Who is Cy

Hi, I'm Cy Chowattukunnel (in old country language, my last name means he who knows all about tires). I'm entering my 10th year at the Tire Rack.  So far it's been a great ride. I've enjoyed working with drivers across the country and around the world.

Changed My Mind and Went With the Enkei Performance Series Falcon

Tuesday, November 5, 2013 by Cy Chowattukunnel

When it came time to purchase wheels for my new vehicle, I thought I had my mind made up. After my research, I was ready to buy the 17x8" 45 ET gunmetal with machined lip Enkei Tuning Series Tenjin. It met all my requirements as far as function, style and finish. However, deep down, I knew my gut was telling me to go with a brighter finish and look for something different. While the Enkei Tenjin is a great wheel, I knew that it wasn't exactly what I was looking for. As we all know, wheels are about personal preference!

After I changed my mind, I went ahead and purchased the hyper silver with machined lip 17x7" 45 ET Enkei Performance Series Falcon (the Falcon is also available in 16", 18" and 20" rim diameters). I think they're a perfect complement to my vehicle and I like how the sharp edges of the wheel flows with the Civic Si's angular lines.

One change I did make was switching the center cap to one from Honda. It's not a perfect fit but my original Honda center cap can be squeezed in. In the near future, I will mill down the perimeter of the Honda caps for a better fit.

When the time comes for you to make your next wheel purchase, take a look at the wide range of styles from around the world we offer.

Replacement Tires for Land Rover Range Rover Sport

Friday, October 25, 2013 by Cy Chowattukunnel

Earlier this year, I went to my niece's high school graduation. Unfortunately, after I left to come back home, my brother experienced a tire issue. On Sunday afternoon, he found himself dealing with the problems you can see in the photos below:

Mouseover Text Here
Tire Puncture
Land Rover Ranger Sport Tire Woes Inner Tire Wear
Inner Tire Wear
Land Rover Ranger Sport Tire Woes Inner Tire Wear Top View
Inner Tire Wear


My sister-in-law's 2012 Land Rover Range Rover Sport already has 25,000 miles on it. And since there was a small diameter wound in the center of the tread, this puncture could be repaired if it didn't have abnormal wear. As you can see, there's excessive wear on the inner shoulder exposing the belt edge strip and sidewall plies. The inner wear could be a pattern with the vehicle's chassis or the alignment is off and running too much negative camber. My brother or sister-in-law should have their dealer check the alignment. If they get the vehicle aligned, the paper will clearly point out what alignment specification was corrected.

I told him that the punctured tire needed to be replaced because of the risk of tread separation at the excessive wear point. It was also advised that he have the other tires checked. He checked and found the same excessive wear on the inside of the other tires. The tires may not have even been rotated and should have been rotated every 5,000 miles.

Of course he emailed me asking what tires he should use to replace his current set. I provided him with the following two options:

  1. Purchase four 275/40ZR20 Michelin Latitude Tour HP tires at $356* each plus shipping. He could rotate the symmetrical non-directional Latitude Tour HPs every 5,000 miles in the X-Pattern. Treadwear will vary with driving style, road conditions and other factors, however my sister-in-law should be able to get more lift from the Latitude Tour HP's all-season compound.
  2. The second option suggested was a set of Yokohama Parada Spec-X tires for $192* plus shipping. It combines impressive looks and confident handling with year-round traction in a wide range of weather conditions, including light snow.  

Shop by vehicle to view all the recommendations for your application.

*Prices subject to change

235/40R19 XL Studless Ice & Snow Dunlop Graspic DS-3 for Your Audi

Thursday, October 24, 2013 by Cy Chowattukunnel

Are you a snowbelt driver with a new Audi Quattro A5, S5 or RS5 with Original Equipment 255/35R19 XL (Extra Load) summer tires? This winter will you encounter your fair share of packed snow and ice on your daily commute? Your best solution is a set of dedicated Studless Ice & Snow tires. Compared to Performance Winter / Snow tires, you'll give up some dry road handling to achieve outstanding grip in the worst winter conditions.

Your Original Equipment 255/35R19 tires have a 26" overall diameter. In a perfect tire world we'd want winter / snow tires with a comparable diameter. This winter season, take a look at Dunlop's 235/40R19 Graspic DS-3 (26.3"). This size will fit on your O.E. Audi 19x8.5" wheels or you can build a Winter Wheel & Tire Package to get the exact look you want.

Many of you may wonder what the "XL" on your tires stand for. Extra Load (XL) means a tire has reinforced construction allowing it to carry more weight than a Standard Load tire of the same size. For instance, the 235/40R19 XL Dunlop Graspic DS-3 and 235/40R19 Michelin Pilot Alpin PA4 N-Spec, both have the same air volume, however Dunlop's XL construction allows it to carry a max load of 1,565 lbs. per tire compared to Michelin's max load of 1,389 lbs.

Many Audi's are equipped with XL tires as Original Equipment, so it's critical that your winter / snow tires meet or surpass factory load carrying requirements.

Which Winter Performance Category Is Right for You?

Thursday, October 10, 2013 by Cy Chowattukunnel

Are you in the blue? Then it's time to find the winter / snow tire that works best for your vehicle. In order to purchase the correct snow tire, you should decide which performance category works best for your driving style and the winter weather you experience. There are three winter performance categories: Studless Ice & Snow, Studdable Winter / Snow and Performance Winter / Snow.

Studless Ice & Snow

Tires from this category give you optimum ice and packed snow grip, but are less responsive on dry roads. The tires trade a little handling for excellent ice and snow traction. On dry roads, your vehicle will not respond as crisply or quickly to steering inputs. Studless Ice & Snow tires are available in higher profile sizes and include the following:

If you go with a Studless Ice & Snow tire, you should consider going with a narrower tire as it cuts through deeper snow better. This is especially true for a lighter car like the MINI Cooper.

Studdable Winter / Snow

Studdable Winter / Snow tires can be run studded or unstudded. When studded, they'll give good ice and packed snow grip, but will be less responsive on dry roads. When unstudded, they'll perform well in moderate and deep snow. It's important to note that the use of studded tires may be prohibited or restricted in your area, be sure to check with local authorities to confirm legality. If you're looking for the traditional security of winter tire studs for enhanced traction on ice, consider the following Studdable Winter / Snow options:

The AltiMAX Arctic is slightly better on ice and packed snow and quieter than the the Winterforce. Winterforce tires will provide more effectiveness in deeper snow.

Performance Winter / Snow

These tires will exhibit the above dry road deficiencies to a much lesser degree. If your vehicle came with summer performance tires, the Performance Winter / Snow tires will be more comparable in steering response, acceleration, grip, braking and cornering grip. They will give up some ice and packed snow grip. Tires in this category will wear slightly better compared to Studless Ice & Snow tires, especially during the early and late winter days when temperatures are a little warmer. All winter / snow tires will have more tread noise and this will vary from tire to tire. Performance Winter / Snow tires do tend to be quieter than the other performance categories.

Available in lower profile sizes, the following Performance Winter / Snow tires are great options:

Is a Studless Ice & Snow, Studdable Winter / Snow or a Performance Winter / Snow tire right for your vehicle? It depends on your car, where you live, how you drive on dry roads and how you want to balance the above compromises. For example, my brother lives in Marion, Indiana, which is about an hour northeast of Indianapolis. He got the Bridgestone Blizzak WS60 Studless Ice & Snow tire in 235/40R18 on Sport Edition A7 wheels for his 2008 BMW M3. He chose this tire because central Indiana is more apt to get ice storms and there's the potential for heavier snow that wouldn't be quickly cleared from the country roads between his offices. He's willing to drive slower on dry roads.

Compare my brother's driving situation with another driver from Louisville with the same car but a heavier foot, he would be better served with the Performance Winter / Snow Dunlop SP Winter Sport 3D tires in 235/40R18 front and 255/40R18 rear. Louisville's milder weather allows him to emphasize dry road performance, but still have emergency snow capability.

Let it snow.

 

Michelin Pilot Super Sport vs Goodyear Eagle F1 Asymmetric 2

Friday, October 4, 2013 by Cy Chowattukunnel

In between owning my BRZ and Civic Si, I thought about purchasing a Volkswagen MK6 Golf 2.5. Yes, the MK7 is right around the corner, but newer isn't always better. Naturally I started to wonder what 225/45R17 Max Performance Summer tires would be a good choice for my hypothetical MK6?

The Michelin Pilot Super Sport would still be my first choice for its crisp, immediate and linear response. I'd also look at the Goodyear Eagle F1 Asymmetric 2 as a great value option, as it's currently on special.

225/45-17 Goodyear Eagle F2 Asymmetric 2 $100*
225/45R17 Goodyear Eagle F1 Asymmetric 2
$100*
225/45-17 Michelin Pilot Super Sport $158*
225/45R17 Michelin Pilot Super Sport
$158*


Both tires tested well with the Michelin coming in first overall. The Goodyear option had impressive traction and was especially strong in the wet. If you drive your vehicle to its full potential, then the Michelin Pilot Super Sport is the tire for you. If you take it a little easier but want a great tire, you can't beat the value of the Goodyear option. Many MK6 2.5 drivers will be happy with this tire for its combination of value and steering response.

Shop by vehicle to view all options available for your Volkswagen MK6.

*Prices subject to change

Michelin Takes the Pilot Sport A/S Plus and Makes it Better With the Pilot Sport A/S 3

Thursday, September 26, 2013 by Cy Chowattukunnel

Have you been tempted by great test results and feedback of the Michelin Pilot Super Sport, but need light snow traction, longer treadwear and more emphasis on lower tread noise? Sounds like you're looking for the Ultra High Performance All-Season version of the Pilot Super Sport -- the new Michelin Pilot Sport A/S 3.

Michelin's internal testing shows marked improvement in dry and wet grip compared to its predecessor, the Pilot Sport A/S Plus. We've just completed our comprehensive comparison testing of the tire and the consensus is the Michelin Pilot Sport A/S 3 beat its three main rivals, the Bridgestone Potenza RE970AS Pole Position, Continental ExtremeContact DWS and Goodyear Eagle F1 Asymmetrical All-Season. For a complete recap of our test, read "Testing the Michelin Pilot Sport A/S 3 - Can It Set a New Performance Benchmark for All-Season Tires?"

What about the tire's snow traction? Michelin engineers have added biting edges in the grooves to improve snow grip and used their Helio compound to keep the compound more malleable at cold temperatures. For most drivers, especially those with milder winters, the new Michelin Pilot Sport A/S 3 is the optimal Ultra High Performance All-Season choice.

Michelin has gone from a directional (V-shaped) tread pattern in the Pilot Sport A/S Plus to a non-directional asymmetrical (bigger outside shoulder) tread design with the Pilot Sport A/S 3. Their engineers use a varying number of longitudinal grooves to create a tread design that will resist hydroplaning and allow for cross-rotation, leading to more even wear. 205 or narrower tires have four ribs (rows of tread blocks), 205-255 width tires have five ribs and 295-265 width tires have six ribs. In the photo below, you can see some examples of the tread design differences. Pictured from left to right are 195/55R16, 235/45R17 and 275/35R20.

What are the Best Tire Brands?

Thursday, September 19, 2013 by Cy Chowattukunnel

With millions of vehicles sold in the United States last year ranging from FIAT 500s to Ford F-150s, drivers have a myriad of choices. Shouldn't they also be able to have their tires their way, too? In a perfect tire world, every tire manufacturer would engineer the optimal tire for every car and driver. However, the market is very large and competitive, and instead of a few brands dominating all segments, there are all-stars that excel in their niches.

Even though Michelin was the first tire company to commercialize the radial tire back in 1948, all major tire manufacturers have the same core technology, such as radial ply construction, steel belts, etc. They often use the same or similar materials with some noteworthy exceptions, for example polyamide. As you research tires, judge a tire by how well it's been engineered for your specific needs.

Taking a look at the hypothetical case of Maria from Burnsville, Minnesota, she drives 16,000 miles per year in her 2009 Honda Civic EX Sedan which came with the 205/55R16 Original Equipment size. Her daily commute consists of two miles of suburban roads before hopping on the interstate for 25 miles of highway driving to reach work. She normally drives about five miles above the posted speed limit and has never received a speeding ticket.

What does Maria need in her tires?

  1. Snow grip - It's Minnesota! Running dedicate winter / snow tires during the winter is the best choice for her during the colder months.
  2. Wet grip - Spring showers will cause her to need adequate wet grip to brake, corner and accelerate properly in the rain.
  3. Treadwear - Since Maria drives quite a bit, she's needs a tire that combines good treadwear and has enough grip to stop quickly.
  4. Low tread noise and a good ride -  She's in her car over one hour each day, she needs a tire with low tread noise and the ability to ride well over bumps. Tire noise is heavily dependent on vehicle design and ride compliance will inherently be challenged in short wheelbase cars.
  5. Relative efficiency - One reason she got the Civic was because of its fuel efficiency. It would be helpful to have a tire that's engineered for efficiency even though tire choice is only a partial factor of fuel economy with speed, air pressure and other things coming into play.  

What tire is best for Maria? Based on our summer and winter testing, I would recommend the Bridgestone Ecopia EP422. To find the tire that's best for you car, shop by vehicle.

Great Grip at Great Pricing - Closeout Pricing on Hankook Ventus R-S3

Friday, August 9, 2013 by Cy Chowattukunnel

Although Extreme Performance Summer tires have stepped up their game, the old stalwarts of the category still provide great dry grip for your fun car. Like all Extreme Performance Summer tires, the Hankook R-S3 emphasizes dry grip and steering response at the expense of wear, ride compliance and tread noise. It's a great tire for spirited drivers. The R-S3 has always provided a great mix of dry performance and value. Now, closeout pricing in select sizes has made a great deal even better.

Do you have a PCA lapping day coming up for your 911? 285/35ZR18 tires have been marked down to $159*, 235/35ZR19s to $182 and 305/30ZR19s to $229*. Did you just pick up a Nissan 370Z? The 225/40ZR19 is currently available for $149* and the 245/40ZR19 for $159*.

You may also notice that some R-S3 tire specs show a 140 UTQG Treadwear rating, where others are now 200 rated. When the Ventus R-S3 was introduced in the spring of 2009, Hankook assigned the 140 rating to match the UTQG Treadwear rating required by existing competition rules. However, subsequent Hankook wear data revealed the tire line provided equivalent wear to its predecessor (Ventus R-S2) and earned the same 200 Treadwear rating. This has also been supported by Tire Rack survey results and customer feedback that indicate Ventus R-S3 tires provide equivalent wear to other tires already featuring similar UTQG Treadwear ratings. Where there was no change in compound or internal construction, some of the 140 rated tires are now discounted a little to help clear them out.

*Prices subject to change

Great Extreme Performance Summer Tires

Thursday, August 1, 2013 by Cy Chowattukunnel

Ranking the top three quarterback in the NFL is tough. Is Aaron Rodgers, Peyton Manning or Tom Brady the best? Answers may vary across the country, but even neutral observers will be hard pressed to say who's the best.

That's how I felt after finishing our widely anticipated Extreme Performance Summer test. They're all great across the board and it's pretty hard to declare a clear number one.

BF Goodrich g-Force Rival
BFGoodrich g-Force
Rival
Dunlop Direzza Z2
Dunlop Direzza
ZII
Yokohama Advan Neova AD08 R
Yokohama ADVAN Neova
AD08 R


The BFGoodrich g-Force Rival, Dunlop Direzza ZII and Yokohama ADVAN Neova AD08 R were the top three tires and all provided crisp, immediate and linear steering response that really performed well through the five-cone slalom section of our test. Compared to these three, the Bridgestone Potenza RE-11A's steering response wasn't quite as crisp. Our opinions varied, however I like the predictability of both the BFGoodrich g-Force Rival and Yokohama ADVAN Neova AD08 R.

Our test writer had the difficult task of sorting through subjective assessments and data to anoint a winner. Our official results show the g-Force Rival taking first, the Dunlop Direzza ZII in second and Yokohama's AD08 R finishing third. Amongst those three, it's a photo finish when it comes to overall dry lap times as .22 seconds separated them.

If the BFGoodrich g-Force Rival isn't made in your vehicle's size, the Dunlop Direzza ZII and Yokohama ADVAN Neova AD08 R are both more than capable. The RE-11A is a worthy competitor that could use a little more dry traction, but overall it's a great Extreme Performance Sumer tire.

For complete test results, read "Testing Extreme Performance Summer Tires: The Boys of Summer Are Here."

What Are the Best Wheels for a 2013 Polished Metal Metallic Honda Civic Si Sedan?

Thursday, July 18, 2013 by Cy Chowattukunnel

Great handling, fast enough to get to work on time, a dipstick, sunroof and the ability to run 225/45R17 tires as a natural size, that's what I wanted in my next car that was replacing my BRZ.

I just got back from Cocoa, Florida in my new 2013 polished metal metallic Honda Civic Si Sedan, so everything is good to go with my new Honda, right? Not quite, as I'm not a huge fan of the 17x7 45mm offset Original Equipment wheels. I also have a set of 225/45ZR17 Michelin Pilot Super Sports in my basement, which leaves me halfway to the set-up I desire. How do I know when I've found the right wheel? It's the option that provides a combination of function, style and finish. 

Function:

In a perfect world, I'd want the same offset as the Original Equipment, because in theory, a lower offset wheel will add torque steer to a front-wheel drive Civic Si. I prefer a 45mm offset wheel, however it'll knock me out of the stock autocross class (those heading to Nationals in Lincoln are no doubt relieved). A wider wheel will enhance steering response. Lighter wheels will effect braking and acceleration. With respect to function, I want a lightweight, 45mm offset wheel.

Style:

Wheel preference is ultimately in the eye of the beholder, therefore I need to pick a style I like. If I had to pick a few words to describe the overall styling theme of the 2013 Honda Civic Si, they'd be: angular, edgy and sharp. Wheels with rounded, organic styling that might look great on an Audi TT won't work on my Civic Si.

Finish:

The polished metal metallic Civic is essentially a medium shade of metallic grey. My vehicle's color will play a major factor in the wheel I ultimately end up choosing.

Potential Choice:

As of right now, I'm leaning towards the 17x8 45ET Enkei Tuning Series Tenjin with a gunmetal with machined lip finish. It's wider, has the same offset as the Original Equipment and doesn't weigh more than the wheel currently on the vehicle. The spoke's edges are squared, not rounded. Its gunmetal finished center almost matches the color of my Honda. Also, the wheel gives me the function, style and finish I'm looking for!

Wheel Options for Your 2013 Ford Focus ST

Wednesday, June 5, 2013 by Cy Chowattukunnel

We know the Focus ST has enough power to be fast, but can it use a style infusion?

My colleague Joe recently picked up a tangerine scream Ford Focus ST. It's a great color for the car, but Joe wasn't equally thrilled with the Original Equipment wheels from day one. After scanning his options in our Upgrade Garage, he narrowed down is choices to the following 18x8 5-108 45ET options:

They're all good options, however Joe decided on the Sparco Assetto Gara with a matte graphite silver finish. The wheel provides the perfect contrast to the car's bright tangerine scream finish while matching up with the vehicle's black trim. Joe now has the combination of speed and style he was truly looking for.

2013 Ford Focus ST FAQ:

1. What's the width and offset of my Original Equipment Focus ST wheels? The wheels are 18x8 with a 55mm offset (ET).

2. How do I add a new set of tires to my wheel purchase? Create a Tire & Wheel Package. First, pick the wheels you would like for your Focus ST. Next, you will be given tires that are a match for your vehicle. It's that simple! Also, mounting, balancing and any required hardware are included at no additional cost. 

3. Will my Focus ST automatically recognize my new TPMS sensors? We offer O.E. TPMS sensors, however you'll need to initialize them since each sensor has a unique serial number. You can either have your dealer do this (labor charges may apply), or use the FORDTRIGGER tool.

Are Your Chrome Wheels Leaking? Replace Them with Affordable Custom Wheels

Friday, April 19, 2013 by Cy Chowattukunnel

Buy your vehicle and hold onto it for as long as possible. That's typically the best way to get the most out of your car and budget. Obviously, you'll need to maintain and take care of it as best you can.

If your vehicle originally came with chrome wheels and you live in snow country, one challenge you'll probably face is peeling chrome. Eventually this peeling chrome will prevent your wheels from properly sealing against the tire beads. One way of fixing this is by having an installer clean the wheel and use a bead sealant to reduce or eliminate the air loss.

If leaks persist to the point you're still adding air to your tires every morning, then it's time to replace your wheels. A great option to consider is a set of Sport Edition F7 wheels. This five-spoke wheel is available in both a 16" and 17" rim diameter. Sport Edition wheels combine quality, style and price to offer an exceptional value. Using the latest production standards, Sport Edition wheels complement the appearance of many popular vehicles.

Not only could new wheels fix your leaking problem, but your vehicle will look better, too!

Go with 275/45R20 Tires on 20" Wheels for Your Audi Q7

Friday, April 12, 2013 by Cy Chowattukunnel

An Audi Q7 with Audi's quattro® all-wheel drive should have zero problems in the snow, right? Not if your Q7 came with 21" Original Equipment wheels and 295/35R21 summer tires. Unfortunately, none of the major tire manufacturers make an all-season in this size and there's not a good alternative 21" tire.

If you live in an area outside the Snowbelt, you may not need a set of dedicated winter / snow tires. However, the summer tires currently on your vehicle aren't going to be much help once the temperature begins to drop. The solution? Downsize to 275/45ZR20 Continental ExtremeContact DWS tires on 20" Andros Spec P wheels.

The ExtremeContact DWS features Tuned Performance Indicators -- visible letters molded into the second rib from the outboard shoulder to alert drivers of their 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 has sufficient tread depth for dry and wet roads only. After the "W" and "S" have worn away, the remaining "D" indicates the tire has proper tread depth for dry conditions only.

20x10 Andros Spec P $289*
20x10 Andros Spec P
275/45-20 Ultra High Performance All-Season Continental Extreme Contact DWS $258*
275/45ZR20 Continental ExtremeContact DWS


275/45R20 has the same overall diameter as the 295/35R21 and is 1/2" narrower. The 275/45R20 is an Original Equipment size that Audi uses on certain Q7 trim levels and is compatible. Since your Q7 uses the Indirect ABS-based TPMS system, there are no direct TPMS sensors to purchase. We'll include our free mount and balance, therefore your Tire & Wheel Package ($1156* plus shipping) will arrive ready to install.

*Prices subject to change

Can't Find Tires for Your Scion xD? Expand your Choices with the 205/55R16 Alternative Size

Thursday, April 11, 2013 by Cy Chowattukunnel

In the Scion family, the FR-S gets the most buzz, the xB evokes the most polarizing opinions, the iQ draws the most attention and the tC typically sells the best. The Scion xD gets overlooked as it provides practicality, dependability and efficiency, while simply getting the job done.

If you drive an xD, I'm sure you've been happy with its reliability, efficiency and ease of maintenance. The only area where things get a little tough is in choosing replacement tires. Scion has equipped the xD with the rare 195/60-16 size as Original Equipment. There are only six options available, with two of them being winter / snow tires. This severely limits your chances of finding the tire you may be looking for.

No worries, you can run the 205/55R16 alternate size instead. It fits on your original wheels, doesn't rub on the wheel wells, has a comparable overall diameter and won't affect overall performance. In the 205/55R16 size, you'll find 166 choices to choose from.

Search by size and find the best tire for how and where you drive your xD.

Don't Get Mad at Phil: Get Ready for Next Winter by Saving on Closeout Michelin Winter / Snow Tires

Thursday, March 28, 2013 by Cy Chowattukunnel

Was there a misrepresentation of an early spring? Yes, the world's most famous weather predicting groundhog, Punxsutawney Phil, has been charged with that heinous act.  

We all know the rule, if Punxsutawney Phil doesn't see his shadow, then we can look forward to an early spring. On Groundhog Day, Phil saw no shadow, yet we saw plenty of snow on the first day of spring. 

Even though most of us our wanting warmer weather, winter conditions are going to appear later this year and we need to be prepared. Why not get ready now by taking advantage of some great closeout savings on Michelin winter / snow tires available in select sizes?

There are a few great Michelin tires available with closeout pricing, including select sizes of the Primacy Alpin PA3, Latitude Alpin and Pilot Alpin PA3; however, I particularly like the X-Ice Xi2 for its ability to combine good snow grip with decent handling. We were fortunate to receive the X-Ice Xi2 in a wide variety of sizes:

What should you do with all the money you've saved? The Punxsutawney Phil Legal Defense Fund might be a worthy cause.

*Prices subject to change, limited stock

Sign your Teen Driver Up for a Tire Rack Street Survival Class

Monday, March 25, 2013 by Cy Chowattukunnel

This past Saturday, I watched my niece play in her youth basketball league. I ended up running the scoreboard and used my close proximity to the court to offer words of wisdom, such as "use the backboard" and "shoot it." Kids, you got to love them!

Inevitably these kids will get bigger, their jump shots will start falling and they'll be teenagers driving themselves to practice. When that time comes, preparing them to be the best drivers they can be will be extremely important. One of the ways to do that is to take your teen driver to a one-day Tire Rack Street Survival class.

Classes are held at our headquarters in South Bend, Indiana, as well as locations across the country. Tire Rack Street Survival classes allow your teen to learn how to properly control his/her car so they don't panic during an emergency, along with helping improve their overall driving skills.

In addition to proper training, teenagers (and all drivers) need the safest tires. If you're in a snowbelt region, then dedicated winter / snow tires are the way to go. If you live in a warmer climate, an Ultra High Performance All-Season tire could work best because of how unpredictable weather can be. For example, in Dallas, Texas, it's not uncommon to receive some light snow, and the all-season option will come in handy compared to a summer tire.

View more information on the Tire Rack Street Survival program and find a class for your teen driver!

Find Better Tire Choices for Your Volvo XC70 AWD in the Alternative Size of 225/60R16

Friday, March 15, 2013 by Cy Chowattukunnel

If your family hauler is a second-generation (2001-2007) Volvo XC70 AWD, you probably bought it for the safety it provides. Safety also requires focused driving and equipping your Volvo with the best tires for the conditions. Does tire choice make that much of a difference? Yes, consider the difference in wet braking distance between the top tires and the fourth place tire observed in this Grand Touring All-Season comparison test.


Choosing the right tires for your Volvo XC70 can be tricky. Most second-generation Volvo XC70 vehicles came with the relatively obscure 215/65R16 size. If wet braking is important to you, and it should be, you may want to consider one of the top three tires referenced above (Bridgestone Turanza Serenity Plus, Continental PureContact with EcoPlus Technology, Michelin Primacy MXV4). The problem is that they're not made in your size, therefore you'll need to look at the 225/60R16 alternate size. 225/60R16 is about 1/2" wider, 3/10" smaller in diameter and fits the Original Equipment 7" wide rim without rubbing.

Now that you know what size to look at, what tire should you purchase? Obviously, if you live in a dry area like Phoenix, Arizona, you'll want to choose your tire based on variables such as dry braking and steering response. With these parameters in mind, I'd recommend choosing between the Bridgestone Turanza Serenity Plus, Michelin Primacy MXV4 and Michelin Pilot Sport A/S Plus.

225/60-16 Grand Touring All-Season Bridgestone Turanza Serenity Plus $109**
225/60R16 Bridgestone Turanza Serenity Plus
225/60-16 Grand Touring All-Season Michelin Primacy MXV4 H Speed Rated $136**
225/60R16 Michelin Primacy MXV4
225/60-16 Ultra High Performance All-Season Michelin Pilot Sport A/S Plus $134**
225/60R16 Michelin Pilot Sport A/S Plus


The Turanza Serenity Plus provides good wet grip, decent road manners and relatively long treadwear. Michelin's Primacy MXV4 shares theses traits, however the Serenity Plus offers a little more wet grip capability. Michelin Pilot Sport A/S Plus' strengths of crisp steering response and better dry grip make it appropriate for faster drivers. 

The Return of the King? Introducing the Extreme Performance Summer BFGoodrich g-Force Rival

Thursday, March 14, 2013 by Cy Chowattukunnel

Recently, we received our first batch of Extreme Performance Summer BFGoodrich g-Force Rival tires. The first shipment from BFGoodrich's Tuscaloosa, Alabama plant consisted of the 225/45R17 and 245/40R18 sizes, with 13 additional sizes to come. Unfortunately, it's too cold here at our Indiana headquarters to test the tire, however based on current data, it looks like this BFGoodrich tire will rise to the top.

BFGoodrich's internal testing and their launch comparison indicate mission accomplished. The g-Force Rival excels when driven side-by-side with traditional Extreme Performance Summer leaders.

Our test drivers were particularly impressed with the g-Force Rival's combination of consistent, extreme grip with a high degree of predictability. Instead of "peaky" grip levels which leave the driver wondering what their tire and car are doing, BFGoodrich has endowed the Rival with more progressive grip levels. This allows for better control because the driver has no doubt what's happening with his/her car and tires.

The NOLA Motorsports Park launch test featured some good competitors, but how will the g-Force Rival do against the newest rivals in its class? Dunlop has launched the new Direzza ZII. Bridgestone's rolling out the new Potenza RE-11A. Yokohama has the ADVAN Neova AD08. Who's the king of that group? With all due apologies to Dennis Green, we won't crown it now. We'll crown the champ in early June after completing our comprehensive in-house test.

Clearance Closeout Tire & Wheel Packages for Your Second-Generation 4-108 Ford Focus

Friday, March 1, 2013 by Cy Chowattukunnel

By all accounts, the 2013 Ford Focus ST has been a universal hit. It goes fast, handles well and doesn't break the bank. Much of the current Focus' success is due to groundwork done by earlier models.

The previous generation Focus combined affordability, decent handling and efficiency, so it's not surprising that many second-generation Focus drivers are staying with their current Focus. Are you happy with your Focus but want to freshen it up? Why not take advantage of some extraordinary savings on clearance 4-108 wheels and special buy Fuzion tires to create a Tire and Wheel Package for less than $600?*

Building your Tire and Wheel Package is quick and easy. Simply click on the wheel you like, add it to your cart, add tires, review TPMS options and receive the tires and wheels ready to install!

Are you looking for more options? View more closeout options and a complete list in our Upgrade Garage.

Ford Focus Tire & Wheel Package FAQ:

1. I'd rather have more emphasis on grip and steering response instead of focusing on wear and ride compliance, can I choose a different tire? 

Yes. Take a look at all 205/50R16 options or consider 17" wheels with 205/45R17 tires.

2. What torque setting should I use on my new wheels?

Use the same as factory, 100 ft-lbs. See complete installation instructions here.

*Prices subject to change, limited stock

If First You Don't Succeed...Why Your BRZ or FR-S Needs Better Tires

Thursday, February 28, 2013 by Cy Chowattukunnel

Thumbing through the March round of car magazines, I came across an interesting comparison between C7 launch articles. Sweet car, by the way, that C7. The comparison test? My Subaru BRZ versus another favorite of mind, the 2013 Ford Focus ST.

A lightweight rear-wheel drive junior Cayman against a roomy, practical and powerful front-wheel drive hatch? Kind of an odd couple to test with their only real commonality being their $25,000-$30,000 price point. Both cars tested well, but at the end of the day, the BRZ was about a second slower than the Focus ST on a 1.6-mile road course.

Did I buy the wrong car? No, not at all. I bought the right car that happens to be sold with the wrong tires. The BRZ and FR-S come equipped with 215/45R17 Michelin Primacy HP tires, while the Focus ST has the 235/40R18 Goodyear Eagle F1 Asymmetric 2. It's true the Focus ST boasts a huge power advantage, however stickier rubber would allow the BRZ to maximize its cornering grip. I suspect a simple swap to either a Max Performance Summer or Extreme Performance Summer tire would easily close that gap.

For those interested, before I got my BRZ, I had a set of Extreme Performance Summer tires in mind. After getting my new car, I was leaning towards the Bridgestone Potenza RE-11. After about 1,600 miles on my Original Equipment tires, I decided on the Michelin Pilot Super Sport in 225/45R17 on 17x7 48ET Sport Tuning T8 wheels. Michelin's Pilot Super Sport provides great wet grip and I wanted to avoid the harder ride of the Extreme Performance Summer tire. I noticed improvements across the board with the tires with no significant difference in ride or tread noise.