Tire Rack Consumer Review of the General AltiMAX RT43 (T-Speed Rated)

Thursday, April 3, 2014 by Tire Rack Consumer Reviews

The following post was created from content submitted via Tire Rack's consumer surveys. Information shown is the opinion of the consumer and meant to be used for comparison shopping purposes.

General AltiMAX RT43 (T-Speed Rated) Reviewer's Overall Rating: 8.80
 
 

1993 Volvo 2 Series Wagon
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Buy/More Info
Miles driven on tires: 500
Location: Belleville, IL
Driving Condition: Average
 

Initial Review, 500 Miles on Tires
February 20, 2014

Even with only 500 miles rolled off the tread, I can immediately tell that these tires are my new favorite. The online test result information and other reviews rate this tire far above it's price range and I concur. That is value.
We have snow, ice and rain on the ground right now and the tires did better than any Michelin I normally buy. My Volvo 240 wagon is getting old and I didn't want to spend so much for my regular tire, so I bought these after a lot of research. This is my first Tire Rack purchase as well. I am so pleased with both the merchant and the merchandise!
Now, I have been driving a Volvo 240 wagon every day for 25 years. So, I know exactly what differences the tire makes in ride, handling, acceleration, and braking. This General Altimax RT43 is as good as it gets for all-around, all-season value in a tire. Even the tread depth is a better 12/32nds.
I normally put a smaller than original tire size on my wagon due to availability issues. This time I put the largest tire that would comfortably fit. My speedometer is only off by one mph, but the benefit is a much smoother roll, higher ground clearance, and slightly better fuel economy (but at a cost of slightly reduced acceleration).
I expected this taller tire to have more front end roll from the taller sidewall and new tread, but it didn't. Another reason to love this tire.
Another review is in order after a few thousand miles, but, for first impressions, these tires did not disappoint.
Oh yeah, they look great, too.

Best Brake Pads for 2014? It Could Be Brembo's New Offering

Monday, March 31, 2014 by Zig Ziegler

All brake pads produce dust as they wear. However, there are some pad materials that create a less noticeable dust and don't make your wheels look like they're covered in tar. A newer form of friction material, called ceramic composite, creates a light-colored dust that's much less noticeable and is less likely to stick to your wheels. Ceramic pads are quieter and easier on brake rotors. These pads can also extend brake life beyond a semi-metallic pad.

New this year are the Ceramic Brake Pads from Brembo. The pads are available to fit most popular sporty sedans and coupes like BMW, Audi and Mercedes-Benz. Designed and engineered to enhance braking power, Brembo Ceramic Brake Pads minimize braking distances while offering a quiet and safe braking experience on a variety of road conditions. Original Equipment Direct Moulding Pressing Process provides a proper and accurate fit. The positive molding process uses extreme pressure to compress friction materials and provide balanced bonding to the backing plate. Each pad is then thermal scorched following Brembo's O.E. specifications to lessen running-in and fading.

Brembo's multi-layer ESE (Elastomer - Steel - Elastomer) red shim, clearly identifying the pads as Brembo pads, dampens noise and minimizes vibrations. Additional noise dampening is handled by the backing plate which also acts as a heat shield to reduce heat transfer to the caliper.

If you're looking to change the pads on your vehicle and want an alternative to black brake dust, take a look at the Brembo Ceramic Brake Pads. When changing brake pads, it's a good time to change brake wear sensors and maybe time to consider changing your brake fluid. Don't forget you'll get free shipping on all brakes, suspension and other parts and accessories on your order over $50.

What Are the Best Brake Rotors for My Car?

Wednesday, July 31, 2013 by Zig Ziegler

When choosing a new rotor, the fist question should be: "Are you happy with the current stopping power of your vehicle or would you like to increase the braking performance?" 

Tire Rack offers many rotors which will be direct Original Equipment replacement rotors, like the Centric Plain 120 Series and Brembo Replacement Rotor. These rotors maintain the same braking performance as the Original Equipment.

 Centric Plain 120 Series
Centric Plain 120 Series Rotor
 Brembo Replacement Rotor
Brembo Replacement Rotor


If you're looking to increase performance or style, you may want to choose a slotted or drilled rotor like the Brembo Sport Slotted Rotor or the StopTech SportStop Drilled Rotor. Some high performance vehicles like BMW, Mercedes-Benz and Audi even come built from the factory with slotted or drilled rotors. In cases like this, these items would be direct Original Equipment replacements. 

 Brembo Sport Slotted Rotors
Brembo Sport Slotted Rotors
 StopTech SportStop Drilled Rotor
StopTech SportStop Drilled Rotor


The science behind the slotted and drilled rotors is during heavy braking. These rotors get so hot that when the brake pad makes contact with the rotor, it'll release exhaust gases from humidity, rain or road grime and tiny air bubbles are trapped between the rotor and pads. This gives you a spongy, unresponsive pedal feel until all gases have escaped after a few moments. The drilled or slotted areas on the rotor provide the exhaust gases a quicker route to escape, therefore, letting the pad make contact with the rotor quicker.

To view the full list of brake rotors offered for your application, shop by vehicle.

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."

When Looking for the Best Brake Rotors and Pads, Don't Forget New Brake Wear Sensors

Thursday, May 30, 2013 by Zig Ziegler

The brake wear sensor or brake wear indicator is an added safety feature on many vehicles that warns drivers if the brake pad friction material becomes too low. It's mounted on the back of the brake pad and the sensors monitor and determine the condition of the pads. Brake wear sensors alert the driver it's time to replace brake components with an audible chime or light on the dash. There's a small circuit embedded in the sensor mounted in the brake pad; when the friction material becomes too low the brake rotor wears through the sensor and cuts a circuit. This triggers the vehicle's computer to alert the driver brake service is needed. 

 Centric - Brake Wear Sensor
Centric Brake Wear Sensor
 Brake Caliper
Brake Caliper


It's recommended to replace brake wear senors any time brake pads are replaced. Centric's Brake Wear Sensors are high quality replacement sensors that fit with no modifications needed and are now available at Tire Rack.

  • Original Equipment replacement for vehicles equipped with brake pad wear sensors
  • Monitors the condition of the vehicle’s brake pads
  • Includes all necessary plugs and hardware

All Centric premium brake components are engineered and manufactured using stringent, well-proven production processes and parts that pass the stringent quality assurance standards of O.E. manufacturers as well. Also, Centric’s in-house engineering department analyzes each part to ensure proper performance and fitment for every import and domestic application. This attention to detail guarantees that Centric parts will perform as good as or better than the factory original.

When searching for the best brake rotors and pads for your car, don't forget to replace the brake wear senors. Shop by vehicle to see if replacement brake wear sensors are offered to complete your brake upgrade.

Trying to Catch a Brake

Thursday, May 2, 2013 by Colin .

Last year my car's brakes started making that sound that lets you know a replacement was needed soon. Since I own a Toyota Avalon, I wasn't in the market for anything performance oriented. I opted for the Centric Plain 120 Series Rotors and Posi Quiet Ceramic Pads for the front and rear. The rotors and pads are Original Equipment replacements that would perform as good as or better than the factory original. 

Are you looking for a different type of brake? Take a look at our slotted and drilled rotors for enhanced braking performance. Some are also cryogenically treated for improved durability. 

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Centric Plain 120 Series Rotor
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StopTech SportStopDrilled Rotor


Our pads range from Original Equipment replacements to performance oriented pads, such as StopTech's Street Performance Pads and Hawk's Performance Ceramic Pads. Depending on how aggressive the performance pads are, they will be dustier and noisier than your Original Equipment. However, they will enhance your vehicle's stopping power.   

Is it time for the brakes to be replaced on your vehicle? Read "Brake Pad or Rotor Inspection & Replacement" for assistance on getting your new brakes installed correctly.

Do You Have the Three Tools Needed to Remove Your Wheels and Tires?

Wednesday, March 20, 2013 by Gary Stanley

There are many cases where it can be useful to remove your wheels and tires yourself. 

Regardless of the reason, there are three essential tools that'll make removing your wheels from your vehicle a safe and easy process.

 Tire Rack Aluminum Service Jack and Jack Stand Set
Tire Rack Aluminum Service Jack and Jack Stand Set


1. Lug wrench - Gorilla's Extendable Lug Wrench Set is perfect for the job. The handle smoothly extends and locks to give you the extra torque you need to break those lugs free and loosen them.

2. Floor jack - The wheel and tire need to be off of the ground before you have a chance of getting them off of the vehicle! A floor jack makes lifting the one corner of the vehicle as easy as pumping a lever. We offer a lightweight aluminum floor jack that will be a great addition to your garage.

3. Jack stands - Once you have the wheel up in the air, use a jack stand to secure the vehicle in its raised position. Using solid jack stands is an important safety measure to have in place in case your floor jack fails or is inadvertently knocked out of place. Purchase a sturdy set from your local hardware or auto parts store, or you can purchase them as a floor jack and stands combination (picture shown above).

You can save money and learn more about your vehicle by performing simple vehicle maintenance yourself.

Racing Technology Available for the Street: StopTech Big Brake Kits

Thursday, March 14, 2013 by Ben Rooney

When street cars go to the racetrack, the brakes are often the weakest link. While a street car's brakes usually only need to deliver maximum braking force from high speed on emergency occasions, a car on a racetrack uses maximum braking repeatedly, often with very little time to cool down. Overheated brakes quickly lose stopping power, which can lead to slower lap times and/or frightening moments. 

Tire Rack has been carrying StopTech pads and rotors, and now we are pleased to add their Big Brake Kits. Available in rotor diameters from 322mm-380mm (12.7"-15"), they're available for a wide variety of performance-oriented applications. To check brake products available for your car, shop by vehicle

Engineered to the highest standards, StopTech emphasizes rigidity in their calipers for reliable performance under demanding conditions. Their calipers feature a patented bolt-in bridge that enhances stiffness and allows easy access to the brake pads for efficient pad changes. 

The multi-piston calipers use differential piston diameters to precisely manage clamping force across the pad face. This minimizes uneven brake pad wear, particularly taper wear, for consistent performance over the life of the brake pads. The StopTech kits are vehicle-specific designs that maintain optimum brake balance and are 100% compatible with ABS and stability control systems. Calipers can be ordered in red or black finishes.  

Two-piece rotors feature an iron ring under the brake pads for optimum heat dissipation with an aluminum hat to save weight. The iron outer ring is replaceable, while the center hat is retained and bolted to the the new outer ring. Rotors are available in slotted or drilled styles. 

When upgrading your brakes, it's important to make sure that your wheels will fit the new, larger rotor and caliper. You may need bigger wheels than stock to fit the bigger rotors and calipers. StopTech has templates available to check the fit for your wheels. These kits are built to order, so please allow 2-3 weeks lead time when making your purchase. 

If you're thinking about ordering a big brake upgrade, you can look forward to shorter stopping distances, greater fade resistance, better modulation and a firmer brake pedal. In addition, the big brakes with red or black painted calipers will enhance the appearance of your vehicle. They look especially good behind large diameter wheels with open designs. Take a look at our complete line of StopTech products

Tire Rack Consumer Review of the Michelin X-Ice Xi3

Monday, February 25, 2013 by Tire Rack Consumer Reviews

The following post was created from content submitted via Tire Rack's consumer surveys. Information shown is the opinion of the consumer and meant to be used for comparison shopping purposes.


Michelin X-Ice Xi3Reviewer's Overall Rating: 8.64

2013 Audi Allroad
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Buy/More Info
Miles driven on tires: 1,000
Location: Nashua, NH
Driving Condition: Average

Initial Review, 1,000 Miles on Tires
February 17, 2013

For many years I used Bridgestone Blizzaks, which perform very well in ice and snow. But for my new all-wheel drive Audi, I wanted winter tires that handled better on dry pavement. The Michelin Xi3 was said to almost equal the Blizzaks on ice and snow but be less "squishy" on dry and wet pavement, so I went with the Michelin.

Shortly after mounting them I drove to the NH White Mountains and took part in a winter driving school. For two days I practiced slalom and skid-pad maneuvers on ice and packed snow. The Michelins were exemplary here, and the instructors were very impressed. While other cars (mostly AWD Audis) were sliding into snowbanks left and right, my allroad with the Michelins stayed in control, accelerated and braked very well.

The claimed performance on dry roads was also seen - unlike the Blizzaks, the Michelins don't howl and they felt very much like good all-season tires on dry pavement, with a confident feeling. Very impressive.

Tire Rack Consumer Review of the Bridgestone Potenza RE-11

Monday, November 5, 2012 by Tire Rack Consumer Reviews

The following post was created from content submitted via Tire Rack's consumer surveys. Information shown is the opinion of the consumer and meant to be used for comparison shopping purposes.

Bridgestone Potenza RE-11 Reviewer's Overall Rating: 9.4
 
 

2004 Subaru Impreza WRX Wagon
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Buy/More Info
Miles driven on tires: 200
Location: Houston, TX
Driving Condition: Spirited

Initial Review, 200 Miles on Tires
November 04, 2012

So I have never written a review for Tirerack before.....although I have read many reviews as an excellent resource for purchasing tires from them! However, I felt sufficiently inspired to share my experience which may help others.

I have an 04 WRX wagon with Cobb (Hotchkiss) front and rear sways, Cobb Stage 2 and Stop Tech Perf pads on regular brakes. I had previously purchased the Bridgestone RE01's and really loved them. Since I have the stock 16in wheels (I don't really understand this trend to huge and heavy large diameter wheels!), the RE01's were amazingly cheap. However, after end of life, the RE01's were discontinued replaced by the RE-11's, for about 50% more $$$. So needless to say I looked for alternate options, and I ended up purchasing the Bridgestone 760's.

Well, I had the 760s for over 20,000mi and was pretty satisfied with them. Then I got the dreaded nail in the sidewall. Even with a good deal of treadwear left on my remaining 3 tires, with 4 wheel drive I felt it was prudent to purchase 4 new tires to not stress out the center diff.

So I decided to pony up for the RE11's.......Oh my ---.......I thought the 760s were good and would not desire much more.....I was wrong. The RE-11's are unbelievably better in every way. The most amazing thing to me is how much better they ride. They are incredibly soft over sharp bumps in the road. And their high G cornering characteristics are incredibly predictable and simply outstanding.

I know they are expensive, but since I am probably keeping this 04 wagon forever (these subies are amazing....still feels like it is new with basically no failures after almost 9 years), my wife unit is OK with me occasionally splurging on these tires to make me happy! I will likely never go a different direction again. And I may finally be inspired enough to start some Autocross events.....at 56 years old!

 

What are the Differences in Brake Pads?

Friday, October 12, 2012 by Hunter Leffel

When looking for new brake pads for your vehicle, it can quickly become confusing with multiple options from the same manufacturer being offered.  Let's try to clarify the differences by focusing on the pads available from Hawk Performance.

Hawk Performance Ceramic
Hawk Performance Ceramic
Hawk HPS Street
Hawk HPS Street
Hawk HP Plus
Hawk HP Plus


Hawk Performance Ceramic Pads are the solution you're looking for when low dust and low noise are the priority. The stopping power will be slightly higher than the Original Equipment pad. They also feature a fade resistant, linear friction profile that allows your ABS brake system to work more effectively. Overall, these pads are going to deliver an Original Equipment type experience.

Hawk HPS Street brake pads use a more aggressive compound for high frequency stopping and/or performance driving. You'll experience more stopping power with a slight increase in dust and noise levels.  Hawk Performance HPS pads offer 20-40% more stopping power and higher resistance to brake fade than most Original Equipment or standard replacement pads. This is really a great all-around pad and I recommend it the most frequently.

Hawk HP Plus Race brake pads are targeted for the autocrosser and clients that do some track days with their vehicle. This is a street pad that delivers stopping power similar to what's found in a racecar. The trade off is more noise, dust and quicker wear. However, they'll withstand serious, repeated braking efforts.

Shop by vehicle to find the brake pad that best suits your driving style.

Summer Road Trip? Use This Maintenance Checklist.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012 by Ben Rooney

Before setting off on your summer adventures, take some time to check your car over to ensure everything is in good running condition. A little bit of time spent in advance can save a lot of time and trouble on the road. The following is a good basic checklist to help get your vehicle prepared to take you wherever you want to go:

  1. Brakes - Since many traction control systems use the brakes to prevent wheelspin, they may be working extra hard during your winter driving in the snow. Therefore, it's a good idea to get your brake pads inspected once the weather begins to heat up. Checking your pads is easy when replacing your Winter / Snow Tire & Wheel Package for your summer options since the wheels will be off. There should be a noticeable thickness of pad material between the backing plate and the rotor. If the pads need to be replaced, there are cleaner, higher performing pad compounds available. Take a look at "Brake Pad or Rotor Inspection & Replacement" to gain a better understanding if it's time for new pads.
     
  2. Lighting - Recruit a friend or family member to stand outside the car while you turn on the vehicle's headlights, high beams, turn signals and step on the brakes. If they tell you one of those lights isn't working properly, take a look at our lighting options from Hella and PIAA to improve your visibility.
     
  3. Tire Pressure - Proper tire inflation can improve fuel economy, hydroplaning resistance and tire life. Make sure all four tires are inflated to the vehicle's specifications found in your owner's manual or on the door placard. Don't forget to check your spare tire, too. Also, be sure to have an air gauge in your car so you can check your tire's pressure while traveling.
     
  4. Tire Pressure Monitoring Systems (TPMS) - These systems only report tires that are significantly under-inflated, so checking tires yourself is still a good idea even if your car has TPMS sensors. While you're checking your tires' air pressure, also inspect them for damage and wear.
     
  5. Jack and Lug Wrench - If you're relying on a spare tire in case of a flat, make sure that you have a working jack and lug wrench. It's nice to have something to serve as a wheel chock to make sure the car doesn't shift and fall off the jack. Something as simple as a block of wood will do. If you have custom wheels, it's important to make sure the lug wrench fits. The wheels could also have locks, so don't get stranded without the key! And since the lug nuts are different from stock, have some stock lugs for the spare.
     
  6. Belts and Hoses - Check them for dry, cracking or rotting as the rubber may give way at an inconvenient time. Replacing these items is usually fairly inexpensive, and can save you trouble.
     
  7. Check Fluids - Checking oil regularly is a good idea for any car, especially older vehicles that may be more prone to leak or burn oil. Even some newer cars can consume up to a quart every 1,000 miles. Make sure to check your coolant as well. Warmer weather can be harder on your cooling system and you want to be sure it's up to the task.
     
  8. Windshield Wipers - Driving at highway speeds in the rain can be a challenge. Make sure that your wipers have survived the winter in good working order. Even with good wiper blades, consider applying a water-beading treatment from Aquapel to improve your vision in the rain.

What is the Best Tire Brand for You? We Can Help!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011 by Doc Horvath
Tire RackIn a global economy, shoppers have more options than ever at their fingertips. From toasters to tires, products can be manufactured and shipped all over the world at a competitive price. And, when it comes to tires, how can you choose the most reliable and cost-effective brands? Let us help. 

Over our 32-year history, Tire Rack has developed close relationships with well over a dozen different tire manufacturers, including globally-respected brands like Michelin and Bridgestone to high quality but smaller companies such as Kumho and Yokohama. With every delivery to our warehouse and all shipments to our customers, tires are closely inspected for potential issues. Also, if an issue develops after the sale, we can work with you to get the issue resolved over the phone with the help of one of our friendly customer service representatives, via email or with the help of one of our independent Recommended Installers.

Regardless if you're looking for a new set of performance SUV tires, suspension parts, ceramic disc brake pads or more, we are sure to have what you want at the price you desire.

Replace Brake Pads with Hawk

Friday, November 4, 2011 by Doc Horvath
Hawk LTS Truck/SUV PadsI recently upgraded my wife's GMC Envoy to larger 20" tires and wheels (SUVrims). And while everything initially looked great, I found the vehicle was in need of brake pad replacements. Turns out the new wheels I installed were much heavier than the original 17" wheels and the change (along with wider and heavier tires) were too much for the stock brake pads to handle. After some research, I selected the Hawk LTS Truck/SUV Pads and have been very pleased!

These Hawk brake pads incorporate severe-duty friction technology that combines the durability of Hawk's commercial fleet products with the better stopping power of its performance street and motorsports formulations.

Note: Brake pads are wear items and as such, should be inspected regularly and replaced as necessary. It's time for a brake pad replacement when approximately 1/8" of friction material remains on the steel backing plate.

Whether your SUV brakes are nearing their end or you're upgrading to a larger set of wheels and tires, take a look at the the Hawk LTS Truck/SUV Pads.

Cost-Effective Quality Brake Rotors from Centric

Wednesday, October 19, 2011 by Marshall Wisler
As a sales speciCentric Premium Rotoralist at Tire Rack, I get the opportunity to test all of the tires we sell. This includes performance auto tires, Passenger All-Season tires, truck tires and more. Occasionally, I like to step outside the box and review products that don't catch as much attention on our test track as the tires. It's nice being able to recommend all products we carry to customers through first-hand experience.

Having recently purchased a Mitsubishi Eclipse to use during the winter months, this vehicle was long overdue for random maintenance. One project at the top of my list was to fix the vehicle's brake system. Following years of driving abuse, the brake pad's metal backing plate had worn its way into the OEM rotors surface prompting immediate need for replacement brake rotors. 

With the issues that arose from the driving abuse putting me in the market for new rotors, I went with the Centric Premium Rotor for several reasons. Featuring a high quality casting with a good internal cooling vane structure, these rotors help protect against warpage. In addition, the rotor face on both sides is machined to have a cross-hatch design to improve pad bed-in. Once more, these castings are completely dipped in an anti-corrosive material to resist oxidation. From my experience, this final measure is very rarely done and is not found on most cost-effective brands. Without this coating you will most often be left with a rusty rotor that isn't pleasing to the eye and is damaging to the rotor.

And, to help you choose the proper braking equipment for your vehicle, read "Choosing Brake Components." The Centric Premium Rotors have worked well on my new Eclipse and are available at a great price for a large variety of applications.

Shop by vehicle
to find the rotors that will help get rid of your vehicle's unwanted noise and vibration.

Seeing Red

Friday, August 5, 2011 by Jonas Paeplow
After putting a nice Tire & Wheel Package on my son's car, we noticed that we could see a lot more of the brake caliper than we could with the old wheels. We had previously upgraded the brake system with good looking and great functioning Ate PremiumOne Slotted Rotors and Goodridge Stainless Steel brake hose, but the brake calipers looked dull, faded and rusty.

Front Brake CaliperRather than buy new calipers, we decided to clean and coat the existing parts with the G-2 Brake Caliper PaintSystem. The PaintSystem Sets are available in nine high-gloss, wear-resistant colors. Available colors include: red, yellow, blue, silver, gold, black, purple, green, white, pink and orange.

We decided to paint the brake caliper mounts silver and the calipers red, so we had to purchase two kits. The G-2 PaintSystem Set provides sufficient material to paint four brake calipers, or two brake calipers and two brake drums. However, vehicles with large brake calipers on the front axle and large brake drums on the rear axle may require two complete PaintSystem Sets to assure adequate coverage. We had plenty of paint for two coat coverage and even had half a can of each color left over when we were finished.

G-2 Brake Caliper PaintSystem's two-part paint system does not require caliper removal, however because we decided to use two different colors we removed and cleaned the caliper mounts. We then masked the brake hose and bleeder screw and supported the caliper at each corner with coat hangers.

G-2 Brake Caliper PaintSystem
has a shelf life of six months and must be used between 56-70°F (13-21°C) ambient temperatures. Higher temperatures will cause paint to harden faster than normal. Unfortunately the day we had to complete this job was much warmer, so we had to work fast. We did our best to shade the area we were working in but, once the paint and reactor are mixed, there are only 4-6 hours working time. After that, paint left in the can will harden and will not be useable. I still had plenty of time to apply two coats of paint on both the calipers and the mounts. Give yourself at least two hours curing time before reinstalling wheels and don't use the vehicle for 24 hours to allow the paint to fully harden. Plan application accordingly.

The G-2 Brake Caliper PaintSystem Set consists of:

  • Detailed Instructions
  • Brake Cleaner Spray
  • Brake Caliper Paint
  • PaintSystem Reactor
  • 1 stir stick
  • 1 application brush
Since our calipers were not new and accumulated rust over the years from exposure to Northern Indiana's weather, I spent a little extra time with a wire brush, a little sand paper and a Scotch-Brite pad on the exposed metal surfaces initially. I then used the brake cleaner spray provided to degrease the surfaces to be painted and let them dry thoroughly prior to paint application.

As you can see from the photos of our final product, this kit will give your stock brake calipers the lookRear Brake Caliper of expensive, high performance calipers. The final coating will even help protect vital brake components from potentially harmful oils, chemicals and rust. When you are all done you will have:
  • High-gloss finish
  • Fade resistant colors
  • Seals and protects exposed metal
  • Heat-resistant up to 950º F
  • Oil and chemical resistant coating
If you do it right, you can be seeing red too.

Super Tire: Michelin Pilot Super Sport

Friday, July 15, 2011 by Jonas Paeplow
Michelin Pilot Super SportI recently had the opportunity to test the new Michelin Pilot Super Sport on our test track and on the road. The Pilot Super Sport is Michelin's newest Max Performance Summer tire; however after the test drive, I can tell you this tire is definitely going to push the limits of the category. Developed for the world's most sophisticated performance vehicles and as a direct replacement to the venerable Pilot Sport PS2, the Pilot Super Sport exceeds the PS2 in wet and dry traction, handling, durability and tread life.
 
Michelin has always had a great reputation for building tires with excellent road manners. The Pilot Super Sport continues this tradition. It features a polyester cord body to promote a comfortable ride and responsive handling. Smooth and quiet are the order of the day, kind of like Clark Kent. Clark Kent was a mild-mannered reporter for the "Daily Planet," but as his alter ego, Superman, he was "faster than a speeding bullet, more powerful than a locomotive, able to leap tall buildings in a single bound."

I like to describe to my customers the great combination of road manners and handling characteristics of the Michelin Pilot Sport PS2 as "a wolf in sheep's clothing." The Pilot Super Sport is the like PS2 on steroids.

The Pilot Super Sport was a direct result of technology developed in the demanding world of endurance racing. By building longer wearing racing tires without sacrificing performance, Michelin's tires allowed teams to run record race paces while converting some of the time previously spent changing tires in the pits into productive time covering more miles on the track. Ultimately resulting in bringing home race victories at the 24 Hours of Le Mans, 12 Hours of Sebring and Road Atlanta's Petit Lemans, just to name a few. 

These race victories also led to the development of the Variable Contact Patch 2.0 to improve footprint pressure distribution, which in turn aids handling and improves treadlife. A tire's contact patch is the only connection between the road and the vehicle. The size and shape of the contact patch, as well as the pressure distribution within the contact patch are important to the ride qualities and handling characteristics of a vehicle. Because pneumatic tires are flexible, the contact patch is different when the vehicle is in motion from when it is static.

What I liked best about the tire was the crisp steering response, its wet and dry grip and great on-center feel. These factors were very evident as I was coaching young drivers during the Tire Rack Street Survival Teen Driving School. One of the participants, driving his father's car, just happened to have the Pilot Super Sports installed. We have the students drive on our test track around several obstacles and on the skid pad to get a feel for the limits of the car and their tires. One of the techniques we employ late in the day, when confidence has been building, is to induce a little oversteer on the wet skid pad to see how well the students react. No matter how hard I tried I could not induce oversteer in this car on these tires.

While the Pilot Super Sport may not be faster than a speeding bullet, more powerful than a locomotive or able to leap tall buildings in a single bound, it is fast, it is strong and it is every bit the super tire Michelin said it would be.

  • Better handling - Inspired by the same engineering that has powered 13 consecutive victories at 24 Hours of Le Mans.
  • Longer lasting - Optimized through technology of Variable Contact Patch 2.0 and Twaron belt package for long, even wear.
  • Better braking - Bi-compound delivers excellent dry braking using LeMans-inspired compound on the outer shoulder and the latest generation of wet-oriented elastomers on the inner portion of the tread.
  • Lighter weight - Pilot Super Sport tires are comparatively light, with weight savings of up to 10% compared to other tires of similar dimensions. This reduces unsprung weight to improve handling.
At the 2011 Tire Rack One Lap of America. The overall champion and the winner of  both the wet and dry skidpad challenge were riding on Michelin Pilot Super Sport tires. Born from endurance racing, Michelin Pilot Super Sport gives you the exhilaration of driving the best performing street tire in the world. It truly is a super tire. No phone booth required.

Day Brake

Friday, June 24, 2011 by Jonas Paeplow
What do a Sumo wrestler, a high-speed train and a sunrise have in common with brake pads? On initial examination not a lot but read on.

In Japanese, Akebono means dawning, such as daybreak or sunrise.

Akebono ceramic brake pads are some of the finest made in the world. With more than 75 years of brake design and production expertise, Akebono provides the world’s automotive industry with advanced braking and noise, vibration and harshness (NVH) solutions.

Akebono ProACT Ceramic Brake PadsBeginning in 1929 in Japan and since 1980 in the US, Akebono's commitment to innovation, process improvement, quality control and customer service has positioned it as a key resource for leading Original Equipment (O.E.), and the premium automotive aftermarket. According to Akebono, their products are Original Equipment in North America on all of the top 10 best-selling cars and six of the top 10 light trucks. Key automotive O.E. customers include Audi, Chrysler, Ford, General Motors, Honda, Isuzu, Mitsubishi, Nissan, Toyota and Volkswagen. Police departments and other fleet managers across the U.S. rely on Akebono brake pads for high performance power, responsiveness, durability and long-term value. The ceramic technology used withstands enormous pressure and heat for a long periods of time. Each pad is refined specifically for every make and model to perform efficiently and quietly. The revenues that Akebono devotes to R&D are proportionately the highest of any brake manufacturer in the world.

The first development of the modern ceramic brake was made in 1988 by British Engineers working on railway industry applications for the TGV (high speed rail system in France). The objective was to reduce weight, the number of brakes per axle, as well as provide stable friction from very high speeds and all temperatures. The result was a reinforced ceramic process which is now used in various forms for automotive, railway, and aircraft brake applications. Akebono Euro Ceramic Brake Pads

Akebono Tarō is a retired American born-Japanese sumo wrestler from Hawaii. After two consecutive tournament championships in November 1992 and January 1993 he made history by becoming the first foreign-born wrestler ever to reach yokozuna, the highest rank in sumo. Upon initial examination, a Sumo wrestler looks kind of soft, but in fact they are some of the strongest athletes in the world.

The brake pads on your car have a certain degree of compressibility that make them softer than the other brake components, such as the rotors.

Brake Akebono Street Performance Brake Padspads are designed to be sacrificial, in that, when doing their job, they must absorb great amounts of heat energy without causing undue wear to the rest of the rotating, heat absorbing mass. This process also results in a fine dust given off as the pads wear. Ceramic compounds and copper fibers in place of the semi-metallic pad's steel fibers provide high brake temperatures with less heat fade, generate less dust and wear on both the pads and rotors. They also provide much quieter braking because the ceramic compound helps dampen noise by generating a frequency beyond the human hearing range and use less metal. This, coupled with special harmonic-dampening, guarantees a good fit for superb performance. So like a Sumo wrestler this Akebono is soft, but strong and can really handle the heat.


Looks like a new dawn in brake technology, it's Akebono.

Stop right there! Get new brake pads for your vehicle.

Saturday, May 14, 2011 by Hunter Leffel
Grinding, squealing, long stopping distances? It could be time for new brake pads. Tire Rack can help with a wide array of pads and rotors for most vehicles.

Akebono ProACT Ceramic PadsCeramics give the lowest noise and dust, but won't increase stopping power. The Akebono Pro Act Ceramic Pads are a great option in the ceramic line-up.  Available for many applications and attractively priced.

Hawk HPS Street brake padsSemi-metallics will shorten the stopping distances and increase the initial bite. There are varying degrees of stopping power available. You can get a nice increase in capability without a dramatic change in noise or dust with the Hawk HPS. If you really want to step up the power with no regard for dust levels, the HPS from Hawk really delivers the goods. They are close to a track pad, but don't need the warm up of a true track pad, so you can use them on the street.

Tire Rack also carries track applications that you can't reasonably use on the street, but will let you late-brake into the corners and really shed off the speed while at the track.

View available brake pad options for your vehicle.

Squeaking Brakes?

Tuesday, February 15, 2011 by Mac McNabb
Hawk Performance Brake PadsHere are a few steps to help prevent squeaking in your brakes:

1. Grease the slide pins and use appropriate lubricants on all brake components.

2. Do your brake pads have noise abatement? Good brake pads have pre-installed shims to defend against vibration in the pad. Tapered leading and trailing edges on the surface of the pad also prevent chattering against the rotor.

3. There is a sequence that must be completed after installing new brake pads that beds/brandishes the pad to the rotor properly. It involves laying down a thin layer of brake pad material into the rotor to help with proper adhesion. It is important to remember that you must replace or turn your rotors after replacing brake pads to help ensure there is no more squeaking.

4. Reinstall the spring clips, as they are designed to prevent resonance and vibration. Without the spring clips you may experience excessive vibration that leads to brake noise. 

To see our complete selection of brake pads, shop by vehicle. Product information includes stopping power, noise and dust ratings.