How to Prepare Your Car or Truck for Holiday Travel

Friday, December 12, 2014 by Marshall Wisler

Like winter seasons before it, this holiday season will be one of the busiest times of the year for travel. Not only will millions of Americans take to the roadways, many will do so in the most unfavorable of conditions.

Few things can dampen the holiday spirit like being stranded with a flat tire along a road in below freezing temperatures on roads that are covered in snow and ice. Before heading out for the holidays, it's a good idea to do the following:

  1. Check your tire pressure. Properly inflated tires not only increase efficiency, but also serve as a measure of protection against potholes and other road debris. Remember that tire pressure will drop roughly one psi every month and an additional psi for every 10 degrees of temperature change. Air pressure gauges only cost a few dollars and should be kept in a glove box or center console.
  2. Check the tread depth and condition of your tires. A tire's winter traction will deteriorate as tread depth diminishes and it's a good idea to begin the winter season with no less than 6/32" of remaining tread depth. Depth can be easily checked using a handheld tread depth gauge
  3. Check the condition of your spare tire. Many spare tires spend years in hiding without being inspected. Make sure it is free of cracking and is properly inflated.
  4. Check the torque of your lug nuts or bolts. Torque spec settings can be found in your owner's manual.
  5. Make sure you have a lug wrench, jack kit and any applicable lock keys accessible or stowed away in a convenient on-board compartment.

Missing something for your trip? View our accessories to help you have a safe driving experience this holiday season.

Improving an Icon: The BFGoodrich All-Terrain TA KO2

Wednesday, November 26, 2014 by Marshall Wisler

The original BFGoodrich All-Terrain TA KO revolutionized the all-terrain market. Its goal was to provide long wear and good street manners without compromising the performance that consumers look for in various extreme conditions. The tire has succeed for years and became an icon in the industry. 

With an increasing number of players in the all-terrain market and a growing level of competition, BFGoodrich sought to improve its iconic tire and provide customers with a tire that reflects the basic principles of the All-Terrain TA KO. They also wanted to enhance the tire with the latest and greatest technologies in tire development.

The new BFGoodrich All-Terrain TA KO2 features a revised tread compound that wears better than the previous model on both pavement and gravel roads. Another point of emphasis is increased sidewall strength to prevent damage during off-road excursions or encounters with road debris. The basic look of the tire was only changed slightly and now offers a bit more siping for added benefits during winter conditions. Unlike the previous generation tire, every single part number now carries with it a designation for severe snow service.

Dozen more sizes are planned for launch soon and you can search by vehicle to view if this tire is available for your application.

 

Is the Firestone Winterforce a Good Winter Tire?

Thursday, November 20, 2014 by Marshall Wisler

As one of the most economically priced winter tires available on the market, many drivers question if the Firestone Winterforce is a good fit for their vehicle. Does the tire have what it takes to compete with many of the newer generation front-runners?

While the tire isn't as soft as many Studless Ice & Snow tires, and therefore not as well suited for ice, the Winterforce features an aggressive pattern that can move its way through deep snow as well as any other winter tire. While other tires, such as the Bridgestone Blizzak line, offers a more complete package on both snow and ice traction, the Firestone Winterforce is a bargain in most sizes and will blow any all-season out of the water. Along with its slightly harder compound, comes longer treadwear, making the Winterforce a popular choice amongst consumers looking for multiple seasons worth of use.

While not the newest tire available, the Firestone Winterforce still has its place in the market and should be a tire to consider. While class-leading all-stars like the Bridgestone Blizzak WS80 and Michelin X-Ice Xi3. are two of the best tires you can purchase to handle winter conditions, the Firestone Winterforce is a great option and provides a good bang-for-your buck option.

The Most Popular Run-Flat Tire for BMW 3 Series

Wednesday, November 12, 2014 by Marshall Wisler

Earlier this year, Bridgestone introduced the DriveGuard that's designed to reshape the run-flat tire market. The tire was developed to be softer riding, longer lasting and more cost-effective than other run-flat tires currently available. DriveGuard tires are offered in many sizes and are available for many of today's popular vehicles.

One of the primary goals of the DriveGuard is to introduce run-flat tires to owners whose vehicles did not come with them originally, such as a newer model Honda Accord. While this has yet to be seen in large numbers, the Bridgestone DriveGuard has become the most popular tire sold in many run-flat sizes for the BMW 3 Series. E90/E92 chassis BMW 3 Series using 16", 17" or 18" staggered fitments all have coverage from this popular new tire. Feedback thus far has been very positive as it has been well liked by consumers. It comes with a 50,000-mile treadlife warranty and offers promising all-season traction. 

If you're in need of replacement tires and have considered ditching run-flats due to cost or the harsh ride they are typically associated with, the DriveGuard may change your mind! Shop by vehicle to see if the Bridgestone DriveGuard is available for your application.

Michelin Pilot Sport A/S Plus vs. Michelin Pilot Sport A/S 3

Thursday, October 30, 2014 by Marshall Wisler

Late last year, Michelin discontinued its popular Pilot Sport A/S Plus after a successful run of several years. While the tire remained a popular seller, increasing competition in the marketplace from tires such as the Continental ExtremeContact DWS and Hankook Ventus S1 noble2 led to the creation of the new Michelin Pilot Sport A/S 3. A quick glance of the tire shows the drastic revision that took place. Gone is the directional tread pattern that makes way for a far more conservative asymmetric design. Such a move allows for full rotational ability and seemingly a quieter tire.

Our internal testing showed the new Pilot Sport A/S 3 sets a benchmark when it comes to dry and wet traction in its category. The grip was excellent, and our group also praised its on-center feel and responsiveness. Like the Pilot Sport A/S Plus before it, the A/S 3 seems to struggle a bit in regards to snow traction.

If snow traction is of importance, there are better choices that reflect more balanced all-season traction. However, if you live in a fair climate where dry traction, wet traction and acceptable treadlife are your main priorities, there is none finer in the Ultra High Performance All-Season category than the Michelin Pilot Sport A/S 3.

 

Road Hazard Now Included with Most Tire Purchases

Friday, October 24, 2014 by Marshall Wisler

We all do a lot of driving. And, there are potholes and road debris everywhere. Chances are you could have a road hazard that leaves you with a tire in need of repair.

That's why, in order to continue to provide the best service, Tire Rack now offers our Road Hazard Protection plan with the sale of most passenger tires. Under the new plan, a tire under $410 in cost that is not an LT, trailer or competition radial is covered for two years and unlimited mileage.

Benefits of the Tire Road Hazard Protection:

  • Tire are covered for 24 months from the date of purchase or until 2/32" or less of tread remains, whichever comes first.
  • Repairs are reimbursed up to $25 per tire per occurrence.
  • Complete replacement if the tire cannot be repaired.
  • Peace of mind knowing that your tires are protected from potholes, nails, screws, and other road debris. 

View the updated Tire Road Hazard Protection conditions here.

Improve Visibility This Winter with Aquapel Glass Treatment

Tuesday, October 7, 2014 by Marshall Wisler

When it comes to safe driving this winter, don't overlook the importance a clear windshield plays. Aquapel Glass Treatment is a great way to improve safety in tough winter conditions.

Costing only $9, Aquapel Glass Treatment forms a chemical bond with your car's windshield to increase water repellency, causing it to bead and easily shed off the glass. It lasts considerably longer than conventional sprays, while improving vision in the rain, snow, day and night. Aquapel Glass Treatment also remains highly effective after months of use, including driving in the rain, snow and car washing. Once it comes time to apply a new treatment, it only takes a few minutes to treat your windshield. And once you've driving with Aquapel Glass Treatment, you won't want to drive without it again.

Benefits of Aquapel Glass Treatment:

  • Improves vision in the rain
  • Repels rain, snow and sleet
  • Easier to remove ice, snow, bugs and dirt
  • Reduces glare in the rain and at night
  • Lasts for months

When combined with a wheel or tire order, Aquapel Glass Treatment ships for free.

Best Snow Tires for Lightweight Passenger Vehicles

Tuesday, September 30, 2014 by Marshall Wisler

Cars that struggle the most with snow traction are most commonly compact cars, lightweight coupes and small sedans that lack significant weight over their drive axles. While their traction levels may never be optimal compared to heavier vehicles or those with all-wheel drive systems, the right tire can make all the difference in making it through the tough winter weather.

Given the severity of last year's winter, many are getting the jump on winter / snow tires this season and inquiring on what might be their best choice. Studless Ice & Snow tires are the most aggressive snow tires that allow for optimal grip levels without adding studs. While they may not handle as well on drive pavement compared to higher speed rated Performance Winter / Snow tires, they give lightweight vehicles the traction needed to get you where you need to go. 

Popular tires like the Bridgestone Blizzak WS80 and Michelin X-Ice Xi3 are two great options worth considering and performed well in our recent round of ice rink testing. Even though the Blizzak WS80 is Bridgestone's newest winter tire, we were able to spend some time driving on the tire earlier this year and get some feedback on how it performs. What did we think? It offers impressive snow and ice traction, and what seems like a nice evolutionary step beyond the already respected capability of its predecessor, the Blizzak WS70. For a complete recap of our initial test with the tire, read "Bridgestone Blizzak WS80 Introductory Test Report."

For a complete list of tires available for your application, shop by vehicle and view our winter selection.

Get Ready for Winter with One of This Year's Best All-Season Tires

Wednesday, September 17, 2014 by Marshall Wisler

If you live in a climate that sees occasional or frequent snowfall, but are only looking to use one set of tires year-round, your selection of an all-season tire is critical. While most tires that aren't dedicated summer performance tires perform well enough in slippery conditions to earn an "M+S" (Mud/Snow) designation, certain tires certainly work better than others.

Currently leading the pack in the Standard Touring All-Season category is the General AltiMAX RT43. This high mileage offering from General features a good amount of biting edge and receives excellent scores from consumers. It's designed to deliver impressive consumer value through even treadwear and extended treadlife. The tire also combines a quiet, comfortable ride with all-season traction.

If your car requires a higher speed rating than what a Standard Touring All-Season tire can provide, the Pirelli Cinturato P7 All Season Plus and Continental Pure Contact with EcoPlus Technology are among the strongest in the Grand Touring All-Season performance category. The Pirelli tire is ranked first and has the highest rating in the light snow traction cateogry. It also has top ratings when it comes to ice traction, and ranks second in deep snow traction. All in all, it's an all-season tire that performs well in the colder months.

Shop by vehicle to view all options available for your application.

Differences Between the Bridgestone Blizzak WS70 and WS80

Friday, September 5, 2014 by Marshall Wisler

After a few very popular years, the Bridgestone Blizzak WS70 has been discontinued and now makes way for the updated Blizzak WS80. The WS70 was always well liked for its traction on ice and packed snow and is considered by many to be one of the most pure Studless Ice & Snow tires on the market. While its strong performance on ice and snow was tough to dispute, the tire was never known for dry road performance.

As inventory begins to filter into stock, we are seeing a new WS80 that has a slightly less directional pattern, but over 20% more sipes and blocking edges than the previous generation. While many tires in higher profile sizes will retain a T-speed rating, many sizes will feature an H-speed rating that will correlate to better on-center feel and responsiveness.

Given the severity of the last winter season, we will begin our ice rink testing slightly earlier than normal and will have a full report detailing stop and start distances in the coming weeks.

While it is too early to jump to full conclusions, I would expect this tire to meet or exceed the grip levels set forth by the WS70 and improve slightly in other areas. Shop by vehicle to see if the WS80 is available for your application.

Reintroducing the Hankook Ventus R-S3 (Version 2)

Thursday, August 14, 2014 by Marshall Wisler

Earlier this season, we saw an upgrade of Hankook's very popular Ventus R-S3 Extreme Performance Summer tire. Long liked for its competitive dry traction, the original version of the Hankook Ventus R-S3 built a loyal fan base amongst autocross competitors and weekend track enthusiasts. Two common criticisms of the tire were that it took a fair amount of time to come up to temperature and it needed revised compounding for increased wet traction.

Today, all of the original part numbers for the Hankook Ventus R-S3 have been replaced by the Ventus R-S3 (Version 2). The revised tire uses a new compound that addresses the concerns of wet traction and heat retention and is also branded with a 200 UTQG treadwear rating - making it legal for use in street tire competitions.

The tire also reduces the performance gap between street and track tires. If you're a serious sports car, sports coupe or performance sedan enthusiast looking for a race-minded street tire, take a look at the Hankook Ventus R-S3 (Version 2).

Finding a Tire Installer Near You

Thursday, August 7, 2014 by Marshall Wisler

After looking over our online consumer driven surveys and internal test reports, you've found the tire that's a great match for your vehicle. Now that you have placed your order, you can expect to receive your tires quickly. With seven distribution centers strategically placed across the country, most customers are rarely more than two days away from receiving their shipment. In many cases, orders arrive the next business day!

Need someone to install your recently purchased tires? Not a problem. We have a national network of thousands of independent Recommended Installers ready to handle your installation needs. It's easy to find one near your home or office. They even guarantee their pricing as part of the Price Pledge program and commit to the prices listed on our site. Therefore, there's no surprise costs and you can be sure that what you see is what you'll pay.

When it comes to joining our network of Installers, each business is carefully screened to ensure they have the proper equipment and experience to serve our customers. To become a Recommended Installer a company must:

  1. Use proper mounting and balancing equipment including touchless or rim clamp, European-style tire changers and high-speed computer spin balancers.
  2. Employ properly trained technicians capable of safely performing damage-free installations.
  3. Be an automotive business that can offer additional services to customers.
  4. Possess a positive attitude and the ability to treat Tire Rack's customers with the highest level of professional courtesy.

After you've had your tires installed by one of our Installers, fill out a survey and leave comments for future customers.

Why Doesn't My Car Come with a Spare Tire?

Wednesday, July 30, 2014 by Marshall Wisler

Is the spare tire becoming extinct? With a growing number of vehicles in the United States being sold without one, it could appear that way. In fact, many drivers are unaware they may not have one until they need one.

New cars, trucks and SUVs seldom come with a spare tire, wheel and jack kit due to an increasing demand for fuel economy and storage space. While all of these attributes are positives, they may not be at the forefront of your mind as you lay stranded on the side of the road. Despite not having a spare tire, there are ways to make sure you are prepared.

Many automakers include roadside assistance with the purchase of their vehicles. It's a good idea to program this number into your phone or be sure to keep a copy of the vehicle's reference guide handy (a smaller version of the owner's manual).

Drivers can fix punctures from small nails or screws using a tire inflation kit. We sell the Continental ContiComfortKit that injects a water-soluble sealant into the tire along with compressed air to re-inflate. This unit is simple to use and operates with the vehicle's 12V accessory power source.

The kit makes it possible for you to complete your drive home, to work, an important appointment or a tire repair facility. It also helps you get back on the road quickly, as most passenger car tires that are flat will take less than seven minutes to fill.

Purchase your own spare tire and wheel combo. Dealers often sell donut spare wheels and tires through the parts department. In the event they do not, you can purchase a full size wheel and tire to keep in the trunk. Please note that full size wheels and tires may not fit into the trunk storage compartment beneath the trunk carpeting. You'll also need to make sure you have a jack and lug wrench handy.

To learn more about the spare tires, read "Spare Tire Extinction?"

Low Dust Brake Pad Options

Wednesday, July 23, 2014 by Marshall Wisler

Does your vehicle have squeaking brakes or pads that produce too much dust? You may want to consider a move to a ceramic pad. Ceramic pads leave a lighter trail of dust than traditional pads with a higher metallic content and are typically very quiet. While ceramic pads do not have the necessary heat range to be used effectively in a track environment, they are still appropriate for some spirited drivers.

Ceramic pads meet or exceed all Original Equipment standards for durability, stopping distance and noise. According to durability tests, ceramic compounds extend brake life compared to most other semi-metallic and organic materials and outlast other premium pad materials by a significant margin - with no sacrifice in noise control, pad life or braking performance.

As mentioned earlier, another characteristic that makes ceramic pads attractive is the absence of noticeable dust. All brake pads produce dust as they wear. The ingredients in ceramic compounds produce a light-colored dust that is much less noticeable and less likely to stick to your vehicle's wheels. Consequently, wheels and tires maintain a cleaner appearance longer.

If you're considering a ceramic brake pad for your vehicle, take a look at the following options:

For more information on using a ceramic brake pad on your application, read "Why Ceramic Brake Pads?"

New Lightweight Track Wheel Available for Miata

Wednesday, July 16, 2014 by Marshall Wisler

There is perhaps no more popular vehicle for autocross and track use than the Mazda Miata. The Miata has been well supported in the aftermarket for years due to its light weight, great balance and playful driving spirit. While there are no shortage of 4x100 bolt pattern wheels available for the Miata, there's a new cost-effective and stylish addition to the line-up.

Advanti Racing's Storm S1 is available in matte grey and black painted finishes. It weighs as little as 10.6 lbs. in a 15x7" option, but is also available in 15x8" and 15x9" widths as well.


Advanti Racing Storm S1 Black Painted

Advanti Racing Storm S1 Matte Grey


Advanti Racing's experience as a supplier and sponsor of Scuderia Toro Rosso, among others, is reflected in the quality wheels they produce. Each wheel is designed and engineered in-house to the highest quality and testing standards, including JWL, JWL-T, VIA and TUV.

This wheel is both visually appealing and cost-effective given its competitive weight. Shop by vehicle to see if the Advanti Racing Storm S1 is available for your application.

The Continental ContiForceContact Now Available in United States

Tuesday, July 1, 2014 by Marshall Wisler

This year, we've added another Streetable Track & Competition tire to our line-up and are pleased to introduce the Continental ContiForceContact. Designed to compete with popular tires such as the Michelin Pilot Sport Cup and Toyo Proxes R888, the ContiForceContact (80 treadwear) has a compound that's soft enough to be competitive in a track environment, yet suitable for light street use.

Unlike extremely soft race-only applications, such as the Hoosier R6, the ContiForceContact is less likely to pick up road debris and comes up to temperature slightly slower, allowing it to be driven to and from the track. The tire's tread void areas also allow it to be used in the wet. However, while designed to resist hydroplaning, ContiForceContact tires are not recommended for high-speed driving on extremely wet roads with standing water where there is the risk of hydroplaning. This is especially true of shaved or worn tires. Drivers should drive cautiously at reduced speeds in these conditions.

We had an opportunity to test the tire back in March and determined the tire delivers an impressive blend of dry track performance and wet traction. It can also thrill drivers during hot laps with its precise handling and confidence-inspiring demeanor. For a complete recap of our test, read "Continental ContiForceContact: Track Day Magic."

Continental TrueContact: Strong All-Season Performance and Longevity

Thursday, June 26, 2014 by Marshall Wisler

Summer testing season is underway and one of our latest tests is quite promising for Continental's newest entry to the Standard Touring All-Season market. Tested against several of its competitors, the new Continental TrueContact posted the fastest lap times of the group in the wet and also featured the shortest stopping distances in our 60-0 mph braking test. Long known for good wet performance, Continental continues the trend with this new high mileage offering.

Coupled with strong wet performance, the TrueContact features mile warranties between 80,000 and 90,000 miles depending on speed rating. TrueContact tires use an all-season tread compound that features Continental's Tg-F Polymers and +Silane additives to improve treadwear, fuel efficiency and traction on slippery roads. The compound is molded into a symmetric design that provides continuous tread contact with the road to enhance steering response and handling while three wide circumferential grooves promote hydroplaning resistance and wet traction.

During our short time with the tire, it seemed to deliver on the goals of good road manners plus excellent wet traction. Take a look at "Continental TrueContact Introductory Drive" for a more complete look at this new potential class leader.

Introducing the Goodyear Wrangler All-Terrain Adventure with Kevlar

Tuesday, June 17, 2014 by Marshall Wisler

Within the past year, many consumers were disappointed to learn that the popular Goodyear Wrangler SilentArmor they had grown to love had been discontinued. Always well liked for its good road manners and capable all- terrain abilities, many feared the replacement would not live up to its predecessor.

Goodyear erased those worries with the introduction of their Wrangler All-Terrain Adventure with Kevlar. Featuring a host of sizes and a tread pattern that closely mirrors the SilentArmor, this new tire has indeed lived up to the expectations of Goodyear loyalists and currently holds the top spot in our consumer driven surveys for On-/Off-Road All-Terrain tires. More durable than many other all-terrain tires, the tire's internal structure includes twin, high-tensile steel belts reinforced by a spirally wrapped layer of next-generation DuPont Kevlar cord to combine strength with comfort (Pro-Grade belts feature thicker steel cords reinforced by two layers of spirally wrapped DuPont Kevlar cord).

Last August, we had an opportunity to test the tire in Colorado Springs, Colorado, one of America's top areas for outdoor recreational activities. Goodyear provided several on-road and dirt-road experiences behind the wheel of a variety of SUVs and pickup trucks in the shadows of the Rocky Mountains. During our time testing the tire, we came away impressed with the tire's steering response and traction on dirt. It also provided good grip, predictable handling and capable stopping traction in both wet and dry conditions. For a complete recap of our test, take a look at "Goodyear Wrangler All-Terrain Adventure Preview."

The Goodyear Wrangler All-Terrain Adventure with Kevlar is made for most light trucks and features and an abundance of E-Load range options for 3/4-ton and 1-ton applications requiring Extra Load carrying capacity.

Top-Rated Highway All-Season Truck and SUV Tires

Friday, June 13, 2014 by Marshall Wisler

In the United States, the truck and SUV market is extremely popular with drivers. It should come as no surprise that the tire market for this growing market share has become increasingly competitive. In total, 33 tires in the Highway All-Season performance category are examined by our customers, and two of the most popular are the Michelin LTX M/S2 and Firestone Destination LE 2.

The Michelin LTX M/S2's symmetric tread design of stable independent tread blocks featuring high-density 3-D Active Sipes delivers all-season traction on dry roads and in inclement weather. Four wide circumferential channels, multiple lateral grooves and open shoulder slots promote lateral water evacuation to enhance wet traction and stopping performance.

Firestone's Destination LE 2 is designed to combine long wear, a comfortable ride and all-season traction, even in light snow. It features twin steel belts reinforced with spirally wrapped nylon to provide strength, uniformity and durability on top of a polyester cord body that helps cushion the ride for truck and sport utility vehicle drivers.


Firestone Destination LE 2

Michelin LTX M/S2


Michelin LTX M/S2:

  • Highest-rated tire in the category
  • Available in a large number of sizes
  • 70,000-mile treadlife warranty
  • Large number of D/E load range options

Firestone Destination LE 2:

  • Outstanding value
  • 60,000-mile treadlife warranty
  • Highest score in category for light snow traction
  • Outstanding ride quality

To view all options available for your truck or SUV, shop by vehicle.

Firestone Destination LE 2: Consistent Strong Performance

Thursday, June 5, 2014 by Marshall Wisler

One of our best-selling tires in the Highway All-Season performance category over the past few years has been the Firestone Destination LE 2. Like the original Destination LE before it, the Destination LE 2 has proven itself as a long-lasting, comfortable tire that has good road manners and dependable all-season performance.

Featuring a good amount of biting edge, this Firestone tire has received high marks for its light snow traction. Currently ranked second in its category, the tire also receives high ratings in the following areas:

  • Hydroplaning resistance
  • Wet traction
  • Cornering stability
  • Steering response
  • Ride comfort
  • Noise comfort

Despite the high consumer rating, the Firestone Destination LE 2 has a modest price-point and frequently bests tires that cost 20-30% more. Offered in 42 sizes, there is a Destination LE 2 for most popular models of light trucks, SUVs and crossovers.