BFGoodrich g-Force Sport COMP-2 A/S vs. BFGoodrich g-Force Super Sport A/S

Wednesday, April 15, 2015 by Gary Stanley

BFGoodrich was the first American tire manufacturer and is now owned by Michelin. Given Michelin's success in the ultra high performance market, it's no surprise to see that the top BFGoodrich performance street tire, the g-Force Sport COMP-2, has also received outstanding ratings in testing and customer feedback. You can learn more about the g-Force Sport COMP-2 by reading, "BFGoodrich g-Force Sport vs. g-Force Sport COMP-2."

Building on the success of the Sport COMP-2, BFGoodrich has designed an Ultra High Performance All-Season version of the tire to meet the needs of drivers who need some cold weather and light snow traction. This new design, called the g-Force COMP-2 A/S is replacing the aging BFGoodrich g-Force Super Sport A/S .

 BFGoodrich g-Force Super Sport A/S
BFGoodrich g-Force Super Sport A/S
 BFGoodrich g-Force Comp-2 A/S
BFGoodrich g-Force COMP-2 A/S


BFGoodrich's main goal was to improve the snow and wet traction on the new g-Force COMP A/S compared to its predecessor. They certainly followed through with a 15% increase in snow traction, while also increasing wet traction and even improving dry grip a bit over the old g-Force Super Sport A/S. These improvements put BFGoodrich's new tire back into the game while maintaining its sporty directional tread pattern and stylish sidewall design.  

We expect this tire to be a strong contender in the Ultra High Performance All-Season category and an ideal choice for drivers of sporty coupes and sedans that need some all-weather capability.  

Sumitomo's Affordable Performance All-Season Tire Just Got Better

Thursday, April 9, 2015 by Gary Stanley

Sumitomo traces its roots back to its relationship with Dunlop that started in 1909 and has been engineering and producing world-class tires now for decades. In the late 1990s, Sumitomo and Goodyear formed a joint venture in which the two manufacturers would produce tires for each other. In a way, you can think of Sumitomo as the "Goodyear of Japan."  For more information on Sumitomo tires, take a look at "How Good Are Sumitomo Tires?

I've used a few different sets of Sumitomo summer performance tires on a number of my own vehicles over the years, including the Sumitomo HTR Z III with great results. Sumitomo also recently replaced their performance all-season tire, the HTR A/S P01, with the all-new HTR A/S P02.  

 Sumitomo HTR A/S P01
Sumitomo HTR A/S P01
 Sumitomo HTR A/S P02
Sumitomo HTR A/S P02


The original Sumitomo HTR A/S P01 was an entry-level, directional performance all-season tire. While it was never at the top of its class, it competed well against other similarly priced tires. The replacement HTR A/S P02 should prove to be a far superior replacement tire. It uses an all-new silica enhanced tread compound and modern asymmetric tread pattern for much improved wet and snow traction, longer treadwear and a much quieter ride.  

If you're looking for affordable tires that are also reliable and safe, consider the new Sumitomo HTR A/S P02. Shop by vehicle to see if this tire is available for your application.

Lower Your Car and Keep a Great Ride with Eibach Lowering Springs

Wednesday, April 1, 2015 by Gary Stanley

Now that fair weather is just around the corner, many drivers are starting to focus on the performance and handling capability of their sporty cars. After upgrading tires, a vehicle's suspension is the next area of improvement that yields great results for the money. For most, a set of lowering springs from Eibach may be the answer. 



Benefits of lowering springs:

  • Lower center of gravity
  • Reduced body roll
  • Reduced pitch and dive when braking and accelerating
  • Better handling and steering feel

Vehicle performance and handing aren't the only reasons to lower your car. The visual difference in closing some of the factory wheel gap can be very appealing. 

   

Some people are hesitant to lower their vehicle due to concerns about ride quality, alignment problems and even compatibility with their shocks. The truth is that ride quality and proper alignment can be maintained with a set of high quality springs such as Eibach's Pro-Kit Spring Set. They're designed to be compatible with a vehicle's Original Equipment shocks. For more information about some of the misconceptions involved with lowering your car, read "Five Common Myths About Using Lowering Springs to Lower Your Car."

Lowering springs can make your car more fun to drive! Shop by vehicle to see which suspension options work best for your application.

Best Time to Switch from Winter Tires Back to Summer Tires

Monday, March 23, 2015 by Gary Stanley

It has been a long, cold winter for much of the United States this year. With the recent warm-up in some places, it's understandable that many drivers using winter tires are tempted to swap them off for their summer or all-season tires.  

Why the rush to remove winter set-ups? Many drivers are concerned that their winter tires will wear out quicker during the warmer temperatures. This can be true in prolonged hot conditions, and is the primary reason why winter tires should not be used year-round. However, a few days or even a week of normal driving in warmer temperatures will not damage your snow tires nor cause rapid treadwear with casual driving.  

Keep in mind that temporary warm-ups do not guarantee the end of winter driving. In much of the snowbelt and northern Midwest, it's not unheard of to experience snowfalls in April. We always advise those looking to prematurely change back to their summer tires to remember why they purchased winter tires in the first place -- safe and confident driving. If you haven't used winter tires in the past, be sure to take a look at "My Story on Winter Tires."

When should you switch back? 

If you own a set of all-season tires, you can consider making the change when daily low temperatures are consistently above freezing each night and the longterm forecast shows no threat of heavy snow. If summer performance tires are your fair weather tires of choice, hold off until all threat of snow and freezing temperatures are gone. Summer tires perform poorly in near-freezing temperatures and offer almost no snow traction. They perform best in warmer temperatures that are above 50 degrees Fahrenheit. It is not worth taking the chance of getting caught in snow simply to have your "fun" tires on a week or two sooner. 

Be sure to do a thorough inspection of your fair weather tires before putting them back into service. Take a look at "Tire Replacement" to see if your tires can last another season.

New Bridgestone Potenza RE-71R vs Bridgestone Potenza RE-11A

Wednesday, March 18, 2015 by Gary Stanley

Bridgestone is a leader in the area of research and development in the tire industry. It's no wonder that their Potenza RE-11, and its successor, the Potenza RE-11A have been top-rated Extreme Performance Summer tires since their initial releases. If you aren't familiar with this category of tires, take a look at "What are Extreme Performance Summer Tires?

Now with the introduction of the Potenza RE-71R, Bridgestone has raised the bar once again. Some older enthusiasts may remember the original Potenza RE-71 tire from the 1980s when it was first used on a Porsche 959 Supercar.

The "R" in the RE-71R name stands for "Revival" and the new RE-71R is a tire worthy of the name's heritage. In Bridgestone's internal testing, they found that the RE-71R was 1%-1.5% faster during track lapping sessions on road race courses, and even quicker in autocross testing. 

 Bridgestone Potenza RE-11A
Bridgestone Potenza RE-11A
 Bridgestone Potenza RE- 71R
Bridgestone Potenza RE- 71R


The new Bridgestone Potenza RE-71R carries the same 200 UTQG wear rating, but is expected to have a bit shorter treadwear than the older Potenza RE-11A. Also, expect a slightly stiffer ride and an increase in tread noise on the street.  As a reward for these tradeoffs, the new RE-71R has quicker steering response, better on-center feel and most importantly, it has higher levels of dry grip and wet traction. This makes the new RE-71R up to the task of competing with the current crop of performance tires that are frequently used in SCCA racing, like the BFGoodrich g-Force Rival and Dunlop Direzza ZII Star Spec.  

Get an edge over the competition on the track with the new Bridgestone Potenza RE-71R!

Best Tires for the Toyota Sienna Minivan

Monday, March 9, 2015 by Gary Stanley

The Toyota Sienna has been one of the most popular minivans for over a decade. It's no wonder, as the Sienna is a spacious, comfortable, safe and reliable vehicle with great resale value.

If Toyota's family hauler of choice has a common complaint among many of its drivers, it is that many have found the Original Equipment tires to be lacking. Two of the most important attributes in a tire are its traction in wet and snow and its treadwear. Sadly, these are two of the areas where the original tires on the Sienna fall short. Fortunately, there is a good selection of replacement tires for the Toyota Sienna that have much longer wear and make significant improvements in safety by increasing wet and snow traction.

2004-2010 Toyota Sienna 

215/65R16 and 225/60R17 are the most commonly used tire sizes on the 2004-2010 models. In these sizes, take a look at the General AltiMAX RT43 for an affordable option that offers very high ratings in traction and treadwear. For more information on this tire, read "The All-Season General AltiMAX RT43 is Number One." If you're looking for the current top tire in its class for the Sienna, then you'll want to purchase the Continental TrueContact.  

 General AltiMAX RT43
General AltiMAX RT43
 Continental TrueContact
Continental TrueContact


2011-2015 Toyota Sienna

For the newest generation of Sienna, the most commonly used tire sizes are 235/60R17 and 235/55R18. The Continental TrueContact is available in both sizes. Also, you'll want to consider the Michelin Premier A/S and Bridgestone Dueler H/L 422 Ecopia

 Michelin Premier A/S
Michelin Premier A/S
 Bridgestone Dueler H/L 422 Ecopia
Bridgestone Dueler H/L 422 Ecopia


Shop by vehicle to view all options for your Toyota Sienna.

BBS SR vs. All-New O.Z. Racing Omnia

Tuesday, March 3, 2015 by Gary Stanley

Not long ago, BBS released a lower priced option with their SR wheel. Rather than lower the quality, BBS kept costs low by offering just a few select sizes and simple finishes. The results were phenomenal for drivers as they got a great deal on a high quality wheel at a low cost compared to similar European-made wheels. If you aren't familiar with the BBS SR, take a look at "New Finish Now Available for Value-Priced BBS SR."  

Following the success of the value-priced BBS SR, O.Z. Racing released their own cost-effective wheel, the Omnia. Like the BBS SR, the O.Z. Racing Omnia is made in the same factory as other O.Z. Racing wheels. O.Z. Racing also kept costs down by offering limited sizes (17x7.5 and 18x8 only), which means fewer costly wheel molds to produce. While the BBS SR is available in a couple of different finishes, the new O.Z. Racing Omnia is produced in only a bright race grey finish.

 BBS SR
BBS SR
 OZ Racing Omnia
O.Z. Racing Omnia


Looking for something a little different than the BBS SR and O.Z. Racing Omnia? Not a problem, be sure to check out all of the other O.Z. Racing wheels that fit your vehicle by using our online wheel search. With this search, you can view all of the wheel brands and styles that are guaranteed to fit your vehicle.  

Kosei K1 Racing Versus New Kosei K5R

Monday, February 23, 2015 by Gary Stanley

Are you looking for a strong, lightweight wheel for autocross events? In the past, you would look no further than the Kosei K1 Racing wheel. Designed for track use, the Kosei K1 Racing meets many of the demands of the weekend warrior racer. Whether you are a driver participating in HPDE track days, driving schools or even just autocrossing, the Kosei K1 Racing is both light, durable and an outstanding value for the price. All good things eventually come to an end, and the production of the Kosei K1 Racing wheel is no exception. There are still a few sizes of the K1 Racing still in production, but many sizes have been phased out. 

Fortunately, Kosei designed a worthy successor to the popular K1 Racing with the new Kosei K5R. Just like its predecessor, the new K5R is lightweight, attractive and its flow formed construction should be just as durable as the K1 Racing. The new Kosei K5R is available for many popular 15x7, 15x8, 17x7, 17x8 and 17x9 applications, as well as offered in two different finishes.

 Kosei K5R Silver
Kosei K5R Silver Painted
 Kosei K5R Light Grey
Kosei K5R Light Grey Painted


Both finishes look great, but if you have a race application or a vehicle that tends to put off a lot of brake dust, you may want to lean towards the light grey painted finish, as the color is a bit darker to help hide the brake dust.  

While both the K1 Racing and K5R are popular as track wheels, they also make great street wheels for many drivers. In fact, I used the Kosei K1 Racing wheel on my Mazda Miata almost exclusively as a street wheel. You can read about about my experience with the wheel by taking a look at "Kosei K1 Racing Wheels for Mazda Miata."  

Just keep in mind that K5R wheels do not come with a cosmetic center cap as they are not needed for racing or fair weather street use. If you'd like a center cap for cosmetic reasons or for all-season driving, an optional center cap is available for most applications.

Shop by vehicle to check for pricing and availability.  

Best All-Season Tires for the Honda Civic

Tuesday, February 17, 2015 by Gary Stanley

If you're the owner of a newer Honda Civc, then you probably already know that the Original Equipment tires are tuned for a quiet and soft ride. However, they're not among the best choices for all-season traction in wet and snowy conditions. While it is great to have the best tires, many drivers prefer to have affordable tires that represent a good value for their hard-earned dollars.  

Most recent generations of the Honda Civic typically use one of three common tire sizes: 195/65R15, 205/55R16 and 215/45R17. Many Civics use 195/65R15, but there are quite a few higher trim levels that use 205/55R16, so be sure to check your actual tire size that is on your car. If you aren't sure where to find your tire size, check out "Sidewall Markings."  

Top choices for 195/65R15 and 205/55R16 

 PureContact with EcoPlus Technology
Continental PureContact with EcoPlus Technology
 Michelin Premier A/S
Michelin Premier
A/S


Top choices for tire size 215/45R17 

 Pirelli Cinturato P7 All Season Plus
Pirelli Cinturato P7 All Season Plus
 General AltiMAX RT43
General AltiMAX RT43


Each of these tires have been carefully selected due to their combination of all-season traction, ride quality, treadlife and value. All four tires are also rated and reviewed quite favorably in our survey results.

Even if you have a Honda Civic with one of the smaller 15" or 16" wheels, you can purchase larger wheels and tires. To learn more about installing larger tires and wheels on your Honda Civic, read "Plus Sizing 101."

Winter / Snow Tire & Wheel Package vs. Buying Winter Tires Only

Wednesday, February 11, 2015 by Gary Stanley
You've decided that dedicated winter tires are the right choice for you. After doing your research, you decided to go with either the Bridgestone Blizzak WS80 or Michelin X-Ice Xi3 to increase your driving confidence and safety. Next, you must decide if you want to simply purchase tires to mount on your current wheels, or buy a Winter / Snow Tire & Wheel Package.  
 
While initially more expensive, a complete tire and wheel package offers many advantages versus simply swapping winter and summer tires off the same set of wheels each season. Here are some of those advantages to consider:  
  • A Winter / Snow Tire & Wheel Package is shipped ready to install either by yourself or an installer. 
  • The cost of mounting fees over the life of a set of winter tires may make buying wheels less expensive than mounting tires each season. 
  • Most aftermarket wheels cost less than Original Equipment wheels.  
  • You can bolt on your package at your convenience and avoid waiting in line at a tire shop.  
  • Save the wear and tear on your expensive factory wheels that winter salt and sand dish out.
  • Protect your expensive factory wheels from winter's damaged roads and potholes.


If you're not convinced of the advantages of winter tires compared to all-seasons, be sure to take a look at "Ice Traction Comparison Between All-Season and Winter Tires."   

Is the General AltiMAX Arctic the Best Studdable Winter / Snow Tire?

Tuesday, February 3, 2015 by Gary Stanley

General Altimax ArcticWith recent snow falls still making news, many of us our reminded that we still have many weeks (and months in some areas) of winter driving left this season. To see if February is still a good time to purchase winter tires, take a look at "Is it Too Late to Buy Winter / Snow Tires?"  

The Bridgestone Blizzak WS80, and Michelin X-Ice Xi3 and Bridgestone Blizzak DM-V1 tires are outstanding, cutting-edge designs that offer the best ice and snow traction on the market today. For those looking for a more value-oriented option on a tight budget, consider the General AltiMAX Arctic. This Studdable Winter / Snow tire has a tread pattern that is aggressive enough that it actually works pretty well, even without studs. Check out how the General AlitMAX Arctic compares, both studded and not studded, in our test "Winter Testing at the Arctic Circle: Studdable Winter / Snow." 

General AltiMAX Arctic tires meet the industry's severe snow requirements and are branded with the mountain/snowflake symbol. If you decide to maximize this tire's traction by having them studded, it's important to note that there are special break-in procedures for studded tires.  

General produces the AltiMAX Arctic in a large variety of sizes to fit coupes, sedans, minivans, passenger-oriented light-duty pickup trucks, SUVs and crossover vehicles. Odds are that this great winter tire is available in a size to fit your application. Shop by vehicle to check pricing and availability!
 

Four Common Winter / Snow Tire Myths and Facts

Tuesday, January 27, 2015 by Gary Stanley

With many drivers looking to purchase their first set of winter / snow tires, we've been receiving many questions about the overall performance of snow tires. To help customers better understand winter tires, take a look at the following myths about these tires.

Myth #1: Snow tires are only needed on the drive axle of a vehicle. 

Fact: Dedicated winter / snow tires are meant to be installed on all four wheel positions. Using just two winter tires can cause very unstable handling, especially during cornering, emergency maneuvers and at highway speeds. This is the most common, yet most dangerous, myth of all. Check out the following video for more information on why mixing winter tires is an accident waiting to happen.

Myth #2:  Bridgestone Blizzak tires turn into all-season tires after they are half worn, so they are no better than all-seasons at that point. 

Fact: It has been over a decade since any Blizzak tire used an all-season compound. Even those old tires didn't "turn into all-season tires" at 6/32". Their more aggressive tread patterns and siping still provided better snow traction than all-season tires. Regardless, the more recent generations of Bridgestone Blizzak tires have a winter compound in both layers of their dual layer tread compound. 

Myth #3: Snow tires "burn up" or wear out very quickly on dry roads. 

Fact: Driving on cold, dry roads in normal winter driving conditions will not prematurely wear out winter tires. Rather, it's warm temperature driving that will cause them to wear out much more quickly. These tires are designed for temperatures below 50 degrees Fahrenheit and work best at lower temperatures. Prolonged warm weather driving (typically caused by leaving snow tires on year-round) will lead to premature wear, but driving on cold dry roads will not harm your winter tires.

Myth #4: All snow tires have very poor handling and slow steering response. 

Fact: The Performance Winter / Snow category addresses this issue. If you live in an area that receives mostly light and occasionally heavy snow, and wish to maintain much of the quick steering response and handling your vehicle offers, you'll want to consider tires from this performance category.

Note: These tires do give up some snow and ice traction compared to Studless Ice & Snow tires. For help deciding which category fits your needs best, take a look at "Choosing Between Performance Winter / Snow Tires and Studless Ice & Snow Tires."

Is it Too Late to Buy Winter / Snow Tires?

Monday, January 19, 2015 by Gary Stanley

The winter season of 2014-2015 has been a tumultuous one! First, we had a very early cold snap with several inches of snow in early November. This caught many drivers off guard and forced quite a few drivers to install their winter / snow tires a few weeks ahead of schedule. Following that early chill and snowfall was nearly a month of unseasonably warm temperatures and almost no snowfall.  

Now that Christmas and New Year's Day are over, it may seem like there is not much of winter left. Don't be fooled. Keep in mind, most drivers in the snowbelt still have at least two months of wintry driving conditions ahead of them. Also, much of the country has its coldest temperatures of the year through the month of January.  

This weather has brought with it some of the most brutal driving conditions of the season. You don't have to settle for mediocre all-season tires and white-knuckle driving. Winter tires provide a huge advantage in snow, ice and slush traction for added driving safety and confidence. Take a look at "All-Season vs. Winter / Snow Tires" to see how much a difference winter tires make, especially in stopping distances.

If you haven't yet considered purchasing winter / snow tires, it's not too late to experience the difference that they can make in winter driving. Find the right winter tires for your vehicle and have them shipped directly to one of our Recommended Installers

Second Season with Dunlop Winter Maxx Winter Tires

Monday, January 12, 2015 by Gary Stanley

Last year, I purchased Dunlop Winter Maxx tires in the middle of winter for my 2009 Infiniti G37X coupe. These tires replaced the Graspic DS-2 and performed very well in their first season of use. But, how would they perform in season two? 

So far, this winter season has provided me with a variety of conditions in which to further evaluate these tires. First, our area was hit with heavy snowfalls and unseasonably cold temperatures earlier than normal. Next, Northern Indiana experienced nearly a month of warmer-than-average temperatures with very little precipitation and dry roads. Finally, we are now experiencing sub-zero temperatures and nearly a foot of snowfall this week that began with freezing rain. This may sound like a nightmare to many, but this allowed for another great opportunity to put the Dunlop Winter Maxx tires through a variety of winter driving conditions.  

During that initial snowstorm, the Dunlop Winter Maxx tires performed just as well as they did last season. They provided me with traction and confidence in snow and slushy conditions and handled the wintry roads with ease. As the weather warmed and snow turned to slush, and finally to wet roads, I had no problems with braking or handling. Even as temperatures climbed into the 40s, I felt safe and secure even at highway speeds.

This latest bout of sub-zero temperatures didn't phase the tires at all. They still performed just as well on snow-covered roads in below-freezing conditions as they did at near- or above-freezing temperatures. 

Bottom line: I am still happy with my Dunlop Winter Maxx tires!  

If you're concerned about winter driving in your area, install a set of dedicated winter / snow tires to increase your driving confidence.

How Long Do Summer Tires Last Compared to All-Seasons?

Wednesday, January 7, 2015 by Gary Stanley

As a moderator of several forums, I was recently asked the following question in a forum in regards to the wear of summer tires compared to all-season tires:

"Gary, I currently have Bridgestone Potenza RE760 Sport tires (Ultra High Performance Summer) on my car. However, I do a lot of long-distance travel, and I am thinking that it may be better to get all-season tires. How big a difference is the treadlife between summer and all-season tires? Is it big enough to justify the loss in performance?"

My response to the customer was:

"The difference in treadlife can be quite large since many all-season tires can routinely see 60,000 miles of treadlife. With mostly highway driving, it's even more likely you'll see longer wear. On the other hand, most summer tires are more in the neighborhood of 20,000-25,000 miles. For longer wear with a smooth and quiet ride, I'd suggest the Bridgestone Turanza Serenity Plus and Michelin Premier A/S."

 Bridgestone Turanza Serenity Plus
Bridgestone Turanza Serenity Plus
 Michelin Premier A/S
Michelin Premier A/S


Many drivers do not realize how dramatic the difference in treadlife can be between some of the industry's top summer performance tires like the Michelin Pilot Super Sport and Bridgestone Potenza S-04 Pole Position compared to some of the best all-season tires. The most noticeable performance difference is typically the slower steering response that all-season tires have compared to summer tires. The plus side of the softer sidewalls of all-season tires is a softer, more comfortable ride, and of course, much longer treadwear.  

If you've already decided that you want the best handling tire regardless of treadwear, take a look at "Bridgestone Potenza S-04 Pole Position vs Michelin Pilot Super Sport."

Michelin Tires Make a Great Choice for Almost Any Vehicle

Tuesday, December 30, 2014 by Gary Stanley

Michelin is recognized by many as one of the top car and truck tire manufacturers in the world. They are the company that created the first radial tire and have been at the cutting edge of design and technology ever since. Many of their tires rank at or near the top of nationally recognized tests and customer survey data. Depending on the tire's performance category, Michelin tires offer the following benefits over most of their competitors:

  • Superior wet traction
  • Smooth and quiet ride
  • Outstanding dry grip
  • Generous wear warranty, even on most performance tires
  • Eco-friendly design and low rolling resistance
 Michelin LTX M/S2
Michelin LTX M/S2
 Michelin Premier A/S
Michelin Premier A/S
 Michelin Pilot Super Sport
Michelin Pilot Super Sport


For street-driven trucks, larger crossovers and SUVs, check out the Michelin LTX M/S2. This is the top-rated tire in the Highway All-Season performance category, and for good reason! Our customers praise its wet and snow traction, quiet and smooth ride and long treadwear.  

If you have a sedan, wagon or smaller crossover that's your daily driver, then check out the Premier A/S. An innovative tread design and compound allows the tire to maintain great wet traction even as the tire wears down. In addition to great wet traction, the Premier A/S features a good ride quality and performance that has placed it on top in a recent test of Grand Touring All-Season tires.

Even Michelin's flagship summer performance tire, the Pilot Super Sport, has good ride quality and a wear warranty. The latter is quite rare to see in a summer performance tire. The Pilot Super Sport is a fantastic tire that I've installed on one of my vehicles. You can read about my experience with the tire by taking a look at, "Michelin Pilot Super Sport: 5,000 Mile Update."

Can My Winter Tires Last Another Season?

Monday, December 22, 2014 by Gary Stanley

The early snowfall this season caused many drivers to think about the condition of their tires sooner than they might normally. Drivers who use dedicated winter / snow tires should check the tread depth of their tires every year. Simply because a tire "looks like it has good tread" doesn't mean that the tire is suitable for driving safely in wintry conditions. The more tread depth the tires have, the more effective they will be in loose snow and slush. 

Tires need adequate tread depth so they can bite into the snow. Most winter tires start at 10/32" to 12/32" of tread depth. 6/32" is the minimum tread depth that we recommend for winter driving. It's important to do more than just a quick visual check of your tires' tread depth. While a tread depth gauge is preferred, you can also use U.S. coins by using this method

If you find that your current snow tires have less than 6/32" of tread depth, they're ready to be replaced. For those in this situation, check out a few of our top winter tires.   

For more information on properly checking your tires' tread depth, read "What Honest Abe Doesn't Tell You About Minimum Tread Depths."

Ice Traction Comparison Between All-Season and Winter Tires

Tuesday, December 16, 2014 by Gary Stanley

You may already know how much more traction winter tires provide on snow-covered roads compared to all-season tires. However, what about icy surfaces? Many drivers think that no matter what tire you drive on, nothing can help you on ice. The truth is that accelerating, cornering and stopping are all dramatically improved with winter tires, even on the slickest road conditions.  

To prove and illustrate how much a difference winter tires can make, we perform testing at a local ice rink. Why? An ice rink provides repeatable and consistent test results while effectively replicating icy intersections that are often found in winter driving.

As you can see in the video, the tires you use make a huge difference on ice.  

The results of this test echo my own experiences over the years of using winter tires on my own vehicles, including the Bridgestone Blizzak DM-V1 on our family crossover. To learn more about my experiences with winter tires, read "My Story on Winter Tires."

Three Stocking Stuffer Ideas for the Car Lover in Your Life!

Thursday, December 11, 2014 by Gary Stanley

When you think of Tire Rack, you likely think of our extensive information and selection of tires and wheels. You may have even purchased a Winter / Snow Tire & Wheel Package for your car to help conquer the snowy conditions this season. Did you know that we offer more than just tires and wheels? In fact, we have a variety of automotive accessories that would make for the perfect holiday gift or stocking stuffer!

1.  Tire pressure air gauges are a useful and practical gift idea that the car enthusiast in your life will use often. Our most popular air gauge for the casual enthusiast is the AccutireDigital Set Point™ Programmable Air Gauge with Light. This easy-to-use, stylish air gauge includes a bright white L.E.D. light and even allows for programming of the vehicle's recommended air pressures. The L.C.D. display is also back lit for easy viewing.  

2.  Seasonal Tire Totes are more than just bags to store your tires in. Unlike plastic bags, these totes are durable, attractive and have a sturdy carrying handle built in that makes moving tires easy. You won't have to worry about rolling tires around and ending up with dirty hands. They may be difficult to fit into a stocking, but otherwise, make an excellent holiday gift idea. For more ideas on storing tires, check out "Get Organized with These Three Storage Solutions."

3.  Gift certificates make the perfect stocking stuffer for the hard-to-buy car nut. They can be purchased in almost any amount over $25 and can be sent via mail or directly to your lucky recipient's email inbox!  

View all accessories available including apparel, tire storage options, tools and more. And, all accessory orders of $50 or more ship at no charge.

What Air Pressure to Use When Changing from Run-Flat Tires to Non-Run-Flat Tires

Monday, December 1, 2014 by Gary Stanley

"I've decided to get rid of my run-flat tires that came as Original Equipment on my 2009 BMW 335i Coupe Sport Package and make the switch to non-run-flats. I've heard that I should use higher air pressure, is this true? If so, what tire pressure do you recommend?"

As a moderator of several BMW forums, this is a question I receive often. Switching from run-flats to non-run-flat tires has become more common for BMW drivers.

When changing to a non-run-flat tire, some drivers feel the tires may appear to be underinflated, when in fact, they are not. While you could add more pressure to correct this appearance, this often causes more rapid tread wear in the center portion of the tire. Because of this, we recommend using the same inflation pressure, even when going to non-run-flat tires. 

The vehicle manufacturer's recommended tire inflation pressures have a lot to do with load capacity, handling and a variety of other factors. Vehicle manufacturers, in particular BMW, take the time and effort to tune and test before recommending inflation pressures based on how the vehicle is being loaded and driven. We also strongly discourage going lower than what is recommended by the vehicle manufacturer. 

Depending on what year your car was manufactured, the doorjamb placard or owner's manual may show only one inflation pressure recommendation to keep things simple. Usually, the OEM defaults to the worst case scenario of fully loaded and higher speed use, which puts a pretty high psi recommendation on the placard. From a tire durability standpoint, it's better to be 5 psi over than 1 psi under. Therefore, erring to the high side makes some sense, even if not ideal for the way many drivers actually use the vehicle.

Remember that the pressure listed on the sidewall is a maximum pressure only, not a recommended pressure. Instead, use the air pressure recommended in the vehicle's owner's manual or tire information on the placard label. The placard is typically found on the driver's side doorjamb (like the example in the photo above). For more information about recommended inflation pressures, read "What Air Pressure Should I Use in My Tires?"

If you're still unsure about whether or not to change your tires from run-flats to non-run-flats, check out "Ditching Your Run-Flat Tires for Non-Run-Flat Tires on Your BMW? Read This First!