Jeep Wrangler Wheels and Tires

Tuesday, September 30, 2014 by Turk Turkleton

The Jeep Wrangler is a timeless vehicle. Whether it's a 1970's CJ, a 2015 JK or anything in between, they're the most customized vehicles on the market. If you've ever owned one, you know exactly what I'm talking about.

Typically after purchasing their Wrangler, many owners begin shopping for new wheels and tires and/or a lift kit. I like to call this "the itch." It starts with wheels and tires, then suspension, then bumpers and it truly never ends.

My experience is mainly with the 1997 TJ I had in college and the 2014 JK Rubicon I currently own. Also, I have helped friends work on several CJs and YJs. When it comes to my vehicles, I was running 31x10.5R15 BFGoodrich All-Terrain T/A KO tires on stock wheels, and was having a problem with rubbing when I turned. To address the issue, I put on 8" wide wheels with 4.5" backspacing. I also ended up installing a 2" spring spacer lift and upgrading to a 33x12.5R15 size tire (same BFGoodrich model) mounted on 15x9" wheels with, yet again, a 4.5" backspacing. Both set-ups worked out great for me both on-road and off. You will notice a trend in wheel backspacing here, and 4.5" seems to be the magic number. 

For the new JKs, Jeep made a lot more room in the fender wells and started supplying many trim levels with a 255/75R17 tire, which stands 32.1" tall. Several customers use a Tire & Wheel Package with 285/70R17 tires and 9" wide aftermarket wheels with 4.5" backspacing without any suspension or fender modifications, and they worked out great (as you can see below).

When it comes to lifting a JK, the most popular tire sizes are those that stand around 35" tall and about 12.5" wide. To get these sizes, you ideally need a 2" lift at the minimum with 4.5" backspaced aftermarket rims. I have taken my JK from stock to 3" lifted suspension with 315/70R17 Goodyear Wrangler DuraTracs on MAMBA M13 wheels in 17x9" ET-12. I also cut the fenders to play around with suspension travel to see how far I can cycle those tires up into the fender wells. Below you can see the difference after the modifications were made.

Create the look you've always wanted for your vehicle by designing a Tire & Wheel Package.


Tires Are Like Shoes

Tuesday, September 30, 2014 by Cy Chowattukunnel

Our marketing department likes to say that tires are like shoes. This is a good analogy as winter tires are like boots and Extreme Performance Summer tires are like running shoes. While this analogy works well in explaining traction, it doesn't exactly apply to tire noise.

In advising drivers, we often find that the root cause of their excessive tire noise is heel-to-toe wear. What is heel-to-toe wear? Taking a look at my running shoes can help explain.

Notice how the back of each "tread block" is worn more than the front? If your noisy tires have a similar wear pattern, you've got heel-to-toe wear.

How do your tires develop heel-to-toe wear? As your tires roll, the front of each tread block gets compressed, and the back of each tread block wears faster. If you simply rotate front-to-back, this will not help - you need to change the direction on travel by crossing when you rotate.

Obviously, tire engineers are aware of this issue and try to stabilize individual blocks as they design the tread. If your current tires have heel-to-toe wear, it's best to pick a non-directional tire as your replacement choice. Your installer can cross-rotate non-directional tires without having to dismount them. So, if your heel-to-toe wear noise is driving you crazy, look for a non-directional tire and rotate them every 5,000 miles.

Tire Rack's Partnership with Notre Dame Athletics

Monday, September 29, 2014 by Tire Rack Team

“Here come the Irish of Notre Dame!”

For those of us employed at Tire Rack's South Bend, IN headquarters, autumn Saturdays revolve around the local college football team. Notre Dame home games are a great time to meet up with friends, co-workers and family and cheer on the Irish.

For many of us, it’s exciting to announce our partnership with many Notre Dame sporting programs. This football season we are the presenting sponsor for the “Brian Kelly Radio Show,” “Inside Notre Dame Football” and “Thursday Night Classics.” Every Thursday night you can tune in to and view a classic game from the Notre Dame archives. During the broadcast, reminisce with fellow fans and share your thoughts via game-time tweets. With classic games against Michigan from 1998 and Florida State from 1993 to name a few, Throwback Thursday just became more exciting! 

We couldn’t just leave it at football. This is Indiana after all. That’s why we are also proud to be the presenting sponsor of Irish basketball coach's “Mike Brey Radio Show.”

Notre Dame’s fan base is national and loyal and they sure love to show support for their team. We're excited to be associated with this prestigious university and look forward to a great year.

Go Irish!   

Continental Makes Three of the Best All-Season Tires for Winter Driving

Monday, September 29, 2014 by Gary Stanley

Given the severe winter season of 2013 -  2014, many drivers are asking which tires have the best snow and ice traction. The answer is simple - the best dedicated winter / snow tires like the Bridgestone Blizzak WS80 for cars and Blizzak DM-V1 for crossovers and SUVs, walk away from even the best all-season tires when it comes to traction in snow and on ice. If winter driving safety is of the utmost importance to you, consider a set of dedicated winter tires. You can read more about their importance by taking a look at, "My Story on Winter Tires."

If having a separate set of winter tires isn't in the cards for you, then your next best choice is an aggressive all-season tire. Continental manufacturers some of the best all-season tires for winter driving for passenger cars, performance cars, crossovers and light trucks.  

 Continental Extreme Contact DWS
Continental ExtremeContact
 Continental Pure Contact
Continental PureContact with EcoPlus Technology
 Continental Cross Contact LX20
Continental CrossContact LX20 with EcoPlus Technology

For sporty cars and performance oriented vehicles, the Continental ExtremeContact DWS outperforms the others in its class for winter traction.  For your crossover, SUV or light duty pickup, the Continental CrossContact LX20 with EcoPlus Technology has some of the best customer feedback for snow traction in a tire designed for street use. For most other vehicles, check out the Continental PureContact with EcoPlus Technology for an all-season tire that works well for winter driving and also has great road manners. All three of these tires are highly regarded in our customer survey data and have performed very well in our in-house testing.  

Shop by vehicle to see which one of these Continental tires is available for your vehicle! 

Great Winter Tire Value: Yokohama iceGUARD iG52c

Monday, September 29, 2014 by Ben Rooney

If you need excellent ice and snow traction on a budget, take a look at Yokohama's iceGUARD iG52c. This tire is new to our lineup this year and provides a very attractive price-point in the popular Studless Ice & Snow performance category.

Taking the popular 205/55R16 size for example, the class-leading Bridgestone Blizzak WS80 is $126. Compare this to the Yokohama option at $102 per tire and this saves almost $100 on a set. While this tire may not provide the same level of performance as a Blizzak tire, it does well compared to driving in winter conditions on all-season tires. Featuring advanced winter tire technology, the tire is proficient in cold temperatures on dry, wet, slushy and snow-covered roads.

iceGUARD iG52c tires feature Yokohama's BluEarth branding to identify an ecologically friendly series of tires that are designed to deliver environmentally, human and socially friendly solutions. The IG52c is available in a wide range of sizes, and performed very creditably in our ice rink testing this season. If you want the confidence of a true ice and snow tire at an affordable price, they are hard to beat.

Take a look at all Yokohama winter tires available and see if one's a match for your application.

Introducing Yokohama's Winter / Snow Tires

Thursday, September 25, 2014 by AJ Vest

For the 2014-15 winter season, we're proud to announce we will be offering winter tires from Yokohama. Each of their options will be found in the Studless Ice & Snow performance category.

The iceGUARD line of winter tires feature Yokohama's shelled microbubble tread compound that acts like a suction cup that extracts moisture to increase traction in snow and on ice. They have an asymmetric tread design which allows for tire rotations for extended life. This is different from most winter tires, as many are directional and can only be placed on one side of the vehicle.

Yokohama iceGUARD iG20

Yokohama iceGUARD iG52c

Yokohama Geolandar I/T G072

Yokohama's winter / snow tire lineup is available in an array of sizes and suitable for many vehicles like the Honda Accord, Toyota Camry, Nissan Rogue, Subaru Outback and Chrysler Town and Country. If you're the owner of a light truck or SUV, be sure to take a look at their Geolander I/T G072 and iceGUARD iG51v.

Shop by vehicle to see if a Yokohama winter tire is available for your application.

More Tire Choices for Your 2013 Mazda CX-5

Wednesday, September 24, 2014 by Cy Chowattukunnel

Variety may be the spice of life, but it's no fun for tire manufacturers. Tire production can be difficult for some manufacturers to produce the latest and greatest option for vehicles that have an odd size. Case in point: the 2013 Mazda CX-5 Grand Touring's unusual 225/55R19.

If you're not happy with the few choices in this size, one option to consider is to install a different size. A proper replacement size must fit the Original Equipment rim, have a comparable diameter and meet your vehicle's load carrying capacity requirements. The optimal alternative size for most scenarios is 235/50R19. 235/50R19 is 28.3" in overall diameter and fits on the 19x7 O.E. rims without rubbing.

Using a different tire size like this isn't a radical change. It's about 1/2" wider and approximately 1/2" smaller in diameter. However, there will be some negligible speedometer differences of 1.4% (your speedometer will overestimate your actual speed by 0.8 mph at 60 mph).

By going to this alternative size, you now have an extra ten options to choose from. Are you a Michelin fan? You can run their 235/50R19 Primacy MXV4. Did you love the Bridgestone Dueler H/L Alenza on your last SUV? Its replacement, the Dueler H/L Alenza Plus, is available in 235/50R19.

235/50-19 Grand Touring All-Season Michelin Primacy MXV4 $264**
Michelin Primacy MXV4
Crossover/SUV Touring All-Season Bridgestone Dueler H/L Alenza Plus $169**
Bridgestone Dueler H/L Alenza Plus

For more information on changing your Original Equipment tire size, read "Speedometer Accuracy."

Winter 2014/2015: Detailed Updates for E9X M3

Wednesday, September 24, 2014 by Ben Rooney

If you are looking for a Winter / Snow Tire & Wheel Package for your M3 this year, take a look at the latest information on what is available this year:

Sport Edition A7 wheels are available in both black and silver. It's still the go-to wheel for a practical winter package. They are a direct fit with no spacer. They will even use the original bolts and can accept a BMW cap. I like this wheel so much, that I used it for three winters on my previous BMW.

Though the Sport Edition A7 is the most common 18" winter wheel, there are a few alternatives that we have available. BBS' CH can work, though there aren't many available at this time. They have also introduced the XA this year. While we do not have them available in our distribution centers at this time, we can order them for you to have in time for the winter season.

There's good news for those drivers who are in need of serious snow traction - Bridgestone has introduced the Blizzak WS80. The Blizzak WS80 is an upgrade to to their WS70. They are available in the 235/40R18 and 245/40R18 sizes that are suitable for square set-ups on 18" wheels. This tire is H-speed rated and not oriented toward sporty handling. It's truly designed for maximum snow and ice traction.

When it comes to staggered set-ups, there's always a challenge in selecting snow tires. If you have staggered 18" tires, nothing matches perfectly in the stock 245/40R18 and 265/40R18 sizes. There is a Pirelli Winter Sottozero Serie II that is a Porsche spec rear and Mercedes Original Equipment in the front you can consider as an option. Also, in the 235/40R18 and 255/40R18 size, there are several matching options to consider from Bridgestone, Dunlop and Michelin.

For those drivers considering 19" wheels, the Pirelli Winter Sottozero Serie II comes in the stock sizes. The 255/35R19 and 275/35R19 Blizzak LM-60 that had been popular with drivers has been replaced by the Blizzak LM-32. The front tires are H-speed rated, while the rears are V-speed rated. Mixing speed ratings is not ideal, but it's better than driving in harsh winter conditions without snow tires.

Create your Winter / Snow Tire & Wheel Package today!

Best All-Season Tires for Winter

Tuesday, September 23, 2014 by AJ Vest

For some, a good all-season tire is more suitable for their climate as they may only see light snow a few times a year. While an all-season tire performs well in some winter conditions, there are no all-season options that perform to the level of a winter tire during the colder months. 

The Continental tires perform very well in wet and winter conditions. Their PureContact with EcoPlus Technology, ExtremeContact DWS and CrossContact LX20 with EcoPlus Technology are crowd favorites and receive high ratings in our consumer feedback and testing. 

They take pride in their silica enhanced tread compound which conforms to the road surface like a sponge and remains very plyable in cold temperatures. These are key ingredients in an all-season tire to be used in winter and wet weather conditions.

Continental's tuned treadwear indicators are molded in the tread design as "DWS" on their ExtremeContact DWS tire. 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 only has sufficient tread depth for dry and most wet road conditions. And after the "W" and "S" have both worn away, the remaining "D" indicates the tire has appropriate tread depth for dry conditions only.

As mentioned earlier, when it comes to winter driving, nothing performs better than a dedicated winter / snow tire. To see how an all-season tire compares to a snow tire in winter conditions, read "All- Season vs. Winter (Passenger Vehicle): The Difference Between Wintertime Gripping and White Knuckle Snow Slipping."

All-New Dunlop Direzza DZ102 vs. Direzza DZ101

Tuesday, September 23, 2014 by Gary Stanley

John Dunlop, the inventor of the pneumatic tire, founded Dunlop back in 1889. With its one hundred plus years in the tire industry, Dunlop has the experience, expertise and technology to produce some of the best tires. Dunlop produces a full line of tires, such as affordable winter / snow tires like the Winter Maxx, and great all-season tires, such as the Signature II

The Direzza tires are their line of Ultra High Performance Summer tires and include leading choices like the Direzza ZII Star Spec and Sport Maxx TT. For those drivers looking for a good bang-for-your-buck summer tire, Dunlop offered the Direzza DZ101. It was a good tire, but it was never a top tire in its class. This is one of the reasons they updated the tire to a newer version, the Direzza DZ102. This new tire offers a rather large improvement over the older DZ101.  

Much like the BFGoodrich g-Force Sport vs. g-Force Sport COMP-2, the new Dunlop Direzza DZ102 has made dramatic improvements. In our testing, the Direzza DZ102 is better in regards to ride noise and ride comfort. It also offers a good ride quality while delivering head-turning performance in warm, dry and wet conditions. For a complete recap of testing, read "Testing Ultra High Performance Summer Tires: New Shoes for Your Sporty Car."

moda MD14 Wheels for Your Dodge Challenger

Thursday, September 18, 2014 by Cy Chowattukunnel

Mustangs are fun, Camaros are hot, but there is something primal about the Dodge Challenger. Recently, I got to work with a Challenger driver who loves his car, but is less than thrilled with his 18" Original Equipment wheels. When we were discussing new choices for his vehicle, it didn't take long to come across the perfect choice - the moda MD14 machined with anthracite accent.

moda wheels are manufactured using high-tech processes and within strict quality control standards. All their wheels are designed under the watchful eye of our wheel specialists who remain involved at all stages of the production process.

Since the owner's Original Equipment 235/55R18 Michelin Pilot HX MXM4s are in great shape, one of our local installers moved the TPMS sensors over and re-mounted the Michelins on the moda MD14s. The Pilot HX MXM4 provides driving harmony by blending responsive handling with good ride comfort. It also blends the looks and handling of a performance tire with reduced noise and ride comfort associated with a premium passenger tire.

Are you looking for new tires and wheels? Then create a Tire & Wheel Package today!

Get Ready for Winter with One of This Year's Best All-Season Tires

Wednesday, September 17, 2014 by Marshall Wisler

If you live in a climate that sees occasional or frequent snowfall, but are only looking to use one set of tires year-round, your selection of an all-season tire is critical. While most tires that aren't dedicated summer performance tires perform well enough in slippery conditions to earn an "M+S" (Mud/Snow) designation, certain tires certainly work better than others.

Currently leading the pack in the Standard Touring All-Season category is the General AltiMAX RT43. This high mileage offering from General features a good amount of biting edge and receives excellent scores from consumers. It's designed to deliver impressive consumer value through even treadwear and extended treadlife. The tire also combines a quiet, comfortable ride with all-season traction.

If your car requires a higher speed rating than what a Standard Touring All-Season tire can provide, the Pirelli Cinturato P7 All Season Plus and Continental Pure Contact with EcoPlus Technology are among the strongest in the Grand Touring All-Season performance category. The Pirelli tire is ranked first and has the highest rating in the light snow traction cateogry. It also has top ratings when it comes to ice traction, and ranks second in deep snow traction. All in all, it's an all-season tire that performs well in the colder months.

Shop by vehicle to view all options available for your application.

Is it Too Early to Shop for Winter Tires?

Wednesday, September 17, 2014 by Gary Stanley

Autumn is nearly upon us and that means that winter is not too far away. If you're planning on purchasing winter / snow tires for this upcoming season, should you start shopping now or wait until the threat of snow is near? The snow may be two months or more from arriving, but in the early fall, we have some of the best winter tires from last season in stock.

To review the top choices from last year, read "Best Winter / Snow Tires for 2013." In addition to last year's best, shipments of new snow tires are arriving almost daily.  

Here are some additional reasons to purchase now rather than putting off the decision:

  • Clearance prices are available on some top closeout winter tires, like the Bridgestone Blizzak WS70
  • Given last year's severe winter, snow tires may sell out more quickly this year. 
  • Inventory is best in the early part of autumn, so purchase early and get the tire you really want.  
  • Install your Winter / Snow Tire & Wheel Package at your convenience instead of being at the mercy of the weather.

Keep in mind that choosing one of our Winter / Snow Tire & Wheel Packages means that you may never have to pay for mounting and re-mounting again. Installing your new tires and wheels is easy. See how easy by taking a look at "How to Install Your Tire & Wheel Package."

What's the Deal with Sumitomo Tires?

Wednesday, September 17, 2014 by Turk Turkleton

The Sumitomo Group is a Japanese company that has many facets to their business. The company began in the 17th century with Masatomo Sumitomo and Riemon Soga, who developed a new method for smelting and refining copper. They began the company in the ore smelting business, and since have expanded their umbrella to include banking, insurance, chemical, rubber, lumber, glass and more.

Just like any tire manufacturer's line of products we carry, Sumitomo makes good tires. Their HTR Z line of summer performance tires offer a great combination of performance and affordability.

If you're looking to find a set of performance tires and don't want to break the bank, the HTR Z, HTR Z II and HTR Z III are all great options. They have good performance characteristics and don't wear too quickly. The Z III has impressive ride quality and handling on the track and road, but isn't the best in wet conditions. The HTR Z II offers an aggressively styled directional tread pattern, which looks great and handles well for the price. This tire does tend to get a bit loud as it wears down, but if you're not terribly sensitive to road noise then this could be a great tire for you. HTR Z tires have a less aggressive tread pattern, but still provide good traction in dry conditions, while also performing pretty well in the wet.

In the performance all-season categories, Sumitomo offers the HTR A/S P01 in a few different speed ratings. Overall, this tire is a great option for the driver who needs an all-season tire, but doesn't put much emphasis on wet or snow traction.

Sumitomo HTR Z II

Sumitomo HTR A/S P01

Sumitomo Touring LS T

When it comes to touring all-season tires, the HTR Enhance line of tires are fairly new. We have found it to be better in wet conditions than previous touring tires from Sumitomo. The Touring LS T and Touring LS H tires leave a bit to be desired when it comes to wet conditions. They take significantly longer to stop in rain than the competition.

All in all, Sumitomo makes good tires. They are often a good bang-for-the-buck option to put on a set of aftermarket wheels in a Tire & Wheel Package.

Which Tires Have the Best Winter Traction?

Thursday, September 11, 2014 by Ben Rooney

The easy answer to this question is: winter tires! All specialized snow tires have traction on ice and snow that exceeds the best all-season tires.

How do you know which winter tire to choose? Typically, the Bridgestone Blizzaks have been class leaders in ice and snow traction. Since their introduction in 1993, we haven't found an all-season tire that can match the Blizzak's confidence-inspiring combination of deep snow, packed snow and ice traction.

Blizzak tires feature dual tread compounds consisting of outer tread cap and underlying base compounds. These tires wick away the thin layer of water that often develops on the top of packed snow and icy roads, allowing biting edges to better adhere to the surface for more traction.

However, competitors are offering even tougher competitors to the Blizzak line. For example, Michelin's X-Ice Xi3 gave a strong challenge to the Blizzak WS70 last year. It offers a good blend of traction and road manners. It also meets Michelin's Green X standard for low rolling resistance by reducing vehicle fuel consumption and emissions from CO2 gases.

When considering winter tire options this year, be sure to take a look at the new Blizzak WS80. We had a chance to take part in an introductory test pitting it against its rival from Michelin. For a complete recap of the test, read "Bridgestone Blizzak WS80 Introductory Test Report."

When purchasing winter tires, also be sure to consider a dedicated set of wheels.

A Simple Guide to UTQG

Thursday, September 11, 2014 by Turk Turkleton

Often times, customers ask about the UTQG rating on tires. The UTQG ratings were designed to provide consumers with useful information to help them purchase tires based on their relative treadwear, traction and temperature capabilities.

Treadwear is a rating on how long the tire should last; the higher the number, the longer the life of the tire in theory. Traction is rated on a scale similar to grades in school (C, B, A), but instead of an A+, there's AA at the top. Temperature rating is rated C, B or A (again with A being the highest).

The tests to determine these grades are run in standardized conditions, so every manufacturer runs the same tests on their tires. Treadwear is judged after only 7,200 miles, so there is a good amount of extrapolation done here, and this is all done by the manufacturers on their own tires. The traction grading is based on the straight-line wet coefficient of friction of a tire. The traction grade in UTQG does not indicate, in any way, the dry traction, cornering, or hydroplaning resistance. It only refers to the tire's kinetic friction at 40 mph while attached to a trailer that locks its brakes momentarily and measures braking g-forces. Manufacturers then decide from that measurement whether they give it an AA, A, B or C. Temperature is basically a tire's ability to run at high speeds under load without melting or blowing up. They test it in a lab and see how hot it gets under load to see what speed the tire can withstand without failing due to overheating.

My general rule of thumb for UTQG is unless you're using it to compare two tires from the same manufacturer, in the same performance category, then UTQG isn't something to use for the average consumer. We have several options on our website that can help you compare tires, such as tire tests and consumer surveys.

For a more detailed understanding of UTQG, read "Uniform Tire Quality Grade (UTQG) Standards."

Is the Best Brake Pad the Hawk High Performance Street 5.0?

Wednesday, September 10, 2014 by Gary Stanley

Hawk is a top supplier of high performance and heavy-duty brake pads. We've had outstanding experiences and customer feedback on their products since we began selling them over ten years ago.  

The Hawk HPS Street Brake Pads offer great braking performance with low noise and low dust, making it a great choice for most enthusiasts' street cars. If you're looking for low dust as a priority and are willing to give up some braking performance, take a look at the Hawk Performance Ceramic Pads. This option produces even less brake dust to help keep your wheels cleaner in between car washes. For owners of light trucks, SUVs and crossovers, the Hawk LTS Brake Pads are an excellent choice. You can learn more about this product by reading, "Hawk LTS Brake Pads are a Great Choice for Your Truck or SUV."

New this year is the Hawk Street High Performance Street 5.0 Brake Pads. The improved pad friction material in this new pad offers more pedal feedback and more consistent performance. Stopping power, brake pedal feel and modulation have been increased, all while keeping the low dust levels of the popular Hawk HPS Street Brake Pads.  

Hawk HPS Street Brake

Hawk High Performance Street 5.0 Brake Pads

Hawk Performance Ceramic

The brake pad combines the safety and quality of aerospace design with the braking technology of motorsports for improved performance under heavy braking situations. They are gentle on rotors while still meeting the demands of today's drivers. Shop by vehicle to see if the Hawk High Performance Street  5.0 Brake Pads are available for your application. And don't forget, free shipping is available on brake orders over $50!  

Differences Between the Bridgestone Blizzak WS70 and WS80

Friday, September 5, 2014 by Marshall Wisler

After a few very popular years, the Bridgestone Blizzak WS70 has been discontinued and now makes way for the updated Blizzak WS80. The WS70 was always well liked for its traction on ice and packed snow and is considered by many to be one of the most pure Studless Ice & Snow tires on the market. While its strong performance on ice and snow was tough to dispute, the tire was never known for dry road performance.

As inventory begins to filter into stock, we are seeing a new WS80 that has a slightly less directional pattern, but over 20% more sipes and blocking edges than the previous generation. While many tires in higher profile sizes will retain a T-speed rating, many sizes will feature an H-speed rating that will correlate to better on-center feel and responsiveness.

Given the severity of the last winter season, we will begin our ice rink testing slightly earlier than normal and will have a full report detailing stop and start distances in the coming weeks.

While it is too early to jump to full conclusions, I would expect this tire to meet or exceed the grip levels set forth by the WS70 and improve slightly in other areas. Shop by vehicle to see if the WS80 is available for your application.

Winter Tires for Volkswagen Jetta

Thursday, September 4, 2014 by AJ Vest

As Volkswagen continues to gain momentum in the North America market, winter / snow tire selection for these vehicles has become a very hot topic. We often get the question, "What winter tire should I install on my VW?"

My family vehicle is a VW Jetta TDI, and living in Northern Indiana, I need to be prepared for ice, snow and all of the fun that comes with driving in the harsh conditions. White knuckles are something that should not be a part of winter driving and changing tires can make a dramatic improvement.

Like all vehicles, we offer many configurations for Volkswagen applications to meet any winter condition. I always recommend winter tires for the worst driving conditions you may encounter, and most of the time, my recommendation for the vehicle comes from the Studless Ice & Snow category.

For my Volkswagen, I use the Bridgestone Blizzak WS70 on the factory 16" wheel. I use this wheel because I use a BBS SR as part of my summer package. Last year, during one of our worst recorded winters in history, the Bridgestone Blizzak WS70 always got me to where I needed to be without issue. While the ride quality may not be to the level of the Michelin X-Ice Xi3, the grip levels are superior. Our test results say the same. Today, the new Blizzak WS80 is replacing the Blizzak WS70 and we will be testing the new tire soon.

We also offer many wheel options for the Volkswagen model vehicles. I am partial to the Rial and Anzio brands because of their low pressure cast construction. This manufacturing technique makes for a wheel that is slightly stronger, which is better for winter use. Their finishes also make for a durable winter wheel.

Search by vehicle to view the winter / snow tires available for your application.

Custom Wheel Fitments

Thursday, September 4, 2014 by Turk Turkleton

Do you have a classic vehicle but don't see any aftermarket wheel fitments for it on our website? Looking for aftermarket rims that you know we carry, but they aren't listed for your vehicle? We get calls all the time from people who are trying to fit a wheel to their vehicle for which we don't have fitment data. However, you're not out of luck!

You always want to check, before you do anything else, to see if we have wheel fitments for your vehicle - you might be surprised.

  • Visit our Upgrade Garage 
  • Enter your vehicle's information in the drop down menu
  • Select "Wheels"

Bolt Pattern (Bolt Circle):

You will need to figure out the bolt pattern of your hubs, which may be found online or by measuring.

To measure your bolt pattern, establish an imaginary circle that passes through the middle of each stud and measure the diameter of the circle. For hubs with an even number of studs, simply measure across from the middle of one stud to the middle of its opposite.

NOTE: When measuring a 5-lug wheel, the measurement is only an estimate unless accurately measured using a bolt pattern gauge. A bolt pattern gauge is a specialty tool and is not widely available. 

Wheel Size:

You will also need to know the diameter, width, offset and backspace of the wheels. Backspace measures the distance from the mounting plate of the wheel to the back edge of the wheel, where offset measures the distance from the mounting plate of the wheel to the center of the wheel barrel. The higher the backspace, the further back into the fender well it will sit. To help you understand offset and backspacing, take a look at the diagram below:


Centerbore is the machined opening on the back of the wheel that centers the wheel properly on the hub of a vehicle. This hole is machined to exactly match the hub so the wheels are precisely positioned as the lug hardware is torqued down. Keeping the wheel centered on the hub when it is mounted will minimize the chance of a vibration. Certain wheels are vehicle model specific and will come from the factory with a bore machined to match that vehicle. Some wheels are designed to fit several vehicle models and will use a centering ring system to reduce the bore size to match the hubs of different vehicles. These rings keep the wheel precisely positioned as the lug hardware is torqued down.

Some wheels are non-hub centric by design. These are known as lug centric wheels. With these wheels it is critical to torque the lug hardware with the vehicle on jack stands, off the ground. This allows the nuts or bolts to center the wheel and torque down without the weight of the vehicle pushing them off center.

Wheel Weight Capacity:

Just like tires, all wheels have a maximum load. If you have a heavy vehicle like a truck, you may need to try and locate the GAWR (Gross Axle Weight Ratio) and make sure that for each axle, the max load of two wheels will hold the load of the vehicle.

To learn more about which wheels will fit your vehicle, read "How We Know What Fits."