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.

MOTO METAL Wheels Now Available at Tire Rack

Thursday, May 22, 2014 by Marshall Wisler

At the request of many drivers, we now offer the MOTO METAL line of wheels for popular late-model trucks and SUVs. Launching the line at Tire Rack with seven styles, MOTO METAL wheels feature a variety of finishes that include black painted, chrome and black with milled accents.

Drawing inspiration from Southern California's motocross community, MOTO METAL takes street looks and adapts them to their wheel designs. Using top performance metrics, MOTO METAL utilizes unique styling characteristics. Some designs feature flat, deep lips, milled accents and removable inserts allowing drivers to further customize their wheels. Take a look at some of the wheels now available from MOTO METAL:

Search by vehicle to find MOTO METAL wheels for your application.

BFGoodrich g-Force Sport COMP-2: Excellent Performance at a Great Price

Wednesday, May 7, 2014 by Marshall Wisler

Nearly two years has passed since the introduction of the BFGoodrich g-Force Sport COMP-2. Today, it stands tall as the king of the Ultra High Performance Summer performance category. As a replacement for the original g-Force Sport, the COMP-2 attacked the market in 2011 with a revised compound and considerable sidewall reinforcements over the previous model.

Well liked for its aggressive design and predictable handling in the dry and wet, the BFGoodrich g-Force Sport COMP-2 has become the class-leading favorite with nearly 1,000,000 miles reported. The tire has also done well in our internal tests and should grab your attention if you're looking for a dedicated summer tire that combines reasonable wear with high levels of grip.

Development of the g-Force Sport COMP-2 has been honed by decades of BFGoodrich g-Force racing where success on the street has begun with winning on the track. g-Force Sport COMP-2 tires have been chosen by the Ford Racing High Performance Driving School at Miller Motorsports Park and Skip Barber Racing for their schools and race series.

The BFGoodrich g-Force Sport COMP-2 is offered in 55 sizes in ranges from 15-20" and often times features one of the lowest prices in its class. Shop by vehicle to see if this great tire is available for your application.

Added Sense of Security with Continental's ContiComfortKit

Friday, May 2, 2014 by Marshall Wisler

Many owners of new vehicles are often surprised to find that their car, truck or SUV purchased in the last few years lacks a spare tire. In an effort to reduce weight and increase usable cargo space, many automakers are now relying on supplying roadside assistance in place of a temporary or full-size spare tire.

While nothing can take the place of a spare tire in the event of an emergency, there are steps you can take to make sure you're not left stranded. One step includes the purchase of the ContiComfortKit from Continental.

Continental's ContiComfortKit is capable of comfortably sealing typical tire punctures making it possible for you to complete the drive home, to work, an important appointment or a tire repair facility. The ContiComfortKit combines a powerful, high-volume, 12-volt air compressor, integral pressure gauge and a latex liquid tire sealant packaged in a compact, lightweight unit that's easy to store in the vehicle.

Features:

  • Braided air hose
  • Threaded hose end (more secure than push-on, thumb-lock inflation head)
  • 15-foot power cord
  • Lighted pressure gauge
  • Low-intensity L.E.D. supplemental work light

ContiComfortKits can also be used as a stand-alone compressor without the sealant activated. When drivers use the kit in this mode, the ContiComfortKit can be used for periodic tire maintenance to compensate for tire pressure losses over time or due to changes in ambient temperature. And in the case of a very slow leak, the ContiComfortKit can restore sufficient pressure without requiring the use of sealant to drive the vehicle to a nearby shop.

The Continental ContiComfortKit is a great solution for assistance with a roadside emergency and is available with free shipping.

Cost-Effective O.Z. Racing Wheel Options

Wednesday, April 23, 2014 by Marshall Wisler

While O.Z. Racing is most known for its flagship wheels, options such as the Alleggerita HLT and Ultraleggera, the company has recently released several wheels in the past few seasons that command more attention. Also, with a lower price-point, these newer wheels can provide a great style at a good price.

Wheels such as the Envy and X2 feature an attractive design combined with machined accents and a price that is roughly half of other wheels in the line-up. Using the same color codes of other popular models, these wheels have a classic O.Z. Racing look and feel.

We have carried the O.Z. Racing brand for many years and it continues to be one of our most popular sellers, thanks in part to their high level of quality and wide selection of products for various applications. O.Z. Racing never compromises on quality and complies with all official regulations, including the stringent T.U.V. (German control office). They constantly submit their wheels to multiple comprehensive testing to measure road stress. And to detect minute flaws, wheels are put under pressure in a specifically designed water tank and scanned for hidden flaws by X-ray. Further examination is done by computer and electron microscopes. Also, an anti-corrosion treatment is given, followed by a protective lacquer coating and final cleaning.

Search by vehicle to explore all options available for your application.

Restore Ride Quality with KYB Shocks and Struts

Wednesday, April 16, 2014 by Marshall Wisler

If you're looking to restore ride comfort and replace your worn-out factory shocks, take a look at the KYB line of suspension products. Their shocks and struts are reasonably priced and feature a lifetime warranty when used with factory springs. 

KYB has been recognized around the world as a leader in the design and production of state-of-the-art gas shocks and struts. They employ a process of continuous refinement and improvement of their products since its founding over 50 years ago.

KYB's most popular model, the GR-2, features dampening rates that are similar to factory for a familiar feel and an emphasis on ride quality. If you are using an aftermarket lowering spring and have a need for an adjustable shock up to the task of effectively controlling your high performance car, be sure to check out the KYB AGX Adjustable. Depending on the application, the AGX Adjustable features 4-8 way adjustability that controls both compression and rebound with the turn of a knob.

Also, when you purchase any four KYB Shocks, Struts or Strut-Plus before April 30, you can receive a $40 mail-in rebate.

Introducing the Dunlop Direzza DZ102

Friday, April 11, 2014 by Marshall Wisler

A new release for this spring season is the Dunlop Direzza DZ102. This tire, a direct replacement for the Direzza DZ101, features many improvements to build upon from the mark set by its predecessor. The DZ101 was always reasonably well liked in its category due to its low cost and strong dry grip. However, it suffered slightly because of noise comfort and treadwear.

DZ102 tires feature a higher treadwear rating that should increase the life expectancy of the tire. The tire delivers head-turning performance in warm, dry and wet conditions. It also has a less pronounced, but still directional tread pattern, that aims to cut down noise. Like the DZ101, the DZ102 is classified as an Ultra High Performance Summer tire and retains one of the better price-points in the class. Now through May 31, 2014, when you purchase a set of four Dunlop Direzza DZ102 tires, you can receive a $40 Tire Rack Prepaid MasterCard by mail-in rebate.

With winter finally over, expect test results on this tire and many others in the coming months!

Raise Ride Height and Go Big with Traxda Lift and Level Kits

Tuesday, March 25, 2014 by Marshall Wisler

"How big of a tire can I install on my truck?" This question is one I receive on almost a daily basis. While each truck is different and some can occasionally accept taller tires with the factory suspension in place, the easiest way to insure proper fitment of a taller or wider tire is to increase the amount of travel between the top of the tire and fender well.

Leveling kits increase the amount of clearance on the front axles between one and three inches on average and will often enable the owner to increase tire size without rubbing issues. Most trucks tend to have a rake from the factory that causes the front of the truck to sit lower in the front when the bed is unloaded. With a leveling kit, this rake can be corrected and clearances improved.

Traxda Lift and Level Kits relocate the mounting point of the spring that holds the truck up without changing the location of the stock suspension arms. Installation of this kit allows for use of up to 35" tall tires (17"-26" rims, stock offset, depending on application) without rubbing. Most kits are a direct bolt-on style, simple and easy to install with nothing more than common hand tools and require no modifications to your vehicle. The kits retain stock ride quality.

Lift and Level Kit Features:

  • Precision laser cut solid steel technology engineered to exact tolerances
  • Does not change preload
  • Maintains stock ride quality on most vehicles
  • Requires no disassembly of the strut
  • Depending on application, stock shocks or stock-length aftermarket shocks can be used
  • Shock brackets included where applicable
  • Alignment specs provided
  • Truck can be returned to stock when required
  • Limited Lifetime Warranty
  • Made in the USA

Search by vehicle to find a Traxda Lift and Level Kit for your truck.

Introducing the New O.Z. Racing Leggera HLT

Tuesday, March 18, 2014 by Marshall Wisler

Spring will be underway shortly and that means many new wheel styles will be available. While there are many fresh designs that have caught my eye, none has impressed me more than the new Leggera HLT from O.Z. Racing.

The Leggera HLT, with its split 5-spoke design, is clean, well made and has an excellent bright race grey finish. It's also light, something we expect after having carried O.Z. Racing's Ultraleggera and Superleggera wheels for quite some time. The Leggera HLT is available in 17"-20" rim diameters with most of the popular widths, offsets and bolt patterns being represented.

O.Z. Racing never compromises on quality and complies with all official regulations, including the stringent rules of T.U.V., the German control office. They constantly submit their wheels to multiple comprehensive testing to measure road stress. And to detect minute flaws, wheels are put under pressure in a specially designed water tank and scanned for hidden flaws by X-ray. Further examination is done by computer and electron microscopes. Finally, an anti-corrosion treatment is given, followed by a protective lacquer coating and final cleaning.

Search by vehicle to see if this new O.Z. Racing is a fit for your car.

Free Shipping at Tire Rack on Parts and Accessories Orders Over $50

Thursday, February 20, 2014 by Marshall Wisler

Starting this week, we've made some changes in regards to the way we handle our shipping charges. Free shipping is now offered on all products in the parts and accessories categories (shown below). Eligible products purchased must total $50 or more (not including taxes) to qualify for free shipping.

Accessory items that qualify for free shipping include:

Free shipping offer does not apply to tire and wheel purchases. This offer is valid only to retail customers in the 48 contiguous states and the District of Columbia.

Dunlop Direzza ZII Coming Into Stock for the 2014 Season

Wednesday, February 12, 2014 by Marshall Wisler

It seems hard to believe, but sooner or later the cold that has gripped most of the country this winter will soon lift and the snow will clear. When this occurs, competition events will be in full swing.

One of last year's hottest and best-selling performers, the Dunlop Direzza ZII, is filtering back into stock, and in many sizes is ready for shipment. This Extreme Performance Summer tire was one of our favorites in an internal test and has achieved much popularity within the ranks of our consumer surveys.

Take a look at what some of our customers are saying about their experience with the Dunlop Direzza ZII.

"The tires have well exceeded what I expected. I am more confident with these tires than I was with the Original Equipment. The wet traction is something Dunlop should be proud of. I will purchase them again!" -- Tire Rack Consumer Review, 2011 Subaru Impreza WRX 4-Door STI Limited

"I am a hardcore amateur racer and I've used the ZIIs on my Cayman and they are incredible. In my opinion, this is the best street tire there is." -- Tire Rack Consumer Review, 2008 Porsche Cayman

The Direzza ZII features a treadwear rating of 200, making it legal for most classes of SCCA and NASA competition. With 26 sizes offered, the ZII offers good market coverage of many popular sizes.

Increase Visibility with PIAA Bulbs

Thursday, February 6, 2014 by Marshall Wisler

Whether it's endurance racing, rally, off-road or for the street, PIAA has committed to manufacture world-class automotive products that drivers can use with pride and confidence. Today, PIAA upholds that commitment by combining desirable products with the latest technology to make night and inclement weather driving as safe as possible.

If your car or truck's factory bulbs are still functioning, yet not up to the task of fully illuminating the road surface, consider a simple upgrade from PIAA. PIAA's line-up of Extreme White, Super Plasma, Ion Yellow and Night-Tech bulbs are all designed to use your vehicle's pre-existing connectors and are a simple plug-and-play upgrade.

Utilizing similar levels of power, PIAA bulbs increase light output and are a cost-effective enhancement to almost every vehicle. Unlike a full HID conversion kit, these bulbs install in minutes and do not require any in-depth knowledge of electric systems to install.

Shop by vehicle to shine some light on your commute.

Non-Run-Flat All-Season Tire Option for BMW X5 (20" Wheels)

Thursday, January 30, 2014 by Marshall Wisler

One of the most difficult vehicles to outfit with all-season tires is the BMW X5 and X6 with staggered 20" wheels. Unfortunately, with the 275/40R20 front and 315/35R20 rear tire sizes, there aren't any run-flat options up to the task of performing in snowy conditions.

Luckily, for drivers willing to step away from a run-flat tire, Continental offers a fantastic choice. Their ExtremeContact DWS (DWS for Dry, Wet and Snow) has been one of our highest rated Ultra High Performance All-Season tires for quite some time and is available for the X5 and X6. While some tires in the category don't perform well in cold temperatures, the DWS has the highest ratings in the category for light snow and deep snow traction.

The ExtremeContact DWS features Tuned Performance Indicators -- visible letters molded into the second rib from the outboard shoulder to alert drivers of the tire's performance levels. A visible "DWS" indicates the tire has sufficient tread depth for dry conditions as well as wet roads and light snow. After the "S" has worn away, the remaining "DW" indicates the tire is only suitable for dry and most wet road conditions. And after the "W" and "S" have both worn away, the remaining "D" indicates the tire has appropriate tread depth for dry conditions only.

To view all tire options for your BMW, shop by vehicle.