New Dunlop SP Winter Sport 4D vs. SP Winter Sport 3D

Wednesday, October 23, 2013 by Gary Stanley

Are you looking for winter / snow tires, but still want a tire with respectable dry road handling? Dunlop's line of performance winter tires have been a customer favorite since the release of the original Winter Sport M2 over a decade ago. Each new generation of Dunlop SP Winter Sport has been a successful improvement over the last. For the 2013-2014 winter season, the Dunlop SP Winter Sport 3D is being replaced by the SP Winter Sport 4D. 

 Dunlop SP Winter Sport 3D
Dunlop SP Winter Sport 3D
 Dunlop SP Winter Sport 4D
Dunlop SP Winter Sport 4D


Dunlop's SP Winter Sport 3D is currently ranked number one in the Performance Winter / Snow category. It's praised by our customers, as well as many enthusiasts on BMW forums for its outstanding balance of snow and ice traction. They also like the tire's wet and dry grip compared to other performance snow tires. 

The SP Winter Sport 4D takes traction to a new high with its advanced transverse sipes which provide more biting edges for even better snow traction and cornering grip. The sipes lock together during vehicle acceleration, braking and cornering for a more stable feel, as opposed to some other winter / snow tires which can feel pretty loose and slow to react to steering inputs.  Dunlop even states that it has revised the winter rubber compound of the tire to reduce rolling resistance for slightly improved fuel economy. 

Shop by vehicle to find the winter tire that's best for how and where you drive.

Looking for an Affordable Winter / Snow Tire? Check Out Dunlop's Winter Maxx

Wednesday, October 16, 2013 by Gary Stanley

Since the original Dunlop Graspic was released over ten years ago, Dunlop has offered solid winter / snow tires with very good levels of snow and ice traction and a price point that's often lower than competitors. Although praised for great snow traction, the various generations of Dunlop's Graspic line of winter tires did not match the dry road handling of top competitors and suffered from slower steering response. 

Their latest iteration, the Graspic DS-3 is being replaced this year by the all-new Dunlop Winter Maxx. The Dunlop Winter Maxx continues in the tradition of a value-oriented price point that's lower than top tires in the Studless Ice & Snow category, such as the Bridgestone Blizzak WS70 and Michelin X-Ice Xi3. For more information on these two tires, read "Bridgestone Blizzak vs. Michelin X-Ice Winter / Snow Tires."

Unlike previous generations of Dunlop Studless Ice & Snow tires, the Winter Maxx has a T-speed rating, good up to 118 mph for a top speed. Because of this, we expect the Winter Maxx to have better handling for the days when there isn't snow on the road. 

If you're looking for a value-oriented, affordable set of winter / snow tires, check out the new Dunlop Winter Maxx!

Five Reasons to Buy Winter / Snow Tires Early

Tuesday, October 8, 2013 by Gary Stanley

Although many parts of the country are still seeing high temperatures in the 70s and 80s, keep in mind, that in less than two months many of us may be driving in snow. Those who live in a snowbelt or higher altitudes can see snowfall in the fall months of October and November (see South Dakota, Wyoming and Colorado). Regardless of when it comes, be prepared with a set of dedicated winter / snow tires. 

It's important to begin your search for winter / snow tires before winter arrives. Why? Here are five reasons to purchase now rather than waiting until winter is already upon us:

  1. Inventory levels of winter tires are as good as they'll be in the fall months. Choose which winter tire you want instead of settling for what is leftover later. 
  2. Some manufacturers offer rebates to early buyers. 
  3. Install your Winter / Snow Tire & Wheel Package at your convenience instead of rushing after the first snowfall.
  4. Get the best selection of low cost winter wheels.
  5. Have peace of mind that this decision is taken care of in advance.

Are you looking for black steel wheels to go with your winter tire purchase? If so, read "Steel Wheels Available at Tire Rack" for more information. 

Best Brake Pads for Low Dust

Wednesday, October 2, 2013 by Gary Stanley

Are you tired of constantly cleaning ugly, black brake dust off of your factory or aftermarket rims? If you're willing to give up a small amount of braking capability, you can use ceramic brake pads - which will go a long way in reducing how often you need to clean your rims. These pads produce less brake dust and the dust is a lighter color that doesn't show up on wheels as badly. Ultimately, this leads to wheels maintaining a cleaner appearance.

Many vehicles come from the factory with ceramic brake pads. Most Acura, Lexus and many Honda brake pads are ceramic. Three of the best manufacturers of low dust ceramic brake pads are Akebono, Centric and Hawk.

 Akebono Euro Ceramic
Akebono Euro Ceramic
Pads
 Centric Posi Quiet Ceramic
Centric Posi Quiet Ceramic
Pads
 Hawk Performance Ceramic
Hawk Performance Ceramic
Pads


If you're looking for a little extra stopping power out of your low dust pads, I would lean toward the Hawk Performance Ceramic Pads as they are rated a bit higher for stopping power. However, all ceramic pads offer the following advantages over most of today's standard pads:

  • Very low dust
  • Improved braking over many inexpensive pads
  • Extremely quiet
  • Extended pad life
  • Increased rotor life
Shop by vehicle to find a recommended set of low dust brake pads.

Best Nissan Murano Tires for All-Season and Snow Traction.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013 by Gary Stanley

My in-laws recently purchased a 2010 Nissan Murano SL. They were looking for a crossover SUV to use for traveling and daily driving and this vehicle fit the bill perfectly. While the Murano was in excellent condition, the tires were not. The tires' remaining tread depth measured at 4/32" in the rear and closer to 2/32" in the front. With winter fast approaching, this is not an acceptable tread depth for reliable snow traction that we need in this part of the country. We recommend a minimum tread depth of 6/32" to begin a winter season. Below this depth and the tire is reduced to "nibbling" at the snow rather than biting through it to find traction. 

I prefer winter / snow tires for our area, especially due to the heavy lake effect snowstorms that frequent during the winter months. Winter tires, like the Bridgestone Blizzak DM-V1, have much better winter traction than an all-season option. You can view my experience with this tire on a crossover vehicle by reading "My Story on Winter Tires."

However, my in-laws only to want purchase a single set of tires to use year-round, so I needed to find them an all-season tire with especially good snow traction. Affordable tires with great ride quality, treadwear and wet traction were also high on their priority list. Rather than purchase aftermarket rims, these were to be installed on the factory aluminum alloy wheels. Based on their situation, I recommended three tires, the Continental CrossContact LX20 with EcoPlus Technology, Bridgestone Dueler H/L 422 Ecopia and Firestone Destination LE 2

 CrossContact LX20 with EcoPlus Technology
Continental CrossContact LX20 with EcoPlus Technology
 Bridgestone Dueler H/L 422 Ecopia
Bridgestone Dueler H/L
422 Ecopia
 Firestone Destination LE 2
Firestone Destination
LE 2


Which tires did they choose? It would be hard to go wrong with any of these tires as they're all very highly ranked in our customer survey results. After looking over our data, customer reviews and tire tests, they chose the Continental Cross Contact LX20 with EcoPlus Technology for its winter traction and 70,000-mile treadwear warranty.   

To see if your tires are appropriate for winter driving, read "Tread Depth - Why Too Little is Never Enough."

Bridgestone Blizzak LM-32 vs. Blizzak LM-60

Wednesday, September 18, 2013 by Gary Stanley

Whether you've been purchasing winter / snow tires for years or are new to the market, odds are that you've heard of Bridgestone's Blizzak line of winter tires. Since the 1990s, Bridgestone Blizzaks have all but dominated the snow tire market with their superior ice and snow traction. While they're best known for their studless compound, maximum snow traction WS series, like the Blizzak WS70, Bridgestone also makes more performance oriented Blizzaks for those looking for better dry handling and steering response from their winter tires. The new Blizzak LM-32 is their latest example of such a tire. 

A few years ago, the Bridgestone Blizzak LM-60 replaced the Blizzak LM-25 in most sizes. In the past, the older Blizzak LM-25 and popular Dunlop Winter Sport 3D tires were considered direct competitors with similar snow traction and dry road handling/cornering. The then-newly redesigned LM-60 moved the balance closer to the snow traction side of the equation by using a more aggressive tread pattern, but with a compound and construction of a high performance snow tire. The end result was improved snow and ice traction over competing high performance winter tires, but with a sacrifice in steering response and dry cornering. Read "New LM-60 Bridgestone Blizzak Snow Tires" for more information on how Bridgestone's improvements changed with the LM-60.

Bridgestone Blizzak LM-60
Bridgestone Blizzak LM-60
Bridgestone Blizzak LM-32
Bridgestone Blizzak LM-32


While the LM-60 did indeed have better ice and snow traction, many drivers of higher performance vehicles did miss the better handling and faster steering response that the LM-25 provided. Those drivers now have an excellent choice with the new Bridgestone Blizzak LM-32. The Blizzak LM-32 moves that balance back towards the handling and dry grip side, putting it back in competition with the newest generation of high performance winter / snow tires.

Shop by vehicle to view pricing and selection on these and other great winter / snow tires for your application!

Shop by vehicle to view pricing and selection on great tires for your application. - See more at: http://blog.tirerack.com/blog/make-driving-fun#sthash.Yt4VobNx.dpuf
Shop by vehicle to view pricing and selection on great tires for your application. - See more at: http://blog.tirerack.com/blog/make-driving-fun#sthash.Yt4VobNx.dpuf
Shop by vehicle to view pricing and selection on great tires for your application. - See more at: http://blog.tirerack.com/blog/make-driving-fun#sthash.Yt4VobNx.dpuf
Shop by vehicle to view pricing and selection on great tires for your application. - See more at: http://blog.tirerack.com/blog/make-driving-fun#sthash.Yt4VobNx.dpuf
Shop by vehicle to view pricing and selection on great tires for your application. - See more at: http://blog.tirerack.com/blog/make-driving-fun#sthash.Yt4VobNx.dpuf
Shop by vehicle to view pricing and selection on great tires for your application. - See more at: http://blog.tirerack.com/blog/make-driving-fun#sthash.Yt4VobNx.dpuf
Shop by vehicle to view pricing and selection on great tires for your application. - See more at: http://blog.tirerack.com/blog/make-driving-fun#sthash.Yt4VobNx.dpuf
Shop by vehicle to view pricing and selection on great tires for your application. - See more at: http://blog.tirerack.com/blog/make-driving-fun#sthash.Yt4VobNx.dpuf

Dunlop SP Sport Signature Still a Top Choice in the High Performance All-Season Category

Wednesday, September 11, 2013 by Gary Stanley

With tire technology advancing quickly these days, it's rare to find a model of tire that stands the test of time and remains competitive in its category year after year. First introduced over six years ago, the Dunlop SP Sport Signature is one of those tires. Even after this many years, it continues to hold its own against newer tires in the High Performance All-Season category. If you're looking for a great all-season performance tire at a good price, the Dunlop SP Sport Signature is for you!

With over 2.6 million miles reported, the tire is currently ranked third in our survey results. This is a higher ranking than other popular tires including the Yokohama AVID ENVigor, Goodyear Eagle GT and BFGoodrich g-Force Super Sport A/S. The SP Sport Signature is often praised for its good road feel, quick steering response and great combination of wet and dry traction. 

Take a look at what some of our customers are saying about their experience with the Dunlop SP Sport Signature:

"These have been such fantastic tires that I am now on my third set. Great dry weather traction and awesome treadwear. I have been very pleased with these tires." -- Tire Rack Consumer Review, 2003 Infiniti G35 Sedan

"These tires handle great. I have almost no road noise and they handle great on wet pavement. Even with my aggressive driving habits they wore perfectly. They were a great buy for the money." -- Tire Rack Consumer Review, 2001 Lexus ES300

"The Dunlops have transformed my car. I've gone from such noise to such quiet and smooth riding and handling. For a car with 280,000 miles on it, the difference is astounding. I'm very happy with the purchase of these tires." -- Tire Rack Consumer Review, 1998 Honda Accord Coupe EX V6

For more information on this tire, read "The Dunlop SP Sport Signature Continues to Impress." 

Which Wheels are Best for Winter Use?

Wednesday, September 11, 2013 by Gary Stanley

Many drivers seek plain black steel wheels (also called steel rims) for winter use due to their low cost and durability. In many cases, steel wheels aren't available for a vehicle due to brake caliper clearance or another reason, and therefore an aluminum alloy wheel must be used instead. For a comparison between the two options, read "Steel Rims vs. Alloy Wheels for Winter Use."

While many aftermarket wheels work quite well for winter use, not all wheel finishes and sizes are appropriate or ideal for driving on snow-covered roads. Here are some examples of finishes and/or fitments that you should try to avoid if possible: 

  • Lower offset wheels that will stick out. Wheel and tire combinations that stick out will throw more snow, ice, sand and other debris up against the side of the vehicle. Some aftermarket rims can stick out too far and cause this problem. When possible, try to be more conservative by selecting wheels with higher offsets to keep the wheel and tire set-up within the vehicle's fender wells.
  • Polished and chrome wheels. These types of wheel (including those with chromed lips) finishes either have no protective clearcoat or a very light clearcoat and aren't going to hold up well for winter use. The salt, ice melt chemicals and sand used on winter roads will quickly destroy the finish on these wheels.
  • Some wheels with machined faces and lips with thin, sprayed, clearcoats. Just like fully polished and chrome wheels, these types are vulnerable to salt, ice melt chemicals and sand. It's best to keep them away from these to maintain a good looking wheel finish. Remember, not all clearcoat finishes are the same.

Are you not sure which wheel to choose? Don't worry, we work closely with wheel manufactures to assure the finish of the wheels we have listed with our Winter / Snow Tire & Wheel Packages can hold up in harsh winter environments. When you shop for wheels on our site, the wheels and sizes listed are pre-filtered to avoid possible finish problems, as well as fitment issues. You can rest assured that the wheels you purchase will be great for winter use and will go well with your winter / snow tires!

Michelin Defender vs. Primacy MXV4

Thursday, August 29, 2013 by Gary Stanley

Michelin has a long history of being an industry leader in tire technology, even commercializing the first radial tires in the 1940s. Throughout the years, they have continued to produce some of the best tires that money can buy. This may explain why most drivers rank Michelin among the best high quality tire manufacturers.

Producing tires for many types of vehicles, Michelin may be best known for manufacturing some of the smoothest and quietest riding all-season and touring tires available on the market. Two of the best that were designed specifically for a smooth and quiet ride, good all-season traction and long treadwear, are the Defender and Primacy MXV4.

 Michelin Defender
Michelin Defender
 Michelin Primacy MXV4
Michelin Primacy MXV4


How do these two tires compare? The Michelin Defender has longer treadlife (90,000-mile warranty) and a softer ride between the two. While the Primacy MXV4 has shorter treadlife, it offers better handling and steering response for more confidence in corners and more stability while driving at highway speeds. 

I purchased the Primacy MXV4 tires for my wife's vehicle and we have been very pleased with them. You can read more about our experience with this tire by viewing "Michelin Primacy MXV4 Tires Installed on My Crossover."

Best Tires for the SUV or Crossover That Stays on the Street

Wednesday, August 21, 2013 by Gary Stanley

Let's be honest. The majority of drivers of SUVs and all-wheel drive crossover vehicles rarely, if ever, take their cars off-road. Most of their driving involves the daily grind of commuting and the everyday errands of life. Many trips involve going to the grocery store and the occasional visit to the home improvement store. 

Street-oriented drivers did not purchase their vehicles to handle off-road conditions such as loose rocks, steep elevations and deep mud. Off-road enthusiasts will focus on aggressive tires found in the On-/Off-Road All-Terrain and Off-Road Maximum Traction performance categories. However, most crossover and SUV drivers are looking for tires that can deliver all-season traction, good treadwear, respectable ride quality and long treadlife. Tires that best deliver these results fall into the Highway All-Season and Crossover/SUV Touring All-Season categories.

Highway All-Season

Michelin LTX M/S2
Michelin LTX M/S2
 Firestone Destination LE2
Firestone Destination LE 2


Crossover/SUV Touring All-Season

 Pirelli Scorpion Verde All Season
Pirelli Scorpion Verde
All Season
 CrossContact LX20 with EcoPlus Technology
Continental CrossContact LX20 with EcoPlus
Technology


All four tires in the photos above are highly rated in our customer survey results. Of these tires, the Firestone Destination LE 2 represents one of the best values for the dollar available today. For more information on this tire, read "Firestone Destination LE Replaced by the New Firestone Destination LE 2."

To view all tires available for your crossover or SUV, shop by vehicle.

Best Tires for the Nissan Rogue

Thursday, August 15, 2013 by Gary Stanley

Since its introduction as a 2008 model, the Nissan Rogue has been a popular crossover. The Rogue's combination of good looks, interior room, reliability and good fuel economy has won over many car shoppers. Many of these vehicles are coming due for new tires. 

From the factory, the Nissan Rogue was equipped with two different tire sizes depending on the vehicle's options and trim level. Most base models came with size 215/70R16, with higher level option packages using size 225/60R17. Unfortunately, none of the Original Equipment tires are highly rated. The good news is that there are replacement tires that are much better for your Rogue.

 Firestone Destination LE2
Firestone Destination
LE 2
 Continental Cross Contact LX20 with EcoPlus Technology
Continental CrossContact LX20
with EcoPlus Technology


Currently ranked first in the Highway All-Season category, the Firestone Destination LE 2 offers a smooth, quiet ride, long wear and great wet traction. It is produced in the 215/70R16 size, as well as the 225/60R17 size for the Nissan Rogue. For more information on this tire, read "Firestone Destination LE Replaced by the New Firestone Destination LE 2."

Another top choice to consider is the Continental CrossContact LX20 with EcoPlus Technology. The tire offers even longer wear than the Firestone Destination LE 2, while still having outstanding ride quality. It's designed to enhance driving pleasure, save fuel and maintain grip when braking on wet surfaces.

Shop by vehicle to view all options available for your Nissan Rogue.

Best BMW Tires for the Summer? My Top Tire Recommendations

Thursday, August 8, 2013 by Gary Stanley

I recently received the following question on a BMW tire and wheel forum that I moderate for members of 2013 BMW 3 Series vehicles:

"I was looking at getting a summer 19" set-up, but after some research, it doesn't sound like I'll get much improvement in performance over an 18" set-up with my style of driving. I live in Minnesota, so I will probably only have them on the car for five months. I don't track my car and only do spirited driving occasionally due to having a wife and kid, but would still like an upgrade over the stock 18' all-seasons when I do.

I was looking at the Continental ExtremeContact DW because of the low price being offered through Tire Rack, but would prefer the Michelin Pilot Super Sport. Is there a big difference for the extra $200 between these two options for my style of driving? Also, I want a little more aggressive look, while still maintaining the square set-up. I was looking at Enkei Racing Series PF01 (18x8) all the way around. Can I use a 245/35R18 on those for a little fatter, more aggressive look or should I stick with the stock size?
"

With his style of driving, I recommended the following:

"Given that you only do occasional spirited driving, you'll likely be happy with the Continental ExtremeContact DW tires. On the new body of the BMW 3 Series (F30), you have a bit more clearance compared to the older E90 3 Series models, so you can use the stock 225/45R18, 245/40R18 or shorter 245/35R18 sizes with no problem. I personally would lean towards 245/40R18 to keep the same overall diameter while slightly increasing the width compared to the stock size."

Michelin Pilot Super Sport
Michelin Pilot Super Sport
Continental Extreme Contact DW
Continental ExtremeContact DW


The member emphasized that his vehicle is a family car and implied that he wouldn't mind giving up a little in terms of grip and handling for a lower cost tire. From our testing and customer feedback, the Continental ExtremeContact DW does just that. The Continental ExtremeContact DW has a slightly softer ride, while the Michelin Pilot Super Sport has more dry grip and a faster steering response.

For more information on the differences between these tires, read "Michelin Pilot Super Sport vs. Continental ExtremeContact DW."

How Good Are Kumho Ecsta Tires?

Thursday, August 1, 2013 by Gary Stanley

Many drivers have heard of Kumho tires since they've been sold in the United States for over ten years. If you have not considered Kumho tires in the past, you may want to take another look at them now. While Kumho does make some entry-level tires that compete on price, they also manufacture tires that compete with some of the top tires on the market.

Much like the name "Pilot" on a Michelin tire or "Eagle" on a Goodyear tire, the name "Ecsta" on a Kumho tire identifies it as one of their performance oriented tires. There is no one Kumho Ecsta tire, instead there's a family of tires that have the Ecsta name on them. Two of the best performance tires in the Kumho Ecsta line are the all-season Kumho Ecsta 4X and summer Ecsta LE Sport

If you aren't looking for an ultra high performance tire and instead want long treadlife and a quiet, soft ride, check out the Kumho Ecsta LX Platinum. To see how this tire could work for you, read "Kumho Ecsta LX Platinum vs. Kumho Ecsta 4X."

 Kumho Ecsta LE Sport
Kumho Ecsta LE Sport
 Kumho Ecsta LX Platinum
Kumho Ecsta LX Platinum
 Kumho Ecsta 4X
Kumho Ecsta 4X


All three of these tires rate highly in their categories and performed competitively in our testing, all while still being reasonably priced. So, are Kumho Ecsta tires good? Absolutely! 

Original Equipment Tires vs Aftermarket Tires

Thursday, July 25, 2013 by Gary Stanley

Has your vehicle's newYour Tire Rack Team car smell worn off? Do your Original Equipment tires need to be replaced? While it may not be easy to duplicate that unique new car scent, you can return much of your vehicle's original ride, handling and grip by replacing all four tires. You can go the simple route and replace your tires with the same brand and model that came on the car or shop the myriad of other tire options available on the market.

Advantages to replacing with Original Equipment tires:

  • The familiarity with these tires. You already know how your Original Equipment tires ride, handle, perform and wear. There are no surprises as to what you're going to get. 
  • Original Equipment tires have the correct load capacity and speed rating for your car. There's no guesswork or concerns the tires you purchase will be inappropriate for your vehicle

Advantages to replacing with aftermarket tires:

  • You can decide what tire characteristics are most important to you. Whether you would like a tire with improved handling, a better ride or longer wear than your original tires, you can choose aftermarket tires that do what you want them to do. 
  • Get the latest technology. Tire technology moves quickly and manufacturers are constantly improving their tire designs. The latest tires have better performance and longer life than tires designed just a few years ago.  

Which aftermarket tires work best for you? If you're looking for the longest treadlife, take a look at "Best Tire Brands for Long Treadwear."

Continental's PureContact with EcoPlus Technology vs. ContiProContact

Tuesday, July 9, 2013 by Gary Stanley

About ten years ago, Continental released the original ContiProContact. This tire competed well with the top Grand Touring All-Season tires of that day, including the Michelin MXV4 and Bridgestone's line of Turanza touring tires. These tires met the needs of drivers of a variety of vehicles from family sedans to crossovers. The Continental ContiProContact was also selected as Original Equipment on many luxury cars, such as the Mercedes-Benz S-Class, Audi A4 and BMW 3 Series. 

Over the years, the ContiProContact began to fall behind newer tires with more advanced technology such as the Bridgestone Turanza Serenity Plus and Michelin Primacy MXV4. For a comparison on these two newer designs, read "Bridgestone Turanza Serenity Plus Rises to the Top of the Grand Touring All-Season Tire Category." In response to the rapidly changing and competitive Grand Touring All-Season market, Continental introduced the PureContact with EcoPlus Technology.

ContiPro Contact
Continental
ContiProContact
PureContact with EcoPlus Technology
Continental PureContact
with EcoPlus Technology


The PureContact with EcoPlus Technology is quite a bit better than its predecessor. Advancements that Continental have made with this new design have paid off, as the tire is currently ranked number one in our customer survey results. It competes very well against the best tires in its category, while selling at a lower price in most sizes. This makes the tire a great value and outstanding choice for drivers looking for a blend of ride quality, all-season traction and long wear, while maintaining good levels of handling and steering response. 

Shop by vehicle to view pricing and selection on great tires for your application.

Michelin Pilot Super Sport vs. Michelin Pilot Sport PS2

Wednesday, July 3, 2013 by Gary Stanley

Are you looking for the Michelin Pilot Sport PS2? It was once a great choice for the performance enthusiast seeking maximum handling and grip. In fact, for nearly a decade, the Michelin Pilot Sport PS2 was one of the top Max Performance Summer tires that money could buy. However, a couple years ago, Michelin discontinued this tire in most sizes and replaced the tire with their new flagship performance tire, the Pilot Super Sport

 Michelin Pilot Sport PS2
Michelin Pilot Sport PS2
 Michelin Pilot Super Sport
Michelin Pilot Super Sport


While the tires may not look very different from one another, the Pilot Super Sport is a noticeable improvement over the old Pilot Sport PS2. The following are some of the key advantages of the Pilot Super Sport compared to the Pilot Sport PS2:

  • More dry grip
  • Improved fuel efficiency
  • Extended treadwear
  • Improved wet traction
  • Faster steering response
  • Reduced tire weight up to 10% compared to competitors
  • Faster steering response

In addition, Michelin has priced the Pilot Super Sport a bit below that of the old Pilot Sport PS2 in many sizes, making the newer tire a great deal! I installed this tire on my car, and you can read my review of it at "Michelin Pilot Super Sport: 5,000 Mile Update."

Best Brake Rotors for Import Cars

Friday, June 28, 2013 by Gary Stanley

For many drivers, a vehicle's braking system is not something they think about much until the vehicle starts to have problems. The most common problems with brakes are typically brake pad noise and brake pedal vibration. Both of these issues can be linked to worn out brake pads or brake rotors. For recommendations on new brake brake pads, read "Picking the Best SUV, Crossover and Truck Brake Pads."

Centric High Carbon 125 series
Centric High Carbon Plain 125 Series Rotor
Stoptech Sport Slotted Cryo Treated Rotor
StopTech Sport Slotted Cryo-Treated Rotor


For a high quality, value-oriented standard replacement rotor, I would suggest the Centric Plain 120 Series and Centric High Carbon Plain 125 Series rotors. A step up from generic rotors that are typically sold at local auto parts stores, these rotors are a great value and are equivalent to your vehicle's Original Equipment. In addition to being double ground and mill balanced, they feature a durable and attractive black E-coating for superior corrosion resistance.  

If you're looking for an improvement in durability, more resistance to warping and longer rotor life, I would consider checking out the StopTech Sport Slotted Cryo-Treated Rotor. These rotors have more resistance to cracking, warping and brake fade while delivering two to three times the life of a standard rotor. Given that much of the cost of changing brakes is in shop labor, fewer rotor changes over the life of your vehicle can mean these rotors may actually save you money in the long run while giving better performance. 

To help you in your decision making of purchasing the proper brake product, take a look at "Choosing Brake Components."

Five Common Myths About Using Lowering Springs to Lower Your Car.

Friday, June 21, 2013 by Gary Stanley

If you've already upgraded to performance tires, the next step to improve the handling of your vehicle is to upgrade to a better suspension set-up. Typically, the most cost-effective way to do this is to replace your vehicle's Original Equipment springs with a set of performance lowering springs. Lowering springs lower your car's center of gravity for better handling, but there are many other benefits to using them. To read more about the benefits of using lowering springs, read "Springs for Spring!"

Vehicles also benefit from an improved sportier appearance when lowered. So what stops many drivers from lowering their car? Here are five common myths that often stand in the way. 

Myth 1: If I buy lowering springs, I can't use my original shocks.

Fact: Springs that produce mild lowering of about an inch work well with newer factory shocks. In fact, Eibach's Pro-Kit Spring Set and even their more aggressive Sportline Spring Set are designed around a vehicle's original suspension. 

Myth 2: I will need an expensive alignment kit if I install lowering springs on my car. 

Fact: According to Eibach, a leader in spring engineering and production, most vehicles do not require an alignment kit after installing a set of lowering springs that result in mild lowering of about an inch. 

Myth 3: Lowering my vehicle will hurt the ride quality of the car and make it ride like a truck.

Fact: Some spring sets, like the Eibach Pro-Kit, are designed to maintain much of the car's original suspension travel distance and are only about 15% higher in spring rate to preserve quality. 

Myth 4: Lowering springs will sag and settle in, making the car too low to be practical.

Fact: High quality springs from H&R and Eibach are pre-compressed down to full coil bind and tested before they are shipped. They do not sag. In fact, Eibach warranties their springs for one million miles. 

Myth 5: Upgrading my vehicle's suspension with lowering springs is expensive.

Fact: The price of lowering a vehicle can be as inexpensive as a set of lowering springs, plus the cost of installation. For current pricing of lowering springs for your vehicle, check out our suspension page.

Looking for 10 Ply Tires? They're Now Called Load Range E Tires.

Thursday, June 20, 2013 by Gary Stanley

Heavy duty 3/4-ton and one-ton trucks, such as the Chevy Silverado 2500, Dodge Ram 3500 and Ford F-350 typically require heavy duty tires. A Standard Load tire doesn't have enough load capacity to match these vehicles properly. 

I frequently receive phone calls from truck owners looking for 10 ply tires. However, modern heavy duty tires no longer have ten plys. Many years ago, heavy duty tires were built to carry more load capacity by increasing the number of cotton plys in the carcass of the tire. The more cotton plys the tires had, the more load capacity they could safely carry. As tire technology has progressed, materials stronger than cotton began to be used to create stronger plys used in the tire's construction. 

Therefore, tire manufacturers no longer needed to increase the number of plys in their tires to carry extra loads, but rather increase the strength of the plys. For example, a tire that once needed ten plys, may now only have two or three actual plys. Lighter and stronger tires can now be made using fewer plys in a tire's sidewall. The tire industry also changed the way they label heavy duty truck tires. Even though some may still refer to the old system, it's been updated. When shopping for new tires, you can use this simple chart to refer to the modern term for load capacity ratings on heavy duty tires used on 3/4-ton and one-ton pickups and SUVs. 

  • 2 ply = Standard Load
  • 4 ply = Extra Load
  • 6 ply = Load Range C
  • 8 ply = Load Range D
  • 10 ply = Load Range E

For more information on this topic, take a look at "Load Range E 10 Ply Tires for Heavy Duty Use."

Best Price on Michelin Tires for Toyota, Honda, Nissan and More!

Tuesday, June 4, 2013 by Gary Stanley

When asked about which brand of tires are associated with quality, many think of Michelin. Their reputation is well deserved. For decades, Michelin has been an industry leader in tire technology, making some of the best tires that money can buy. While they make outstanding performance tires, like the Pilot Super Sport, Michelin may be best known for producing some of the smoothest and quietest riding all-season tires on the market.

Not everyone is looking for the best handling and steering response, instead many drivers simply want a tire that's quiet, safe and will last for a long time. For those who are looking for the best price on Michelin tires, check out a couple of the lowest priced options in two popular sizes.

205/65R15

This is a commonly used tire size for a mid-size sedan such as the Honda Accord, Toyota Camry, Hyundai Sonata, Nissan Altima, Ford Taurus and Chevy Malibu. The best priced Michelin tire in this size is the Defender. Michelin's Defender is an outstanding Standard Touring All-Season tire with long wear, great traction and a quiet ride. For more information on this tire, read "Michelin Defender Review and Test."

235/70R16 

Many SUVs, trucks and crossover vehicles use this common 16" tire size, including the Ford F-150, Ford Explorer, Honda Pilot, Hyundai Santa Fe and various Jeep models. In this size, the lowest priced Michelin tire is the Latitude Tour. This tire, back in early 2012, was one of my top choices for vehicles being driven on the street only. It's still a top contender for those who don't take their vehicles off-road. 

 Michelin Defender
Michelin Defender
 Michelin Latitude Tour
Michelin Latitude Tour


Shop by size to see which Michelin tires are available for your vehicle.