Do Studdable Winter / Snow Tires Come Studded?

Wednesday, October 23, 2013 by Marshall Wisler

"When I purchase a set of Studdable Winter / Snow tires, will they arrive studded or unstudded?" All studdable winter tires we sell can be sent with or without studs installed. It's important to note that only new tires that have never been driven on can be studded. Tires already driven on cannot be studded nor re-studded.

Studdable Winter / Snow tires without studs are still effective winter tires and many drivers choose not to stud them. If you desire a higher level of traction due to challenging conditions, studs can be added to any tires in this performance category for a $15 charge. 

When placing your order online, simply check the box to add studs when prompted in the checkout.  Because studdable tires are manufactured with different tread depths, studs are manufactured in different lengths that must be matched to the depth of the holes molded in the tire. We will select the correct gauge of stud for your specific tire and ship them out with the studs pressed in.

A Studdable Winter / Snow tire's tread is often lubricated to facilitate stud installation, therefore a special tool is inserted into the molded hole, spreading the tread rubber, and inserting the stud towards the bottom of the hole and retracting. With the stud inserted, the tread rubber compresses around the stud's flat head and cylindrical housing to hold it in place. Because it takes some time for the lubricant to evaporate and the tread rubber to securely compress around the stud, new studded tires require a break-in period.

Some states prohibit studded winter tires completely or restrict them to seasonal use. Check with local law enforcement officials to confirm restrictions in your area.

To learn more about using studded tires in the colder months, read "Studded Tires for Winter Driving."

Will My Wheels and Tires Come Mounted and Balanced?

Thursday, October 17, 2013 by Marshall Wisler

"When I order a Winter / Snow Tire & Wheel Package, will it come mounted and balanced?" Yes! As an incentive for purchasing wheels and tires at the same time as a package, we will take care of the mount and balance free of charge. In this way, the package will arrive pre-assembled and ready to bolt on to your vehicle. As is standard with most vehicles, lug hardware will also be included free of charge. The rare exception to this rule would be if your selected wheel re-uses Original Equipment lug hardware.

It's also possible to receive your wheels and tires unmounted if you're swapping over tire pressure monitor sensors. If this is the case, simply do not elect to have the wheels and tires mounted when completing your order and proceeding through the checkout phase.

When purchasing tire pressure monitor sensors with your Tire & Wheel Package or you own a vehicle that does not require them, selecting to have the mount and balance done before shipping makes the most sense as it will help you avoid mount and balance fees locally. Create your Tire & Wheel Package today!

Black Rock Steel Wheels Now Available for Trucks

Tuesday, October 8, 2013 by Marshall Wisler

Looking for more than an aluminum alloy option for your truck? We are pleased to announce the addition of Black Rock wheels to our inventory. With Black Rock now available to customers, there are sixteen new styles to choose from for your Jeep, SUV or lifted truck.  

Steel wheels are a cost effective and popular option for consumers looking for off-road capability or winter use. Black Rock wheels are available in various spoke counts and come with a black painted finish. Options are offered for most 5-, 6- and 8-lug patterns for late-model trucks. Both affordable and durable, Black Rock wheels feature heavy gauge steel rims that won't chip or crack, look great and provide rugged styling for tough off-road conditions.

View all Black Rock wheels available and see if one is right for your application.

Introducing the Dunlop SP Winter Sport 4D

Thursday, October 3, 2013 by Marshall Wisler

Dunlop's newest Performance Winter / Snow tire, the SP Winter Sport 4D, is now available for the upcoming winter season. Like the tire it replaces, the SP Winter Sport 3D, the new SP Winter Sport 4D features a directional pattern that has proven to be excellent at evacuating slush and snow. It also retains its high speed rating (V for most sizes) and looks to be a continued acceptable performer on dry and plowed roads.  

Drivers will see only small changes when compared to the older model, with the largest improvement coming in the form on brick styled sipes. Over the past winter season, the Dunlop SP Winter Sport 3D made a name for itself as the highest rated tire in its class.

The tire utilizes a motorsport derived silica-plus tread compound that delivers high levels of grip, particularly on wet roads and in low temperatures. Dunlop's 4D Sipe System combines their 3D sipe technology with transverse sipes to create independent micro-blocks that generate better footprint pressure distribution to enhance snow handling and cornering grip.

Comparing the Bridgestone Blizzak LM-60 and Blizzak LM-32

Thursday, September 19, 2013 by Marshall Wisler

Earlier this year, Bridgestone announced the replacement of its popular Performance Winter / Snow tire, the Blizzak LM-60. While the Bridgestone Blizzak line has always been known for its top-of-the-class winter traction, it has given up ground recently to some models that offer competitive levels of grip, but tend to handle better on dry or wet plowed roads.

The new Bridgestone Blizzak LM-32 aims to pick up where the LM-60 left off while increasing steering response and dry road handling. Offered in numerous sizes and featuring speed ratings as high as W (168 mph), the new LM-32 should be at the top of your list if you are looking for a tire that can handle most anything winter throws at it, while still being pleasurable to drive on when conditions aren't as nasty.

Higher speed ratings traditionally correlate directly with on-center feel, lane change responsiveness and sidewall rigidity. The higher the speed rating, the better the tire typically performs under such criteria. With that said, apart from a higher terminal top speed (LM-60 is H-speed rated for 130 mph), the new LM-32 looks to be a better handling tire than its predecessor, but still retains the aggressive directional pattern the Blizzak line is known for.

To learn more about the Blizzak line from Bridgestone, read "Bridgestone Blizzak FAQs."

Studless Ice & Snow or Studdable Winter / Snow Tires: Which is Best for You?

Wednesday, September 11, 2013 by Marshall Wisler

In recent years, Studless Ice & Snow tires have improved greatly. Aggressive tires from this category, such as the Michelin X-Ice Xi3 and Bridgestone Blizzak WS70 lead the pack for drivers looking for maximum traction without metal studs. Studless Ice & Snow tires feature soft compounds, deep aggressive tread patterns and lots of tread void for the evacuation of slush and snow.

If you live in an extreme environment you may feel the need to use a Studdable Winter / Snow tire. Studded tires provide an extra amount of bite on ice by using a stud that touches the road between the tire's contact patch. The General AltiMAX Arctic and Firestone Winterforce are included in this category and do not come studded, but can be sent with studs pressed in for an extra $15 a tire. While studs provide a small advantage in the most extreme of environments, they do have their trade-offs. Studded tires are noisy and not allowed in all states. They can also reduce performance in dry and wet conditions. Make no mistake, studded tires are capable but that performance comes at a cost.

Which tire you select will depend on where you live and where and what you drive. If you look around the parking lot at our headquarters in South Bend, Indiana this coming winter, you won't see many, if any studded snow tires because our climate isn't that extreme. If our base camp was located high in the Rockies, the tables might turn. There's simply a case to be made for using different tools for different jobs.

To recap, here are some pros and cons for each category:

Studless Ice & Snow

Pros:

  • Reasonable road manners
  • More than adequate snow and ice performance
  • Friendly on dry and wet roads

Cons:

  • Will give up a slight grip advantage to a studded tire on glare ice

Studdable Winter / Snow

Pros:

  • An extreme tire for extreme environments
  • No more expensive than a Studless Ice & Snow tire

Cons:

  • Road noise
  • Not meant for dry and wet roads
  • Not legal in all areas

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

Steel Wheels are Arriving!

Thursday, August 29, 2013 by Marshall Wisler

Although it seems hard to believe, the fair weather will soon be fading and half the country will once again be facing another winter season. One of the most popular preparation items that we sell during the winter months are Winter / Snow Tire & Wheel Packages. While these packages can be ordered using alloy wheels in various sizes, many consumers choose to take a more cost-effective approach with a traditional steel wheel.

Steel wheels may not look as nice as an aluminum option, however they are quite durable, serve their intended purpose and cost less than a basic aluminum wheel.

Currently arriving in stock in large quantities, steel wheels will be ready for shipment to get you prepared for the winter weather ahead.

 

All 15 Sizes of BFGoodrich's g-Force Rival Now In Stock

Wednesday, August 21, 2013 by Marshall Wisler

After a strong initial release and promising first test, many of the BFGoodrich g-Force Rival sizes seemed difficult to get our hands on. While we were able to receive many of the higher volume sizes quickly, some of the more specialized sizes remained out of stock.

We are pleased to report that all sizes of the tire have now been received into stock and are ready for shipment. This includes the larger Pro-Touring sizes with widths up to 335mm. This comes as excellent news to autocross enthusiasts in street tire categories who have the Solo Nationals knocking on the door in September.

The tire was created with razor-sharp reflexes to raise the limits by delivering extreme grip that's extremely predictable. It's been an early hit in the Extreme Performance Summer category and well received by drivers. Take a look at what some of the first to own this tire are saying about their experience with the BFGoodrich g-Force Rival.

"We have a 1966 Chevelle that we drive to local and distant track and autocross events and the g-Force Rival has been working tremendously for us since we switched to it in June 2013. The tire responds to steering input very quickly and is very predictable in all conditions. I'm looking forward to running Rivals for years to come!" -- Tire Rack Consumer Review, 1966 Chevrolet Chevelle SS

"I am in love with these tires. Great on the track and on the street." -- Tire Rack Consumer Review, 1991 Mazda Miata

Read "Testing Extreme Performance Summer Tires: The Boys of Summer Are Here" and determine if the BFGoodrich g-Force Rival is right for your vehicle.

BFGoodrich g-Force Sport COMP-2 Tested at Miller Motorsports Park

Thursday, August 15, 2013 by Marshall Wisler

Every so often my job allows me to travel the country and experience the products I recommend and sell to consumers. This past week, I was fortunate enough to spend three days at Miller Motorsports Park outside Salt Lake City, Utah to experience the BFGoodrich g-Force Sport COMP-2 on the school's prepped Mustang GTs. 

With a 340 treadwear rating, the tire isn't considered a dedicated track tire, nor does it achieve the designation of an Extreme Performance Summer tire. This tire does, however, provide consistent and predictable grip levels and allows a driver to experience a dedicated summer tire that still provides acceptable levels of treadwear and wet performance.

Using both the tight and technical east course and the long sweeping west course at Miller Motorsports Park, the tire performed admirably as an Ultra High Performance Summer tire and remained its composure under 110 mph braking zones, fast sweepers and challenging downhill S-curves. While this tire isn't as fast on course as its big brother the BFGoodrich g-Force Rival, it deserves its best-in-class rating in our consumer surveys and is suitable for drivers looking for responsiveness, predictability and most of all, fun.

While there are faster tires available in other higher performance categories, I can say with much confidence that this tire under my watch was driven harder than is possible to do on the street. For several hours I pushed this tire and it inspired good confidence.

Available in a multitude of sizes for muscle cars, sports cars,and coupes, this tire deserves your attention. View all sizes and choose the one that's right for your vehicle.

KONI Sale Continues for One More Month!

Tuesday, August 13, 2013 by Marshall Wisler

Time is approaching for the end of our KONI sale that has been running for the past few months. However, there is still time left to secure your products before the summer season ends. Now through September 2, 2013, select KONI products will remain 20% off regular price.

Whether you are looking for performance and adjustability with the famed KONI Sport or performance and comfort with the high-tech FSD Damper Set & Springs, there's a KONI product to fit your needs. The following are features and benefits of the FSD Damper Set & Springs:

  • An engineered suspension system of shocks and springs that complement each other.
  • Body lowering of 1.0"-1.5" depending on vehicle. Improved appearance, but still street-worthy.
  • Better handling. Roll, dive and squat are improved for better driver control.
  • Maintained or improved ride quality, even with lowering.
  • Limited lifetime warranty to the original owner.

KONI shocks lead the way in longevity and quality so shop by vehicle to find the proper products your car.

Another Class-Leading Continental Tire: PureContact with EcoPlus Technology

Wednesday, July 31, 2013 by Marshall Wisler

Continental seems to be on a bit of a hot streak over the past few years. As one of our best-selling Ultra High Performance All-Season tires, the ExtremeContact DWS has built a huge following amongst drivers looking for a tight handling tire at an excellent price. The tire also is impeccable as an all-season option as it receives the highest marks in its category for light snow traction, deep snow traction and ice traction.

For drivers looking to tone things down a bit, Continental offers their latest Grand Touring All-Season tire, the PureContact with EcoPlus Technology. This tire has done well in our surveys since its release and the praise is well deserved. The tire is cost effective compared to other brand name tires in the class, features a 70,000-mile treadlife warranty and works well in all seasons. While the tire may not handle quite as nicely when compared to other tires in higher performance categories, it holds its own in the class and proved to be quite responsive in our internal test.

Similar to the ExtremeContact DWS, the PureContact with EcoPlus Technology features Tuned Performance Indicators -- visible letters molded into the outboard shoulder to alert drivers of the tire's potential performance in various weather conditions. A visible "DWS" indicates the tire has sufficient tread depth for dry conditions, wet roads and light snow. After the "S" has worn away, the remaining "DW" shows drivers the tire only has sufficient tread depth for dry and most wet road conditions. And after the "W" and "S" have both worn away, the "D" indicates the tire has appropriate tread depth for dry conditions only.

If you're the owner of a luxury performance sedan, sporty coupe or crossover vehicle and are in the market for a new set of tires, strongly consider this great option from Continental.

Michelin Pilot Sport A/S 3 Now In Stock and Ready to Ship

Wednesday, July 24, 2013 by Marshall Wisler

As far as tire release news goes, this is a big deal. The long-awaited replacement for the popular Michelin Pilot Sport A/S Plus has landed and is now ready for shipment. Michelin's new Pilot Sport A/S 3 features an asymmetric tread pattern and high speed rating for tight and responsive handling. The tire looks to remain a class leader in terms of performance, improve upon its ability to perform in all seasons and allow for full rotational ability with a revised tread pattern.

Having driven on and tested the tire, I will tell you what the survey results are sure to say in a few months: This tire will be a front runner. It is nimble and responsive, turn-in is sharp and the tire was quiet and smooth during my time testing it.

The Pilot Sport A/S 3 is now available in approximately 50 sizes and should be considered if you're shopping for an Ultra High Performance All-Season tire (it is also provided in a High Performance All-Season option.)

The Difference Between Eibach's Pro-Kit and Sportline Spring Set

Monday, July 15, 2013 by Marshall Wisler

For customers looking to upgrade their car with lowering springs, Eibach offers two options that are designed to be street friendly, eliminate fender gap and provide an increase in handling and control. Starting with their most conservative option, the Pro-Kit Spring Set is designed for drivers looking for a moderate reduction in ride height, ride quality that closely resembles the factory spring and a moderate increase in spring rate. Pro-Kit springs will typically lower a vehicle .75"-1.5" and can be used with the factory struts and shocks (upgrading your shocks is recommended for maximum performance benefit).

Going a step further, the Eibach Sportline Spring Set will provide an average of 1.5"-2.0" drop in ride height, coupled with a more aggressive spring rate for additional handling benefits. These springs are recommended to be used with a performance strut or shock, such as options from KONI or Bilstein in order to compensate and control the more aggressive spring rate and reduction in travel.

Both springs come with Eibach's 1,000,000-mile warranty which protects the driver against any spring sag or breakage. Also, now through August 31st, you can save 10% when you purchase a select Eibach Pro-Kit Spring Set or Sportline Spring Set. View rebate details here.

KW Variant 3 Coil-Over: Race Technology That's Comfortable on the Street

Wednesday, July 3, 2013 by Marshall Wisler

Having just purchased a 2012 Ford Mustang GT, I felt that many aspects of the vehicle's performance were phenomenal, however the suspension left me wanting more. While the car provides good lateral grip in corners and performs better than any other generation of stock Mustang, the soft spring rates contribute to excessive body roll and front-end pitch under heavy braking.

To cure this, I pulled out the big guns and installed KW's Variant 3 Coil-Over. While the Variant 1 allows only for height adjustment with KW factory pre-set damping, and the Variant 2 provides height adjustment and adjustable damper settings, the Variant 3 gives drivers independent control of both rebound and compression, along with a wide range of height adjustment.

Installation only took two hours with a lift and a few of my friends. KW even includes vehicle specific install instructions and recommended shock settings. While the car now rides on a much higher spring rate than factory, the dampening takes out some of the harshness associated with lowered cars. It really rides quite nice and shows a huge improvement in handling. The car lays flat into corners with minimal roll and is much more stable under acceleration and braking.

Stay tuned for more changes I'll be making to my vehicle, up next: tires and wheels.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

G2 Caliper Paint: A Nice Finishing Touch

Thursday, June 27, 2013 by Marshall Wisler

While I've installed suspension and brakes in the past, it can be some work. This past weekend's task was much easier with the use of G2's Brake Caliper Paint System Set to cover up the factory caliper's tarnished raw casting.

The G2 Caliper Paint System is quite thorough and comes with a can of brake clean, paint color of you choice, hardening resin, stir stick and paint brush. For less than $40 it comes with everything you need to do the job correctly and doesn't require the removal of the brake calipers themselves. While many people resort to spray paint, this method requires masking to avoid overspray and has a finish that isn't temperature resistant to brake heat.

To apply the G2 Caliper Paint System, follow these simple steps:

  1. Properly lift vehicle and place stands.
  2. Remove wheels.
  3. Mix paint and resin, stir for 5 minutes.
  4. Clean calipers using supplied brake cleaned.
  5. Apply paint using supplied brush (Use sparingly as a little goes a long ways.)
  6. Allow a few hours to fully cure.
  7. Install wheels and lower car to ground.
  8. Properly torque all four wheels.

Featuring such an easy installation, anyone that can change a wheel and tire can do this job. While I chose to go with a factory style color (black), a wide range of colors are available to suit your preferences.

G2's Brake Caliper Paint System Set is an easy and cost-effective complement to a Tire & Wheel Package or brake job.

Take a look at these before and after photos of my 2012 Mustang GT to see how much difference the paint can make:

     

Is Camber Correction Necessary When Lowering?

Thursday, June 13, 2013 by Marshall Wisler

One of the byproducts of lowering a vehicle can be an increase in the amount of negative camber. When looking at the wheel and tire assembly, this can be identified when the top side of the wheel/tire slants inward towards the vehicle's center.

Negative camber is a positive trait for those looking to track their cars or drive spiritedly. It helps the car turn in and the tire's contact patch to remain flat when one side of the car is loaded entering a corner. Also, it's not uncommon for some race applications to see as much as five degrees of negative camber. 

Not everyone is looking for large amounts of negative camber for race use. Typically, most passenger vehicles tend not to exceed 1-1.5 degrees as they leave the factory. Having a lesser degree of camber helps with tire wear and is the primary cause for camber correction. Cars with large amounts of negative camber will tend to wear the inside shoulder of the tire more rapidly than the outboard.

If you have lowered your car on a conservative or moderate spring such as an Eibach Pro-Kit Spring Set or H&R Sport Spring Set, your camber specs may still be acceptable according to factory spec ranges without any other modification. However, as you begin to look at more aggressive set-ups, such as coilover kits, you may want to consider camber correction if you're interested in the best possible tire life on the street.

Camber correction can be done using camber correction bolts, adjustable control arms or adjustable camber plates. While all of these methods work great, which type you'll need is dependent on your vehicle type.

For more information on camber, read our tech article on alignment.

Differences Between Bridgestone's Potenza RE-11 and RE-11A

Thursday, May 30, 2013 by Marshall Wisler

Earlier this year, Bridgestone announced they would be releasing a revision to their popular Potenza RE-11 tire to make it more competitive in the dry among a stout group of competitors. The Potenza RE-11A will continue forward with the same exact tread pattern as the original Potenza RE-11 and will retain the same speed ratings as well. The main change in the design is a compound difference that allows for slightly higher grip limits. RE-11A tires will be released in ten sizes this summer and are branded with a UTQG rating of 200 - making them legal for most, if not all, street tire competition classes.

Like its predecessor, the Potenza RE-11A seems to be one of the most balanced Extreme Performance Summer tires, as well as one of the few that puts a high emphasis on good wet performance and hydroplaning resistance. Designed for serious sports car, sports coupe and performance sedan driving enthusiasts, the Potenza RE-11A enhances traction, handling and control while maintaining good noise and ride comfort. Bridgestone Potenza RE-11A tires are performance tuned for dry and wet conditions, but like all summer tires it is not intended to be driven in near-freezing temperatures, through snow or on ice.

The Potenza RE-11A's biggest competitors in 2013 look to be the BFGoodrich g-Force Rival and Dunlop Direzza ZII. Stay tuned for results as we will be testing these tires later this summer!

High Mileage Tire Offering from Michelin

Tuesday, May 21, 2013 by Marshall Wisler

Michelin, one of the most respected names in the business, has always been a brand that's associated with excellent wear and long treadlife. While the company previously offered the Harmony and HydroEdge with Green X with 80,000-mile or higher treadwear warranties, these products have been consolidated and replaced with the Defender. Like its predecessors, the Defender has been extremely well received in regards to excellent treadlife, low noise and a good ride.

The Defender is available in 38 sizes to fit many of today's passenger cars and light-duty crossover vehicles. It features a 90,000-mile treadlife warranty and has proven itself as a capable all-season option. Currently ranked as the top tire in the Standard Touring All-Season category, the Defender receives high marks in the following areas:

  • Dry Traction
  • Steering Response
  • Ride Comfort
  • Treadwear
  • Hydroplaning Resistance
  • Cornering Stability
  • Wet Traction
  • Noise Comfort

Take a look at what some of our customers are saying about their experience with the Michelin Defender:

"These are the best tires I have ever purchased. They run quiet and have a soft ride. There is no slipping or sliding on turns and they feel like they are glued to the road." -- Tire Rack Consumer Review, 2010 Toyota Prius IV

"Fantastic tire. Definitely the best tire I have ever had. Extremely quiet, stable and a great ride." -- Tire Rack Consumer Review, 2003 Pontiac Vibe

"The Defenders are quiet and have amazing traction in Oregon rain. No hydroplaning and I get 36 mpg on the freeway. They are on our 2009 Toyota Camry XLE. I'm now buying them for our Cadillac! I have never been more pleased with a tire purchase." -- Tire Rack Consumer Review, 2009 Toyota Camry XLE

Spring Sale on Sumitomo HTR Z III

Wednesday, May 15, 2013 by Marshall Wisler

If you're looking for a good performing summer tire on a budget, take a look at the latest offering from Sumitomo. Their HTR Z III features an asymmetrical pattern that provides noticeable noise reduction when compared to the directional, previous generation HTR Z II.

While this tire may not be the top-ranked option in the Max Performance Summer category, it has one of the most attractive price points in the group. Developed for sports cars, sporty coupes and high performance sedans, the HTR Z III showcases Sumitomo's technical resources by providing high speed handling stability along with traction on dry and wet roads. The inside shoulder is linked by a continuous circumferential rib that enhances wear quality to help reduce noise throughout the tire's life, especially on vehicles with independent suspensions and alignment settings that specify negative camber. Straight and wide circumferential grooves along with long, sweeping lateral grooves evacuate water from under the tire's footprint to increase hydroplaning resistance and wet traction.

Best Performance Tires for Wet Weather

Thursday, May 9, 2013 by Marshall Wisler

Unfortunately, not all days can be sunny and dry. While we all experience varying weather patterns, some people see more wet weather than others. If you live in Florida, or another state known for heavy and frequent rains, you may choose a tire that performs well in the wet above all else.

If this sounds like the conditions you experience, take a look at my favorite Max Performance Summer tires that feature wet weather performance, yet make no compromises in the dry.

The Continental ExtremeContact DW features a large amount of tread void that does extremely well in the wet. Looking at its pattern will display a large amount of water channels to aid in hydroplane resistance. While one of our strongest tires in the wet, the ExtremeContact DW can also hold its own in the dry and has long since been a favorite amongst consumers looking for performance and value.

Michelin's Pilot Super Sport has been a standout in nearly every test we've done since it was released last year. This tire tends to be one of the fastest Max Performance Summer tires in the dry, and also has exceptional balance when the going gets slippery. While the tire doesn't quite have as much tread void as the Continental, it's an exceptional performer and is very composed at the traction limit.

Continental ExtremeContact DW
Continental ExtremeContact DW

Michelin Pilot Super Sport


Take a look at all Max Performance Summer options and find the one that works best for you.