About Ethan

Hello,
Welcome to my blog.
My name is Ethan Burns. An ASE certified Master Mechanic, I have been with the Tire Rack since 2006. I have been repairing, restoring and customizing cars for over 30 years.
Over the years I have owned a multitude of automobiles and used numerous wheels and tires on each. Some great, some not so great.

While employed here at the Tire Rack I have driven on more tires in three months than all the tires on all the cars in my life. I am here to offer you these expereinces.
What took me 30 years to learn is now yours free in the following blogs.
So grab a cup of coffee. I'll be here when you get back.
Enjoy.

Winter Tires for the SRT8

Friday, August 26, 2011 by Ethan Burns
Yes! We have winter / snow tires for the Chrysler/Dodge SRT8 vehicles — the Bridgestone Blizzak LM-60 and the Pirelli Scorpion Ice & Snow are available in the Original Equipment sizes as low as $1,216* for the set of four.

While you can outfit your original wheels with the O.E. 20" sizes, you may also want to consider the 18" Sport Edition KV5 wheel and tire package. This is one of only a few wheels available for the SRT8, so place your order early before they're all gone. Paired with the Bridgestone Blizzak DM-V1 minus size winter / snow tires and TPMS sensors you can get everything for just $1,360* plus shipping.

*Pricing subject to change.

Winter / Snow Tires for Your Dodge Challenger SE

Friday, November 5, 2010 by Ethan Burns
Yes! We do have a 17" Winter / Snow Tire & Wheel Package for your 2010 Dodge Challenger SE.

The wheel is a Borbet Type TS and there are a number of winter tires available in the 235/65R17 size to choose from. Packages including TPMS sensors start at $1,336.00 plus shipping.*

Create your package today!

*Sorry this package will not fit R/T and SRT8 models.

Speed Rating. Why is it Important?

Wednesday, September 1, 2010 by Ethan Burns
Speed ratings are as follows:

S: 112 mph
T: 118 mph
U: 124 mph
H: 130 mph
V: 149 mph
Z: Was the highest rating in the 1980s at 150 + mph

With the advent of new sports cars that well exceeded the 150 mph barrier, the tire industry adopted a few new speed ratings:

W: 168 mph
Y: 186 mph

Every tire that is produced is tested to see how fast it can be driven on before failure. If an automaker builds a car that is capable of speeds of 131 miles an hour, they absolutely need to install a tire that is capable of this speed. An H-rated tire that is known to be tested up to 130 mph, so the automaker would have to move up to the next speed rating (V).

While there are no specific state or federal laws that I am aware of regulating what aftermarket tire can be installed on your vehicle, there is still a liability to the tire companies that sell and install the tires. Moving to a lower speed rating may also have adverse affects on your car's handling.

We recommend that your maintain your car's original speed rating or move to a higher speed rating in search of better performance.

Read more about speed ratings. You can also search by vehicle to see the recommended tires and speed ratings for your car, light truck or SUV.

The Correct Tire Pressure Is...

Thursday, August 19, 2010 by Ethan Burns
I Cadillac SRX Tire Placardam often asked what tire pressures should be for a particular Pirelli tire or a particular Goodyear tire, etc. The answer is, whatever the automaker designates as the correct pressure.

When a tire maker builds a tire of a certain size (i.e. 235/60R18) the tire could be installed on a number of different vehicles. But the automaker knows just how heavy a car is and the front-to-rear balance of that weight. This is why some cars utilize slightly higher pressure in the front or rear tires.

Automakers put their recommended tire pressure on the tire placard usually located on the driver's door jamb.

Pirelli P Zero Nero All Season

Wednesday, August 4, 2010 by Ethan Burns
What are you looking for in a tire?

Smooth, quiet ride?

Quick, responsive streering?

45,000 miles of treadlife?

Then look no further than the Pirelli P Zero Nero All Season used as Original Equipment by Mercedes-Benz and Jaguar.

You'll even experience reasonable snow traction when used on an all-wheel drive vehicle. (But if you live in an area of heavy snow you should consider dedicated winter tires instead.)

More Fitments for Mustangs

Thursday, July 22, 2010 by Ethan Burns
Because of possible fitment concerns that need to be reviewed on an individual basis, there are some optional sizes for select vehicles that we don’t list on our website. If you don't find the tire size you're looking for online for Ford Mustangs or other vehicles, contact one of Tire Rack's highly trained sales specialists. We can accurately recommend sizes that are available and discuss any details that you will need to know.

For example, one such size for the 2007 Mustang V6 is the 235/60R16 Sumitomo HTR A/S P01. The tire fits correctly on the vehicle and wheel but is wider than stock. Another is 255/50R17 -- it will rub under full lock when mounted on 9” wide wheels with an ET40 or higher. We can offer suggestions on vehicle modifications that will allow oversize tires to fit in some cases.

Give us a call!

Summer vs. All-Season tires

Monday, July 12, 2010 by Ethan Burns
I recently had a conversation with a driver who wanted to replace two tires.
My first response was, "Sure, what tire do you have on the car now?" He replied, "That doesn’t matter."

I assure you it does matter.

 When only replacing two tires on your car, you should install the same model tire. This will result in the most predictable handling. Keep in mind that when your car was being designed, you certainly wouldn’t hear the engineers say, “Hey Franz, what kind of tires should we put on the rear?” And the other engineer reply, “Oh, that doesn’t matter, use whatever you can find, Hans.”

One of the biggest decisions that you might make is whether to use summer or all-season tires.

A summer tire, like the Bridgestone RE760 Sport, will perform better in dry road cornering and braking than an all-season tire. Summer tires also perform well in the rain; wet traction isn’t an exclusive all-season characteristic. Because it rains in summer, summer tires are made to be quite capable in the wet.

Conversely, if you require some snow traction in the winter and are not planning on using dedicated snow tires, an all-season tire like the Bridgestone G019 Grid will provide longer life and get you through the white stuff.

Never, under any circumstances, mix summer and all-season tires on the same car. This can cause instability and inaccurate handling. If you require just two tires, please write down all the information from your tire sidewalls before giving us a call or selecting your tires online. We won’t steer you wrong.

One Size Bigger

Tuesday, June 29, 2010 by Ethan Burns
Occasionally I get requests for tires that are “one size bigger.” To some drivers, bigger means wider, to others (usually 4WD truck owners) it means taller in overall diameter. Some cars and trucks can fit a larger tire in the wheel well than the Original Equipment…some cars cannot.

When a manufacturer like Mazda builds a base model coupe it is typically equipped with a smaller base model tire. But when they introduce a special edition sports model the manufacturer will likely install a larger tire with a higher speed rating. In this instance, it is less likely that a larger tire will fit on the sports model as it is already upgraded from the factory.

Year in, year out we are constantly measuring new car models to see just what will fit. We can help you find the perfect tires for your car.

Drivers of 4x4 trucks are always on the lookout for taller tires to "fill up the wheel well." Again, we can help you with what will fit without rubbing the fender at full lock turn.

We can help with your tire research. Visit our website or give us a call.

Safety First

Monday, June 14, 2010 by Ethan Burns
Parents always ask me, "What tire is the safest? Michelin, Goodyear, or some other brand?" That depends on what you’re going to do with it. But there are no safe tires, only safe drivers. You could equip your car with the stickiest racing slicks known to NASCAR, but sometimes, those guys still end up on their roof!

So please make "safe" your responsibility as a licensed driver.

On a lighter note, I'll be vacationing in Ontario this summer and I'll be driving. The American love affair with the automobile is alive and well.  Until then, I'll leave you with these quips to lighten up your tire research.

“The one thing that unites all human beings, regardless of age, gender, religion, economic status or ethnic background, is that, deep down inside, we ALL believe that we are above average drivers.”  -- Dave Barry

“The best car safety device is a rear-view mirror with a cop in it.”  -- Dudley Moore

“Any man who can drive safely while kissing a pretty girl is simply not giving the kiss the attention it deserves.” -- Albert Einstein

“I feel safer on a racetrack than I do on Houston's freeways.” -- AJ Foyt

“The shortest distance between two points is likely under construction.”  -- Author Unknown

Matching tires on your four-wheel drive vehicle

Monday, June 14, 2010 by Ethan Burns
Four-wheel drive is not just for trucks anymore. More and more four-wheel drive, also called all-wheel drive or AWD, is turning up on some unlikely cars.
  • Mercedes-Benz calls it 4-matic
  • Volkswagon states 4-motion
  • Infinity and BMW use the letter X or XI in their name
  • Audi uses Quattro
Whatever the moniker, the rule stays the same. Every one of these auto makers recommends that when it's time to replace the tires, all four tires should be replaced at once.

The reason for this is that when the vehicle is rolling in all-wheel drive all four of the tires should be rotating at exactly the same speed. If one new tire (at full tread depth) is introduced to the car, this tire which is actually larger in overall diameter will attempt to rotate slightly slower at less revolutions per minute, than the other three.

This may cause problems with the all-wheel drive unit that will cost far more to repair than the cost of the other three tires. Pay now or pay later. The wise money is on four-of-a-kind.

Tires for your AWD vehicle.

Summer Performance Tires for the SRT8

Wednesday, May 26, 2010 by Ethan Burns
Good news for drivers of the Dodge Challenger SRT8, Dodge Charger SRT8, Chrysler 300C SRT8 and Dodge Magnum SRT8!

The new Firestone Firehawk Wide Oval Indy 500 edition is available in 245/45R20 and 255/45R20 for these vehicles.

The Firehawk Wide Oval Indy 500 is in the Ultra High Performance Summer category intended for spirited drivers who like to wring the best performance out of their cars.

Like all summer tires, Firehawk Wide Oval Indy 500 tires are not intended to be driven in near-freezing temperatures, through snow or on ice.



Quiet. Please!

Tuesday, May 25, 2010 by Ethan Burns
When shopping for all-season tires, everyone would like to have the quietest tire available.

I find myself asking customers if they're looking for a smooth, quiet tire or one with better snow traction in the winter. Ineveitably the answer is...both.

Tires that excel in the snow are those that will have a more agressive tread. These tires will provide a more confident winter drive and will likely have a slightly louder hum on the highway in the summer.

If quiet is the most important attribute of your tire expect average snow traction in the winter and consider using a dedicated winter tire if your driving needs demand no compromise performance.

But what IS the quietest tire? A racing slick. No tread blocks, no noise. no snow traction. 

Click here for a comparison chart of quiet, comfortable touring tires.



BBS Wheels. Befitting Beauty and Strength.

Saturday, May 22, 2010 by Ethan Burns
BBS your car.

When compromise is not an option, look to BBS wheels as the upgrade to your sports coupe or luxury sedan.
Since 1970 BBS Kraftfahrzeugtechnik AG has been designing some the the hghest quality wheels in the industry. Based in Shiltach, Germany the company was founded by Heinrich Baumgartner and Klaus Brand. The initials BBS are an homage to the original designers and the city in which they founded the company.

BBS wheels has been the supplier of OEM wheels for automakers like BMW, Porsche, Audi, Mercedes-Benz, Ferrari, Maserati, Jaguar and recently the Lexus IS-F. Their strong, lightweight forged construction made them a favorite with the INDY Car series and with Formula One teams.

One of the the most revered is the RS-GT. With forged aluminum 2-piece construction secured with titanium bolts, its strength is only surpassed by the beauty of its deep polished lip.

See Tire Rack's full line of BBS wheels.








Performance catergories. What do they mean?

Tuesday, May 11, 2010 by Ethan Burns
I have had a number of calls asking me to compare tires from different categories. Is the Bridgestone Potenza RE960AS Pole Position as quiet as the Bridgestone Turanza Serenity? Which one has better traction?

Tire Rack has set up these performance categories to help you decide what tires to look at based on your particular needs as a driver. This helps us narrow down your choice from hundreds of tires available. You wouldn't buy a pair of dress shoes to go hiking in the woods.

First you need to determine your needs as a driver. Are you a spirited driver? Do you have to drive this tire through the winter snow? Do you prefer a smooth quiet ride for your luxury car? Sorry, you can't have it all.

Choosing a category first will greatly speed up the process of finding the best tire for you and your car. If you are looking for mild sports car-like performance, look at Ultra High Performance Summer tires. Slightly longer treadwear than the Max Performance tires. No, you cant drive these through the snow or very cold temps. Yes, they work great in the rain.

If you are looking for a bit more performance than the Ultra High Performance category the Max Performance Summer category is typical of Original Equipment on higher horsepower sports cars like Ferrari, Porsche, and Corvette. No snow or cold temps. The Extreme Performance category provides the highest level of dry road traction available for the street. These are purpose-built tires for autocross racing and may not offer as much wet traction as some in the Max Performance category. Don't expect a great deal of treadwear. If you have attended a performance driving school these tires are for you.

If you do require an all-season tire for summer and winter use you may want to look at Ultra High Performance All-Season. Much improved agility over most O.E. tires. Treadwear anywhere from 25-60K. Average snow traction. Standard Touring All-Season tires are smooth, comfortable and quiet. Long wearing. Sometimes as high as 80K. Or consider the Grand Touring All-Season category. Similar to Standard Touring but with higher speed ratings and low profile designs for higher horsepower luxury cars.

Not every tire that is listed in each category will be available in the size needed for your vehicle.

Selecting tire sizes for custom cars.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010 by Ethan Burns
When selecting tires with a staggered fit for a custom application you should pay attention to the overall diameter. Most vehicles will use the same size overall diameter on the front as on the rear.

An example is a Mustang that uses a 245/45R17 front (25.7 overall diameter) and a 275/40R17 rear (25.7 overall diameter).

The 40 refers to the percentage of height to width.

The sidewall is 40 percent of the width of the tire which is 275mm wide.

275 X .40 = 110mm tall sidewall
while 45 percent of 245mm will be the same.

We offer specs for most sizes on the specs tab of every tire model on our website.

As an example, click the "Specs" tab here for the BFGoodrich Super Sport A/S.



Tire Sizing

Thursday, October 1, 2009 by Ethan Burns
Let's look at tire sizing for a moment.

POP QUIZ
195/70R14    205/60R15    245/45R16
Which of these tires is the widest, and which is the tallest in overall diameter?

Dissecting the code you find the the first number 195 is the actual width of the tire in millimeters.  

Divide this by the 25.4 to get the section width in inches. In this case 7.6" or about 7-5/8" wide as measured at the bulge of the sidewall. Treadwidth is usually a bit less then section width.

The second number 70 suggests that the sidewall is 70% as tall as the tire is wide.

This is NOT an acutal measurement and means NOTHING without the first number. I get a number of calls from guys telling me that they want some 60 series or 50 series tires. I can't help these guys if they don't know how tall a tire they need for their application.

195 x .70 = 136.5mm  (meaning the sidewall is 136.5mm tall)
136.5mm divided by 25.4 = 5.37" sidewall
Remember there are two sidewalls (top and bottom) and one 14" wheel separating them.
5.37 + 5.37 + 14 = 24.7" overall diameter
70% of a wider tire will be also taller.

So when calling to order tires for a custom hot rod please know your height and width requrements. 

So get your calculator. Which of these tires is the tallest?

The answer is:

They are all the same height.

Whats the biggest tire that will fit?

Thursday, August 13, 2009 by Ethan Burns

Hello Rodders,

In this installment I’ll discuss rear tire fitment

First think of your tires in terms of a rectangle. Not round as viewed from the side, but height x width as if looking down on the chassis.

All tires will have these two absolute dimensions.

Forget for a minute about P-metric tire sizing, I’ll cover that next time.

How wide is it? And how tall is it?

 

To get a better understanding of what will fit you will first have to measure your wheel wells. No, I’m not going to do it for you. I don’t have the car here, you do.

You will need a plumb bob ( 24”string and a washer tied to it), a tape measure, a ruler or other straight edge (I like to use a carpenters framing square).

For this example I’m measuring the rear of a '69 Dodge Charger with drum brakes.
 

Remove the wheel but keep the suspension loaded if possible. You don’t want to measure with the rear axle hanging down 4 inches further than normal.

 

To find the overall width I’m going to make two measurements and then add them together. These will be useful later when the discussion turns to wheels.
 

Begin by hanging a plumb bob down from the inside edge of the fender lip at the center of the wheel opening. Measure from the now hanging string to the surface of the drum, or what we will call the wheel mounting surface to get the front spacing. . In this example we get around 6 inches. Try moving your string fore and aft and see how the contour of the body brings the fender lip in closer to the drum.


















Consider your tire height and where the sidewall may contact. Be conservative in your estimate and your chances for a perfect fit increase.

Write this measurement down and then proceed to the back spacing measurement.


Using your straightedge lay it across the mounting surface and take a measurement back to the closest obstruction. In this case my measurement is a little over 6 inches at the leaf spring, but it is the inboard wall of the wheel well (about 2 o'clock) that is the closest obstruction at around 5 inches. 

Adding the front width and the backspacing width I arrive at 11 inches. This does not account for clearance! It only serves as the maximum width.

Keeping a half inch of clearance at both the rear and the front we can safely say that a 10 inch wide tire will fit here.

Remember that the section width is wider than the actual tread width. Always go by section width.
We ended up using a 10" wide 255/60R15 that looks just right with steel wheels on this NASCAR legend. 

That’s all for now. Next installment will focus on tire diameter.

Energy Saving Tires. Not just for Hybrids.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009 by Ethan Burns
Today I set out for another routine tire test on the streets of South Bend. This time we were testing the new low rolling resistance tires on a fleet of Toyota Prius (yawn). Don't get me wrong, I enjoy my job, but this doesn't give the same exhilaration as tossing a BMW through the slalom cones on maximum performance summer tires. As an sideline to comparing the attributes of these tires we also kept track of our fuel mileage in these in these miserly gas sipping hybrids. 
 
President Obama was in town today. And as Marine One set aloft from South Bend Airport I had a thought. How many gallons of gas do we use each year in the United States? How many people will this simple tire test affect in convincing them to purchase an energy saving tire. Over the life of these tires how many gallons of gas will be saved these next few years by these customers' choices. Hmmm maybe there is more to this than I gave credence. I looked over at the mpg meter (60 mpg) and I let up off the throttle just a little.

p.s. for those looking for my posts on wheel fitment. Stay tuned. Pics are on the way. 


Custom wheels for Hot Rods and Muscle cars.

Friday, July 10, 2009 by Ethan Burns

Greetings fellow Rodders,

I’m talking to you with the ’34 Ford or the ‘50 Kaiser. And you with the '67 Plymouth and even you with the V-8 Mazda. I know its hard to find wheels and tires that fit just right after you replaced your rear axle with a Jag  independent suspension.

Welcome to the first part of a 5 part series intended to help you get the best fit, the best look and the best performance where it counts. Where the rubber meets the road.

 

In the next few installments I will discuss tire width and height and how it affects performance. Wheel width and how it relates to tire choice. How to measure wheel offset and backspacing. And bust some common myths about tire sizing.

To follow this series just click on my name (Ethan Burns) at the top of this blog.