Talking truth about tires and wheels

My name is Gus Liszewski.  I am a tire and wheel specialist at The Tire Rack.  I have been in the automotive field nearly all my life, growing up with a family business in automotive repair.  I have been a speed and performance junkie from pretty much day one.  The added experience at The Tire Rack has given me the opportunity to attend multiple track events and high performance driving schools.  This has afforded me a greater understanding of many high performance vehicles in high performance, on the edge situations.  The continued education I receive at The Tire Rack keeps me up on current industry trends,and cutting  edge information of vehicle fitments.  Long story short...if it rolls on tires...I like it!    


Wednesday, May 5, 2010 by Gus Liszewski
I don't know about everyone else, but in my opinion there is nothing worse than not being able to stop. So let's take a minute to talk about brakes. Stopping power is derived from the friction material. Friction material is more commonly known as a brake pad. Pads create friction against the rotor which allows the vehicle to stop. This whole process creates a lot of heat and the heat can be the problem.
Rotors are available from a lot of different sources and and from multiple manufacturers.  Some are a basic metallurgy and normally are not very resistant to the effects of heat. Products sold at Tire Rack manufactured by DBA, Centric, Power Slot, Brembo, and ATE are premium products with metal alloys which have less impurities and will be less likely to have failure due to over heating.

Cryogenic treating is a process that hardens the steel of a rotor and results in a molecular restructuring that makes the surface harder and more durable. Power Slot offers a cryo rotor, and these are strongly recommended for those who spend time on the track or put their vehicle through some extreme conditions.

When it comes to pads, I recommend the Hawk Performance products. Hawk has some of the most consistent products on the market, and offer a wide range of pads starting with a quiet and comfortable ceramic pad, up through pads that are designed to be used on the race track only.  The best part of the HAWK line...they have everything in between too!

When it comes to replacing the wheels and tires on an SUV and plus sizing is the direction that you have chosen to go, remember that with bigger wheels comes higher weights. The rotational mass that comes along with the larger wheels will put more stress on the braking system and this should be considered. The last thing that you want to do is park your newly upgraded truck in the trunk of someone's civic.  

When selecting brake pads and rotors, it is important to remember that you need to consider your driving style, your expectations, and the vehicle's dynamics.
There is something out there for stop...and smell the brake dust!

Great tire...or great tire for the money?

Wednesday, April 21, 2010 by Gus Liszewski
Okay, so we all know that the economy is not at its strongest, money still does not grow on trees, and the majority of people do not want to spend money on tires. (Unless you are like me...I get excited about tires like my wife does shoes!)  But, you have to remember that there is only one thing between you and the road, between you and the car in front of you, and you and the ditch.  

Yokohama Avid TRZSo what does this mean? When you look at customer survey results that are posted on our website, those numbers are not manipulated in anyway. They represent the good, the bad, and the ugly. I am not implying that in order for you to get a good tire you have to buy the most expensive, but I am saying that you should not expect to purchase a Michelin Pilot Sport PS2 for the the cost of a Kumho Ecsta Spt. There is nothing wrong with the Kumho, but...with all confidence, I can say that all things considered equal the Michelin is a better tire, when it comes to providing the performance it was designed to provide.

For the money, there are a number of tires that I would suggest as good "value" oriented options. The Yokohama Avid TRZ, the General Altimax HP, the Firestone Destination LE, the Continental Extreme Contact DWS, Kumho Ecsta LX Platinum, General Grabber HTS, these are a few of the value standouts.

What do you get when you spend the extra money? It is a little quieter, a little more comfortable, a little bit better wet traction, a little bit better ultimate level of traction. The level of research and development that is required to refine the tire to make all of the little improvements is pretty substantial. We all know how labor intensive R&D can be.  

The point of this all is as clear as mud at this point so I will clear it up. Don't expect to purchase a Ferrari for the Price of a Chevy Aveo, but if you are using it to commute and you don't expect more than it can provide, then the Aveo will work just fine! I guess long story get what you pay for! 


Dashing through the snow!

Monday, October 5, 2009 by Gus Liszewski

     There is an always a debate on the use of winter tires versus the use of all season tires.  For many people it comes down to convenience, for others a matter of cost and for others a matter of safety.  I am going to go over the differences to at least try and help people make a truly educated decision, and know what they are sacrificing or what they can expect out of the purchase of their snow tires.

     Let’s start by talking about geographic location.  There are a large number of places throughout the country that see very little snowfall, maybe even only a few inches a year.  The majority of the conditions are cold and wet, with a few days of snow.  When there is snow, a lot of these places shut down, they don't have the equipment to remove the snow fast enough, and it's melted the next day.  If this is you, consider yourself a great candidate for an all season tire.  An all season tire is a compromise.  It has to be good in the wet, dry, summer, winter, hot, and cold!  Let's be one can do everything.

     If you live in a location where you have significant snowfall, and no, this does not only mean that you have to live in Buffalo or Syracuse, New York.  A snow tire can make all the difference in the braking, acceleration, and overall capabilities of the vehicle.  The age old many snow tires should I install.  We all grew up driving rear wheel drive cars, and we put two snow tires in the rear and some sand in the trunk and we headed down the road.  Hopefully no one had any significant troubles.  Looking back, I can't believe that we did it.  You wouldn't take your car to the race track and put two all season tires on the front axle and two R compound Hoosier R6s on the rear would you?  Of course not, because the vehicle would push through every turn and you would feel like you were driving an out of control roller coaster.  So why do we think that it is different in the snow?

     There is more to driving in the snow then getting going...for example braking or even turning!  I know that it seems like a crazy concept, but it is nothing more than high school physics.  If you have more grip on the drive axle, the other axle is bound to be all over the place.  If you have a rear wheel drive vehicle, you will manage to create a completely unguided winter missile.  You can launch from the stop, but let’s all hope that you don't have to change course, or that something gets in the way, because there is probably going to be impact.  If you are in a front wheel drive vehicle, you get to drive around like a drift car driver every time you try to turn a corner because the rear end of the vehicle does not deem it necessary to actually grip the road.
This is made even more dramatic due to the technological improvements made in modern snow tires. Advanced tread compounds and designs mean modern snow tires offer traction levels that make older design snow tires seem like summer tires.

     With any vehicle the initial design and engineering revolves around balance.  You wouldn't buy a brand new Ferrari and ask them to put Michelins in the rear and throw some Continentals in the front.  Why?  Balance!  There are a number of things that we all do because we always have, but if we think outside the box for just a second on this one, we can improve the safety of our daily commute for not only ourselves, but everyone else we share the road with!

Happy sledding!

To Run flat or not to Run flat, that is the question.

Thursday, July 9, 2009 by Gus Liszewski

     Run flat tires are becoming a hot topic of conversation.  With most of the new BMW, Mini, Chevrolet Corvettes, and even Toyota Sienna AWD models coming without a spare tire, it leaves owners with limited options.  While run-flat tires do provide extended mobility, there are mixed reviews on their ride quality, durability, cost, and overall value.  

    If I was putting my wife in a car and sending her across country in a vehicle without a spare tire, I would most definitely see the value in the run flat tires.  Now as a performance junkie, I would have to say that I am not the most impressed with the way some of these tires handle or ride.  

    Lets start with an explanation of how the run flat tire actually works, and what is different between these and a conventional tire.  The major difference is in the construction of the sidewall of the tire.  In the illustration below you will see the difference in the thickness of the sidewall and the way it is constructed.  The top section is of a standard tire with normal sidewall construction.  The second section is of a run flat tire, you will notice that the sidewall is almost twice as dense.


    So what does this mean?  Well twice as much rubber is twice as hard to flex.  So the driver ends up feeling every bump in the road.  I personally like to feel connected to the road, but even I have my limits.  I talk to Chev Corvette owners regularly, and I can't remember a single one that was happy to pay the premium for run flats, and didn't complain about the wear factor and ride quality....or lack there of.

   When the tire loses pressure, the weight of the vehicle actually rests and runs on the sidewall.  Think about it!  The entire weight of the car is running on the sidewalls!  The gotta be stiff to support that!

    Where does this leave me on run flat tires? If you are willing to make the swap and take the risk of needing to call a tow truck or flat bed in the event of a flat,  you will open up a lot more options at a lower price point, that are superior performing tires, and better riding tires!  This is a decision you have to commit to pretty whole heartedly, but if you love to drive, your car will thank you!

    But wait!  There is a solution that might help!  Continental Tire has developed and marketed the Continental Conti Comfort Kit.  Say that fast five times!  This is an inflation system that is designed to be carried in the trunk that is a combination of a 12v compressor and a high grade can of sealant.  This is not intended to be a permanent fix, but will get you off the road if there is a simple puncture.


Selecting the RIGHT new tire

Wednesday, July 8, 2009 by Gus Liszewski

      I recently had a conversation with a customer who was calling to order tires for a Honda minivan.  He was asking for the Goodyear Eagle F1 GS-D3.  My first response was, "that's a great tire sir, but can I ask why you want to put it on your minivan?"  He response revolved around his friend who has a Corvette and loves the tire, and he wanted to have the same joy that his friend displayed.  

     So lets talk about the right tire for the right car.  An apple and an orange are both fruits, but when you are done eating them, the taste they leave in your mouth is completely different.  There is a time and a place for the racer minivan, but it seems to be rare, but don't happens!!

    When selecting a tire, it is as important as selecting a shoe.  You have to ask yourself what you want the tire to do for you.  Do you want it to have long treadwear?  Do you need all season traction?  Are you bothered by road noise?  How about comfort?  There is more to tires then being round black and holding air.  Afterall you wouldn't go jogging in your "gators" would you?

    So after talking with the customer, I discovered that he was looking for a long lasting tire, that was all season capable, and wouldn't roar on the road.  This pretty much ruled out the Goodyear.  After talking with him at length, the Yokohama TRZ seemed as though it was going to be the best fit.  With an 80k treadlife warranty, all season capability, and a very quiet comfortable ride, I don't think he could go wrong!

    He still got his fruit, just made sure it was the right one for the right taste!  When chosing tires, there is a lot more to consider than is it a "good" tire or not?  The real question should be, is it a good tire for the application.