The Most Popular Run-Flat Tire for BMW 3 Series

Wednesday, November 12, 2014 by Marshall Wisler

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

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

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

When to Put on Winter Tires

Wednesday, November 12, 2014 by AJ Vest

Winter is coming! You already purchased your Winter / Snow Tire & Wheel Package, put your Accutire Excursion Road Kit in your vehicle and had your vehicle maintenance reviewed by a recommended installer. However, you still want to know when's the perfect time to install your winter tires.

Ideally, the best time to put your winter wheels and tires on is when the temperatures during your commute are regularly below 45 degrees. For the majority of the country, that time happens around mid-November. The time to take them off happens once the temperatures during your commute are steadily above 45 degrees. For most, this happens around mid-April. It's important to note that if your winter tires are new this year, you're going to need time to break them in.

If you are mounting your wheels and tires yourself, be sure to check tire pressures and set to factory specifications. Also, check your wheels and tires to ensure they're torqued properly using a torque wrench.

Do not wait to purchase your winter wheels and tires. Inventory is limited throughout the year, and once a tire is gone for the winter season, you'll have to choose a different option.

To store your summer wheels and tires, consider one of our storage solutions. Tire Rack Tire Totes make a great way to transport and store wheels and tires. Another option to consider is a Tire Garage to cover your wheels and tires as they sit in your basement or garage as the winter months pass. 

To help you get prepared for winter, check out "Winter: Get Ready and Be Prepared."

Is a Staggered or Square Set-Up Best for Winter?

Wednesday, November 12, 2014 by Gary Stanley

"My BMW is equipped from the factory with wider rear tires. Should I stick with this staggered set-up or switch to a square set-up and use the same size on all four wheel positions?"

A staggered set-up simply means that your rear tires are larger than your front tires. A square set-up simply means a vehicle has the same tire size on all four wheels.

Advantages to a square set-up:

  • Better winter traction from a narrower rear tire
  • Ability to rotate the tires for longer wear
  • Simplicity of installation with all four tires being the same
  • Generally a lower price in a more common front tire size

Advantages to a staggered set-up:

  • Better straight-line dry traction from a wider rear tire
  • Improved cosmetic appearance
  • More protection to the wheel from curb damage

For example, if you drive a 2007-2011 BMW 3 Series with the staggered 18" wheels, you can use 225/40R18 on both the front 8" wheels and rear 8.5" Original Equipment wheels. This is actually very common, especially when installing a set of winter / snow tires. Eliminating the stagger in this way results in better winter traction by changing the rear 255/35R18 to a narrower 225/40R18.

To learn more about the advantages of using winter tires, read "My Story on Winter Tires."

Winter Tires and Wheels for 2015 Ford Mustang GT with Performance Package

Wednesday, November 5, 2014 by Cy Chowattukunnel

When sport cars were considered a dying breed, Ford stayed the course. They stuck to their guns and kept making the Mustang better and better. All their hard work has paid off with the launch the 2015 Ford Mustang GT with Performance Package.

Are you a snowbelt driver that just picked up your 2015 Ford Mustang GT with Performance Package? If you want to keep driving the car you love, you've got to be ready for winter.

Winter / Snow Tire Category

As covered in our snow tire overview, you'll need tires that can handle the worst conditions. If your Mustang is your everyday driver in Milwaukee and you can give up some dry road performance, then Studless Ice & Snow tires are the way to go. On the other hand, if you reside in Louisville, an option from the Performance Winter / Snow category may make more sense.

Studless Ice & Snow Tire & Wheel Package

Since there isn't a Studless Ice & Snow tire offered in the Original Equipment 255/40R19 front tire, you can go with the 245/45R19 Michelin X-Ice Xi3 on the front and rear axles. 245/45R19 is about 1/2" narrower, 1/3" smaller in overall diameter and will fit the 9" wide wheels. Speaking of wheels, check out the 19x9 ET 45 black painted Mustang GT Track Package. They match the Original Equipment's offset and preserve the factory suspension geometry.

245/45-19 Michelin Studless Ice & Snow X-ICE Xi3 $265*
Michelin X-Ice Xi3
19x9 ET 45 Black Painted Mustang GT $234*
Ford Racing Mustang GT Track Package

Performance Winter / Snow Tire & Wheel Package

For a Performance Winter / Snow option, look at the 255/40R19 Michelin Pilot Alpin PA4 on the same wheels as mentioned above. This tire really impressed us with its balance of snow traction, cold wet grip and dry road performance.

255/40-19 Performance Winter Michelin Alpin PA4 $318*
Michelin Pilot Alpin PA4
19x9 ET 45 Black Painted Mustang GT $234*
Ford Racing Mustang GT Track Package

With winter right around the corner, now is a great time to create a Winter / Snow Tire & Wheel Package for your vehicle.

Stationed Overseas and Need Tires?

Wednesday, November 5, 2014 by AJ Vest

#thinkingabouttires, but stationed overseas? We can help!

Having been stationed overseas myself, USMC, Okinawa, Japan (2005-2008), I understand the challenges when trying to purchase items from the United States. Here at Tire Rack, we can ship tires, wheels, brakes, suspension and other accessories to our service members and Department of Defense contractors who are stationed overseas with an FPO/APO address.

Because our database is based on vehicles sold in the United States, it is critical to understand what you need when searching our website. For tires, you can search by size to find the products you're looking for. Before making your purchase, take a look at "Sidewall Markings" to gain a better understanding of what tire suits your vehicle. When searching for wheels, you may need to research the similar vehicle in the States. For example, in Japan, a Mazda Miata is referred to as a Mazda Roadster. This vehicle is identical in all regards for chassis and most products directly translate. 

Service members in the Pacific will receive product from our McCarran, Nevada distribution center. Those in Europe will receive product from our New Castle, Delaware distribution facility. Shipping times vary as priority mail is between 10-14 business days transit time, while ground shipping can take up to 60 days.

We truly appreciate your service and sacrifice!

What are the Quietest Tires?

Tuesday, November 4, 2014 by Turk Turkleton

If you're looking to improve the ride quality and quietness of your vehicle, the first thing to look at is a set of tires. Many people don't realize how much of an effect their tires have on ride quality, but it's significant.

In general, the smoothest, quietest and most comfortable tires are found in the Grand Touring All-Season, Crossover/SUV Touring All-Season and Highway All-Season performance categories.

Keep in mind, when looking at our survey results, they compare tires within their category. If you see an 8.7 noise comfort rating on one, and a 9.0 on the other, the numbers don't directly correlate if the tires are in different categories.

A few options worth considering are:

Pirelli Cinturato P7 All Season Plus

Michelin Primacy

Bridgestone Dueler H/L 422 Ecopia

To see what tires fit your vehicle, visit our Upgrade Garage.

How Tough is the New BFGoodrich All-Terrain T/A KO2?

Monday, November 3, 2014 by Ben Rooney

Tough enough to drop from an airplane! To demonstrate the enhanced toughness of their new All-Terrain T/A KO2, BFGoodrich mounted them on wheels and dropped them from the sky.

With the majority of all-terrain tires' punctures happening in the sidewall area, BFGoodrich paid special attention to reinforcing the sidewalls with technology from their off-road racing Baja T/A KR2. Some sizes of the All-Terrain T/A KO2 are already in stock. More sizes will begin to arrive in the coming weeks and months. The goal is to make the tire available in all popular sizes in the all-terrain market.

This second-generation KO tire is developed to meet the needs of jeep, pickup truck and sport utility drivers who want confidence and control on- and off-road. It's designed to deliver go-anywhere traction along with outstanding durability, great wear and year-round traction, even in snow.

Of the 12 tires that BFGoodrich dropped in the course of making this video, only one of them deflated. The reason: the wheel itself cracked. The tire was not harmed!

Who Makes the Quietest Winter Tires?

Monday, November 3, 2014 by Gary Stanley

While most drivers expect a winter / snow tire to be louder due to their more aggressive tread patterns, there are some winter tires that are quieter than others. You may not have to give up the smooth and quiet ride that you've come to appreciate with your non-winter tires if you choose wisely.

When it comes to comparing winter / snow tires, most drivers look at options in the Studless Ice & Snow and Performance Winter / Snow categories. Tires in the Studless Ice & Snow category focus on maximum snow and ice traction, while Performance Winter / Snow tires sacrifice some traction in slippery conditions for better dry road handling and a quicker steering response. 

 Michelin Xice Xi3
Michelin X-Ice Xi3
 Michelin Pilot Alpin PA3
Michelin Pilot Alpin PA3

Michelin is known in the tire industry for producing quiet all-season tires, and we've found that the same is true for their winter tires. Among the more aggressive Studless Ice & Snow tires, the quietest tire as rated by customer feedback is the Michelin X-Ice Xi3. The tire is fantastic on ice and in snow, and also meets Michelin's Green X standard for low rolling resistance and confirms the tire's contribution to reducing vehicle fuel consumption and emissions of CO2 gases.

When it comes to Performance Winter / Snow tires, take a look at Michelin's Pilot Alpin PA3. The tire also meets Michelin's Green X standard for low rolling resistance, while featuring an asymmetric tread design with Variable Thickness Sipes technology where wide sipes on the inboard side provide traction in the snow and narrower sipes on the outboard enhance dry road handling.

Take a look at all the winter tires available from Michelin and see if one is right for your application.

How Tough Are Your Tires? Introducing the BFGoodrich All-Terrain T/A KO2

Friday, October 31, 2014 by Cy Chowattukunnel

Although we're always #thinkingabouttires, we've never thought about throwing them out of an airplane. Then again, we may never have had a tire as tough as the new BFGoodrich All-Terrain T/A KO2. BFGoodrich has taken a great tire and made it better.

During the design process, BFGoodrich focused on three key areas: toughness, treadlife and traction.

  • Toughness: BFGoodrich's CoreGuard technology uses the race-proven Baja T/A KR2's tougher, split-and-bruise resistant sidewall rubber, thicker extended shoulder rubber and advanced deflection design for a 15-20% improvement in sidewall durability.
  • Treadlife: A specially formulated tread compound coupled with an advanced tire footprint results in twice as much life on gravel and 15% better wear on asphalt.
  • Traction: The KO2's tread design has 62% more sipes, more open shoulders and a serrated shoulder design providing 10% more mud traction and a 19% improvement in snow traction. Since the KO2 meets the industry's severe snow requirements, the tire bears the Rubber Manufacturer Association’s mountain/snowflake symbol in all sizes.

BFGoodrich will eventually make the KO2 in 61 different sizes, so chances are it will be available for your truck or SUV.  The initial launch focuses on a few key sizes such as LT245/75R16, LT265/75R16, LT285/75R16, LT275/65R18 and LT275/55R20.

Introducing the BFGoodrich All-Terrain T/A KO2

Friday, October 31, 2014 by Turk Turkleton

BFGoodrich All-Terrain T/A KO2BFGoodrich has been a leader in all-terrain technology for many years. When they introduced the All-Terrain T/A KO back in 1997, they upturned the all-terrain category with a tire that provided awesome traction, a clean look, a nice ride and iron-like wear. Sounds tough to beat, right? It was, until BFGoodrich had an ace up their sleeves with the recent announcement of the All-Terrain T/A KO2.

This tire has a similar middle tread pattern to its predecessor, but the rest of the tire has been redesigned. The tread now extends onto the sidewall, helping with traction in off-road conditions while protecting the sidewalls from punctures. They have also beefed up the tread compound to be even more cut- and chip-resistant than before and doubled the sidewall rubber thickness. To top it all off, you'll notice that the sidewall says "Baja Champion" on it, just like its predecessor. They didn't just keep those words on the sidewall from the last generation, they actually took these out and won the Baja race with them before production began so that the tires would be worthy of keeping the "Baja Champion" branding on the sidewall.

This tire is great for any driver who wants a reasonable tire on-road that can handle snow and ice in the winter, as well as being able to tackle whatever you throw at it off-road. Drivers of lifted trucks and lifted Jeeps will be happy with the selection of sizes that are on the way. With 35" tall offerings on the way in 16", 17", 18" and 20" wheel diameters, there is sure to be a fit for your truck.

I'm specifically excited about the impending release of their 37x12.50R17 size as the bigger they are, the better they look!

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

Thursday, October 30, 2014 by Marshall Wisler

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

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

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


Gift Shopping at Tire Rack

Thursday, October 30, 2014 by AJ Vest

Do you plan to partake in gift giving this holiday season? Is that someone #alwaysthinkingabouttires like we are at Tire Rack? Take a look at these gift ideas for the car enthusiast in your life.

The Accutire ABS Coated Air Gauge makes a great stocking stuffer. This air gauge's light makes it easy to read pressure numbers even in the dark and operates on a lifetime lithium battery. Measuring in half-pound increments makes this a very accurate gauge.  

If a gauge with a tread depth indicator tool is more to their liking, consider Accutire's Tread Depth/Air Gauge. The tread depth gauge reads in 1/32" increments and has indicators to tell you when it's time to consider new tires. 

If you know someone tired of going to the dealership to trigger their Winter / Snow Tire & Wheel Package, our selection of TPMS trigger tools allows them to do the work themselves. We offer the FORDTRIGGER tool for Ford owners, CUB TPMS Trigger Tool for GM owners and the ATEQ VT15, which will trigger many other vehicles, along with GM vehicles.

For that new or even seasoned driver, the Accutire Excursion Road Kit might be a great addition to their vehicle. The kit includes many great emergency items including jumper cables, first aid items, small tools and a handy air compressor. 

Small items like these will qualify for free shipping when your order is over $50. 

If you're having trouble deciding what items to purchase for your friends and family, a Tire Rack Gift Certificate allows you to give a gift in any amount between $25-$5000. 

Are Sport Edition Wheels Good?

Wednesday, October 29, 2014 by Gary Stanley

Yes! They may not equal the high style and lightweight of the more expensive wheel lines like BBS, O.Z. Racing and Enkei Racing Series, but for many drivers, the Sport Edition wheels are a great lower cost option. Sport Edition offers aluminum alloy wheels that have durable painted with clearcoat finishes offered in a variety of colors and styles.  

One popular use for a Sport Edition wheel is to make it a part of your Winter / Snow Tire & Wheel Package. Why submit an expensive Original Equipment wheel or high-end aftermarket wheel to the harsh conditions of winter driving and salt-covered roads when you can use a quality wheel at a good price? The stylish Sport Edition A7 and A8, available in black painted and silver painted finishes, have been very popular with BMW drivers for years. The same applies to Porsche drivers using the Sport Edition Cup 4 for their winter set-ups. Both of these styles accept the vehicle's Original Equipment center caps for a clean appearance.  

 A7 Black Painted
Sport Edition A7
 A8 Titanium Gunmetal
Sport Edition A8
 Cup 4 Silver Painted
Sport Edition Cup 4

We also offer basic steel wheels as well for many vehicles. Are you unsure of which is best for your car? Take a look at "Steel Rims vs. Alloy Wheels for Winter Use" to see the advantages and disadvantages of each option.

Tire Rack and Bridgestone Invaded the Pepsi Center to Showcase the Blizzak WS80

Wednesday, October 29, 2014 by Tire Rack Team

Tire Rack and Bridgestone teamed up to introduce the Blizzak WS80 to a group of drivers who have never experienced driving on winter tires, as well as a team of car enthusiasts who wanted to view the new tire first-hand. We invited the teams to Denver and set-up the event at the Pepsi Center, home of the N.B.A.’s Denver Nuggets and N.H.L.’s Colorado Avalanche.

While you can read about how great a tire is, there’s nothing like getting behind the wheel and testing tires yourself. And on the ice of the Pepsi Center, that’s exactly what we invited this group to do. They were able to experience how differently our BMWs accelerated, braked and cornered around the ice when one was equipped with a set of winter tires and the other with a set of all-seasons. As one driver who had never experienced winter tires said, “I could barely get the all-seasons going, and my stopping distance was much longer. I was convinced. The Blizzak proved its worth on the ice.”

Twitter was buzzing with #TalkTires and #TRWinterDrive testimonials.

Additionally, attendees were treated to a visit to the Denver Zoo for a biomimicry demonstration. Team members from Bridgestone explained how engineers study the movement of polar bears and how their paws gain traction on ice and use their findings in their design process of Blizzak tires.

Yes, the presentation was exciting; and testing the tires on the ice was beneficial to the drivers, but the tricycles equipped with Blizzak WS80 and all-season tires stole the show. These trikes were so much fun we could barely get the local media off them in time for them to do their segments! Not only are they a blast to ride, they demonstrate the traction comparison between the two sets of tires very well. As you’re trying to pedal, the tricycle with the winter tires allows you to pedal faster, turn quicker and stop sooner than the bike with all-season tires.

The Pepsi Center and Denver Zoo were a great host for our event. Thank you to all the staff members who took time out of their day to make sure everything was handled properly and professionally. Everyone who participated enjoyed their time in the Mile High city, learned how great winter / snow tires are and got a chance to ride a tricycle for the first time in years!

Make Winter Driving Easy for Your 2015 Porsche Macan

Friday, October 24, 2014 by Cy Chowattukunnel

Many purists called foul when Porsche introduced its first SUV, the 2003 Cayenne S. Ultimately, the Cayenne brought new drivers to the market. Have you always liked the Cayenne but wished it was smaller? Say hello to the 2015 Porsche Macan S and Macan Turbo.

The 2015 Porsche Macan has it all with speed, handling and utility - but how does it perform in the snow? Snowbelt drivers are still going to need a set of dedicated winter / snow tires. Nothing can provide the traction you need to handle tough winter conditions like winter tires.

Winter / Snow Tire Categories

Winter tires are engineered to balance dry road handling, ice/packed snow grip and deeper snow traction. If your winter climate is harsh and you can give up some at-the-limit dry road performance, narrower Studless Ice & Snow tires are the best.

If you reside just outside the Snowbelt region and want to drive your Macan through the twisties at good speed, moderate width Performance Winter / Snow tires are more suitable.

Studless Ice & Snow Tire & Wheel Package

Within the Studless Ice & Snow performance category, the Michelin Latitude X-Ice Xi2 provides the best balance of ice/packed snow grip and dry road handling. Porsche engineers strongly recommend staying with your Macan's staggered set-up, so take a look at the 235/60R18 Michelin Latitude X-Ice Xi2 mounted on 18x8 5-112  21 ET bright silver Rial P10 on the front, with 255/55R18 tires and 18x9 5-112 ET 21 wheels on the rear. We also include free mounting and balancing with your Tire & Wheel Package purchase.

Light Truck/SUV Studless Ice & Snow Michelin Latitude XICE Xi2 $173* Front $191* Rear
Michelin Latitude X-Ice Xi2
Bright Silver Rial P10
Rial P10 Bright Silver Paint

Performance Winter / Snow Wheel & Tire Package

For a Performance Winter / Snow package, the Pirelli Scorpion Winter's combination of winter capability and dry road performance make it ideal. Specifically, check out the 235/55R19 Pirelli Scorpion Winter N0 on 19x8.5 5-112 ET 22 Axis Model Two for the front and 255/50R19 and 19x9.5 5-112 ET 23 for the rear. 

Pirelli Light Truck/SUV Performance Winter / Snow Scorpion Winter $228* Front $252* Rear
Pirelli Scorpion Winter
19" Matte Gray Axis Model2 $249* Front $259* Rear
Axis Model Two Matte Graphite Silver

With winter right around the corner, create your dream Winter / Snow Tire & Wheel Package to tackle winter's toughest conditions!

Road Hazard Now Included with Most Tire Purchases

Friday, October 24, 2014 by Marshall Wisler

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

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

Benefits of the Tire Road Hazard Protection:

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

View the updated Tire Road Hazard Protection conditions here.

Get Ready for Snowmaggedon 2014: Which Winter Performance Category is Right for You?

Wednesday, October 22, 2014 by Cy Chowattukunnel

Remember last winter? Will this winter be just as bad? We don't know yet. But, I do know the right snow tire makes all the difference. In order to purchase the correct winter / snow tire, you should decide which performance category works best for your driving style and the winter weather you experience. The three major categories are: Studless Ice & Snow, Studdable Winter / Snow and Performance Winter / Snow.

Studless Ice & Snow tires 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 the dry roads, your vehicle will not respond as crisply or quickly to steering inputs.

Studdable Winter / Snow tires can 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, so be sure to check with local authorities to confirm legality.

Performance Winter / Snow tires will exhibit 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'll 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 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.

Studless Ice & Snow tires tend to be 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.

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.

Available in lower profile sizes, the following Performance Winter / Snow tires are worth a look:

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.

Visit our Winter Tire Decision Guide for more assistance in choosing the right winter tire for your vehicle.

Let it snow.

Testing the Newest Studless Ice & Snow Tires

Wednesday, October 22, 2014 by Cy Chowattukunnel

Is this year's winter going to be as bad as last year? Some experts believe so. Whether it's that bad is up for debate, but what's not debatable is the difference winter tires will make for you once winter arrives.

For those of you looking at options in the Studless Ice & Snow performance category, we recently headed to our local ice rink and tested the new Bridgestone Blizzak WS80, Yokohama IceGuard iG52c, Michelin X-Ice Xi3 and Dunlop Winter Maxx. Both the Blizzak WS80 and Michelin X-Ice Xi3 excelled. The Blizzak WS80 stood out in our subjective lateral grip exercise where we circled the ice rink.

The biggest difference between the Blizzak WS80 and X-Ice Xi3 is off the ice. While we will complete our formal dry road test later this fall, a few of us have driven on the Blizzak WS80 in the dry. The consensus is that the Blizzak WS80's dry road handling has significantly improved compared it's predecessor, the Blizzak WS70, but is still a step behind the Michelin X-Ice Xi3. Also, while not a part of the test mentioned earlier, Continental's ExtremeWinterContact offers similar ice grip to the Michelin X-Ice Xi3 and better dry road handling. It provides the best wet grip between the three options.

Which tire should you choose? The Blizzak WS80 is best for drivers who value ice grip over dry road handling. Michelin's X-Ice Xi3 and Continental ExtremeWinterContact are optimal for drivers who want to balance ice grip and dry road handling.

Studless Ice & Snow Bridgestone Blizzak WS80
Bridgestone Blizzak
Studless Ice & Snow Michelin X-ICE Xi3
Michelin X-Ice
Studless Ice & Snow Continental ExtremeWinterContact

With winter right around the corner, shop by vehicle to view all options available for your application.

Best Winter Tires for Honda Civic

Wednesday, October 22, 2014 by AJ Vest

One might wonder how a Tire Rack sales specialist searches for a Winter / Snow Tire & Wheel Package for their own vehicle. I drive a 2014 Honda Civic Si and will be putting new tires and wheels on it this winter. Deciding on what to purchase is tough, even for someone who is always #thinkingabouttires.


The first thing to do is to search by your vehicle's year, make and model. You'll also want to see how small of a wheel safely fits your application. Using a smaller wheel allows for more tire sidewall. Keep in mind, I'm not changing out the outer diameter of the factory 18" tire, rather making the rim size smaller and adding more sidewall. This is called "downsizing" and helps in winter conditions when moving through packed snow and on ice. The second thing to consider is going to a narrower tire. A narrower tire allows the tire to slice through the snow, getting more pounds per square inch on the ground and in a more concentrated area. Currently, I am using a 16" wheel and a 205/55R16 tire. 

Wheel selection mostly comes down to personal taste. There's often a debate on whether to use a steel wheel or alloy option when it comes to driving in winter conditions. To learn about the differences between the two types of wheels, take a look at "Alloy vs. Steel Wheels in Winter Tire & Wheel Packages." To gain the rally style appearance I desire for my vehicle, I am going to use the Sparco Terra

Selecting the proper winter tire is extremely important. Understanding the different performance categories and the traction levels they provide is important to selecting the right tire. In Northern Indiana, I need a tire that delivers the most amount of grip in all winter conditions, including ice, slush and snow.

As someone who has the privilege to test winter tires during our testing, being able to compare options after driving on tires back-to-back really gives me the feel for the amount of traction each tire can deliver. During recent testing, the Bridgestone Blizzak WS80 outperformed the other tires. However, the Yokohama Iceguard iG52c was a close second. We have not tested the tire on the dry pavement for ride quality or in the wet yet, but personally, I buy winter tires for traction, not ride quality. The Blizzak WS80 is my choice. 

One question often asked is what air pressure to use when downsizing, as I am doing with my set-up this winter. I will actually use the same air pressure that the manufacturer recommends, which is 32psi front and rear. Downsizing wheels and going to a narrower tire doesn't change the air chamber of the tire. In fact, the amount of space is nearly the same as the factory tire. The pressure also carries the load of the vehicle, so the factory pressure will go unchanged.

Now that I have found the right Winter / Snow Tire & Wheel Package for my vehicle, it's time you begin shopping and find yours today!

Yokohama iceGUARD iG52c vs Bridgestone Blizzak WS80

Tuesday, October 21, 2014 by Gary Stanley

We've been testing and selling Yokohama performance tires, all-seasons and light truck/SUV tires for over twenty years. This season, we now offer their winter / snow tires for the first time in over a decade. Since it had been awhile since we carried the iceGUARD line of Yokohama tires, we decided to familiarize ourselves with their winter traction by testing them on the ice against some other top Studless Ice & Snow tires, like the Bridgestone Blizzak WS80.  

 Bridgestone Blizzak WS80
Bridgestone Blizzak WS80
 Yokohama iceGUARD iG52c
Yokohama iceGUARD iG52c

In earlier testing versus the Michelin X-Ice Xi3, the Bridgestone Blizzak WS80 had faster acceleration and shorter stopping distances, proving itself the superior choice for winter traction. For complete test results, read "Bridgestone Blizzak WS80 Introductory Test Report" and "Sneak Peek of New Bridgestone Blizzak WS80." 

It was no surprise when the Blizzak WS80 also out performed the Yokohama iceGUARD iG52c in our ice rink testing. What was surprising was how very close the two tires were in the test. The iceGUARD iG52c performed just slightly worse than the WS80 in braking and cornering on the ice. The difference was so small that I will recommend the Yokohama with confidence. It would make an excellent lower-cost alternative to the Blizzak WS80. 

In the market for a new set of winter tires? Take a look at the options available from Yokohama.