When Should I Replace My Winter / Snow Tires?

Monday, October 4, 2010 by Todd Galbreath
Dill Digital Tread Depth Gauge When tires reach 2/32" (approximately 1.6mm) of remaining tread depth they are considered to be legally worn out. According to U.S. law, tires must also have easy-to-see Tread Wear Indicator bars incorporated into their tread design for visual indication that a tire has worn down to 2/32". Tire Rack offers an easy-to-use tread depth gauge for around 20 bucks that will allow you to be aware of your tread depth in less than a minute.

However, in spite of the legal minimums, drivers expecting to experience rain-soaked roads should consider replacing their tires when they reach 4/32" of remaining tread depth. Our tests have shown that shallow treads both reduce wet braking traction and increase stopping distances.

Driving on snow and ice-covered roads is another story. Consider replacing tires when they reach approximately 6/32" of remaining tread depth to maintain good traction capabilities. All tires need more tread depth in wintry conditions to compress snow and release sit as they rotate. If there isn't sufficient tread depth, the slush and snow that can be processed on each tire revolution will be reduced and the vehicle's traction in snow and slush will be reduced.

New Tire Tread Depth   Approaching Winter
Wear Indicators
  Approaching Tread
Wear Indicators
Combines tread design, compound and full depth to provide effective snow traction   When worn to about 6/32", its ability to provide beneficial snow traction diminishes   While still legal at 2/32", the tire has worn well past where it provides beneficial snow traction

Fortunately, winter tires are typically molded with deeper tread depths than summer or all-season tires. Many also feature Winter Wear Indicators (also called Snow Platforms) to identify tread depths that are suitable for snow performance. While Winter Wear Indicators are not intended to be a sign the tire is legally worn out, they signify that snow traction has passed the point of diminishing returns and has worn to approximately 6/32" of remaining tread depth.

Not many all-season tires have Winter Wear Indicators molded into their tread designs, but their winter traction will also pass the point of diminishing returns when their treads wear down to approximately 6/32" of remaining tread depth. Tire Rack recommends that they be replaced as well.

Too little is never enough!

Winter Run-Flat Tires

Saturday, September 4, 2010 by Todd Galbreath
Bridgestone LM 60 Run flatDon't want to give up the peace of mind you get from having run-flat tires in the winter?

No problem. Take a look at the Bridgestone Blizzak LM 60 RFT. It offers the best of both worlds during the winter months.

Bridgestone's Ultimate Network of Intelligent Tire Technology (UNI-T) brings advanced tire technologies together, taking tire performance to a new level. This combination of innovative tire design, roundness and tread compound maximizes the tire's performance, ride quality and wear.

Winter Performers in All-Season Tires

Saturday, August 21, 2010 by Todd Galbreath
The Goodyear Assurance/Fortera TripleTred tires from Goodyear once again hold the top slot for winter traction within the all-season tire selection. For a more performance-oriented application, the Continental ExtremeContact DWS is the top performer based on customer feedback.

Assurance TripleTredFortera TripleTredExtremeContact DWS

Winter Tire Test

Saturday, August 7, 2010 by Todd Galbreath

The first week of August Tire Rack tested the new winter tires for 2010 on the local ice skating rink. This year's line-up for testing included the Bridgestone Blizzak WS70, a rework of the WS60 with deeper tread for improved deep snow traction and the Continental ExtremeWinterContact with improver rubber compound to operate better on sheer ice. Also tested were the Michelin X-Ice Xi2, a solid performer since being introduced and the Dunlop Graspic DS-3 that trailed the field but still offered great traction.

Official results from the 2010 test will be available in the next few weeks.

Bridgestone Dueler H/L Alenza Review

Friday, July 30, 2010 by Todd Galbreath
Bridgestone Dueler H/L AlenzaI have a 1999 4WD Chevrolet Tahoe that I decided to try a set of Bridgestone Dueler H/L Alenza tires on, at my expense of course. After 6,000 miles and one rotation, I have solidified the quality and ride comfort that this tire has been famous for since its release a few years back. My Tahoe rides better than when it was new. Even in bad weather. The Bridgestone Dueler H/L Alenza surprised me with very predicable handling and a smooth, comfortable sensation on the highway. I would give it an A+ rating for the first 6,000 miles and recommend them to anyone who appreciates a quality tire.  

Center lock Wheels for Porsche coming soon to Tire Rack

Wednesday, July 14, 2010 by Todd Galbreath
Tire Rack will be offering the new center lock O.Z. Racing Superforgiata one–piece, forged wheel. The 19x8.5 is expected to be under 17 lbs. for Porsche applications and are expected in our warehouses sometime in the fourth quarter of 2010.

Run-flat tires? Have you seen the Continental ContiComfortKit?

Thursday, July 1, 2010 by Todd Galbreath
Conti Comfort KitIn today’s world of run-flat tires and manufacturers selling vehicles without spare tires, Continental has introduced a convenient, safe and effective compressed air/tire sealant delivery system that can be ordered for less than $100 dollars, and can be stored under a seat or in a storage compartment.

ContiComfortKit uses sealant to temporarily fix a punctured tire (replacement cartridges are also available to refresh your sealant supply). The ContiComfortKit can also be used as an air compressor without the sealant to give you the ability to have access to compressed air by simply plugging into the 12-volt outlet in your vehicle.

Check out this video to see how it works!

PayPal now available at Tire Rack

Thursday, June 24, 2010 by Todd Galbreath
The Tire Rack is now offering PayPal as a payment option to help make your shopping experience as convenient as possible. Feel free to choose from our wide selection of tires, wheelsshocks, struts, wipers a and more. Should you need any assistance navigating our site or a professional opinion on your selection, give Tire Rack a call at 1-800-428-8355.

Also, be sure to check out our special offers.

"It's a Jeep Thing" Brake Time

Wednesday, June 9, 2010 by Todd Galbreath
As with any modification, there are always going to be changes in the performance of the vehicle.

While the Dick Cepek wheels and BFGoodrich tires look and perform great, the braking system on the Jeep is now a little slow to stop the extra rotating mass.

A simple upgrade on the front brake pads should be enough to bring it back to the stock or better stopping distance. Jeep recommends and equips the Wrangler with ceramic brake pads from the factory so we will stay with ceramic pads and go with either the Hawk Performance Ceramic Brake Pads that offer the best stopping power in our lineup or the Akebono ProACT Ceramic Brake Pads and ATE PremiumOne Brake Pads that have a little less dust for the front.  


"It's a Jeep Thing Part" Part 4

Thursday, May 27, 2010 by Todd Galbreath
The Jeep looks good without the H&R springs.
tires no lift
But as I mentioned in Part 2 the H&R sport spring set should make it perfect.

As always, matching your vehicle to the application is the key to success and a mild one-inch lift should be a solid choice by not getting too high and destabilizing the ride yet enough to achieve the goal of a weekend warrior. I have selected the 1-inch kit from H&R Springs to achieve the lift with four new springs. I would rate the installation of the kit as a 5 on a 1-10 difficulty scale and easier than that if you have a hoist to swap the springs out. You simply need to remove the bottom shock bolts from the lower A-arm in the front and the axle mount shock bolts in the rear and the bottom sway bar bolts (two front, two rear). If you are going to do this at home make sure you have a safe plan to lift the body of the Jeep with a floor jack or high-lift jack that will allow enough clearance to slip the springs in and out and, of course, someone to operate the jack. The other option is to use a spring compressor that can typically be rented from a local auto parts store, however, I found the spring compressor to be a cumbersome method on the Jeep. 

The lift looks great and the feel of the Jeep has returned to its original feel...mission accomplished!

My next step will be to upgrade the shocks and brakes.

"It's a Jeep Thing" Part 3

Friday, May 21, 2010 by Todd Galbreath

Wow, what a difference!

With the tire and wheels installed on the Jeep you can see that the change in appearance was immediate and effective, the Dick Cepek wheels and the BFGoodrich All-Terrain T/A KO tires take the Wrangler X commuter Jeep from average to custom for about a thousand dollars.

The effect on the drive ability was very minimal and frankly the wider tires offer what I consider to be a more stable feeling than the original Firestone Destination LE tires that have served us well for about 30 thousand miles and are still at 8/32nds of tread depth (but not nearly as cool). I did notice a little more tracking on uneven surfaces but that is consistent with a wider tire and should be expected.

"It's a Jeep Thing" Part 2

Saturday, May 15, 2010 by Todd Galbreath
After fitting up the new tires and wheels I think the BFGoodrich tires look perfect on the Dick Cepek wheels! Checking for clearance we are left with over an inch and a half all the way around at full lock to lock with stock ride height.


The only real concern is that the tire sticks out from the fender by about 2 inches due to the -12 wheel offset and will cause some mud splatter down the side of the Jeep...small price to pay...and may be minimized by lifting the jeep with the H&R Sport Spring Set.

As with any modification there is always going to be a cause and effect, and suprisingly the Jeep responded very well to the upgrade in size and width. Tire Rack installation went flawlessly with the Road Force balance on the big tires and wheels making shake and shimmy a non-issue and allowing as smooth and comfortable of a ride as possible from an all-terrain tire.

"It's a Jeep thing"

Friday, May 7, 2010 by Todd Galbreath

Project Jeep Before

After a couple years of driving the 05 Jeep Wrangler, my wife has decided it is time to upgrade the wheels and tires on it to personalize her ride. She has decided to allow me to pick out the tires and wheels, so how wide and how tall do we go with it and what kind of tires will she actually be happy with in the long run? Here are some key factors that will weigh into our decision.

We do not want to go too tall and risk a top heavy feel. They must offer great traction on the road and be fairly comfortable for a daily driver (it may never see an off-road application) but at the same time offer the desired look for the Jeep.

So let the search begin.

I have selected the 265/70-16 size to allow for possible future lifting without leaving the wheel well too vacant.

I have always been a fan of the BF Goodrich All-Terrain T/A KO (On-/Off-Road All-Terrain) and the looks vs. performance as well as the feedback from customers in the customer review tab @ tirerack.com will make it the tire of choice for this project to be paired with the Dick Cepek DC-1 16X8 with a -12 offset (which should keep me just inside the wheel well and looking good without making any major modifications to the Jeep).

Stay tuned...I will post the after pics early next week and give a review of the effect.

Replacing One Tire on an AWD Vehicle

Thursday, May 6, 2010 by Todd Galbreath

I often hear from customers who have damaged one tire on their AWD vehicle that they would like to buy one tire to replace the damaged tire.

Simply installing one new tire runs the risk of drivability problems or expensive drive line damage. I recommend they consider a set of four depending on availability and the tread depth of the three remaining tires. But replacing the other three partially worn tires along with the damaged tire does increase the cost. Another option to consider is shaving the new tire to the current tread depth of the tires that remain on the vehicle.  

By matching the tread depth of the replacement tire to the tread depth of the partially worn tires that will remain on the vehicle via the removal of tread rubber from the new tire using a specialized machine that operates as a tire lathe may seem counterintuitive, the value of the mileage sacrificed is considerably less than the cost of rebuilding worn drive line components.

Tire shaving will range from $25 to $35 per tire and is significantly less than the cost of unnecessarily replacing the remaining two or three good tires that still have lots of mileage remaining. But if the tread depth on the remaining tires is 5/32nds or less, shaving may not be the best choice.

Some manufacturers have set parameters for matching the tires used on their four-wheel drive and all-wheel drive vehicles.

  • Audi: As stated in their owner's manual, "rolling radius of all 4 tires must remain the same" or within 4/32-inch of each other in remaining depth
  • Porsche Cayenne: Within 30% of the other tire on the same axle
  • Subaru: Within 1/4-inch of tire circumference or about 2/32-inch of each other
Refer to your owner's manual for additional recommendations from other Original Equipment vehicle manufacturers.

Circle track DOT budget tire set-up

Wednesday, May 5, 2010 by Todd Galbreath

Many local circle tracks are now and have been only allowing DOT tires with a minimum of 200 UTQG rating on their entry level or budget classes. I have about 10 years of experience on our local bullrings and still talk set-up with some of the competitors. Over the next few weeks I will be researching the best combination of Rim & Tires, shocks and springs and tricks starting with what I believe should be Step 1 -- shaving the tires -- and we work our way through the other over the next few weeks 

Step 1

One of the reasons radial racing slicks are so effective is because they feature shallow tread depths and their contact patch acts as a single unit. However, any tread design breaks up the contact patch into smaller elements and additional deep tread depth (required to enhance wet traction) allows tread block squirm which will reduce dry performance. This means that tires typically provide their worst wet traction...and their best dry performance just before they wear out. However, its also important to remember that the heat generated every time a tire is driven activates bonding agents in the rubber. As this process is repeated continually throughout the tire's life, its rubber compounds gradually harden and lose flexibility reducing the tire's grip. Therefore, a shaved "new" tire will provide more traction than a tire worn to the exact same tread depth after being driven for thousands of miles on the road or exposed to several laps at higher temps.

Tire shaving is an effective means of permitting more of a tire's performance capability to be realized early in its life. Tire shaving removes tread rubber and reduces the mileage a tire will realize if being used on the street. Tires that begin being run at full tread depth will provide more mileage and a softer ride.

So with all of these benefits, the next important question is: "How far should a tire be shaved?"

Hoosier radials, as well as KUMHO ECSTA V series tires are manufactured with 4/32" to 4.5/32" of molded tread depth and do not require tire shaving.

Most other DOT-legal Competition tires begin with about 6/32" of molded tread depth. The higher UTQG tires that are being used on the circle tracks such as the Sumitomo HTR 200  high performance summer tires (shown below) are going to come with 9/32" to 11/32" of tread depth that we can turn down to meet your application.  

Sumitomo HTR 200

Why buy winter tires?

Wednesday, September 30, 2009 by Todd Galbreath

We Know How They Go in Ice and Snow


Since "experience is the best teacher," the Tire Rack team drives on as many of the tires we offer as possible. This testing allows us to better understand a tire's ride and noise qualities on the road, and its performance capabilities on the track. And even though Mother Nature is very generous with her snow allotment for South Bend (averaging over 80" annually), when it comes to winter tire testing we don't even wait for it to snow

For a number of years a hockey rink has been used to provide the ultimate simulation of the icy road conditions that we'll face later in winter. By conducting acceleration, braking and cornering tests on the ice we've confirmed the differences between various winter tires and the traction advantage they have over All-Season and All-Terrain light truck tires. We've also confirmed the importance of matched tires on all four corners. Our tests have shown that a rear wheel drive vehicle equipped with all-season tires on the front and winter tires on the back will require slower cornering speeds and longer stopping distances than the same vehicle equipped with four winter tires.

The combined results of all of these tests help us select the correct tire to meet your winter driving needs. After all, it gets pretty slippery out there!

 This years test included the Bridgestone WS & LM 60 model tires along with the Continental extreme winter contact and the Dunlop and all performed up to expectations,
With the Bridgestone Leading the pack in acceleration stopping and cornering ability, the Continental was close behind and the Dunlop placed a close 3rd in the test for ice and snow tires,
I was amazed at the difference between the Bridgestone LM 60 that is considered a Performance winter tire and the Ws 60  that falls into the Ice and snow category, although the LM 60 was much better than a All season tire and gave you very predictable traction, the Ice and snow WS 60 left it in the dust!