Marketer Becomes Tire Tester

Monday, July 14, 2014 by Tire Rack Team

After three-and-a-half years on the job, I finally got the call I was waiting for: a chance to be a Tire Rack tire tester! Along with other members of the Tire Rack marketing team, this was OUR opportunity to get behind the wheel of our test BMWs and develop our own opinions on tire performance and truly understand what it takes to get our findings out to our customers.

Having already experienced the Real World Road Ride portion of our tests, I was prepared to look for a tires’ ride, noise and light handling qualities across a variety of conditions. The second part of testing, the Performance Test Track Drives, occurs on our track, and was what I had been waiting all these years to do.

We can see the track from our offices in marketing, we thought we knew what to expect, we were both nervous and excited. As one of our designers said, “I see our testers driving faster than I would want to go. The unfamiliarity of driving another’s car with someone else riding alongside me makes me uncomfortable.”

No worries. We weren't going to be competitive. (The photo at right proves we did take it pretty seriously though)

We got into the cars, we were told to drive at a level that made us comfortable. What made ALL of us comfortable was driving on the set of Michelin Pilot Super Sports. The tire allowed us to feel like we were in control of the car and have some fun behind the wheel as we slalomed a few cones, took some turns at speed and navigated the skid pad (And did I mention this was all done while our track's sprinkler system kept the course covered in water?). When it came to the Sumitomo Touring LS T tires we also tested, it was a completely different story. We were able to feel the vast difference in performance and gain a deeper respect for the testers out there all season doing what they do while listening to the car and the tires so they can accurately report on performances wins and losses.

Here's my rookie review of the two tires.

When driving on the Pilot Super Sports, I felt as if I could driver faster and take turns at speeds I typically don’t, as the tire gave me that much confidence. Now on the Sumitomo, I was braking much sooner to prepare for a turn. If I didn’t I would end up in the grass (even though I didn’t end up in the grass, I can’t say the same for some of my co-workers).

We didn't do a full test on the wet and dry course. And we're by no means expert testers like our sales specialists (who are our test drivers). But rest assured, you're in good hands when you're relying on the test results you read on the tires we offer. Our testers do this all season long and they've got my respect. And trust.

Here are our expert test results and more about our testing program.

MOTO METAL Wheels Now Available at Tire Rack

Thursday, May 22, 2014 by Marshall Wisler

At the request of many drivers, we now offer the MOTO METAL line of wheels for popular late-model trucks and SUVs. Launching the line at Tire Rack with seven styles, MOTO METAL wheels feature a variety of finishes that include black painted, chrome and black with milled accents.

Drawing inspiration from Southern California's motocross community, MOTO METAL takes street looks and adapts them to their wheel designs. Using top performance metrics, MOTO METAL utilizes unique styling characteristics. Some designs feature flat, deep lips, milled accents and removable inserts allowing drivers to further customize their wheels. Take a look at some of the wheels now available from MOTO METAL:

Search by vehicle to find MOTO METAL wheels for your application.

Tire Rack Consumer Review of the Kumho Ecsta PA31

Wednesday, April 30, 2014 by Tire Rack Consumer Reviews

The following post was created from content submitted via Tire Rack's consumer surveys. Information shown is the opinion of the consumer and meant to be used for comparison shopping purposes.

Kumho Ecsta PA31 Reviewer's Overall Rating: 9.27
 
 

2011 Hyundai Elantra
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Miles driven on tires: 5,000
Location:  
Driving Condition: Average
 

Initial Review, 5,000 Miles on Tires
April 20, 2014

You will be amazed by how quiet and steady your Kumho tires will be on your car. I got my first set of Kumho's as a replacement for Continental ContiTacs on my BMW325xi all wheel drive wagon in 2004. The Kumho's gripped better, and they were quieter. I have since used Kumho's as replacement tires on our Mitsubishi, Volkswagen GTI, BMW M3, and our Hyundai Elantra. I am a Kumho customer for life.

Tire Rack Consumer Review of the Bridgestone Potenza S-04 Pole Position

Monday, April 21, 2014 by Tire Rack Consumer Reviews

The following post was created from content submitted via Tire Rack's consumer surveys. Information shown is the opinion of the consumer and meant to be used for comparison shopping purposes.

Bridgestone Potenza S-04 Pole Position Reviewer's Overall Rating: 6.62
 
 

2003 Audi RS6
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Miles driven on tires: 7,500
Location: Eugene, OR
Driving Condition: Spirited
 

Initial Review, 7,500 Miles on Tires
June 05, 2013

Purchased for all season wet use. Very easy break-in with multiple rebalances as tires settled in. Tires hold balancing quite well, however.
Biggest complaint is the poor ride quality- tried various tire pressures from 35PSI to 43PSI (OE spec is 36psi to 49PSI). Went with 35 series instead of 30's but can only surmise it helped any. Wanted the higher load index (100) to hopefully prevent flat spotting- no such luck. Takes a couple miles to "warm" up. The RE962's were even worse (different size).
The Audi is heavy and powerful (4260lbs; 515hp/500tq) and generally naws thru tires rather quickly, especially on the front. The 275 width on 9.5" wheels doesn't seem to have helped much, if at all, since the circumfrential grooves just get bigger, reducing the foot print. Had Michelin Pilot's (old) that bubbled, so got the B-stones. Immediately noticed the stearing vagueness, but hoped once the tires wore down a bit, steering response would return. No such luck. Alignment is perfect, done at a european race shop.
The dry limit seems a bit low to me, even when setting the car up long as possible to load the tires. Transient response is numb and a bit mushy (even at higher PSI), but are consisently predictable, at least it's safe.
These tires are rated 2nd on TR, but would say it's a d-i-s-t-a-n-t 2nd place. Overall, I should have anted up for the Michelins, or Conti's if I wanted to "save". Friend of mine has the same car with the new Michelin Pilot Sports-- loves them.
-----Even called B-stone, but there's no tread warranty and customer service was impersonal with people seemingly flipping pages to figure out the answer. I'm a serious car "guy" and expect and hope someone on the other end can hold a reasonable technical dialogue and know basic info off the cuff. Think I'd rather deal with the French for serious performance tires. The S-04's are a good choice for someone that has low-ish high performance aspirations. 3rd and last set of B-stones....

Tire Rack Consumer Review of the Bridgestone Potenza RE760 Sport

Friday, April 18, 2014 by Tire Rack Consumer Reviews

The following post was created from content submitted via Tire Rack's consumer surveys. Information shown is the opinion of the consumer and meant to be used for comparison shopping purposes.

Bridgestone Potenza RE760 Sport Reviewer's Overall Rating: 8.2
 
 

2007 Mazda MAZDA3 s 5-Door
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Miles driven on tires: 5,000
Location: Las Vegas, NV
Driving Condition: Spirited
 

Initial Review, 5,000 Miles on Tires
June 11, 2013

These replaced well worn Yokohama s.drives in the same size, mounted on Mazda CX7 OEM wheels 18x7.5". The s.drives had 35K hard heat soaked miles on them, were zigzag cupped on the insides (bad rear toe) and very thin inside compared to outside, perhaps from the MZ3's stock negative camber. Noise and dry grip are dramatically improved, as is the ride comfort, keeping in mind that any new tire replacing a worn and heat cycled tire will almost always be quieter, grippier and softer riding. The Las Vegas heat is brutal on tires, and it so seldom rains I cannot comment on and wet performance. I also can't comment on tread wear as of yet. So far and am very pleased I spent the extra $1 per tire over a new set of s.drives. This was all thanks to Tire Rack's excellent customer survey system. As I look back at all of the Yokohama tires I have purchased here at Tire Rack it seems all Yoko's get extremely noisy with age. Maybe a brand trait? I only thank the Good Lord that Tire Rack does not have a button to click on that tells you how much money you have spent total on tires in your life time!

O.Z. Racing Tuner System Wheels

Tuesday, April 15, 2014 by Neal O'Neal

Spring is here and what better time than now to outfit your vehicle with a set of O.Z. Racing Tuner System wheels. In 2006, Tire Rack became the North American distributor for O.Z. Racing wheels. This partnership includes O.Z. Racing's prestigious, custom 3-piece wheel program -- O.Z. Racing Tuner System. This program helps expand fitment limitations normally found with one-piece wheels. Additional brake clearance and maximum outer lip depth are just some of the benefits this system provides. Applications are available for many of the world's most exotic cars including Aston Martin, Ferrari, Lamborghini, Maserati, Porsche, as well as a wide variety of luxury and performance cars.

How does the process work? O.Z. Racing Tuner System's 3-piece wheel components -- wheel center, inner rim section and outer rim section -- are produced in the same facility, with the same machinery and using the same technology as F1 race wheels. Rim diameters are available in 18", 19", 20" and 22" with inner rim widths of 5.5" to 9.5" and outer rim widths of 1" to 4" possible. Tire Rack's complete, in-house inventory of all 3-piece wheel components means quick turn-around with assembled wheels shipping within 1-2 days of order receipt.

Precise wheel assembly is performed at Tire Rack using an exacting process that maintains and enhances the structural integrity originally built into each individual wheel component. O.Z. Racing Tuner System supplies a proprietary fastener specific to its 3-piece wheels to ensure the highest level of structural integrity. These fasteners alone do not guarantee a properly assembled wheel and tightening. Thus, Tire Rack uses a factory-certified Ingersoll Rand DC Electric Fastening System to tighten O.Z. Racing Tuner System's proprietary fasteners.

The assembly torque of these critical fasteners is controlled and repeatable to less than 1/2%. Tire Rack's fastening system produces traceable measurements of torque to spec every time. In fact, wheels custom-assembled at Tire Rack are shipped with a computerized print out that shows in detail the settings used to assemble each wheel. Proper torque (fasteners tightened to spec so they won't break or loosen) and run-out (radial and lateral roundness for vibration-free rides) are recorded.

Once assembled, each O.Z. Racing Tuner System 3-piece wheel gets a unique serial number noted on a sticker placed on the inside of the wheel near the valve stem.

Tire Rack Consumer Review of the Bridgestone Turanza Serenity Plus

Tuesday, April 15, 2014 by Tire Rack Consumer Reviews

The following post was created from content submitted via Tire Rack's consumer surveys. Information shown is the opinion of the consumer and meant to be used for comparison shopping purposes.

Bridgestone Turanza Serenity Plus Reviewer's Overall Rating: 9.75
 
 

2013 Subaru Legacy Sedan
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Miles driven on tires: 3,000
Location: El Paso, TX
Driving Condition: Spirited
 

Initial Review, 3,000 Miles on Tires
April 08, 2014

The Bridgestone Turanza Serenity Plus tire is much better than the Potenza RE92A OE tire, and worthy of an early switch. The difference is night and day. I have a 2013 Subaru Legacy that I really like, but over the course of 32,000 miles I grew accustomed to feeling a rigid almost jolting ride as well as all the road imperfections Texas has to offer. The vehicle has now been transformed. I noticed an immediate improvement in braking, highway performance, steering response, quietness, acceleration, and even driving over speed bumps. My mileage also went up by about 1 MPG, and every little bit helps. I currently have almost 3,000 miles on the set and highly recommend. They seem to be wearing exceptionally well. I chose these over the Michelins due to other customer ratings, and the overall cost/value. I will also say that the car can easily accommodate a larger size if you want to fill up the wheel wells and gain a little more ground clearance; I opted for the 235/50R17. As grand touring all season tires they have nice curb appeal as well -dressing up the vehicle.

Tire Rack Consumer Review of the Continental ExtremeContact DWS

Wednesday, March 26, 2014 by Tire Rack Consumer Reviews

The following post was created from content submitted via Tire Rack's consumer surveys. Information shown is the opinion of the consumer and meant to be used for comparison shopping purposes.

Continental ExtremeContact DWS Reviewer's Overall Rating: 7.18
 
 

2010 Audi A4 2.0 Quattro
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Miles driven on tires: 40,000
Location: San Francisco, CA
Driving Condition: Average
 

Initial Review, 40,000 Miles on Tires
March 22, 2014

I use my car to visit customers about ~2 days a week, during those highway trips, I put on about ~200 miles total. The remainder, I have a short commute to the office or work from home. This is an AWD car with a 60/40 rear/front torque split so I kept a careful eye on rear tire wear. Tires were rotated every 10k. After the initial break-in and first 10k, I thought the Conti sidewalls were a little soft comparing to my Pirelli OEM's, but all in all, I determined the tire had a good all around rating.

I live in the Bay Area and when my friends don't feel like driving to Lake Tahoe, I volunteer, though my Audi can only hold 1~2 other schlorks including gear (hee hee hee)... Light/heavy snow performance is a 6~7 out of 10, but that's also due to poor ground clearance (and insufficient space in the wheel wells when they fill with snow). But hey, that's what you get with a good looking sedan with 18" wheels...

Last 10k miles, tire noise has increased slightly. I had a good experience with these and am now in the market for another set. Tire Rack will continue to see all my new tire business. Checking out Michelin PS3's, RE970AS's, and Eagle F1's. Will probably go with the PS3's to try something new and because they are relatively all in the same price range. Thank you Tire Rack.

Free Shipping on Coil-Overs, Pads, Rotors, Springs, Shocks and More When You Spend Over $50

Wednesday, March 19, 2014 by Cy Chowattukunnel

Most drivers know us for our tires and wheels, comprehensive tire testing and billions of miles of review feedback. However, we offer more than tires and wheels. We've got coil-overs, pads, rotors, springs, shocks and a myriad of other items that are now eligible for free shipping. All it takes is $50 of qualifying products and the shipping's on us.

For example, if your light truck is ready for new shocks and struts, it's hard to beat the offerings from Bilstein. Bilstein makes the HD products for many light trucks, as well as passenger cars. We hear many trucks owners rave about their Bilstein HD shocks and struts.

Bilstein's shocks and struts are built to meet the fitment and performance needs of specific vehicles. And their patented design reduces the need for a compromise between ride, handling and control. Their rigorous development, testing and attention to detail combine to provide exceptional ride comfort and a product that will out last and out perform Original Equipment. Additionally, with Bilstein's aftermarket lifetime warranty, you can be assured they're built to last.

When engineered properly, a strut or shock will exert only moderate rebound damping on the high-velocity damper piston speeds encountered on tar strips and small road imperfections. They also increase rebound damping on lower-velocity damper piston speeds encountered on curvy roads and exit ramps. This leads to a great combination of ride compliance on rough roads combined with handling. One of my co-workers raves about how the Bilstein HD performs on his first-generation 2001 Toyota Tacoma 4WD Double Cab.

Free shipping offer does not apply to tire and wheel purchases. It is valid for retail customers in the 48 contiguous states and the District of Columbia. For complete details on our free shipping, visit here.

Choosing Between Performance Winter / Snow Tires and Studless Ice & Snow Tires

Monday, March 17, 2014 by Gary Stanley

As a moderator of several forums, I have received many questions on snow tires this winter. Recently, a customer had a question about choosing between Studless Ice & Snow tires and Performance Winter / Snow tires:

I’m getting ready to order winter tires and wheels. My concern is that here in Denver, we can have big changes in temperatures. It’s not uncommon to be able to wear short sleeves during February and March, while the ski resorts are getting pounded less than 80 miles away. Given the temperature range, are there any brands I should stay away from that get squirmy when it gets warmer? 95% of my driving is in the Denver area. I only have two clients in the foothills just west of town.

Here was my response to his question:

Most of the tires in the Studless Ice & Snow category like the Bridgestone Blizzak WS70, Continental ExtremeWinterContact and Michelin X-Ice Xi3 will have slower steering response in warmer temperatures, and thus, feel a little squirmy. Of these choices, the Michelin X-Ice Xi3 feels the least squirmy, but would still give you outstanding snow and ice traction for the times you have to drive on snow-covered roads. 

If you move to a Performance Winter / Snow tire like the Bridgestone Blizzak LM-32 or Dunlop SP Winter Sport 4D, you'll find that these tires have more responsive handling even in warmer temperatures. Unfortunately, there's a noticeable step down in snow and ice traction when compared to Studless Ice & Snow tires.

Are you trying to make a similar decision? You may want to lean towards one of the more aggressive snow tires like those listed above if one or more of the following are true :

  • Your geographical area gets heavy snowfall and/or lake-effect snow.
  • You are often driving on packed snow and ice.
  • You are willing to give up some dry grip and steering response for maximum winter traction.
  • You are a newer driver or want more confidence when driving in winter conditions. 

Choosing between these two performance categories may be difficult and is mostly a personal preference choice for the trade-off between snow traction and dry road handling. When making your decision, keep in mind what are the worst conditions you'll experience. This is the time when you will need traction the most!  You can read about my experience with winter tires by reading, "My Story on Winter Tires."

Tire Rack Consumer Review of the Kumho Sense

Tuesday, March 4, 2014 by Tire Rack Consumer Reviews

The following post was created from content submitted via Tire Rack's consumer surveys. Information shown is the opinion of the consumer and meant to be used for comparison shopping purposes.

Kumho Sense Reviewer's Overall Rating: 8.64
 
 

2008 Mitsubishi Lancer
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Miles driven on tires: 1,000
Location: Noblesville, IN
Driving Condition: Spirited
 

Initial Review, 1,000 Miles on Tires
February 15, 2014

I went from having 18" Pirelli PZero Nero's to buying a 16" rim with these Kumho Sense tires and the difference couldn't have been greater. With the 18's road noise was almost unbearable. You almost couldn't carry on a conversation and the noise was even present at low speeds. Now the cabin is silent. With the 18's any amount of snow meant I was going nowhere. I would get stuck in a parking spot with less than an inch of snow. I almost couldn't turn and acceleration had to be done extremely slowly. Now wherever I point the steering wheel is where I go. I don't have to worry about sliding off the road or getting stuck in a parking spot. These kumho's have even improved my mpg. Before I was getting around 28-30mpg now I'm hitting high 30's. My only regret is waiting so long to downsize my rims. I also want to thank tirerack for the awesome service. I ordered my tire/rim combo on a Saturday and received them on Tuesday. They were shipped right to my door premounted and balanced. All I had to do was bolt them on. I checked with my local tireshop to see what it would cost for the same product and their quote was $200 more. I am definitely going to be doing business again with tirerack. You've just gained a customer for life.

Best Replacement Tires for the Honda Odyssey

Thursday, February 27, 2014 by Zig Ziegler

When shopping for tires for the Honda Odyssey most customers tend to look for tires that are quiet, comfortable riding and provide good traction in snow and on ice. Because of the large open space inside the cabin of the minivan, road noise is always an issue. Choosing the right tire can really make a big difference.

A few great options to consider when replacing tires on your Honda Odyssey include the Goodyear Assurance ComforTred Touring, Continental CrossContact LX20 with EcoPlus Technology and Firestone's Precision Touring. All three provide the best blend of ride/noise comfort, all-season traction and price.

 Goodyear Assurance ComorTred Touring
Goodyear Assurance ComforTred Touring
 Continental CrossContact LX20 with EcoPlus Technology
Continental CrossContact LX20 with EcoPlus Technology
 Firestone Precision Touring
Firestone Precision Touring


Goodyear's Assurance ComforTred Touring features a mildly asymmetric tread design that combines independent shoulder blocks with notched intermediate and center ribs to blend dry and wet road traction and handling. Four wide circumferential grooves evacuate water from under the tread to enhance wet traction while the tread grooves, notches and sipes form biting edges to deliver all-season traction in light snow.

The tire's internal construction includes a super shock absorbent Comfort Layer of rubber sandwiched between the tread and steel belts to insulate vibration and impacts with expansion joints, potholes and bumps. It also features Goodyear's dual-layer ComfortEdge sidewall supports to provide a balance of ride comfort and handling.

CrossContact LX20 with EcoPlus Technology tires from Continental use an all-season tread compound featuring their Tg-F Polymers and +Silane additives to improve treadwear, fuel efficiency and traction on slippery roads. The compound is molded into a symmetric tread design with notched outboard shoulders, independent intermediate tread blocks and continuous center ribs to blend on-road steering response and straight-line stability with reduced noise and enhanced ride comfort. All sizes of the CrossContact LX20 come with a flanged lower sidewall to help reduce the possibility of curb damage to expensive wheels.

The Precision Touring is Firestone's Standard Touring All-Season tire developed for the drivers of coupes, sedans, family minivans and crossover vehicles looking for year-round capability and comfort. Affordably priced, the tire is designed to blend long treadwear, a quiet ride and all-season traction on dry and wet roads, as well as in light snow.

Precision Touring tires mold a silica-enhanced all-season tread compound into a symmetric design featuring wide shoulders flanking interlocking ribs to provide dry road response and handling. Four circumferential grooves help guide water through the tire's footprint for wet traction while multiple notches and sipes provide the biting edges to enhance traction in light snow. The tire's structure includes twin, high tensile steel belts on top of a polyester casing to deliver strength, ride quality and handling.

Be sure to check out our test results and customer survey reviews to help you make a decision on what tire is best for how and where you drive.

Free Shipping at Tire Rack on Parts and Accessories Orders Over $50

Thursday, February 20, 2014 by Marshall Wisler

Starting this week, we've made some changes in regards to the way we handle our shipping charges. Free shipping is now offered on all products in the parts and accessories categories (shown below). Eligible products purchased must total $50 or more (not including taxes) to qualify for free shipping.

Accessory items that qualify for free shipping include:

Free shipping offer does not apply to tire and wheel purchases. This offer is valid only to retail customers in the 48 contiguous states and the District of Columbia.

Tire Rack Consumer Review of the Michelin Defender

Thursday, February 6, 2014 by Tire Rack Consumer Reviews

The following post was created from content submitted via Tire Rack's consumer surveys. Information shown is the opinion of the consumer and meant to be used for comparison shopping purposes.

Michelin Defender Reviewer's Overall Rating: 9.55
 
 

2003 Buick Lesabre Custom
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Buy/More Info
Miles driven on tires: 10,000
Location: Fanwood, NJ
Driving Condition: Average

Initial Review, 10,000 Miles on Tires
February 03, 2014

I purchased these tires for my mother’s car mostly with winter weather driving being my main concern, as I tend to use it for commuting to work in snowy bad weather. This car, with the right tires, is a TANK in the snow. It’ll go and stop in anything! After prior bad experience with Good Year tires, I knew I wanted a quality tire from Pirelli or Michelin, so after a lot of research on TR I settled on these tires and was delighted to get a rebate at the time. As for the tires, they’re great. I just had this car in some serious snow storms here in NJ this winter and I commute to Morristown through the Great Swamp, which has tight turns with no shoulder and steep hills and the tires performed great. The one snow day it took me 1.5 hrs to go less than 2 miles in the severely unprepared roads and saw at least 10 accidents, with SUVs hitting snow ploughs, cars in ditches, 5 cars daisy chain crashed together, mult wrecked cars on flat beds going past me, SUVs just sliding down hills with the wheels turned full lock, and tractor trailers just parked on main roads, yet this car with these tires just kept on going with no drama. When you experience driving like this, you take your tires very serious. I plan on getting rid of the worn out POS Good Year Integrity tires on my father’s other Buick with these very same tires. They’re that good, the price isn’t too bad, they ride nice, and the mileage life is high. When it comes to tires, it’s your life, your insurance rates, and the headache of a car accident. Don’t get cheap!