Winter / Snow Tire & Wheel Package vs. Buying Winter Tires Only

Wednesday, February 11, 2015 by Gary Stanley
You've decided that dedicated winter tires are the right choice for you. After doing your research, you decided to go with either the Bridgestone Blizzak WS80 or Michelin X-Ice Xi3 to increase your driving confidence and safety. Next, you must decide if you want to simply purchase tires to mount on your current wheels, or buy a Winter / Snow Tire & Wheel Package.  
While initially more expensive, a complete tire and wheel package offers many advantages versus simply swapping winter and summer tires off the same set of wheels each season. Here are some of those advantages to consider:  
  • A Winter / Snow Tire & Wheel Package is shipped ready to install either by yourself or an installer. 
  • The cost of mounting fees over the life of a set of winter tires may make buying wheels less expensive than mounting tires each season. 
  • Most aftermarket wheels cost less than Original Equipment wheels.  
  • You can bolt on your package at your convenience and avoid waiting in line at a tire shop.  
  • Save the wear and tear on your expensive factory wheels that winter salt and sand dish out.
  • Protect your expensive factory wheels from winter's damaged roads and potholes.

If you're not convinced of the advantages of winter tires compared to all-seasons, be sure to take a look at "Ice Traction Comparison Between All-Season and Winter Tires."   

Where Do I Get My Tires Installed?

Friday, February 6, 2015 by Marshall Wisler

Tire Rack is a mail order company that ships products from their Indiana, Connecticut, Delaware, Georgia, Louisiana, Nevada and Colorado distribution centers. Regardless of where you might be located, standard ground shipping can typically have our products delivered in just 1-2 business days.

When purchasing a Tire & Wheel Package, your items will come mounted and balanced and ready to install at your home. However, if you're purchasing tires to be used on your existing wheels (the most common type of purchase), you will need to choose someone locally to perform the mount and balance. 

While you are not required to ship them to one of our preferred partners, Tire Rack has built a large network of installers that can install your tires for predetermined rates. These Recommended Installers can be seen during the checkout procedure or by viewing them directly on our site. 

All of our Recommended Installers are carefully screened to ensure they have the right equipment and experience to satisfactorily serve our customers. In fact, to be come a Recommended Installer a company must:

  1. Use proper mounting and balancing equipment including touchless or rim clamp, European-style tire changers and high-speed computer spin balancers.
  2. Employ properly trained technicians capable of safely performing damage-free installations.
  3. Be an automotive business that can offer additional services to customers (alignments, complete repairs, auto detailing, etc.)
  4. Possess a positive attitude and the ability to treat Tire Rack's customers with the highest level of professional courtesy.

For a list of recommended partners and their installation rates, take a look at our Recommended Installer program. 

What You Need to Know About Low Profile Tires

Thursday, February 5, 2015 by Turk Turkleton

"I have 245/45R17 low profile tires on my car, and I want to make sure these new tires I'm looking at are low profile, too. Also, can I replace low profile tires with 'regular' tires?" These two questions are asked often by customers we deal with when discussing tire options.

If the tires you're looking at purchasing are the same size, in this example it would be 245/45R17, then they will have the same dimensions and the tire's profile will be at the same level. 

The term "low profile" is a relative term. It does not describe a specific type of tire. If you consider 245/45R17 to be low profile, then every single tire available in that size is low profile as well. Some will say anything lower than 50-series, some will say anything less than 40-series is considered low profile. It doesn't really matter what you consider to be low profile, what really matters is that you have the right size tires. Yes, a 245/45R17 is lower profile than a 245/50R17 tire, but they aren't interchangeable.

Some people want to take their Original Equipment (still using 245/45R17 as an example), and put a "lower profile" tire on their car and drop it to 245/40R17 to lower their vehicle. While going from a 45-series to a 40-series will give you a lower profile tire, it will also change several other things. The lower profile also decreases the overall diameter of the tire, which will cause a harsher ride, increase your probability of damaging a tire and change the accuracy of your speedometer and odometer. The propensity for damaging a tire comes from the decreased load carrying capacity of the smaller tire.

Other people will go the opposite direction with this and say that they don't like the ride of these "low profile tires" and they want something that isn't low profile. While taking that 245/45R17 and moving up to a 245/50R17 may sound enticing to get a smoother ride and protect your wheels from potholes, this may not be a good idea either. That change in size gains you almost a full inch of overall diameter, a 4.4% increase. This may not sound like much, but it is outside the 3% variation range that is normally recommended, so it will affect your speedometer and odometer adversely. The other part of this is that while some vehicles may be able to handle a one inch diameter increase in tires, most can not. Vehicles are being built to more exact tolerances these days, and often times there simply isn't enough room to turn a bigger tire inside your wheelwells without rubbing.

If you want a lower profile tire for aesthetic reasons, what you need to do is get a larger set of wheels. A 245/40R18 is lower profile but the same diameter as a 245/45R17. If you want a higher profile tire to get a smoother ride, you should get a smaller set of wheels and something similar to 245/50R16, which is higher profile with the same diameter. When you want a higher profile tire to fill your wheelwell out better, you're going about it the wrong way. You should lower the suspension of your car to close that wheel gap.

New Miata Track Wheels and Fitments

Wednesday, February 4, 2015 by AJ Vest

Whether you're a weekend warrior or haul your car to the track occasionally, there are new wheels and great fitments available for the Mazda Miata. Many enthusiasts have been asking for wide wheels with low offsets for their Miata and several manufactures have responded to those requests.

Kosei recently released two new wheels, the K5R and K8R. These new designs keep to Kosei's tradition of offering lightweight, value-priced wheels. Each wheel goes through a low pressure cast with shot peened finish for strength. Miata drivers will rejoice at the aggressive 15x8 +20 and 15x9 +35 offerings that are now available. 

Enkei Racing Series is offering the RPF1 in a 15x8 +28 offset in bright silver and black finishes. This wheel offers Enkei's MAT technology (flow formed) for near forged strength while keeping weight down to a mere 11.3 pounds.    

Advanti Racing has introduced a 15x8 +25 and 15x9 +35 wheel called the Storm S1. This wheel is gravity cast with flow formed finish process, making it a very strong wheel while retaining lightweight properties. The 15x8 wheel weighs 11.5 pounds, while the 15x9 option weighs 12.15 pounds. Both options are offered in a matte grey and black finish and provide exceptional value.   

Kosei K5R

Enkei Racing Series RPF1

Advanti Racing Storm S1

While these aggressive fitments are available and may require vehicle modification, they can be found by searching by vehicle to find a track wheel for your Miata.  

How to Calculate Your Installation Cost at a Recommended Installer

Tuesday, February 3, 2015 by Ben Rooney

Installing a TireOur Recommended Installer's page is designed to help make installing the tires you get from us simple and convenient. To learn about choosing an installer, take a look at "Updates to Our Recommended Installer Page Help You Find Your Ideal Installer."

All of our Recommended Installers take part in our Price Pledge program, meaning that they promise to accurately display their installation costs on our site and stick to them. Not all installers have the same prices, but they all must adhere to the prices they publish.

Enter your ZIP code to see the list of installers in your area. All of the pricing for mounting and balancing is based on the tire's aspect ratio, which is the middle number of the tire size. If your tire size is 205/55R16, your aspect ratio is 55. Therefore, you would look at the pricing line for "50-55 Series" tires. If you are not sure of your tire size, it will be indicated on the side of your tires.

Here is an example of an installer pricing guide. This is for installation at our South Bend headquarters. Note that the basic installation/balance pricing is on the left hand side.

The right hand column of an installer listing is for "Additional Services." Not all of these will necessarily apply. Valve stems are normally replaced when changing tires. Some cars may have valve mounted tire pressure monitoring sensors (TPMS). In that case, disregard the valve stem charge. You may need to have the sensors serviced, in which case you would include the pricing for TPMS service instead.

Tires for larger trucks may be subject to additional cost, and the same goes for run-flat tires. Be sure to factor these charges into the cost if applicable.

Many shops will have a disposal fee to handle proper recycling of your old tires. This does not apply if you are keeping your old tires or disposing of them yourself. Some shops will have a shop fee to cover miscellaneous materials and shop overhead.

When reading the tables, you will often encounter N/C or N/A. N/C means that the service is included at no cost with the regular installation price. N/A means that the service is not offered by that installer. For example, if the line for Run-Flat Tire Service reads N/C, that means the shop installs run-flat tires for the same price as regular tires. If it says N/A, that means the installer does not handle run-flat tire installation.

If you need additional services not listed on the basic pricing table, click on the installer that you are interested in. You will see an expanded view with more services listed, as well as the contact information for the installer. If the service you want is not priced on the expanded table, you can check with the installer directly.

While there are many items to consider, our Recommended Installer page puts everything right in front of you so you can easily compare costs among the different installation options.

Is the General AltiMAX Arctic the Best Studdable Winter / Snow Tire?

Tuesday, February 3, 2015 by Gary Stanley

General Altimax ArcticWith recent snow falls still making news, many of us our reminded that we still have many weeks (and months in some areas) of winter driving left this season. To see if February is still a good time to purchase winter tires, take a look at "Is it Too Late to Buy Winter / Snow Tires?"  

The Bridgestone Blizzak WS80, and Michelin X-Ice Xi3 and Bridgestone Blizzak DM-V1 tires are outstanding, cutting-edge designs that offer the best ice and snow traction on the market today. For those looking for a more value-oriented option on a tight budget, consider the General AltiMAX Arctic. This Studdable Winter / Snow tire has a tread pattern that is aggressive enough that it actually works pretty well, even without studs. Check out how the General AlitMAX Arctic compares, both studded and not studded, in our test "Winter Testing at the Arctic Circle: Studdable Winter / Snow." 

General AltiMAX Arctic tires meet the industry's severe snow requirements and are branded with the mountain/snowflake symbol. If you decide to maximize this tire's traction by having them studded, it's important to note that there are special break-in procedures for studded tires.  

General produces the AltiMAX Arctic in a large variety of sizes to fit coupes, sedans, minivans, passenger-oriented light-duty pickup trucks, SUVs and crossover vehicles. Odds are that this great winter tire is available in a size to fit your application. Shop by vehicle to check pricing and availability!

What's the Best All-Season Tire for Ice and Snow?

Wednesday, January 28, 2015 by Turk Turkleton

All-season tires are a great option for many drivers. They are suitable for drivers who live in an area that receives occasional light snow, and/or freezing temperatures a few times throughout the year. Some all-season tires, such as the Continental ExtremeContact DWS, even provide above average snow capabilities that are a benefit in winter months.

However, if you reside in an area that sees significant amounts of snow and temperatures are below freezing for a significant amount of time, we always recommend using a set of four dedicated winter tires. The traction difference between an all-season and winter tire is so great and worth the investment for safer driving.

Take a look at the top-rated all-season tires in different performance categories for winter use*:

To view all options available for your vehicle, including winter tires, shop by vehicle.

*Based on consumer survey results as of 1/23/2015 

Taking Your Mazda Miata to the Next Level

Wednesday, January 28, 2015 by AJ Vest

The Mazda Miata has long been a crowd favorite with driving enthusiasts. While it's an amazing vehicle, the level of excitement can be taken to the next level with the right equipment.   

Tires are a top priority and the Dunlop Direzza ZII Star Spec and Hankook Ventus RS-3 (Version 2) are both favorites. When we tested each last fall, the ZII Star Spec handled amazingly well in all conditions. It delivered excellent grip, steering and braking response and driver feedback. For the driver not interested in near race-level grip from their tires, consider the Bridgestone Potenza S-04 Pole Position and Michelin Pilot Super Sport.   

For wheels, Kosei has many great offerings. The Kosei wheel line has been a favorite due to its history of being a durable wheel that is lightweight, at a very affordable cost. In the photo (a Miata I once owned), the wheels are black, because I spent an evening "plastidipping" my Kosei K1 wheels for a different look.

When considering suspension options for the Miata, the sky is the limit. For a good budget combo, combine a Koni Sport shock with an H&R sport spring and set the adjustable perch to your liking. The H&R sport spring offers a nice spring rate, while the Koni shock offers the ability to adjust its rebound. Koni and H&R recognizes this set-up and offers this combo as a kit for many vehicles, including the Miata. When setting the spring perches to its lowest setting, fender modification using a fender lip roller may be required to clear larger tires or more aggressive offset wheels. Sway bars should also be considered and Eibach, H&R and Hotchkis all offer options in varying degrees of stiffness and adjustment.  

There is some debate on what is best within the Miata community when it comes to brakes. While I feel aggressive brake pads are a personal opinion, many track-orientated drivers will use the Hawk HPS brake pad on the front and Hawk HP Plus pads in the rear combined with a Brembo or Centric rotor. Goodrich G-Stop Brakeline Kit with ATE Blue brake fluid will increase pedal feel. The ATE fluid will be resistant to heat and brake fluid boiling when on a road course. This set-up is very well balanced. 

A Miata prepped to this level falls into the SCCA Street Touring class and will be an absolute blast to drive. 

Four Common Winter / Snow Tire Myths and Facts

Tuesday, January 27, 2015 by Gary Stanley

With many drivers looking to purchase their first set of winter / snow tires, we've been receiving many questions about the overall performance of snow tires. To help customers better understand winter tires, take a look at the following myths about these tires.

Myth #1: Snow tires are only needed on the drive axle of a vehicle. 

Fact: Dedicated winter / snow tires are meant to be installed on all four wheel positions. Using just two winter tires can cause very unstable handling, especially during cornering, emergency maneuvers and at highway speeds. This is the most common, yet most dangerous, myth of all. Check out the following video for more information on why mixing winter tires is an accident waiting to happen.

Myth #2:  Bridgestone Blizzak tires turn into all-season tires after they are half worn, so they are no better than all-seasons at that point. 

Fact: It has been over a decade since any Blizzak tire used an all-season compound. Even those old tires didn't "turn into all-season tires" at 6/32". Their more aggressive tread patterns and siping still provided better snow traction than all-season tires. Regardless, the more recent generations of Bridgestone Blizzak tires have a winter compound in both layers of their dual layer tread compound. 

Myth #3: Snow tires "burn up" or wear out very quickly on dry roads. 

Fact: Driving on cold, dry roads in normal winter driving conditions will not prematurely wear out winter tires. Rather, it's warm temperature driving that will cause them to wear out much more quickly. These tires are designed for temperatures below 50 degrees Fahrenheit and work best at lower temperatures. Prolonged warm weather driving (typically caused by leaving snow tires on year-round) will lead to premature wear, but driving on cold dry roads will not harm your winter tires.

Myth #4: All snow tires have very poor handling and slow steering response. 

Fact: The Performance Winter / Snow category addresses this issue. If you live in an area that receives mostly light and occasionally heavy snow, and wish to maintain much of the quick steering response and handling your vehicle offers, you'll want to consider tires from this performance category.

Note: These tires do give up some snow and ice traction compared to Studless Ice & Snow tires. For help deciding which category fits your needs best, take a look at "Choosing Between Performance Winter / Snow Tires and Studless Ice & Snow Tires."

Continental TrueContact: A Competitive High Mileage Option

Monday, January 26, 2015 by Marshall Wisler

The Standard Touring All-Season tire market is a competitive place filled with multiple options from many reputable manufacturers. Traditionally featuring speed ratings of S and T, the goal of a Standard Touring All-Season tire is not to provide the most crisp handling or on-center feel, but rather to provide good all-season traction, a quiet and comfortable ride and long life. Make no mistake, tires in this performance category will not set any track records, however they will be one of the more practical items to choose from.

Earlier this year, Continental released the TrueContact and it features a 90,000-mile treadlife warranty, and thus far, has proved to be very popular with consumers. Featuring good all-season traction and having done well in our internal testing, the TrueContact has been a very strong seller and adds to Continental’s great all-season line-up. This is a tire that meets all the criteria of a good all-season option and slots itself into the mid-price point segment in many popular sizes.

Take a look at what some customers are saying about their experience with the Continental TrueContact:

"I love this tire and what a great tire for the price. My Subie feels well planted and secure with these tires. They are excellent on wet and dry surfaces, and absorb road imperfections exceptionally well." -- Tire Rack Consumer Review, 2015 Subaru Forester 2.5i Limited

"Tire does everything claimed and then some: traction, quietness, comfort, directional response and enhancement, smoothness -- you name it! This is the most remarkable tire I have owned!" -- Tire Rack Consumer Review, 2011 Honda Odyssey EX-L

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

Tires for Your Eighth-Generation Honda Accord

Friday, January 23, 2015 by Cy Chowattukunnel

The second car I ever owned was a 1978 burgundy Honda Accord 5-speed. Ever since owning this vehicle, I've been an Accord fan. Honda has done an awesome job in constantly improving the Accord, and the eighth-generation (2008-2012) model is a car that can do just about anything!

If you already own one of these Accords, there's no reason to get a new one. With proper maintenance, your vehicle is good for many more miles. Part of that maintenance includes replacing your tires. Depending on the trim level, your Honda Accord came with either 215/60R16, 225/50R17 or 235/45R18 Original Equipment tires. The following are replacement tire options for your 2008-2012 Accord:

215/60R16 Tire Options

If your Honda is equipped with the 215/60R16 (LX and LX-P sedan) size, then your O.E. tire is the Dunlop SP Sport 7000 A/S. The Dunlop has a track record of average treadwear. If your parameters are wet grip, overall handling, treadwear, low noise and ride compliance, a great replacement choice is the Continental PureContact with EcoPlus Technology with the Michelin Premier A/S a close second. The PureContact has better steering response, so it's easier to make an evasive maneuver, as well as better snow grip. Another option to consider, that's a great bang-for-your-buck tire, is the Fuzion Touring.

215/60-16 Continental PureContact $107*
215/60R16 Continental PureContact with EcoPlus Technology
215/60-16 Michelin Premier Assurance A/S $136*
215/60R16 Michelin Premier

225/50R17 Tire Options

The 225/50R17 Michelin Pilot HX MXM4 is Original Equipment on the LX-S, EX and EX-L, but not the EX-L V6 Coupe. Optimal choices to replace the Pilot HX MXM4 would be the Continental PureContact with EcoPlus Technology and Michelin Premier A/S. If you're looking for a good tire at a low price, then be sure to consider the Kumho Ecsta PA31.

225/50-17 Bridgestone Turanza Serenity
225/50R17 Continental PureContact with EcoPlus Technology
225/50-17 Pirelli Pzero Nero All Season
225/50R17 Michelin Premier

235/45R18 Tire Options

Were you lucky enough to purchase the EX-L V6 Coupe? Honda chose the 235/45R18 Michelin Pilot HX MXM4 to handle the vehicle's torque. If you're in need of replacing the tires on this vehicle, select the Continental ExtremeContact DWS if you live in a northern climate and the Michelin Pilot Sport A/S 3 if you do not need to worry about light snow conditions. The ExtremeContact DWS is a great overall tire at a reasonable price that offers above average snow grip for its performance category. The Pilot Sport A/S 3 offers amazingly good wet and dry grip, but is average in the snow. A great tire to consider at a low price is the Goodyear Eagle LS-2.

235/45-18 Continental Extreme Contact DWS $181*
235/45R18 Continental ExtremeContact DWS
235/45-18 Michelin Pilot Sport A/S 3 $198*
235/45R18 Michelin Pilot Sport A/S 3

Shop by vehicle to view all options for your Honda Accord.

Meet You at the Starting Line

Wednesday, January 21, 2015 by Tire Rack Team

The Tire Rack SCCA Starting Line school kicked off its 2015 season in Los Angeles, California recently. A partnership between the Sports Car Club of America and Tire Rack, the school allows enthusiasts a professional, all-inclusive entry into the world of performance driving.

While at the school, you’ll develop key concepts of all forms of motorsports while working with a professional performance driving instructor certified by Evolution Performance Driving School. Along with receiving instructions from accomplished autocrossers, the Starting Line package also includes:

  • SCCA membership
  • Helmet
  • Regional event entry
  • National Series event entry
  • Magazine subscriptions

Before you take the course, your vehicle will need to pass a technical inspection and will be checked to ensure it has functioning brakes, throttle return, properly installed and tightened wheels and that all loose items have been removed. Tire preparation is also key, as underinflated tires can results in increased wear and even damage while autocrossing. To keep tires in good condition, and to give your vehicle a quicker response, students are generally advisable to inflate their tires 5-10psi more than what is recommended for normal driving.

The class is not only educational, but a ton of fun. Take a look at what some participants have said about their experience with the program:

“It's amazing how much faster you can get in just one day with the direct feedback from the instructors. What's more, everyone had a blast playing with cars all day. It was worth every penny.”

“I've always been into racing and this is really the first time I've gotten to experience it firsthand. The instructors were great, I learned a lot through out the day and was able to put it all together on the course they set up for us. Over all great experience and tons of fun. Would recommend it to anyone.”

Create your own experience and sign up for a Tire Rack SCCA Starting Line class today!

Tires and Wheels for Your 2012+ Porsche 911 Carrera S (991 C2S)

Wednesday, January 21, 2015 by Cy Chowattukunnel

There may not be a substitute for a Porsche, but if you're taking your new 911 to track, there's definitely stickier tires that will help you achieve faster lap times.

Streetable Track & Competition tires, like the Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2, let 911 drivers run great times at the track without the hassle of switching tires or towing. The Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 builds on the Pilot Sport Cup's blend of dry grip and street capability. It's not surprising that the Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 is an Original Equipment choice for the 2015 Porsche 911 GT3. 

O.Z. Racing wheels boast a unique combination of low weight, strength, overall quality and value that make them ideal track wheels. When it comes to matching tires and O.Z. Racing wheels, take a look at the following options:

20" Bright Race Grey O.Z. Racing Leggera HLT and 20" Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2

245/30-20 Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 N0 $486** & 305/30-20 Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 N0 $554**
245/30R20 and 305/30R20 Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 N0
20x9 Bright Race Grey OZ Leggera HLT $549** & 20x11 Bright Race Grey OZ Leggera HLT $599**
20x9 and 20x11 Bright Race Grey O.Z. Racing Leggera HLT

19" Black Painted O.Z. Racing Ultraleggera HLT and 19" Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2

235/40-19 Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 $410** & 285/35-19 Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 $489**
235/40R19 and 285/35R19 Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2
19x8.5 Black OZ Ultraleggera HLT $419** & 19x11 Black OZ Ultraleggera HLT $469**
19x8.5 and 19x11 Black Painted O.Z. Racing Ultraleggera HLT


20" Black Painted O.Z. Racing Ultraleggera HLT and 20" Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2

245/30-20 Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 N0 $486** & 305/30-20 Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 N0 $554**
245/30R20 and 305/30R20 Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 N0
20x8.5 Black OZ Ultraleggera HLT $519** & 20x11 Black OZ Ultraleggera HLT $555**
20x8.5 and 20x11 Black Painted O.Z. Racing Ultraleggera HLT

Be sure to view the data comparing the tire and wheel combinations you're considering for your vehicle:

Tire and Wheel Combination Tire Size Rim Size Tread Width Overall Diameter Comb. Wt.
O.E. 20" Front Pirelli Pzero N0 on O.E. Sport Classic 245/35R20 20x8.5 ET51 8.8" 26.8" 45*
O.E. 20" Rear Pirelli Pzero N0 on O.E. Sport Classic 295/30R20 20x11 ET70 11.7" 27.0" 57*
Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 N0 20" Front on O.Z. Racing Leggera HLT 245/35R20 20x9 ET50 9.6" 26.8" 46
Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 NO 20" Rear on O.Z. Racing Leggera HLT 305/30R20 20x11 ET65 12.1" 27.2" 55
Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 N0 19" Front on O.Z. Racing Ultraleggera HLT 235/40R19 19x9 ET49 8" 26.4" 44
Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 N0 19" Rear on O.Z. Racing Ultraleggera HLT 285/35R19 19x11 ET 65 10.0" 26.9" 51
Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 N0 20" Front on O.Z. Racing Ultraleggera HLT 245/35R20 20x8.5 ET50 9.6" 26.8" 46
Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 N0 20" Rear on O.Z. Racing Ultraleggera HLT 305/30R20 20x11 ET65 12.1" 27.2" 57

These are all good choices, however the wider front wheel, lower rotational weight and wider footprint of the 20" O.Z. Racing Leggera HLT package is tough to beat. Whichever one you choose, there's no substitute for an awesome day at the track.

*Tire Rack customer supplied data

Can I Use Studded Tires in My Area?

Tuesday, January 20, 2015 by Turk Turkleton

While many states/provinces prohibit or restrict use of studded tires due to the road damage they cause, some drivers still prefer studded tires for winter driving situations. Tire Rack's testing has shown that modern Studless Ice & Snow tires, like the Bridgestone Blizzak WS80, can provide equivalent ice traction to a studded tire in most conditions, including dry and wet roads. Because municipalities can establish their own restrictions, drivers will need to double check with their local law enforcement or department of transportation.

The following lists of states and Canadian provinces describes the laws on studded tire use. The dates on the list show when studded tires are allowed, unless otherwise specified.

United States:

  • Alabama- Not Permitted
  • Alaska- North of 60°N 9/16-4/30, South of 60°N 10/1-4/14 (permit fee)
  • Arizona- 10/1-5/1
  • Arkansas- 11/15-4/15
  • California- 11/1-4/30
  • Colorado- Permitted unless using chains, M+S & A/S tires required with minimum of 4/32" tread depth
  • Connecticut- 11/15-4/30
  • Delaware- 10/15-4/15
  • Florida- Not Permitted
  • Georgia- Only when snow and ice are present
  • Hawaii- Not Permitted
  • Idaho- 10/1-4/30
  • Illinois- Not Permitted (persons with disabilities living in unincorporated areas can use them 11/15-4/1)
  • Indiana- 10/1-5/1
  • Iowa- 11/1-4/1
  • Kansas- 11/1-4/15
  • Kentucky- Permitted
  • Louisiana- Not Permitted
  • Maine- 10/2-5/1 Studded tire permit fee applies
  • Maryland- 11/1-3/31 only in 5 mountainous western counties
  • Massachusetts- 11/2-4/30 unless otherwise authorized by registrar
  • Michigan- Not Permitted (except rural mail, police, and ambulance use)
  • Minnesota- Not Permitted (may be used by non-residents for temporary travel less than 30 days)
  • Mississippi- Not Permitted
  • Missouri- 11/2-3/31
  • Montana- 10/1-5/31
  • Nebraska- 11/1-4/1
  • Nevada- 10/1-4/30
  • New Hampshire- Permitted
  • New Jersey- 11/15-4/1
  • New Mexico- Permitted
  • New York- 10/16-4/30
  • North Carolina- Permitted
  • North Dakota- 10/15-4/15
  • Ohio- 11/1-4/15
  • Oklahoma- 11/1-4/1
  • Oregon- 11/1-4/1 Studded tire permit fee applies
  • Pennsylvania- 11/1-4/15
  • Rhode Island- 11/15-4/1
  • South Carolina- Permitted if studs do not project more than 1/16"
  • South Dakota- 10/1-4/30
  • Tennessee- 10/1-4/15
  • Texas- Not Permitted
  • Utah- 10/15-3/31
  • Vermont- Permitted
  • Virginia- 10/15-4/15
  • Washington- 11/1-3/31 (might have a fee involved)
  • West Virginia- 11/1
  • Wisconsin- Not Permitted (may be used by non-residents for temporary travel less than 30 days)
  • Wyoming- Permitted


  • Alberta- Permitted
  • British Columbia- 10/1-4/30 (winter tires required- min 3.5mm depth, except lower mainland and Vancouver Island)
  • Labrador- 11/1-4/30
  • Manitoba- 10/1-4/30
  • New Brunswick- 10/15-5/1
  • Newfoundland- 11/1-4/30
  • Northwest Territories- Permitted
  • Nova Scotia- 10/15-4/30
  • Nunavut- Permitted only on roads built on ice
  • Ontario- 10/1-4/30
  • Prince Edward Island- 10/1-5/31
  • Quebec- 10/15-5/1 (winter tires required 12/15-3/15, restrictions apply)
  • Saskatchewan- Permitted
  • Yukon- Permitted

Remember, studded tires must always be used in sets of four on any vehicle, regardless of driveline. This is not to be considered a comprehensive list, it lists all the information we currently have. Tire Rack is not responsible for your decision to use studded tires, and you should always check with local law enforcement or DOT before installing studded tires. State and province regulations are subject to change at any time, and this list may not reflect these changes.

For additional information on studded tires, take a look at "Studded Tires for Winter Driving."

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!