All-Season and Winter Tire Options for the Chevy SS Sports Sedan

Monday, January 19, 2015 by AJ Vest

Chevy's new SS sports sedan is awesome! This machine offers 415 horsepower, Brembo brakes, state-of-the-art suspension, forged wheels and room to haul the family and golf clubs. What more could an SS owner possibly want? 

A performance vehicle like the SS sports sedan comes equipped with summer performance tires. Summer tires aren't to be used in temperatures below 45 degrees. What should an SS driver do if they live in an environment where the car will be driven in a cold climate? The best situation would be to purchase a Winter / Snow Tire & Wheel Package

If you desire a performance winter tire, check out the Bridgestone Blizzak LM-32 and pair it with the Anzio Turn. However, if you live in an area that typically experiences harsh winter conditions, you'll want to consider the Michelin X-Ice Xi3.

Another option is to swap the summer performance tires for a performance all-season. In the factory sizing, there are many great options, such as the highly rated Continental ExtremeContact DWS, Michelin Pilot Sport A/S 3 and Bridgestone Potenza RE970AS Pole Position. Both the Michelin Pilot Sport A/S 3 and Bridgestone Potenza RE970AS Pole Position are considered excellent three-season tires because they lack good snow traction. If driving in light snow conditions is a concern, go with the Continental ExtremeContact DWS. 

Shop by vehicle to find the right tire for your Chevy SS sports sedan. 

Best Tire Choices for the 1999-2005 Honda Odyssey

Monday, January 19, 2015 by Marshall Wisler

The Honda Odyssey is one of the most popular minivans on the road today, while having a reputation for not being easy on its tires. Due to the weight of the vehicle and the way its suspension is set up, many Honda Odyssey owners are disappointed with the wear rate of their factory Original Equipment tires. 

When searching for replacement tire options for the Honda Odyssey, take a look at the General AltiMAX RT43 and Continental TrueContact.

General AltiMAX RT43

Continental TrueContact

The General AltiMAX RT43 is popular with consumers and is currently the highest rated tire in the Standard Touring All-Season performance category. It features a 75,000-mile warranty, good all-season capability and offers a very quiet ride. Drivers often find that this tire is also one of the most cost-effective options available and that its value is hard to beat. 

Continental's TrueContact, much like the General AltiMAX RT43, is very well liked by consumers. It features an extremely high 90,000-mile warranty and also works very well in all seasons, including light snow conditions. While slightly more expensive than the General AltiMAX RT43, the tire is popular due to its 800 treadwear rating. 

Both tires are available in most popular sizes for the second-generation Honda Odyssey and are excellent options available at a good price.

Is it Too Late to Buy Winter / Snow Tires?

Monday, January 19, 2015 by Gary Stanley

The winter season of 2014-2015 has been a tumultuous one! First, we had a very early cold snap with several inches of snow in early November. This caught many drivers off guard and forced quite a few drivers to install their winter / snow tires a few weeks ahead of schedule. Following that early chill and snowfall was nearly a month of unseasonably warm temperatures and almost no snowfall.  

Now that Christmas and New Year's Day are over, it may seem like there is not much of winter left. Don't be fooled. Keep in mind, most drivers in the snowbelt still have at least two months of wintry driving conditions ahead of them. Also, much of the country has its coldest temperatures of the year through the month of January.  

This weather has brought with it some of the most brutal driving conditions of the season. You don't have to settle for mediocre all-season tires and white-knuckle driving. Winter tires provide a huge advantage in snow, ice and slush traction for added driving safety and confidence. Take a look at "All-Season vs. Winter / Snow Tires" to see how much a difference winter tires make, especially in stopping distances.

If you haven't yet considered purchasing winter / snow tires, it's not too late to experience the difference that they can make in winter driving. Find the right winter tires for your vehicle and have them shipped directly to one of our Recommended Installers

Conquer the Snow with Your Jeep Grand Cherokee

Thursday, January 15, 2015 by Cy Chowattukunnel

About twelve years ago, our SUV-test fleet consisted of 2002 Jeep Grand Cherokees. Since then, we've had sportier SUVs like the Touareg and Cayenne. However, there's a part of me that misses the Grand Cherokee. There is something about sitting in a Jeep that makes you feel like you're unbounded and that you can travel anywhere. And apparently, there are many other drivers who feel the same way as dealers have been besieged with customers clamoring for the 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee.

Winter / Snow Tire Performance Categories

Given the Grand Cherokee's weight and advanced four-wheel drive performance that helps place an emphasis on its off-road capabilities, Cherokee owners should take a look at Light Truck/SUV Studless Ice & Snow tires for their winter driving needs. To gain better insight on choosing the correct snow tire, take a look at "Understanding the Tire Performance Categories for Winter / Snow Tires."

Winter / Snow Tire Size

With the Jeep Grand Cherokee's weight, going to a skinnier tire isn't necessary, so any of the Original Equipment sizes will be effective. Although a skinnier tire might be more effective in deep snow, this advantage will be offset by less dry road, ice and packed snow traction. For example, if your Jeep Cherokee Overland is equipped with the 265/50R20 O.E. tire, going to a 265/60R18 has a subtle advantage with the 18" wheels increasing the sidewall. The added sidewall softens steering inputs for smoother driving, while providing drivers with slightly better control on ice and hard-packed, snow-covered roads.

Tire Pressure Monitoring System (TPMS)

Each wheel has a valve stem-mounted TPMS sensor that you can run with or without the sensors for winter. If Jeep owners run without the TPMS sensors, a warning light will appear, but there's no functional issue associated with the light. When you reinstall your summer wheels, the TPMS will work as normal once you've activated the sensors by driving your Cherokee for about 15 minutes at a speed of over 20+ mph. We have Original Equipment TPMS sensors available for your Cherokee that will automatically adjust without visiting your dealer. If you decide to purchase sensors as part of a Tire & Wheel Package, they will be installed free of charge.

Best Winter / Snow Tire & Wheel Package

Bridgestone Blizzak DM-V1
Bridgestone Blizzak DM-V1
18x8 E53 Bright Silver Rial W10X $189*
Bright Silver Rial W10X

For most Grand Cherokee Limited and Grand Cherokee Overland drivers, the best Winter / Snow Tire & Wheel Package available in 18" may be the 265/60R18 Blizzak DM-V1 on 18x8 E53 bright silver Rial W10X wheels. The DM-V1 combines grip in snow and on ice with reassuring handling on wet roads and in slush. They are designed with a focus on ice traction and braking, as well as wet road handling and hydroplaning resistance to provide winter driving competence.

When you combine legendary Jeep capability with awesome Blizzak grip, winter doesn't stand a chance!

Michelin Premier A/S vs Michelin Defender: Which is Best?

Tuesday, January 13, 2015 by Marshall Wisler

Often times when tire manufacturers produce several popular models, loyalists of the brand are confused on which to select. On paper, both the Michelin Premier A/S and Michelin Defender do everything extremely well, however they are two completely different tires meant for two different jobs. Both tires work very well as an all-season option, are quiet and both reflect the high level of quality that Michelin tires are known for. However, there are a few key differences.

The Michelin Premier A/S with its higher speed rating and softer tread compound will have more immediate response during lane changes and sharp steering inputs. It will also maintain grip longer during hard cornering on dry pavement. In exchange for the higher levels of cornering performance, the Premier A/S has a lower treadlife warranty than the long-lasting Michelin Defender.

Michelin Premier A/S

Michelin Defender

In comparison, the Michelin Defender is all about practicality. This tire is designed to get its driver from point A to point B thousands of times over. What it lacks in dry road handling abilities it makes up for in ride comfort and long treadlife. With its 90,000-mile treadlife warranty, this tire is one of the longest-lasting tires currently on the market. This is not a tire that will set any track records, yet sets its sights on a casual consumer who doesn't consider his or herself an aggressive driver. It's important to note that the speed rating for the Michelin Defender (T for 118mph) doesn't allow it to be used on all vehicles. For example, a BMW 3 Series or Audi A4, both of which mandate an H-speed rated tire, would benefit better with the Premier A/S.

To view all options available for your application, shop by vehicle.

Eibach Sportline vs Eibach Pro-Kit: The Must-Read Differences in Lowering Springs

Tuesday, January 13, 2015 by Turk Turkleton

Interested in lowering your car, but aren't sure if the Eibach Sportline Spring Set or Eibach Pro-Kit Spring Set is right for your vehicle?

How much wheel gap do you want to eliminate? The Pro-Kit Spring Set will lower a vehicle generally 1.00" to 1.25", while the Sportline Spring Set will provide you with approximately 1.50" to 2.00" of lowering capabilities. To help you decide, check out "A Look at Lowering" to view the difference in ride height adjustments on various vehicles.

How important is ride quality to you? Lowering the car requires using higher spring rates to keep the car from bottoming out over bumps, but it comes at the cost of some ride smoothness. 

Are you also looking to replace the dampers with aftermarket shocks and struts? If you want to re-use the Original Equipment dampers, you can do so with the Pro-Kit, although they may be a little soft for these springs (especially when worn) and may cause a bit of high-frequency undulation over severe bumps in the road, but it isn't a terrible sound. The Sportline kit is even lower and stiffer, so look into some new dampers with that kit, as well as an Eibach Recommended Alignment Kit to get your suspension geometry back into alignment. When you lower a car, the camber and caster can, and usually will change. It's important to get an alignment after installing either of these spring kits. 

To see if these lowering springs are a good fit for your vehicle, visit our Upgrade Garage!

Eibach Pro-Kit Spring Set vs Sportline Spring Set: Which to Choose?

Tuesday, January 13, 2015 by Ben Rooney

Eibach springs are one of our most popular suspension products. For most applications, Eibach offers both Pro-Kit and Sportline springs. Which one is best? The answer, as always, depends on what you are looking for.

The Pro-Kit is an excellent blend of ride and handling. Moderate lowering, usually an inch to an inch and a half, gives a sportier appearance but does not look radically customized. Since the lowering is not extreme, special alignment kits are generally not required. The ride is firmer than stock, but still comfortable. The feel is generally similar to the sportier end of what factory sport packages are like. For an enthusiast looking to enhance the fun-factor of their daily driver, this options is usually just right.

The Sportline gives more substantial lowering, usually more than an inch and a half, and often two inches or more. A more aggressive drop means that the springs need to be stiffer. While still meant for street driving, they're suited to a more hardcore enthusiast. The additional lowering may require special alignment parts, particularly a camber kit, in order to maintain proper alignment specs.

Shop by vehicle to view the suspension products available for your application.

Is the Continental PureContact with EcoPlus Technology or ExtremeContact DWS Your Best Choice?

Tuesday, January 13, 2015 by Cy Chowattukunnel

Germany is known for many things, including awesome cars, but their tires are pretty good, too. Based in Hanover, Germany, Continental has plants all over the world with plants in Illinois, Ohio, Kentucky and North Carolina. A few of Continental's great offerings include:

For drivers who reside in states with fair weather, the superior wet and dry grip of the Continental ExtremeContact DW makes it a great choice. However, if you have a long commute and are willing to give up some at-the-limit grip for better treadwear, take a look at the ExtremeContact DWS. For moderate drivers who experience light snow conditions, you'll want to consider the ExtremeContact DWS and PureContact with EcoPlus Technology. 

Ultra High Performance All-Season
Continental ExtremeContact
Grand Touring All-Season Continental PureContact
Continental PureContact with EcoPlus

Typically, Grand Touring All-Season tires ride better and are quieter options, but lack steering response. There are always exceptions to the rule and in this case, a few tires that outperform their category. For example, the Ultra High Performance All-Season Continental ExtremeContact DWS rides well and is a relatively quiet tire. And in the Grand Touring All-Season performance categeory, Continental's PureContact with EcoPlus Technology is known for handling responsively.

In general, what are the critical differences between the PureContact with EcoPlus Technology and ExtremeContact DWS? We don't test across different performance categories so there's no hard data to analyze, but we have enough seat time from separate summer and winter tests to judge them. We feel that the PureContact with EcoPlus Technology comes out ahead in overall snow performance, tread and impact noise, treadwear and ride comfort.

Attribute PureContact ExtremeContact DWS
Overall snow advantage  
Noise - tread and impact advantage  
Treadwear advantage  
Ride comfort advantage  
Wet traction pretty close pretty close
Dry traction   advantage
Steering response   advantage
Overall handling   advantage

To see if any of these tires are available for you car, shop by vehicle.

Review of Winter Tires for a Honda Civic

Monday, January 12, 2015 by AJ Vest

In "Best Winter Tires for Honda Civic" I discussed outfitting my 2014 Honda Civic Si with Bridgestone Blizzak WS80 winter tires and Sparco Terra wheels in preparation for the upcoming winter months. After our initial blast of winter in October and November, I really haven't had a chance to try this tire in a real-world winter environment, outside of our in-house testing. The initial winter blast didn't last long and I was still using my factory 225/40R18 Continental ContiProContact tires, which did not perform well at all.  

As expected, the Honda Civic with the Bridgestone Blizzak WS80 is handling the snow, ice and slush amazingly well. Downsizing to the narrower 205/55R16 size is paying off. When approaching slush or snow, you can feel the car and tire slice through the wintry mix with ease. Handling and braking do suffer a slight bit with the more narrow tire, but I opted for this size for winter use, not for ultimate handling and braking. The ability to brake, turn and accelerate in harsh winter weather provides a level of confidence and capability that really needs to be felt to appreciate.

Search by vehicle to find a Winter / Snow Tire & Wheel Package for your Honda today!

Second Season with Dunlop Winter Maxx Winter Tires

Monday, January 12, 2015 by Gary Stanley

Last year, I purchased Dunlop Winter Maxx tires in the middle of winter for my 2009 Infiniti G37X coupe. These tires replaced the Graspic DS-2 and performed very well in their first season of use. But, how would they perform in season two? 

So far, this winter season has provided me with a variety of conditions in which to further evaluate these tires. First, our area was hit with heavy snowfalls and unseasonably cold temperatures earlier than normal. Next, Northern Indiana experienced nearly a month of warmer-than-average temperatures with very little precipitation and dry roads. Finally, we are now experiencing sub-zero temperatures and nearly a foot of snowfall this week that began with freezing rain. This may sound like a nightmare to many, but this allowed for another great opportunity to put the Dunlop Winter Maxx tires through a variety of winter driving conditions.  

During that initial snowstorm, the Dunlop Winter Maxx tires performed just as well as they did last season. They provided me with traction and confidence in snow and slushy conditions and handled the wintry roads with ease. As the weather warmed and snow turned to slush, and finally to wet roads, I had no problems with braking or handling. Even as temperatures climbed into the 40s, I felt safe and secure even at highway speeds.

This latest bout of sub-zero temperatures didn't phase the tires at all. They still performed just as well on snow-covered roads in below-freezing conditions as they did at near- or above-freezing temperatures. 

Bottom line: I am still happy with my Dunlop Winter Maxx tires!  

If you're concerned about winter driving in your area, install a set of dedicated winter / snow tires to increase your driving confidence.

Tire Pressure Monitor Systems

Thursday, January 8, 2015 by AJ Vest

Recently, there's been a push for consumers to better understand their vehicles both for safety and efficiency. We now have oil life monitors, tire rotation reminders, monitors that will tell us if we have a light bulb out and since the mandate was introduced in 2007 by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), Tire Pressure Monitor Systems (TPMS).

TPMS monitors the vehicle's tires' inflation pressures. There are two types of systems, a direct TPMS and indirect TPMS. A direct TPMS uses a serialized sensor inside the wheel, often attached to the valve stem which sends a radio frequency to an on-board computer. An indirect system uses the vehicle's anti-lock brake system (ABS) to monitor the tire pressure. For more information regarding the differences between the two systems, read "Tire Pressure Monitoring Systems (Direct vs Indirect)."

Most vehicles with a direct TPMS sensor require a synchronization of the sensors to the vehicle each time a new TPMS system is introduced or changed. With the TPMS sensors we offer, the vehicle manufacturer dealership most likely will need to synchronize the sensors to the vehicle, unless a local installer has the tool to perform the task. It's best to check with the installer or dealership prior to purchase to understand the cost and ability of this procedure. 

A brief list of popular vehicle manufacturers that require this synchronization for most of their vehicle offerings: 

  • Honda
  • Acura
  • Toyota
  • Subaru
  • Ford
  • Chevy
  • Hyundai
  • Cadillac
  • Lexus     
  • Mitsubishi
  • Nissan
  • Scion

To be sure whether a vehicle requires a synchronization, be sure to check "View Important TPMS Information" for the wheel you wish to purchase on our website. The notification to visit a dealership for synchronization will also be given upon check-out. If the vehicle does not require a dealership TPMS synchronization, your owner's manual will include the instructions for the synchronization procedure. 

Disabling the system does pose some risks. The way the NHTSA mandate is worded indicates that a service facility can not knowingly disable a TPMS system. Additionally, some states now mandate a vehicle owner can not disable the TPMS system. Some vehicles also use this tire pressure data for electronic stability systems (ESA). Of course, not having the sensor will induce a light to be on your vehicle display system. 

While we applaud the use of data systems, there is needed improvement within the standards. We also feel there's a need for a manual check of tire pressure. Also, be sure to take a look at our TPMS synchronization tools to see if one is available for your application.

All-Season Tire Options for 20" Wheels Equipped on BMW X5 / X6

Wednesday, January 7, 2015 by Marshall Wisler

If you own a BMW X5 or X6 with staggered 20" wheels, you know that finding all-season tires can be extremely difficult. While many manufacturers supply us with the front size of 275/40R20, very few manufacturers produce a matching rear fitment in size 315/35R20. Currently, there are no run-flat tire options that allow for all-season driving, as every option available is meant for either dedicated summer or winter use. 

However, if you're willing to take off the run-flat tires in exchange for non-run-flat tires, two popular options exist. Manufactured by Continental, the Ultra High Performance All-Season ExtremeContact DWS, allows drivers to run one set of tires year-round. While you will lose the security of having a tire that can run while flat, many drivers report increased wear, better ride comfort and a quieter experience. This tire is a class leader in its performance category, works exceptionally well as an all-season tire and is priced attractively given its large size. 

Another option worth considering is the Michelin Latitude Tour HP. While this tire doesn't receive quite as high of a consumer review as the Continental ExtremeContact DWS, it is also a very popular option for X5 and X6 drivers willing to shed run-flat tires. While the tire doesn't have the same level of steering input and responsiveness as an Ultra High Performance All-Season, this Crossover/SUV Touring All-Season tire exchanges some performance and dry grip for increased comfort and road manners. 

Shop by vehicle to view all options for your BMW X5 or X6.

How Long Do Summer Tires Last Compared to All-Seasons?

Wednesday, January 7, 2015 by Gary Stanley

As a moderator of several forums, I was recently asked the following question in a forum in regards to the wear of summer tires compared to all-season tires:

"Gary, I currently have Bridgestone Potenza RE760 Sport tires (Ultra High Performance Summer) on my car. However, I do a lot of long-distance travel, and I am thinking that it may be better to get all-season tires. How big a difference is the treadlife between summer and all-season tires? Is it big enough to justify the loss in performance?"

My response to the customer was:

"The difference in treadlife can be quite large since many all-season tires can routinely see 60,000 miles of treadlife. With mostly highway driving, it's even more likely you'll see longer wear. On the other hand, most summer tires are more in the neighborhood of 20,000-25,000 miles. For longer wear with a smooth and quiet ride, I'd suggest the Bridgestone Turanza Serenity Plus and Michelin Premier A/S."

 Bridgestone Turanza Serenity Plus
Bridgestone Turanza Serenity Plus
 Michelin Premier A/S
Michelin Premier A/S

Many drivers do not realize how dramatic the difference in treadlife can be between some of the industry's top summer performance tires like the Michelin Pilot Super Sport and Bridgestone Potenza S-04 Pole Position compared to some of the best all-season tires. The most noticeable performance difference is typically the slower steering response that all-season tires have compared to summer tires. The plus side of the softer sidewalls of all-season tires is a softer, more comfortable ride, and of course, much longer treadwear.  

If you've already decided that you want the best handling tire regardless of treadwear, take a look at "Bridgestone Potenza S-04 Pole Position vs Michelin Pilot Super Sport."

Changing Wheel and Tire Sizes, What Pressure Should I Run?

Friday, January 2, 2015 by Turk Turkleton

If you're going from 17" Original Equipment wheels to 18" aftermarket wheels, what tire pressure should you run with your new tires? Many times, the service description (e.g. 98H) is still the same on the tires when the size is adjusted, so the same pressure can be used. If the load index is higher on the new tires, then you still follow your vehicle's door placard specifications. If the load index is lower than the O.E. tire, you will want a slightly higher tire pressure. How much higher sometimes varies, so contact us to verify. However, if the tire size is a good fit for the vehicle, you're typically safe using the following pressures (all options will carry the max load listed on the tire):

  • 35 PSI for standard load tires with the "P" in front of the size (P-metric tires), e.g. P205/55R16 89T
  • 36 PSI for standard load tires without the "P" in front of the size (euro-metric tires), e.g. 205/55R16 91H
  • 41 PSI for extra load (XL) tires with the "P" in front of the size (P-metric tires), e.g. P205/55R16 92T
  • 42 PSI for extra load (XL) tires without the "P" in front of the size (euro-metric tires), e.g. 205/55R16 94H

If the service description on your new tires is higher than your stock tires, you're fine running the tire pressure listed on your vehicle's placard. 

For LT-metric tires, use the following list:

  • Load Range C (LRC) - 50 psi (350 kPa)*
  • Load Range D (LRD) - 65 psi (450 kPa)*
  • Load Range E (LRE) - 80 psi (550 kPa)*
  • Load Range F (LRF) - 95 psi (650 kPa)*

*Industry standards specify selected large LT tire sizes be designed with reduced maximum load pressures

To learn more about your tires' air pressure, take a look at "Checking Tire Inflation Pressure."

Tires Make an Impact

Wednesday, December 31, 2014 by AJ Vest

As part of the TireWise campaign, the White House released a fact sheet regarding tires and how they impact travel safety and the environment. In this fact sheet, it states that every year there are roughly 11,000 tire-related vehicle crashes. In one day last year, the Colorado Department of Transportation assisted in 22 drivers that spun out and blocked traffic. Nineteen of those drivers had bald tires, according to the Colorado DOT. Many of these incidents can be avoided with simple, proper care of tires and use on your vehicle.

The White House fact sheet also makes a point that if 10 million drivers keep their tires properly inflated, it would save nearly $500 million dollars and 1.6 metric tons of carbon dioxide pollution. This does not take into account the potential tire-related vehicle crashes it could save. Low rolling resistance tires can also make an impact on the environment, and drivers could save up to $80 per year in fuel costs and can avoid up to 560 pounds of carbon dioxide pollution, when properly used. For more information on low rolling resistance tires, take a look at "Fuel Efficiency and Your Vehicle."

Always be #thinkingabouttires before you hit the road by checking your tires' pressure!


Michelin Tires Make a Great Choice for Almost Any Vehicle

Tuesday, December 30, 2014 by Gary Stanley

Michelin is recognized by many as one of the top car and truck tire manufacturers in the world. They are the company that created the first radial tire and have been at the cutting edge of design and technology ever since. Many of their tires rank at or near the top of nationally recognized tests and customer survey data. Depending on the tire's performance category, Michelin tires offer the following benefits over most of their competitors:

  • Superior wet traction
  • Smooth and quiet ride
  • Outstanding dry grip
  • Generous wear warranty, even on most performance tires
  • Eco-friendly design and low rolling resistance
 Michelin LTX M/S2
Michelin LTX M/S2
 Michelin Premier A/S
Michelin Premier A/S
 Michelin Pilot Super Sport
Michelin Pilot Super Sport

For street-driven trucks, larger crossovers and SUVs, check out the Michelin LTX M/S2. This is the top-rated tire in the Highway All-Season performance category, and for good reason! Our customers praise its wet and snow traction, quiet and smooth ride and long treadwear.  

If you have a sedan, wagon or smaller crossover that's your daily driver, then check out the Premier A/S. An innovative tread design and compound allows the tire to maintain great wet traction even as the tire wears down. In addition to great wet traction, the Premier A/S features a good ride quality and performance that has placed it on top in a recent test of Grand Touring All-Season tires.

Even Michelin's flagship summer performance tire, the Pilot Super Sport, has good ride quality and a wear warranty. The latter is quite rare to see in a summer performance tire. The Pilot Super Sport is a fantastic tire that I've installed on one of my vehicles. You can read about my experience with the tire by taking a look at, "Michelin Pilot Super Sport: 5,000 Mile Update."

New Year. New Tires.

Monday, December 29, 2014 by Tire Rack Team

New tires part of your new year’s resolution? If your plan is to make your life better in any number of ways, add new tires to that list as you resolve to drive more safely. (Gotta like that perfect segue.)

A driver’s ability to control their vehicle depends on the traction between their tires and the road. Whether you live in Minnesota and experience rough winters, or in Florida and slosh through heavy rains, the proper tire allows you to handle the conditions Mother Nature throws your way. Mathematically it lays out like this: if snow-covered roads are a concern, it’s time to replace your tires when they reach approximately 6/32” of remaining tread depth. For rain and wet roads, you should consider replacing your tires when they reach approximately 4/32” of remaining tread depth.

What Honest Abe Doesn’t Tell You About Minimum Tread Depths

When do I need to replace my tires? Simply use a tire gauge or pull some spare change from your pocket to find out. Place a quarter into the tread grooves of your tires and if part of Washington’s head is covered, you have more than 4/32” of tread depth remaining. With a penny to measure tread depth, place it into the tread grooves and if the top of the Lincoln Memorial is covered, your tires have more than 6/32” of remaining tread depth.

Now there’s just one more thing: your new tires will require a break-in period for optimum performance.

Safety first. Happy New Year!

Introducing the Eibach All-Terrain Lift Kit for Jeep Wranglers

Monday, December 22, 2014 by Turk Turkleton

The new All-Terrain Lift Kit from Eibach offers suspension lift options for two-door and four-door Jeep Wranglers that are looking to improve off-road capability and make room under the Jeep JK for larger tires and wheels. This lift kit will raise the front between 2.5" and 3.5" and raise the rear approximately 2" to 3" so you have room to fit 35" tires on wheels that have about a 4.5" backspacing. 2012+ Jeeps with the 3.6L Pentastar engine will need some modification to the Y-Pipe in the exhaust where it crosses under the front driveshaft due to a more extreme angle. When you flex the front suspension, the driveshaft gets closer to the crossover pipe in the exhaust, which can make contact on a lifted Jeep and eventually wear down the boot in the middle of the stock driveshaft and cause it to fail.

In four-door JKs, there are aftermarket Y-pipes that will fix this issue, however the two-doors will have to adjust it with an exhaust spacer or Y-pipe modification. You could also fix this with just a smaller diameter, stronger aftermarket driveshaft, since the stock one is so large. When you lift a two-door, the driveshaft angle is more extreme than that in the four-door, so the front driveshaft will likely need to be replaced in a two-door before a four-door. Many people have lifted Jeeps with stock driveshafts for several years before seeing any issues, but in my own JK, I split the boot on the CV joint going into the transfer case in just six months. Beware that new driveshafts may be necessary before long.

Benefits and features of the Eibach All-Terrain Kit:

  • Eibach All-Terrain Lift Springs are precision-engineered for better off-road capability and superior on-road stability and handling
  • Eibach Pro-Truck Shocks are built in the U.S.A. using nitro-coated rods, MAXIMA shock oil and heavy-duty powdercoated bodies
  • Four shocks and four springs to lift all corners
  • Eibach’s million-mile warranty, two-year shock warranty

Our sale of this kit also includes an alignment kit to adjust for caster angle (for bump-steer reduction) and pinion angle to eliminate vibration in the driveshaft and reduce that angle in the driveshaft. Some kits in the market will address this with geometry brackets that essentially move the control arms to adjust for caster and pinion. These are good options for everyday driveability, but for more off-road durability, you will want to get some adjustable control arms to address caster, pinion and axle position. The easiest way to do this is with front and rear upper adjustable control arms, or many people will install lowers in front and uppers in back, either way is sufficient.

When you lift the suspension with stock fixed-length control arms, the axles rotate down and toward the middle, so to re-center the axles, you would need a set of upper and lower adjustable control arms. The front adjustable track bar and rear track bar relocation brackets are to re-center the axles laterally so when you look at the Jeep head on, one side won't appear to have the wheels sticking out further than the other. The last thing this comes with are the bumpstop spacers to keep the bigger tires from smashing the fenders and overcompressing the shocks and the sway bar end links that allow for better flex and smoother on-road handling.

The most important thing to remember when installing a new lift kit like this is to leave the suspension bolts a little loose while the Jeep is jacked up in the air, and wait until it is resting on the ground under its own weight to actually torque everything down to spec. The bushings can get some bind in them if you fail to do this, and this can quickly lead to the infamous "death wobble."

Lastly, the installation instructions from Eibach are awesome. I've installed a lot of parts on many Jeeps, and it is rare to find parts with installation instructions that are as detailed and have color pictures with this much clarity and comprehensiveness!

Start shopping for your Eibach All-Terrain Lift Kit today!

Be Safe in Your Sonata: Winter / Snow Tire Options for Your Sixth-Generation 2011-2014 Hyundai Sonata

Monday, December 22, 2014 by Cy Chowattukunnel

For the longest time, the Toyota Camry and Honda Accord dominated the mid-size sedan game. Then Hyundai crashed the party with the Sonata!

The sixth-generation 2011-2014 Hyundai Sonata has been particularly competitive but it still needs dedicated winter tires for the safest winter handling. When it comes to balancing snow and dry road handling, each one of us has to decide which performance traits we want to emphasize. Most Sonata drivers are likely served by the superior ice and packed snow traction that a Studless Ice & Snow tire offers.

Winter / Snow Tire Size

Always check your tire sidewalls to verify your current size. The GLS and Hybrid versions normally come equipped with 205/65R16 (215/55R17 is an optional Hybrid size) tires, while the Sonata Limited runs either 215/55R17 (2.4L engine) or 225/45R18 (2.0T). The Sonata SE runs on 225/45R18 in both engine models.

Year Model Tire Sizes Rim Sizes Tread Width O.E. Hankook Overall Diameter
2011-2014 Sonata GLS (2.4L) P205/65-16 94H 16x6.5 6.1" 26.5"
2011-2014 Sonata Hybrid With 16's as O.E. P205/65-16 94H 16x6.5 6.1" 26.5"
2011-2014 Sonata Hybrid With 17's as O.E. P215/55-17 93V 17x6.5 7.1" 26.2"
2011-2014 Sonata Limited 2.0T 225/45-18/XL 95V 18x7.5 7.3" 25.9"
2011-2014 Sonata Limited 2.4L P215/55-17 93V 17x6.5 7.1" 26.2"
2011-2014 Sonata SE 2.0T 225/45-18/XL 95V 18x7.5 7.3" 25.9"
2011-2014 Sonata SE 2.4L 225/45-18/XL 95V 18x7.5 7.3" 25.9"
  • Step 1: Consider your most common winter driving situations. How often do you see deep snow? Packed snow? Glare ice? Cold dry roads?
  • Step 2: Pick a tire size of appropriate width for the conditions you experience on your drive. For example, if you have a 30-minute commute through farm roads alternatively covered with deep snow or ice, 205/65R16 is narrow enough to cut through deeper snow but wide enough to handle icy roads. If you have a long commute on major highways, 215/55R17 provides better dry road handling without being horribly problematic in deeper snow.

Tire Pressure Monitoring System (TPMS)

The 2011 Hyundai Sonata uses valve-stem mounted TPMS sensors that must be initialized by the dealer or a major shop to function. We can install sensors when purchased as part of a Winter / Snow Tire & Wheel Package.

Winter / Snow Tire & Wheel Package

The Bridgestone Blizzak WS80 is great for handling snowy and icy roads. It also does well for dry road handling. The tire is a great option for Sonata drivers, and when paired with a steel wheel creates a great tire and wheel combo to handle winter's toughest conditions. If you're looking for a 17" tire and wheel, look at the 215/55R17 Blizzak WS80 with the Sport Edition A8 wheel.

205/65-16 Bridgestone Blizzak WS-80 $108*
205/65R16 Bridgestone Blizzak WS80
16x6.5 Black Steel Wheel
16x6.5 Black Steel Wheel

Create your Winter / Snow Tire & Wheel Package today and handle all Mother Nature has to throw your way!

Fuel Efficiency and Your Vehicle

Monday, December 22, 2014 by AJ Vest

As part of the TireWise program, the Department of Transportation will finalize a rule to establish a tire fuel efficiency information program so drivers can identify the most energy-efficient tires. To help you better understand fuel efficiency and how a low rolling resistance tire can help, take a look at "Low Rolling Resistance Tires."

A key way to increase your vehicle's efficiency is to change what hits the road - your tires. As the tire market begins to offer more low rolling resistance options, the decision on what to use becomes more focused. In many sizes, Michelin even offers a winter tire with low rolling resistance capabilities with their the X-Ice Xi3.

When it comes to all-season tires, a few of the best tires with low rolling resistance are:

Using an aftermarket wheel that weighs less than your factory wheel is another easy way to increase vehicle efficiency. The best way to find a lightweight wheel is to search by your vehicle's year, make and model, then sort by weight. This will show the lightest wheels first. A few of the popular lighter weighted wheels include:

It is critical to understand that other factors like vehicle maintenance and driving habits are also items to consider when trying to increase efficiency. Tread depth of new tires also plays a roll in fuel economy.

Learn more about the new TireWise campaign and see what changes you can expect in the coming years.