If it were your car, what would you put on it?

Friday, October 8, 2010 by Tucker Glenn
Deciding on a tire can sometimes be very difficult. With some tires, there's a small margin in survey results, or a small price difference, and it's not easy to tell which is the better value. At Tire Rack, we present a lot of facts based on survey results, our own tire tests, or first hand experience with tires. I am often asked this:

If it were your car, what would you put on it?

It's not always a simple answer. What I would put on my car might not be right for yours. We try to answer as honestly as we can, based on as much information we can collect, and then give our individual recommendations.

It's with this in mind that I present you with MY winter tire and wheel package. I drive a 2003 Pontiac Grand Prix GTP. The stock tire size is 225/60R16, but I'm going to downsize to 215/70R15 for winter. You can read here to find out why downsizing is a good idea. I can get some steel wheels (check your vehicle for availability) and keep my costs down and my tire is the Bridgestone Blizzak WS70.

It's no secret that the Blizzak is a great snow tire, but the reason it's my choice goes back to last winter. The day after Christmas here in South Bend, it snowed...and snowed and snowed! I got up to go to work that day and found my father at the end of the street helping a driver out of someone else's front yard because they lost control. I took it more carefully on my way out, but there was so much snow that I couldn't get up the hill to get out of my subdivision. I was using all-season tires. After 20 minutes of driving five feet forward, then sliding ten feet backwards, I had to turn around and go the other way. Needless to say, my pride was hurt. So I vowed to put the best tire on for deep snow that I could the next winter.

And this is it folks. I'm not as concerned with steering response or cornering, I just want the best tire for the worst conditions. I don't want to be 20 minutes late to work anymore. So I'm putting the Blizzaks on my car. And if you ask me, I might tell you to do the same.

VW Eurovan Tires

Thursday, September 30, 2010 by Tucker Glenn
It seems recently I've been getting an increase in phone calls for tires for the Volkswagen Eurovan. And they all start the same way: "Where can I find tires???"

Well, I'm here to tell you that there is hope. The issue with finding tires for this vehicle is that the tires need to have at least a 102 load range in order to carry the weight of the vehicle. In the O.E. tire size of 225/60R16, this can be very difficult. Check that, IMPOSSIBLE! The bad news is that all of the tires we carried in that size that had a 102 load rating have since been discontinued. The good news is that there's an alternate tire size that you can go with.

By going to a 235/60R16 size tire, you do have one option. It's the Kumho Road Venture APT KL51. This tire has a 104 load range, which is enough to carry the weight. Now, just because it's the only option doesn't mean it's a bad one. The KL51 has been getting good reviews from our customers for quite a while. I often recommend this tire to customers with trucks or bigger SUVs. But the most important thing is it can safely carry the weight of the van. As the saying goes, safety first!

Perception vs. Performance

Saturday, September 25, 2010 by Tucker Glenn
Continental ExtremeContactDWMichelin Pilot Sport PS2This week, we are testing some Max Performance Summer tires on our Real World Road Ride. Now, summer tires aren't meant to be the most comfortably riding tire. Their main purpose is the best dry grip, followed by wet traction, followed by ride comfort. The tires we tested were the Continental ExtremeContactDW (shown at left), the Michelin Pilot Sport PS2 (shown at right), the Goodyear Eagle F1 Asymmetric (shown below left) and the Kumho Ecsta LE Sport (shown below right).

It's a loaded question to begin with and if you ask 10 people you'll likely get 10 answers: "Which summer tire is the most comfortable?"

An associate of mine always likes to say it's akin to asking "Which movie star is the hottest?" It's like that with tires. It's evident from our consumer survey results that our customers prefer the Continental ExtremeContactDW for its road manners. I asked the gentleman who sits next to me here and he likes the Michelin Pilot Sport PS2. Yet, I prefer the Goodyear Eagle F1 Asymmetric.

Goodyear Eagle F1 AsymmetricKumho Ecsta LE SportAll the tires were relatively comfortable to drive on. And our survey results agree. I guess what I'm getting at is this: When it comes to suggesting tires based on ride comfort, reading individual reviews can make you go a little crazy, because everyone has their own opinion. But the averages, that's where you get the best idea of what a tire can do. The survey results balance out the "I love it" and the "I hate it" and let you know where the true results are. Of course, on average if most people loved it then you've got yourself a winner!

As always, stay tuned to find out where our averages are in our test results.

Michelin Primacy MXM4: Hot New Seller Put to the Test!

Monday, September 20, 2010 by Tucker Glenn
Michelin Primacy MXM4Michelin recently added another player to the Grand Touring All-Season market with its new Primacy MXM4, and we just finished putting it through the ringer here at Tire Rack. Not to be confused with other models like the Pilot HX MXM4 or the Primacy MXV4, this new model could be poised to take over the category.

On our Real World Road Ride, I was extremely impressed with the tire's ability to mask small imperfections in the road. There's one spot, a small patch, that I look for every time, and the Primacy MXM4 rolled over with minimal noise. It smoothed out the rough expansion joints better than its competition as well. Overall, these tires were a real pleasure to drive on.

On the track, it's difficult to expect a touring tire to be a top performer and produce really low track times. But my experience was a good one with the Primacy MXM4. I thought the cornering through the slalom was stable and the braking ability was above average for this category.

Stay tuned for the full results.

Three Ride Zones -- Yokohama AVID TRZ

Saturday, September 11, 2010 by Tucker Glenn
The Yokohama AVID TRZ is a great choice if you're looking for a Standard Touring All-Season tire. The compound is molded into an asymmetric tread design featuring Three Ride Zones (TRZ) where the outside zone is designed with bigger blocks to give good dry handling while the middle zone concentrates on water evacuation with circumferential grooves. The inside zone features lateral grooves and sipes that emphasize wintertime traction. The result of these three zones is traction in all weather conditions, as well as a soft, comfortable ride. But don't take my word for it, see what one of our customers had to say:

I am very happy with these tires! 78,000 miles on these tires and I am just now looking at replacing them. The ride has been great with less noise than the originals and the responsivness in all weather has been superb!
-- Tire Rack Consumer Review, 2004 Scion xA

Salute the General!

Friday, September 3, 2010 by Tucker Glenn
This week, we're testing Standard Touring All-Season tires on our road course and test track. My favorite tire out of the bunch was the General AltiMAX RT. On the road ride, the tire showed good responsiveness and steering control. And while all the tires created some level of road noise, the General was the quietest.

General AltiMAX RTOn our wet test track, the AltiMAX RT inspired more confidence coming around the skid pad and through the slalom. It also did a good job braking on the wet track. I was feeling a little aggressive and decided to wait a little longer to brake and was surprised when I was able to come to a quick stop, cut the wheel and take off down the back straightaway.

Overall, the General AltiMAX RT is a good choice for everyday coupes and sedans, and is available in many sizes from 13" to 17".

Stay tuned for the full results of this test.

Winter is right around the corner!

Saturday, August 28, 2010 by Tucker Glenn
I noticed it when I went to work this morning, and I'm sure you'll notice it too if you haven't already. The temperature is steadily dropping. That means it's almost time for...SNOW! And snow means it may be time for some new winter / snow tires from Tire Rack!

There are three different levels of winter tires for cars these days, Studless Ice and Snow, Performance Winter / Snow, and Studdable Winter / Snow. Let's take a look at what each category does for you as a driver.

Studless Ice and Snow

This category of tires is what I like to call the "best tire for the worst conditions." They are meant to plow through fresh powder, packed snow, and skate on ice. Studless Ice and Snow tires, like the new Bridgestone Blizzak WS70, have enhanced tread compounds to keep the rubber flexible and pliable during even the coldest temperatures. They also contain siping to create more biting edges to grip snow. If there is a downside to these tires, it's that on dry roads, they don't have a very sporty feel. If that's what you're going for, then you should  look at our next category.

Performance Winter / Snow

Let's say you don't want to lose the "sport" part of your sports car in the winter. Performance winter / snow tires like the Michelin Pilot Alpin PA3 provide good snow traction without losing as much dry traction. These tires still have plenty of siping to bite into snow, but the tread design typically makes it look more like a summer tire. And that's the compromise. Less traction in deep snow and ice, but a drastic difference in handling and steering response on dry roads.

Studdable Winter / Snow

This last category is kind of the dinosaur of the group. Studdable tires were extremely popular years ago, but recent changes to laws in certain states have banned studs from being used. (Please check your state laws before purchasing studded tires.) Studdable tires like the General AltiMAX Arctic provide extra grip when driving on hard packed snow and ice because the studs can dig in a little deeper. They can be run without studs and still provide excellent grip in the snow, which is what a lot of people do. Tires with studs in them tend to lose wet traction.

Whichever winter / snow tire you choose, you'll be getting better snow traction than any all-season tire; so it's hard to go wrong. And with any tire decision, it's all based on what you want the tire to do for you! Click here for some video on these different tires.

A New Player for Your Crossover/SUV

Friday, August 20, 2010 by Tucker Glenn
Pirelli recently unveiled its new addition to the Crossover/SUV category with the Scorpion Verde All Season. This new offering is built for lighter weight SUVs like the Audi Q5, the BMW X3 or X5, and of course, our test vehicle, the Porsche Cayenne.

Pirelli Scorpion Verde All SeasonDuring the road ride for the Pirelli Scorpion Verde All Season, I noticed right away something that wasn't there...road noise. I was able to hear the engine roar over the tires, which is always a good thing! There is a portion of our drive that has very heavy, bumpy expansion joints in the road every five feet for about a half mile. It's not pretty no matter what tire is on the vehicle and can be downright brutal with the wrong tire. But I was very impressed with the Scorpion Verde All Season's ability to lessen the impact of those joints and make it a tolerable ride.

On the track, the sprinklers were on for my run and I was impressed at the Pirelli's stopping ability in the wet, along with its capability around the skid pad. The Pirelli required less input from the brake and the gas pedal to correct slippage. Just a slight release of the gas and it was back on track.

The new Pirelli Scorpion Verde All Season seems poised to make a run at some of the current kings of the Crossover/SUV market. Take a look and see if this tire fits your vehicle!

Good Fuel Economy

Saturday, August 14, 2010 by Tucker Glenn
We recently tested the Yokohama AVID ENVigor H rated tire against some of its competition, and it came through with flying colors! Not only was the ENVigor excellent in wet and dry traction, it also was a very comfortable tire to ride on. Even though it has a directional tread pattern, the road noise was lower to my ears than any of the other tires and the big expansion joints in the road were softened quite a bit. Of course, your ears may not hear the same thing mine did, but overall, there has been some good feedback about this tire's road noise from our consumer survey results.

Another part of our road ride was testing the fuel economy of the tires. Here's how the tires matched up:
Tire Line Test
@ 15,000 Miles
% vs. Most Efficient
Firestone Precision Sport 28.0 535.1 -2.43%
Michelin Pilot Exalto A/S 28.2 532.1 -1.86%
Sumitomo HTR A/S P01 27.9 537.1 -2.83%
Yokohama AVID ENVigor 28.7 522.4 ---

*Our evaluation used Linear Logic ScanGauge II automotive computers to record fuel consumption and Race Technology DL1 data loggers to record true distance travelled.

Ice, Ice Baby!

Friday, August 6, 2010 by Tucker Glenn
That's right kids, it's time once again to drive expensive BMWs on an ice rink!!

Tire Rack has been putting winter tires through the ringer for the last couple of years by equipping our test vehicles with some popular choices and testing their mettle on glare ice. This year we tested the Continental ExtremeWinterContact, the Dunlop Graspic DS-3, the Michelin X-Ice Xi2, and the new kid on the block, the Bridgestone Blizzak WS70.

Now, driving on glare ice does present some problems. If you're like me and just a little clumsy, one false move and WHAM! It's a visit to Ouchtown! But the slickness of the ice is where we really get a feel for the tires' performance in situations where the weather is less than desirable.

The Blizzak tire has been the industry standard for years, providing top notch snow and ice traction compared to its competitors. This year is no different with the WS70, but the gap seems to have been narrowed a bit. Continental has stepped up their game with the ExtremeWinterContact. It handled very well as we made the turns. The X-Ice Xi2 also did very well, and the top three were very close. The Graspic DS-3 lagged a little behind and was the only tire to take out some cones on the turn. Acceleration and braking were all pretty close with these four tires. Complete results will be online soon.

Ultimately, you can't go wrong with any of these winter tires. The snow and ice traction from a winter tire is roughly double what it is with an all-season. When winter safety is a concern, Tire Rack for great deals on studless ice and snow tires!

Get tough, get protection with Kevlar.

Friday, July 30, 2010 by Tucker Glenn
Many of our Jeep Wrangler customers are looking for a tough mud tire to get them through some dirty situations. If you like to go off-road...WAY off-road...then I suggest you take a look at the Goodyear Wrangler MT/R with Kevlar. Goodyear has strengthened the sidewall of this tire with DuPont Kevlar, making it even more resistant to cuts and punctures when you're out on the trail. Check out our evaluation of this tire here, then read what one of our customers had to say:

"This tire has been great for my last few races and off-road track rallys. It has constantly proven me wrong about the terrain they can go over. This tire is great for city and highway driving as well, I've got a set of them on each of my trucks and I couldn't be happier! Thanks Tire Rack." —Tire Rack Consumer Review, GMC Sierra 3500 HD

Climb mountains with the Goodyear Wrangler MT/R with Kevlar from Tire Rack!

Shhhhh!!! Quiet tires rolling through!

Thursday, July 15, 2010 by Tucker Glenn
Many people ask for "the quietest tire I can get." And who can blame them? Many tires these days can scream as they're driving down the road, causing you to turn your radio up or even shout at your passengers. But don't fret; a serene driving experience is just a phone call away!

The Bridgestone Turanza Serenity is one of the quietest tires available at Tire Rack. It's available in 35 different sizes and in speed ratings H, V, and W, depending on the size. Not only is it a quiet tire, it also does an excellent job with wet traction and hydroplaning resistance. See what one customer had to say about them:

“After 2,500 miles these tires are the best decision I've made as a tire consumer. Blows the…OEMs out of the water by a mile plus they're cheaper and quieter. My only caution to a potential buyer is this, if you like to hear road noise and feel the road beneath you don't buy these tires. These are the quietest most comfortable tires I've ever had. These babies make my Acura as smooth as an old Cadi...in a good way. Next time out I plan to buy the exact same tire again. FYI I could not yet rate on snow and ice as I have not used them in these elements yet.” --Tire Rack Consumer Review, Acura 3.2 TL Type S, VA

Make the right choice and grab the Bridgestone Turanza Serenity. Available now at Tire Rack!

You've got a baaad car...get some baaaad rims!

Thursday, July 8, 2010 by Tucker Glenn

Without a doubt, my favorite car of the moment is the new Dodge Challenger. I mean, just look at it! It screams MOVE!!! Every time one drives by, it turns my head. If you have a car like that, you want people to notice you. One way to make sure you are noticed is to buy some great rims from Tire Rack! And 20" rims look awesome on this car!

You like chrome rims? Check out the KMC Surge.

Looking for a more old school look? You'll want the American Racing Torq-Thrust M.

Or how about something really unique? The KMC Ink'd.

Treat your baby right with some new rims from Tire Rack!

Looking for ride comfort and grip?

Tuesday, June 29, 2010 by Tucker Glenn
The Bridgestone Potenza RE760 Sport is an Ultra High Performance Summer tire that blends great dry grip with good ride comfort and low road noise. Summer tires are sometimes known to be growlers, but they really stick. This Bridgestone gives you a great combination of both, with a great price tag. Here's what one customer had to say about these tires:

This tire was simply amazing!! I had this tire installed on my car when I purchased it!! They had about 50% life left on them and I drove just over 10k very hard miles on them before they were nearly race slicks. The cornering stability and steering response is simply unbelievable!! Tires are very smooth through 150 mph!! Very quiet tire!!...I was spoiled to have these on the car when I bought it!! I won't find a nicer performing daily use tire!! --
Tire Rack Consumer Review, 1999 BMW M3

Check out some more
customer reviews and our tire tests to help make your next tire buying experience easy!

Looking for a new, sporty all-season tire for an SUV?

Friday, June 18, 2010 by Tucker Glenn
Than look no further than the Firestone Destination ST! This new tire from Firestone is a great gripping tire for your light truck or SUV. I recently tested this tire on our test track using our Porsche Cayennes and let me tell you...this thing stuck! It provided great traction around our skid pad and excellent stopping power.

And while you're at it, why not throw a new set of Mamba M-2 rims on your ride!

                               Firestone                        Mamba

              Firestone       Mamba

Survey says....Kumho!

Wednesday, June 9, 2010 by Tucker Glenn
This week we road tested four Ultra High Performance Summer Tires on our 6.6 mile real world road test. I drove on four different tires from this category: the new Firestone Firehawk Wide Oval Indy 500, the Yokohama S.drive, the BF Goodrich g-Force Sport, and the Kumho Ecsta SPT KU31. The road ride has a mixture of highway driving, rough expansion joints, smooth roads and my favorite...the on/off ramp!

Firestone's new model, the Firehawk Wide Oval Indy 500 did a nice job covering up some of the harsh expansion joints and some of the smaller cracks in the road. In my opinion, it let loose just a bit on the off ramp, but all around is a good addition to the category.

The Yokohama S.drive started out with a low drone as that didn't seem to get much better as I drove. However, it did do a nice job of handling the car on the off ramp. It did feel a little rough on the expansion joints, but not too bad.

The BF Goodrich g-Force Sport tire had a growling noise from the start. And it would get louder over different types of pavement. The ride was fairly comfortable, but I could feel the tires give a little when pushed on the off ramp.

That brings us to my winner...the Kumho Ecsta SPT KU31. While there was a little road noise, it was able to fade into the background and didn't become a distraction. This tire was the best over the big expansion joints for ride comfort, and I felt very in control on the off ramp.

We'll see how the tests shake out from the rest of our team, but my vote goes for the Kumho!        

XL Load Tires

Wednesday, June 2, 2010 by Tucker Glenn

Have you seen this message when searching for tires on our website?

The following tire you have selected has a higher load rating than the vehicle's Original Equipment (O.E.) tires. This typically results in increased ride harshness, which some customers may find undesirable.

What does this mean? Let's look at two Max Performance Summer tires in 225/45R17, the Dunlop SP Sport Maxx and the Michelin Pilot Sport PS2. The service description on the Dunlop tire is 94Y and 91Y on the Michelin. The difference in the numbers is a difference in the weight each tire can carry. On standard load tires, once you inflate up to 35 psi, the load carrying capability reaches a peak and stops at 1,356 pounds. No matter how much more you inflate the tire, it can't carry any more weight.

The Dunlop tire, however, can. With extra load tires, you can inflate the tire up to 41 psi, and carry more weight. This particular Dunlop can carry up to 1,477 pounds at 41 psi. In certain Audi and Volkswagen vehicles, XL tires are required to carry the weight of the vehicle.

But for most vehicles, standard load tires would suffice. So why the move to XL if it's a harsher ride? I've ridden on both standard load tires and XL tires...and I can't tell a bit of difference. Everyone feels things differently, but a vast majority of the time, the difference is very subtle. The warning is there just so there are no surprises.

So next time you're looking at a Hankook Ventus V12 evo V110, or a Continental ExtremeContact DWS, and you see the XL, have no fear! These tires will still work (and work well) for your vehicle.

Run-Flat to Non-Run-Flat

Wednesday, May 26, 2010 by Tucker Glenn
Whether you own a MINI Cooper S, or a BMW X5, a very common concern among our customers is run-flat tires. A lot of vehicles that come equipped with run flats do so because they are more compact and lack the space for a spare tire. Run-flats are designed to act as a spare tire and run for 50 miles at 50 miles per hour after you have had a puncture. But they can sometimes be uncomfortable to drive on because of their stiffer sidewall.

Many of our customers want to switch out of run-flat tires...and it's OK! Non-run-flat tires give a smoother, more comfortable ride to your vehicle. The one thing you need to be conscious of, however, is that you may not have a spare tire. But that's an easy fix, too! A ContiComfortKit is the perfect way to ease your mind if you're switching out of your run-flats. The ContiComfortKit is a compact air compressor and a tire sealant. You can patch a small hole in your tire, and use the compressor to bring it back up to the proper air pressure. After the repair, your tire can be driven up to 125 miles at 50 miles per hour, giving you extended mobility to get home or to a repair facility.

Switching out of your run-flats is a simple process.You don't need any special equipment and you can use the same wheels you already have. You also don't need to worry about your TPMS sensors, those will work just fine with your non-run-flat tires.

What's in a letter?

Thursday, May 20, 2010 by Tucker Glenn

T, Z, W...These letters appear on a tire, but what do they mean? Speed ratings can be a little confusing.

I get many calls like this one: "I have an 08 BMW 328i and I need a Z-rated tire." To be honest, Z-rated used to mean a lot more than it does now. When speed ratings first came out, Z was thought to be the highest speed rating you could get, so tire manufacturers put them on every tire and it became cool to have Z-rated tires. Nowadays, with new technology, Z is just a stepping stone up to a (Y) rated tire.

Wait a minute!!! Y is higher than Z?? Yes it is! As you can see from the chart on this page, the speed rating letters don't exactly follow the alphabet. With certain vehicles now capable of running well over 150 mph, the need for higher speed ratings was necessary. Now, the top dog is (Y), which can travel in excess of 186 mph. Certain tires like the Michelin Pilot Sport PS2 are rated this high in some sizes.

But who goes that fast? Not many of us. So how do you make sense of what speed rating to use on your vehicle? The first place to look is on your vehicle's tire placard. It is usually found on the driver's side door frame. This will give you the recommended tire size, as well as the speed rating. This is the minimum requirement for your vehicle. It is not recommended to put a tire on that has a lower speed rating than the requirement. Not because you are ever going to be going that fast, but more for what the vehicle is expecting the tire to do at certain speeds and temperatures.

Based on your vehicle's minimum speed rating, you can feel safe using any tire that is rated above that speed rating. But your choice should depend on what you're looking for out of the tire. Tires with a higher speed rating tend to be a little stiffer, but provide better steering response when driven at higher speeds. Lower speed rated tires typically provide a more cushioned ride.

And, as always, if you have any questions, you can give us a call read articles about the technical side of tires available on our website.

Summer Fun...at a reasonable price!

Tuesday, May 4, 2010 by Tucker Glenn
Go ahead and look outside...the snow is gone and it's time to hit the streets! But fresh rubber for the summer can be a bit expensive. That's why Tire Rack offers some great values on tires that will give you good performance without breaking the bank.

The Hankook Ventus V12 evo K110 is one of our most popular summer values. This tire provides a great combination of dry and wet traction without being too loud or stiff. See what one of our customers had to say:

"Ok so we need to stop writing how great these tires are for the money or Hankook are going to get wise and jack up the price. They are of course as practically everyone else has stated absolutely phenomenal. I replaced the OE Pirelli's on my Jag XJR that were overall very loud and hard and was staggered at the difference The Hankooks made, so quiet, so smooth, so reassuring you would swear it was a brand new car I was driving and after 10,000 miles nothing has changed. So would I recommend them?..The answer is absolutely without any hesitation." -- Tire Rack Consumer Review, Jaguar XJR

The General Exclaim UHP is another great value in a summer tire. This tire is available in many smaller sizes that the Hankook is not. Here's a sample customer review:

"I drive rather aggressively in my boosted Audi TT Roadster and just ordered my second set of these great General tires. I have run other summer tires with poor wear and noise results. I would recommend these tires to anyone like me!" -- Tire Rack Consumer Review, Audi TT

Of course, there are many other options for summer tires, so be sure to consult our consumer survey results or tire decision guide to help select the right tire for you.