.

Our team participated in Michelin's introductory track drive in Dubai. They had some pretty impressive stuff to say about the new tire. Check out the video from the event and read our full review.

Michelin Pilot Super Sport

Thursday, October 21, 2010 by Cody Rollins
Pilot Super SportBehold the new hotness from Michelin. The Pilot Super Sport will replace the gracefully aging Pilot Sport PS2, and the first ones are just hitting the market. What better way than on the rediculously amazing 2011 Ferrari 599 GTO. That means right now the only confirmed sizes are 285/30-20 and 315/35-20, but fear not, eventually we should start seeing more sizes roll out.

You might be thinking, "well what about the Pilot Sport 3? That sounds like the next PS2." Well it is...sort of. The PS3 will focus more on original equipment fitments for manufacturers and the Super Sport seems like it's positioned for the aftermarket and supercars.

You know Michelin's engineering is soild when their new tire seems like a PS2 and a Sport Cup got together and the Pilot Super Sport was the end result. If that's true, then the bump in performance will be welcomed by PS2 fans and Sport Cup fans might enjoy the better hydroplaning resistance and increased life. It's a match made in heaven.

Pilot Sport PS2   +   Pilot Sport Cup   =  Pilot Super Sport

As you can imagine we are looking forward to getting some seat time above a set of Super Sports and if the 599 GTO is any indicator, it should be fantastic.

Winter Tire Traction: Are Yours Up to the Task This Winter?

Saturday, September 11, 2010 by Cody Rollins
So you made the jump to winter tires a couple seasons back and saw the proverbial light. Fantastic. I'm sure experiencing the added traction and safety these past winters has you singing the praises of your winter tire of choice. However, are they up to the task for this coming season?

Winter tires have three main components that contribute to their glorious traction. Tread compound, tread design, and tread depth. Depending on the specific driving conditions you see in the winter time, you might be past the optimal tread depth.
Dill Tread Depth Guage
Below 6/32nds of an inch of tread depth you'll see a drop in winter time traction. This applies to all tires, not just winter tires, so even if you have all season tires it may be time to go take a look at them. A tread depth gauge like the Dill Digital Tread Depth Gauge shown here to measure 6/32" is best; but there are other ways to check depth.

Penny Test

You may have heard of the Penny Test where you use the top of Lincoln's head on a penny to see if your tires are legally worn out (2/32"). If you flip the penny around and insert into various spots on the tire with Mr. Lincoln's memorial upside down, you can measure 6/32". The roof of the memorial is at 6/32" so if it's sufficiently covered, you have more than 6/32".

Snow PlatformsHowever if you have snow tires, manufacturers have made it even easier to check for 6/32".  They have built in snow platforms molded in at 6/32", reinforcing the importance of tread depth for winter time traction. These are raised blocks of rubber in the circumferential grooves, and when they become level with the top of the tread blocks the tire's tread is at 6/32". You may find two sizes of these blocks in the tread as there might be the typical tread wear indicators molded in at the legal 2/32". If you are at this platform or it seems the tire has worn down into the platform, your tires will not be performing at their best. They still may be good but keep in mind they won't be as good as the first few seasons. Assuming you still have some tread to go before you get to the snow platform your tires should be up to the task this winter.

TPMS Warning Light: Know What it Means

Thursday, August 19, 2010 by Cody Rollins
TPMS Warning LightI stumbled upon a USA Today article about tire pressure monitoring systems (TPMS). It had a large picture of a symbol I'm used to seeing in the tire industry, but it seems the consumer is far less aware of its meaning. The article goes on to reveal that Shrader (a large manufacture of TPMS systems) did a study that found a third of drivers didn't know what it meant. Even further, while people may know what the symbol means 46% of the group didn't know it was supposed to be a picture of a flat tire.

Basically, this symbol is going to come on via your TPMS if the tire pressure drops 25%. That is a significant drop that needs to be addressed.

TPMS is not meant to replace checking your tire pressure or carrying a tire pressure gauge in your glove box, but is obviously useful in avoiding a dangerous situation and could save you some money in the process. Not only can tires low on pressure negatively affect fuel mileage, but if you get a slow leak and keep driving to your destination your tires could have excessive deflection. As the tire flexes more than normal, heat and friction build up and can ruin a tire that could have otherwise been fixed.

Read your manual and know what the symbols mean because the warning lights sometimes aren't so clear.

For more information on TPMS read Tire Pressure Monitoring Systems and TPMS Servicing in our Tech Center.

Torquing Wheels in a Star Pattern

Wednesday, July 21, 2010 by Cody Rollins
It's not a law, but if you ask me it should be, and for good reason. Unevenly torqued wheels can cause uneven brake pad deposits, irregular brake and rotor wear and eventually can contribute to the dreaded virbation during braking. If the wheel isnt secured properly it can immediatly cause a vibration during normal driving conditions that can be misdiagnosed as a tire issue.
Lug Types
If you've ever had to strenuously push a car down a street then you can appreciate the forces involved when your car can accelerate to 60 mph in a few seconds. Think of all the shearing forces involed on the wheels when the motor is basically trying to twist them off the car. It's thanks to your lug bolts, or studs/nuts that they don't twist off, and the force is transfered to your tires and eventually the ground as you rocket off the line. The same, if not more, can be said for braking and the massive forces put on the lugs.

We need to make sure the lugs are in the best condition to secure the wheels to the vehicle. First things first, make sure you have the correct lugs for the wheel and vehicle. When securing the lugs to the vehicle, make sure the studs are not loose and the threads are burr-free. If necessary, run a die or a brush along them to clean the threads up. Most wheel torque values are specified dry, so keep that anti-seize off the theads.

Torque WrenchIf you don't have one, an Adjustable Torque Wrench (shown at left) is an important tool for any car nut. Make sure you have the proper torque value for the vehicle that is specified in the manual.

But even if everything was properly done up to this point, it could be all for naught. The lugs must be torqued evenly. Torque in a star pattern so no adjacent lugs are tighened sequentually. Some people may snug all the lugs in any pattern and then torque in the star pattern. This may still yield a good torquing but consistency reinforces behavior -- always snug in the star pattern as well.

Star Pattern

Paying attention to your wheel mounting surfaces, hardware, and then tightenting the lugs in the star patterns shown above means each lug will get about the same number of rotations ensuring the best chance for a properly mounted wheel.

Bombardier NEV Tires

Thursday, June 24, 2010 by Cody Rollins
Yokohama Y372Having a hard time finding tires for your Bombardier NEV (Neighborhood Electric Vehicle)? Customers sometimes assume this vehicle’s golf cart appearance means it has golf cart tires, or perhaps ATV tires. In fact many use a standard car tire similar to the Ford Festiva. Make sure you double check all of your vehicle’s tire specs before buying, but the Yokohama Y372 from Tire Rack might be just what you are looking for.

A common NEV tire size is the 145-12 (145/80-12), which seems to be hard to find these days since 18" wheels are becoming a standard option on new cars. Thanks to Yokohama you can still get some new rubber for your neighborhood hot rod.

Under Pressure

Friday, May 21, 2010 by Cody Rollins
Being the designated car guy in the family, I always get asked to "check my tire pressure," from friends and family. I usually answer "not right now" not because I'm a mean guy but because the question comes usually a couple hours after they arrive.
4" Deluxe Air Pressure Guage
I'll explain that I'm really a nice guy and would be happy to check their tire pressure but we need to wait until the morning or at least give the tires enough time to cool down to their ambient temperature. Sometimes i get a puzzled look from them thinking I just want to put it off a little longer and hope they forget about it. That's when I'll bust out the chemistry, and remind them of the basic gas laws we all forgot from high school. 

A little gas law is all that is needed to justify my apparent laziness. "Pv=nRT" I tell them. As they were driving to my house the deflection of the tire created heat and since the tires volume is consistent as well as the mass of air, then the pressure must have gone up. Basically the car manufacturer's recommendation in the door sill is a "cold pressure recommendation" so we can't check it right after a drive.

We need to wait until the tire's air temperature is the same as the outside to get a correct air pressure setting. The next morning when I bring out an Intercomp 4" Deluxe Air Pressure Gauge they can rest assured their tires will be operating at the correct pressure on the drive home.

Just Say No to Tire Cracking

Thursday, May 13, 2010 by Cody Rollins
Surface cracked tires are no longer the plague of RV owners and Classic cars. Tires today can last to the 80-100 thousandth mile. When exposed to sunlight and the elements they can develop those small cracks often referred to as weather checking,Surface cracking ozone cracking, or just plain sidewall cracking. Slight surface cracking can be just cosmetic but keep in mind deep cuts or fissures from excessive deflection, poor maintenance, or defects can be serious so check with a tire shop if you are unsure.

There are steps you can take to minimize cracking. Tires have oils in the rubber that like to be flexed so they can move around and stay dispersed. So try and drive those tires from time to time. Give the oils a fighting chance and cover the tires if they are going to be stored outside for an extended period of time. If you have separate snow tires, try and find a spot in the house where the temperature and humidity don't fluctuate. Some people go as far as bagging each tire in the off-season to help keep those oils in their own little micro environment . 

Keeping tires clean from brake dust and road grime will help as well. However, if you are going to clean and dress your tires one of the best things to do is stay away from silicone based tire shines. Silicone draws out the tire's precious oils which will contribute to cracking. Try and find a water-based dressing and rubber specific cleaner. There are several good detailing companies like Griots that specialize in high quality detail products that will keep your tires looking fresh.

Check out some of Griots Tire and wheel detailing products for wheels and tires.

Rubber CleanerTire DressingTire BrushRubber Treatment

Smooth Operator

Friday, May 7, 2010 by Cody Rollins
I'm sure you've felt it before...your car is shaking as you drive down the highway and it's anything but reassuring. While this can be a symptom of several mechanical issues with your drive train or brakes, the first thing you may want to check are your wheels and tires.

Wheels and tires need to be balanced and optimized as a single unit. No tire is perfectly round. They are all slightly different, just as each wheel can be slightly different. The industry measures these slight variations in 'roundness' as radial run out.

The run out of a wheel is fairly basic. They put a gauge on the wheel and measure its slight differences (or run out) in its circumference. This way they can find the low and high points of the wheel. Today, tires are measured by their radial force variation instead of the traditional weight variances. This means they measure the tire for the force it exerts on the pavement instead of a free spinning wheel's weight. This force variation measures what you feel, and in the end should give you a smoother ride.

Tires come with with paint dots marking that high force variation point. Tire shops mount the high force variation dot to the low point of the wheel optimizing the package and hopefully using as little weight as possible to balance the package.

Now i know what you're saying. "I scrubbed that dot off months ago, how am i going to force variation balance my wheels!?"

Don't worry my fellow detailing nuts there is hope.

Companies like Hunter who make balancing equipment are into this force variation technique and make machines that can find the wheels run out and high force point on their own. Their Road Force Balancers mount the tire to the wheel and push it against an attached drum simulating the pavement and feel for that high force point. This way the technician has all the information they need to give you the best balance possible.

Next time you get your wheels and tires balanced, spring for the Road Force Balance and be a smooth operator.

For more information about match mounting tires check out this tech article that clears up some myths about those paint dots and their locations:

Match Mounting to Enhance Tire and Wheel Uniformity