Tire Stretching

Friday, January 28, 2011 by Cooper
As most of you know, tire stretching is not a good idea. If you're not familiar with the procedure, it involves stretching a tire beyond the recommended rim width range. For example, mounting a tire with a rim width range between 6" and 8" on a 9" wide wheel. The tire barely sits on the bead seat and creates a gap between the sidewall and rim.

Tire manufacturers put time and money into research and development to design tires at the proper size. Stretching the tire can lead to belt separation, sidewall splitting, shoulder separation, tire overheating and poor treadwear; all of which place you and your vehicle in harm's way.

Shop by size to ensure your vehicle is installed with a properly sized tire.

Performance Winter / Snow Tires vs. Studless Ice and Snow Tires

Friday, November 5, 2010 by Cooper
Winter Testing on an Ice RinkOne of the most frequent questions I answer has to do with the differences between Performance Winter / Snow tires and Studless Ice and Snow tires. The differences are quite simple. While both types of tires will give you superior traction on snow and ice in comparison to all-season tires, Performance Winter / Snow tires provide greater handling and steering response on wet and dry roads during the winter. These are unsually H- and V-rated tires designed for those states right at the edge of the snow belt and for drivers who want to maintain the sporty aspects of their high-end sedans and coupes and don't mind giving up some snow grip to achieve that. Some examples of those tires include the Dunlop SP Winter Sport 3D, the Bridgestone Blizzak LM-60 and the Michelin Pilot Alpin PA3.

On the other hand, Studless Ice and Snow tires provide unsurpassed traction on snow and ice -- even in deep snow -- giving you the confidence you need to face the road when conditions are the worst. Due to the nature of the rubber compound utilized in these types of tires, drivers should be aware that they tend to be a little more sluggish than their Performance Winter / Snow counterparts. The best examples of Studless Ice and Snow tires are the Bridgestone Blizzak WS70, the Continental ExtremeWinterContact and the Michelin X-Ice Xi2.

Winter season is upon us; so check out our great line of winter / snow tires here.

BBS Wheels for Chevy Corvette

Friday, October 8, 2010 by Cooper
BBS RS-GTBBS wheels need no introduction. They are synonymous with motorsports and have been the go-to wheels for drivers looking for style, strength, and durability. With years of success in motorsports, BBS is considered the leader in wheel manufacturing and is dedicated to pursuing the highest level of engineering technology and then applying this experience to the street.

Right now, we have a special on the BBS RS-GT wheels for the newer Corvettes running 18" wheels and tires on the front and 19" wheels and tires on the rear. A great complement for those wheels would be the Michelin Pilot Sport PS2 ZP (run-flat) tires. A package for wheels and tires will run you approximately $2,000 off for a limited time.*

Place your order today!

*All pricing subject to change.

Michelin Primacy MXM4

Monday, September 27, 2010 by Cooper
Great rounds of testing these past two weeks!

Had a chance to test one of my favorite Max Performance Summer tires -- the Michelin Pilot Sport PS2 -- on the dry track and, as always, it didn't disappoint. An earlier trip to Barber Motorsports to attend the Porsche Sport Driving School further consolidated my impression of the PS2 as one of the most aggressive, sticky tires you can run in summer months.

Michelin Primacy MXM4I also tested a handful of Grand Touring All-Season tires and was truly surprised by the outcome. While the road test served as a reminder of how superior the Bridgestone Turanza Serenity is in comparison to some of the other tires in its class, the wet track test winner was the Michelin Primacy MXM4 (shown at left), outperforming its counterparts by leaps and bounds. I would definitely recommend the Primacy MXM4 for customers who are looking for a quiet, comfortable tire but don't want to give up a lot of the characteristics of more performance-oriented tires.

Winter Tires for Heavy Duty Trucks -- Things to Consider

Friday, September 17, 2010 by Cooper
As the winter tire-buying season proceeds at full speed, some are considering P-metric truck tires for their heavy-duty, 3/4-ton and 1-ton trucks because they're less expensive than tires with the proper C, D or E load ratings for their vehicles. But the bottom line is they don't possess enough load capacity.

When it comes to buying winter tires with proper load for your large truck, it is important to remember that the rules still apply: a tire's number one job is to carry the weight of the vehicle. One can be tempted to select a less expensive, lighter-weight tire to save money, but the results could be devastating: premature wearing, sidewall over-deflection, catastrophic loss of pressure, all which could lead to loss of control of the vehicle.

Your best, safest options for winter / snow are shown below:
Bridgestone Blizzak W965  Firestone Winterforce LT

Bridgestone Blizzak W965                    Firestone Winterforce LT

O.Z. Racing Ultraleggera HLT Centerlock Now Available for Ordering

Friday, September 10, 2010 by Cooper

O.Z. Racing Ultraleggera HLT CenterlockSince creating its first wheels in 1971, O.Z. Racing has established itself as a leader in the world's light alloy wheel industry. O.Z. Racing produces standard equipment wheels for some of the most exclusive automobiles in the world including Porsche, Ferrari, Lamborghini, Maserati, Aston Martin and Lotus.

Tire Rack is proud to announce the addition of the O.Z. Racing Ultraleggera HLT Centerlock for Porsche 911 GT3 and GT3 RS models (other models coming soon). These lightweight wheels are perfect for track and street use and are a great complement for your high-end Porsche.

Wheels will begin to arrive towards the end of October, but with orders already being placed, the limited inventory will not last long. So please visit our website and place your order today!

Inexpensive Wheels for Winter Use

Friday, September 3, 2010 by Cooper
When it comes to winter driving, there is no substitute for a winter / snow tire. Winter driving is all about confidence, and while there are a couple of all-season tires out there that will provide superior winter performance, they still emphasize longer wear, a quieter ride or greater performance...not winter traction. Winter tires offer the type of traction in the snow and ice that can sometimes make the difference between a safe trip home and getting stuck in below-freezing conditions.

In addition to winter / snow tires, we offer a variety of inexpensive, yet stylish, wheels to complement the looks of your vehicle. The majority of these inexpensive wheels are painted silver, gray or black (nothing chrome or polished, folks...those tend to not hold up very wheel to the salt, rocks, and debris that are common occurrence in snow driving) and are a practical alternative to mounting and dismounting tires on the same wheels twice a year. Tire Rack offers a variety of inexpensive alloy wheels from Sport Edition, Elbrus, moda, and Borbet for virtually any budget.

Is this in your immediate future? You need snow tires and wheels.
If you think about it, dedicated winter wheels make perfect $en$e: some of these inexpensive wheels are between $75-$99 depending on model and size. Typically, mounting and balancing tires will cost between $60 and $120 twice a year. Add it up and it's clear. In a matter of two to three winters, wheels pay for themselves and then some! And that's not even taking into account the time saved having to go to a tire shop twice a year.

So consider buying dedicated winter wheels this season. They're practical, efficient, and in the long run, a terrific investment. Call us or order online today!

Tearin' it Up at the Porsche Sport Driving School

Friday, August 20, 2010 by Cooper
I must say; I have a great job.

Not only do we get to test some of the best tires here on our own track in South Bend, but occassionally we're offered the opportunity to attend performance/racing driving schools like the Porsche Sport Driving School in Birmingham, AL.

I just came back from a trip to that school where, against all reason and logic, I was given a shot at driving some of the most powerful sports cars in existence. And under the scalding Alabama summer sun -- it was close to 110 degrees at track side -- we spent two full days exploring the limits of these awesome machines, lap after lap at the amazing Barber Motorsports Park.

Thankfully, the Porsches were equipped with the equally awesome Michelin Pilot Sport PS2 tires. I have tested those tires several times on different cars under different driving conditions, and I am always amazed at how well they perform. It's no wonder it is the tire of choice of the PSDC -- we drove those things continuously at the limit and they kept growling and asking for more. Every corner, every straightaway, the Michelin Pilot Sport PS2 provided the confidence for us to keep pushing the cars to their highest capabilities, following our learning curve as we drove faster and faster with every new driving session.

For all you Porsche owners out there, whether you are a weekend warrior at the track or a spirited driver on the way home from a hard day's work, I am confident to recommend the Michelin Pilot Sport PS2 for its amazing grip on the dry, superb handling, and outstanding responsiveness.

A First Look at the Blizzak WS70

Wednesday, August 4, 2010 by Cooper

We're in the middle of our ice rink test of the Bridgestone Blizzak WS70. We actually take our BMW test cars to a local ice hockey arena and perform a variety of tests ranging from acceleration, braking, and cornering on ice. I just came back from testing the WS70 alongside the other three tires chosen for this comparison -- the Continental ExtremeWinterContact, the Michelin X-Ice Xi2 and the Dunlop Graspic DS-3 -- needless to say, I was surprised with some of the results.

The Blizzak WS70 performance was as expected. In past ice tests, the Blizzaks have shown outstanding ice grip and braking, and were the only tire to actually squeal going around the corners, always looking for that extra grip to glue the car to the ice. This year, however, Continental has upped the ante with the ExtremeWinterContact. While I still think the Blizzaks have shown better grip and traction, the Contis are a very close second and they too gripped to the point of squealing going around the corners. Unfortunately for Michelin, the Xi2 did not perform as well as in past tests, specifically in cornering and acceleration, but were the ones with the shortest stopping distance during braking. The Dunlops simply couldn't compete with the other three tires, but are definitely much better on ice and snow than any all-season tire.

Video and test results will be posted on the website in a few weeks. In the meantime, check out last year's test here.

Blizzak WS70 - Still the King of Snow Tires?

Friday, July 30, 2010 by Cooper
I know, I know...it's still summer and some of you may have just started working on your tan. But truth be told, 75% of us will have to deal with wintery weather sooner or later. At one point last winter, we had 48 states with snow on the ground — and with that comes the "which winter / snow tire to put on your car" decision.

WS70Bridgestone introduced a new Blizzak this year — the Blizzak WS70. As you may know, the Blizzak line of tires has been one of the most popular, if not the most popular, with Tire Rack customers. And judging by Bridgestone's track record of replacing Blizzak models with better and better tires each time, we expect the WS70 to deliver comparable, if not better, performance to its predecessor, the Blizzak WS60.

We had the opportunity to road test the Blizzak WS70 alongside the Continental ExtremeWinterContact, the Michelin X-Ice Xi2 and the Dunlop Graspic DS-3. No snow on the ground yet, which may seem strange to some, but it does gives us an opportunity to see how each tire will behave in dry conditions and how it will go over bumps or other imperfections on the road. These tests also help us define the level of tread noise, handling and steering response a tire has.

As it is the case with most winter tires, you do trade off some responsiveness for traction in the snow, and in comparison to all-season tires, winter tires do seem a little more "sluggish." Of the four tires we tested, I felt the best-handling tire was the Bridgestone WS70 followed by the Continental ExtremeWinterContact. The Michelin Xi2 was the quietest of the bunch, although all of these tires like to "sing," especially on concrete surfaces. I also found the Bridgestones to be the most comfortable of the four tires, absorbing the impacts on the road more effectively than its counterparts.

Pending any further testing under winter conditions, I think Bridgestone has a winner here. Judging by what I found during this test, the WS70 will not disappoint those drivers already accustomed to the Blizzak's performance or those drivers who have never used winter tires and are looking for the best traction tire for wintry weather.

Our official results are here.

The Lowdown on Low Rolling Resistance

Thursday, July 22, 2010 by Cooper
Wet track testWith the advent of new green propulsion technologies for cars, light trucks, and SUVs, it is only natural that tire manufacturing companies would take an interest in developing more fuel-efficient tires. Market demand for such tires will only continue to increase as the fleet of hybrid, electric, and diesel-powered vehicles grows and becomes more and more ubiquitous.

Certainly, lowering tire rolling resistance by optimizing a tire’s weight, internal structure, tread design and tread compound make it possible to reduce vehicle fuel consumption and consequently, lower emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases. But fuel efficiency comes with a price. And as is the case with tires across performance categories, there are some trade-offs when it comes to low rolling resistance tires.

My first experience driving a vehicle with the new crop of low rolling resistance tires came last year while visiting the Continental Tire Proving Grounds in Uvalde, Texas. Among the driving exercises was a braking test: we had to accelerate a 2010 Ford Escape equipped with LRR tires down a (dry) straight to a speed of 45 mph and then slam the brakes once the vehicle hit a wet pad. We tested summer and all-season tires, and one set of low rolling resistance (LRR) tires on the Escape. This being my first experience with LRR tires, I was surprised at the results: the LRR tire took significantly longer to come to a complete stop.

A few months later as part of Tire Rack's testing program, we tested four different sets of LRR tires on four identical Toyota Prius. Our road route consists of expressway, state highway and county roads to provide a variety of road conditions that include smooth and coarse concrete, as well as new and patched asphalt. The route allows our team to experience noise comfort, ride quality and everyday handling, just as most drivers do during their drive to school or work. After the test, I noticed that when compared to other non-LRR tires, there was a considerable difference in ride quality. We also performed dry and wet track tests with the Prius and our BMW 3 Series and the LRR tires showed considerably less grip on wet than their standard counterparts -- especially on the Bimmer.

So after all these tests, my recommendation is this: your tire selection should match not only how you drive, but what you drive. I would definitely recommend LRR tires to customers who drive hybrid cars and for whom fuel efficiency is the ultimate goal. Given the substantial differences in wet traction and braking distances on wet, LRR tires may not be suitable to be used on performance cars being driven in a more spirited manner.

The best tire for your car is...

Thursday, June 24, 2010 by Cooper

Perhaps the most frequently asked question I encounter on a daily basis -- well, maybe a close second to "How much is this tire?" -- is "What is the best tire for my vehicle."

My answer more often than not is, "Define best."

Some people consider a tire the best because it lasts longer. To others, the best tire is one that offers the best traction on wet and dry roads. Or in snow. Or on ice. Or on the moon. Or on all types of road conditions.

The truth is, the best tire for your car is the one that best fits your application and your driving habits and conditions. Consider this: a person living in an area of the country that sees 100+ inches of snow every winter and wants to buy Michelin Pilot Sport PS2 tires (one of the best Max Performance Summer tires we carry) to run all year will be very disappointed with the tire's performance during the winter months. months.Similarly, a family who uses a minivan to take the kids to soccer practice will find that the Dunlop Direzza Sport Z1 Star Spec wears too fast and hydroplanes on standing water. In both instances, two very capable, top-of-the-line tires were chosen incorrectly for their application.

And if you are buying less than a set of four tires, always replace your tires with the exact same tire that is on the vehicle right now. Even if we sold you the shiniest, most expensive, jewel-encrusted tire in the world, you will never see the full benefit from it. Tires of different brands, tread design, tread compounds, sidewall density and categories will behave differently on the road. Mixing up tires opens the window for excessive tread noise, under/oversteer, and braking issues.

So, before buying tires, do your research and ask yourself, “Self, what do I consider to be the most important features of a tire?" That way, we can make a better recommendation and make sure you are happy with your purchase from Tire Rack.

Hablamos español!

Thursday, May 27, 2010 by Cooper
En Tire Rack, hablamos su lengua!

Tire Rack tiene expertos entusiastas de autos que reciben entrenamiento para asegurar que los productos comprados puedan ser utilizados en el vehículo que serán instalados; además, ofrecen consejos, sobre niveles de rendimiento de los mismos. Cada miembro recibe aproximadamente 80 horas en el salón de clases o tras el volante en nuestro autódromo de prueba y en condiciones normales de manejo alrededor de nuestra ciudad. Todas estas experiencias aumentan sus conocimientos, y por ende, les permiten asesorarlo mejor en cuanto a productos para su auto, considerando su estilo de manejo y diferentes condiciones de las carreteras.

O sea, si deseas mejorar su auto con rines nuevos o tienes preguntas acerca de llantas, frenos y suspensión, llame a nosotros.

Estoy a su disposicion en caso de duda.

Cooper - ext. 743

First tire test of 2010 - High Performance All-Season tires

Thursday, May 20, 2010 by Cooper
Tire Rack's Test TrackOne of the perks of the job is being able to test the tires we sell. We are one of the few -- if not the only -- company in our field with our own test track. And because of this, we are able to provide first-hand, non-biased critiques based on these tests because we get to actually experience how each tire behaves in different situations.

And we get to drive brand new 2011 BMWs, which is pretty cool, too!

My first test this year involved four different High Performance All-Season tires, three of which are newcomers to the market: the Firestone Precision Sport, the Sumitomo HTR A/S P01, the Yokohama AVID ENVigor, and the Michelin Pilot Exalto A/S (which was used as a reference point). This particular test was done on a dry track, and it featured simulated street corners, expressway exit ramps, lane changes, and a slalom. While each tire had pros and cons -- you'll be able to read all about it in a few weeks when the test results are published -- my favorite one was the Yokohama AVID ENVigor.

The tire handled very well on the skidpad and was very responsive during transitions. It gripped well and while I would not explore the absolute limits of the car on an all-season tire, the Yokohama was the one that provided the most confidence, especially during braking and rapid turns. I had heard good things about this tire through the grapevine and they were confirmed: the ENVigor is a very competent tires for those looking for a High Performance All-Season tire.

Please check our Tire Test section in the upcoming weeks for complete results.

Great news! We now accept PAYPAL!

Thursday, May 20, 2010 by Cooper
Tire Rack now accepts PayPal for all your tire and wheel needs. Buy tires and pay your preferred way!

And since we're talking tires, check out our summer tire selection and our current special offers for discounts on tires, wheels and Suspension Parts!

Summertime -- time for new tires!

Wednesday, May 12, 2010 by Cooper
Ah, the dog days of summer... long trips to the coast or the countryside, kids playing ball games outside, the oppressive heat sitting in traffic trying to make it home after slaving eight hours or more at your job wishing you were golfing or fishing or in Vegas instead...what's not to like about this time of the year?
Summer is a good time of the year to switch to summer tires. For those of us living in northern climates and running snow tires, the ritual of switching to summer rubber is almost second-nature -- or at least, it should be. Winter tires will give you unparalleled performance during the cold months, but will not perform well once the temperatures start to rise. At Tire Rack, we recommend running winter tires from Thanksgiving to Tax Day, which means if you still running winter tires, you're overdue!

The proof is in the pudding: Bridgestone WS-60 (winter) and Bridgestone RE-11 (summer)

The good news is, we're here to help. We have a variety of Ultra High Performance, Maximum Performance, and Extreme Performance Summer tires to fit virtually all budgets and applications. And while you're at it, you can also take advantage of our wheel and tire packages which will include mounting and balancing, and in most cases, all the hardware (lug nuts, centering rings, etc.) free of charge.

There are also a few rebates and special offers going on right now, so now is a good time to replace those winter or all-season tires for summer tires and start enjoying true, spirited summer driving. After all, what good are expressway exit ramps if you can take them as if your hair was on fire?

(For the record, and for my lawyer's sanity, I drive the speed limit all the time. Speeding is bad! BAD!)


It's a tire and wheel world - we're just living on it

Friday, May 7, 2010 by Cooper

My name is Cooper and I am a Tire and Wheel Specialist here at Tire Rack. That's me in the picture to the left attempting to look like I know what the heck I'm doing behind the wheel of a 2010 Mustang, and while I don't claim to be the most skilled race driver in the world, my tenure here at Tire Rack has afforded me with countless hours of training, including testing some of the best and most performance-oriented tires in the world.

One of the first things I learned when I came to work here is that tires are much more than simple commodities that do nothing but sustain the vehicle's weight and take you wherever you want to go. Tires have their own 'personalities' and different tires 'behave' differently in different situations, climates, and under different driving habits. Far from being 'black, round, rubber things,' the type of tire you use plays a significant role on the overall performance of your car or truck. And this is the beauty of a website like tirerack.com: We understand how each tire will more adequately serve their purpose in relation to your needs. We have been in business for over 30 years and our expertise is unmatched in the industry. So please, kick back with your favorite beverage and explore this blog and the rest of the website. I hope you'll enjoy it.