TPMS Regulations and State Inspections

Wednesday, August 17, 2011 by Logan Woodworth

Tire Pressure Monitoring SystemsA tire pressure monitoring system (TPMS) is an electronic system designed to monitor the air pressure inside the pneumatic tires on various types of vehicles. This system reports real-time tire pressure information to the driver of the vehicle, either via a gauge, a LED display or a warning light. Maintaining proper tire pressure is critical for driver safety as well as maximizing tire tread life.

In October 2000, United States legislation enacted the TREAD Act (Transportation Recall Enhancement, Accountability and Documentation). This Act mandated the use of TPMS in all light motor vehicles (under 10,000 pounds), to help alert drivers to severe tire under-inflation. This act affects all light motor vehicles sold after September 1, 2007.

Although vehicle manufacturers are now required to install TPMS sensors in new vehicles, there has been some confusion on whether or not drivers are required to keep their TPMS active. Although most states have not mandated the TPMS remain active, there are at least four states that currently require vehicles manufactured after October 2007 to have properly functioning tire pressure monitoring systems. These states include Hawaii, Rhode Island, Vermont and West Virginia and verification of proper TPMS function is part of the annual vehicle inspection.

Take a look at "State TPMS Regulations" to help confirm restrictions in your area.

Road Surfaces and Your Tire's Wear

Monday, August 8, 2011 by Logan Woodworth
 Tramlining: Coping with the Ruts in the RoadI speak with many customers who are puzzled that their tires wore quicker than they expected. Although the most common reasons for this include improper tire rotation, air pressure and wheel alignment, there is another cause that is less obvious - road surface material. It's also worth noting that these factors can affect your tire's manufacturer treadlife warranty.

Think of road surfaces as sandpaper, as some roads are more coarse than others. Other roads are more coarse due to the raw materials native to the area. One example of this is coastal regions, where sea shells are embedded into the surface which makes the road more coarse than most roads in areas such as the Midwest.

In addition to affecting the treadlife of your tires, severely grooved or uneven road surfaces can be detrimental to your car's ability to track properly. This phenomenon is referred to as tramlining. Not to be confused with tire pull which is typically related to the vehicle. Any vehicle can exhibit tramlining on certain areas of the highway because of uneven pavement or severe rutting.    

Choosing the Best Brake Rotors for Your Vehicle

Tuesday, August 2, 2011 by Logan Woodworth
Tech Article - Brakes 101Selecting the best brake rotors for your vehicle can be more difficult than you think. This is especially true if you have a specialty application for track use, heavy towing or face challenging road conditions such as steep hills.

Essentially, your brakes transfer motion into heat, sound and sometimes light. This energy transfer allows the car to slow down as the motion energy is converted. The ultimate goal in braking is to convert motion energy as efficiently as possible, that creates the least amount of heat. The reason you need to reduce heat is to reduce brake fade and increase the life of your brake components.

Listed below are different types of rotors that are available for your application:

Solid/Vented - This is the most common O.E. application and is used on both front and rear. Venting rotors help reduce heat but are not efficient enough for demanding applications.
Slotted/Vented - Best combination of efficiency and value, slotted/vented rotors are perfect for sports coupes and sedans. These rotors are also great for truck and SUV applications where demands on the brakes are high for towing or mountain driving. The slotting allows for very good heat dissipation to reduce fade and increase rotor/pad life.
Cross-Drilled/VentedSimilar performance to the slotted/vented, however these rotors are not recommended for demanding applications due to the chance of cracking between drilled holes. Cross-drilled rotors look and perform great, but are less durable than slotted. 
Cryo-Treated - Cryo-treating is a process of increasing the durability of the rotor metal through a controlled heating/cooling process that can be applied to any of the above rotor styles.

Shop by vehicle to find the brake components that work best for your vehicle.

What is the Best Tire for Your Car?

Friday, July 22, 2011 by Logan Woodworth
What is the best tire for your car? The reality is, there is no such thing as "the best tire." With multiple tire categories available, the trick is to find the category that is best for your vehicle, driving conditions and specific driving needs. Once the proper category is identified, choosing the best tire in that group is much easier.

Listed below are some common performance categories for passenger cars and light truck vehicles:

Passenger Tires
Extreme Performance Summer: Tires for high performance vehicles for both street and track use. Developed for drivers who want extreme dry street performance and are willing to trade some hydroplaning resistance to get it. 
Max Performance Summer: Ultra low profile, high speed tires designed for street use. Compared to Extreme Performance Summer tires, Max Performance Summer tires trade extreme dry traction for longer tread life, better ride comfort and improved wet grip.
Ultra High Performance Summer: For drivers willing to trade some handling and traction for longer tread life.
Ultra High Performance All-Season: Designed for aggressive-sporty drivers looking for handing, steering response and all-weather traction. This category is for sedans and coupes where light snow traction is required.
Grand Touring All-Season: These tires offer outstanding ride quality and very good all-season traction. Luxury sedan owners typically search for tires in the Grand Touring All-Season category for the tire's appearance as well as smooth and quiet ride.
Passenger All-Season: Tires in this category typically offer longer tread life than Grand Touring All-Seasons, but give up some wet and snow traction as well as handling. A very popular category of tires for minivan applications.

Light Truck/SUV Tires
Highway All-Season: Developed for drivers who want pleasing comfort, predictable handling and all-season on-road traction for crossovers, SUVs or pickups. 
Crossover/SUV Touring All-Season: These tires are designed to offer the lowest noise, most comfortable ride and longest tread life for smaller sport utility vehicles and crossovers.
On-/Off-Road All-Terrain: For vehicles driven primarily on the streets while needing to be a bit more rugged than a Highway All-Season. On-/Off-Road All-Terrain tires are great on unimproved roads including mud, gravel and sand.
Off-Road Maximum Traction: Tires in this category are best for severe off-road conditions and recreational "off-roading."

Find your performance category with our Tire Decision Guide or shop by vehicle to find the tires that work best for your vehicle.

Understanding the Benefits of Tire Shaving

Wednesday, July 20, 2011 by Logan Woodworth

Measuring Tire Tread Depth with a Tire GaugePerformed in a controlled environment, tire shaving purposely reduces a tire's tread depth uniformly across the tire's width to ensure even tread depth. To most people, reducing the tread of a new tire seems illogical. In truth, there are a couple of benefits to shaving tires.

Matching tread depth on all four tires is important for maintaining balanced traction and predictable handling of your vehicle. This is one of the benefits of proper tire rotation. When only a single tire is needed, shaving the new tire to match the tread depth of the remaining three is a more cost effective solution than replacing all four tires.

Aside from performance advantages, even tread depth on all-wheel and four-wheel drive vehicles is necessary for mechanical reasons. As all four wheels are essentially "connected together," one or more tires rotating at a different speed (revolutions/mile) can place a strain on the driveline components, which can lead to damage.

While the cost of our street tire shaving service will range from $25 to $35 per tire, it is significantly less than the cost of replacing two or three good tires. Contact one of our sales specialists for the benefits of tire shaving.

Introducing Axis and Axis OG by Axis Custom Wheels

Friday, July 15, 2011 by Logan Woodworth
Based in California, Axis and Axis OG offer innovative wheel options for different groups of drivers. Axis wheels started out offering tuner wheels for sport compact cars and continue today by offering a modern aesthetic, while the Axis OG line reflects the popular Japanese designs of the 1980s.

The aftermarket wheels from Axis are offered in four styles ranging between 19"-20" diameters and are a popular choice of Nissan 350Z and Infiniti G35 drivers. While Honda Civic, Acura Integra and BMW 325i owners like the three styles and classic 15" diameter of the Axis OG line.

Axis Angle
Axis Angle
Axis Zero
Axis Zero
Mouseover Text Here
Axis OG Oldskool

Shop by vehicle to find wheels that are a great match for your vehicle.

Coil-Over Kits for 2007-2010 BMW M3 Coupe

Tuesday, July 5, 2011 by Logan Woodworth
Suspension Products for 2008 BMW M3 CoupeThe late model BMW M3 comes equipped with a sport suspension system optimized for aggressive street driving. For drivers looking for improved track performance and the flexibility to adjust for reasonable street manners, upgrading to a fully adjustable coil-over kit is a great solution. 

A coil-over suspension kit incorporates precisely matched coil springs and dampers in a compact solution to provide maximum performance. In addition to improved handling, these coil-over suspension solutions reduce the unsprung weight of a vehicle. These improvements translate to faster lap times and improved daily driving comfort.    

Coil-overs can also be a great solution for lowering your car with upsized custom wheels (rims) and tires. The ability to fine tune the car's ride height can be a great way to overcome many challenging wheel fitments. 

There are several options including kits from KW and H&R that can adjust both the ride height and dampening:
H&R PCS Damper Adjustable Coil-Over
H&R Damper Adjustable Coil-Over
H&R Street Performance Coil-Over
H&R Street Performance Coil-Over

KW Clubsport Kit Coil-Over
KW Clubsport Kit Coil-Over
KW Variant 3 Coil-Over
KW Variant 3 Coil-Over
Search suspension components by vehicle to see which suspension products work best for your vehicle.

Choosing the Right Brake Pads

Monday, June 27, 2011 by Logan Woodworth
With all the talk about horsepower, torque, 0-60 times and top speed, what often gets overlooked is the performance of a vehicle's braking system. Let's face it, how important is 600 bhp and a 0-60 in 2.9 seconds if your car takes a country mile to stop? This may be obvious to some, but ask yourself when was the last time you saw a commercial for a car or truck bragging about engine performance without ever mentioning the brakes?
Brake pads, referred to in the industry as friction material, are the least expensive component of the braking system, yet they offer the most impact on performance. Like tires, not all brake pads provide the same performance characteristics and it's important to know which products best fit the vehicle and the driver's needs.

Ceramic pads are designed for very low dust and noise, but compromise on braking force. Ceramic pads are O.E. on most domestic and Japanese coupes and sedans.  

Semi-metallic pads provide maximum braking force or bite but are louder and leave heavier dust on a car's wheels. These pads are commonly O.E. for performance European vehicles and the most aggressive semi-metallic pads are used in specialty applications such as cars used in racing events.

Composite friction material offers a balance between braking force and low dust/noise. Think of these pads as a happy medium over ceramic and semi-metallic.

Akebono ProACT Ceramic Pads
Akebono ProACT Ceramic Pads
Hawk Blue 9012 Track Only Pads
Hawk Blue 9012 Track Only Pads
Satisfied GranSport 6 Pads
Satisfied GranSport 6

Shop by vehicle to find the brake components that work best for your vehicle.

Matching Lowering Springs to Shocks/Struts

Friday, June 17, 2011 by Logan Woodworth
Eibach Sportline Spring SetOne way to give your vehicle an updated and sportier look is to replace your factory springs with lowering springs. Although you can expect a stiffer ride, lowering a car will improve handing and steering response. 
What often gets overlooked is the shocks and struts (dampers) and how lowering springs affect their performance and fit. Each damper has a specific travel length which is matched with the spring rate of the car's O.E. springs. When you install shorter springs, the O.E. damper may "bottom out" and become daH&R Touring Cup Suspension Kitmaged. For this reason, it is recommended to match your new shorter "sport" springs with the correct "sport" dampers. To better understand dampers, take a look at our tech article titled "Damper Dynamics."

One way to ensure that your new sport springs will match the performance of your new dampers is to purchase a spring/damper kit. These kits are engineered to provide optimal spring rate and dampening stiffness for your vehicle which takes out some of the guesswork in matching your suspension components.

For more information on lowering, read "A Look at Lowering."
Porsche Cayman Lowered

Max Performance Summer Tires: Road Ride

Wednesday, June 8, 2011 by Logan Woodworth
This week I had the opportunity to take four highly rated Max Performance Summer tires for a test spin on our 6.6-mile road course.

My test included the Continental ExtremeContact DW, Bridgestone's new Potenza S-04 Pole Position, Pirelli PZero and Michelin's new Pilot Super Sport. All tires were tested in identical sizes on identical vehicles for consistency.

Tires in the Max Performance Summer category are designed to provide the best dry and wet traction, steering response and handling for street use tires. Although ride comfort and low road noise are not key qualities of these tires, these are qualities many drivers are sensitive to.

Continental ExtremeContact DW
Continental ExtremeContact DW
Bridgestone Potenza S-04 Pole Position
Bridgestone Potenza S-04 Pole Position

Here were the results:

Continental ExtremeContact DW: Continental has built a very nice tire that provides good dry and wet traction. Road noise was relatively low over pavement and asphalt. The DW handled bumps well and road imperfections transferred very little to the driver. I would like to see an improvement in handling as steering felt a bit squirmy.

Bridgestone Potenza S-04 Pole Position: The replacement to the RE050A Pole Position, the S-04 was slightly louder than the Michelin and Continental and expansion joints in the road were felt more in the steering wheel than those tires. Steering felt nice and tight and I felt very confident pushing the S-04 into ramps.

Pirelli PZero: The Pirelli PZero produced a bit more tread noise than the others. It was a bit stiff and produced slight cabin noise over bumps. Overall the handling and traction were good with the PZero, but the ride quality could be improved.

Michelin Pilot Super Sport: The newest tire in this group was the quietest when taking entrance and exit ramps. Handling was crisp and and responsive and overall ride comfort shows a noticeable improvement over its predecessor, the Pilot Sport PS2. This was the most impressive tire of the group with the best steering feel, lowest road noise and most comfortable ride.

Pirelli PZero
Pirelli PZero
Michelin Pilot Super Sport
Michelin Pilot Super Sport

Bottom Line:

As expected, all the tires in the group had very good traction and except for the Continental, handling was exceptional. That said, the clear winner in all performance characteristics was the Michelin Pilot Super Sport. The Pilot Super Sport had the best combination of traction, handling, ride and noise comfort.

Wheel Construction: Not All are Created Equal

Wednesday, May 25, 2011 by Logan Woodworth
The Custom Assembly of O.Z. 3-Piece Wheels Are you in the market for custom wheels? Other than wheel size, style and price, you may want to research how your new wheels are made. Buying new wheels can be a significant investment and you want to be sure to get your money's worth before spending your hard earned cash.

Consider Use: Vehicle demands, road conditions and driving style are all important considerations. If you are driving a sports car such as a Porsche, Corvette or BMW and enjoy track days from time-to-time, you may need a lighter/stronger wheel.

Construction Methods: The reality is that not all aluminum wheels are created equally. Strength and weight of a wheel are partly determined by how a wheel is made, not only the material it is made of. The three primary methods of O.E. and aftermarket wheel construction are gravity cast, pressure cast and forged.

Gravity Cast: Gravity casting is the most common and least expensive wheel manufacturing process. This is the process of pouring molten aluminum into a mold using only gravity to assist. This results in the heaviest and weakest of the manufacturing methods. 

Pressure Cast:
Pressure casting is the process of introducing positive pressure to assist in the flow of molten aluminum through the mold. This creates a lighter/stronger product due to higher density than gravity cast at a minimum cost increase. Tech Article on Wheel Construction

 Forging is the process of forcing a semi-solid piece of aluminum between the forging dies under extreme pressure. This produces the lightest and strongest product of the three primary methods. Most of the 2- and 3-piece custom wheels and race wheels in the market are forged. The downside is that due to the extensive tooling required to create a finished wheel, forged wheels are considerably more expensive than either pressure or gravity cast. 
Bottom Line: I have spoken to many customers who wish they would have invested in a higher quality product after bad experiences with lower quality ones. The key to making an informed choice is to understand the advantages of each. To ensure you are getting the best product for your needs, consult a sales specialists to find out how the wheel you are interested in is constructed. 

Finding A Good Tire for the Toyota Highlander

Wednesday, May 11, 2011 by Logan Woodworth
Bridgestone Dueler H/L AlenzaIf you drive a late model Toyota Highlander with 19" wheels, you have likely noticed that there are very few choices in the O.E. 245/55R19 size. In addition, the few tire options available in this size are not necessarily a great selection for most drivers based on their performance and price.

An option most people are not aware of is selecting an alternative tire size for the vehicle. Most vehicles have two or more sizes available that will fit properly without any modifications needed.

The newer Highlanders with 19" O.E. wheels can accommodate a 255/55R19 tire, which fits great and allows for better choices.

Choosing a different size tire can make many people a bit nervous because they are concerned that it may not be a good fit and cause mechanical problems with their vehicle. Luckily, we have the experience and knowledge to understand what tires work best with certain applications and this is a size that we know fits the Highlander well.

2008 Toyota Highlander

The most popular tire in this alternative size is the Bridgestone Dueler H/L Alenza. This tire offers the best combination of traction, ride quality and tread life available for the Highlander. This is a great choice for drivers looking for a better performing and less expensive alternative to O.E. Toyota Highlander tires.

Max Performance vs. Ultra High Performance Tires: Which is Right for Me?

Tuesday, May 3, 2011 by Logan Woodworth

What is the difference between Maximum Performance and Ultra High Performance Summer tires?

Performance Categories

This is one of the most common summer tire questions I get from customers. It can also be the most confusing as there are subtle, yet important differences between these categories.  

Ultimately, the right choice comes down to driving styles and vehicle performance.

Max Performance:
Tires in this category are appropriate for aggressive-spirited drivers looking for the best possible dry and wet traction. These tires provide the best grip for street use as well as some light track driving. Max Performance tires will generally get around 18-20K miles depending on road conditions, driving style, and the vehicle's characteristics.

Ultra High Performance: Tires designed for spirited-moderate drivers looking for good dry and wet traction, but are willing to trade some grip for longer tread wear. Expect on average 30K miles for tires in the Ultra High Performance Summer category.

Just remember, making the best choice for your specific needs can be the difference between a great driving experience and a poor one.

Happy driving!

Tire Noise: Tips to Keep them Rolling Quietly

Thursday, April 28, 2011 by Logan Woodworth
Maany of us have purchased tires that were great when we first had them installed, only to find they get much louder as they wear down.

With a little understanding of tire technology, you can keep your tires rolling quieter for more miles. 

Tires get noisy for a couple of reasons including tread design, uneven wear and tire construction.

Tread Design: Tire manufacturers work hard to design tires that will provide good traction without sacrificing ride quality. Consideration of tire noise is commonly referred to as tire tuning. If a tire is tuned well, you should experience relatively low tire noise. Generally speaking, directional tires will get louder as they wear than those that are non-directional.  

Uneven Wear: If a tire wears in an uneven manner, its contact to the road is no longer uniform and you may begin to notice more noise and even slight steering wheel vibration. Proper tire rotation and wheel alignment will help your tires wear more evenly and reduce this effect.

Tire Construction: Performance and Touring Tires are built with different reinforcement materials that generally lead to a quieter ride, especially with Touring Tires. Also, as a tire wears down, it gets closer to the steel belt and this can increase tire noise. Think of the tires tread as sound insulation and as tread is reduced, your tires get louder than when they were new.

The best way to reduce the chance of having noisy tires is to work with an expert to better understand each tires performance characteristics. Although there are no guarantees that they will never get noisy, choosing the best tire for your needs and understanding how to care for them will help ensure you will be happy with your driving experience.

New ST Coil-Over Kit for Hardtop Mini

Saturday, March 26, 2011 by Logan Woodworth
ST Coil-OverLooking to upgrade more than the wheels on your Mini? Upgrading the suspension will properly lower your vehicle while offering an improved ride, handling and performance.

The ST Coil-Over kit for the Hardtop Mini Cooper is a Premium and Performance Street suspension product that provides great performance at a great value. Designed and manufactured alongside KW's (ST Suspension parent company) products in Germany, the ST coil-over is engineered after the KW Variant 1 Coil-Overs.

Heavily galvanized for exceptional rust protection, the ST Coil-Overs are backed by a five-year limited warranty.

Shop by vehicle to see which suspension products work best for your vehicle.

Pre-order the Michelin Pilot Super Sport

Saturday, March 12, 2011 by Logan Woodworth

Michelin Pilot Super SportImproving the Michelin Pilot Sport PS2 would be no easy task, as it has been one of the preferred Max Performance Summer tires for drivers since its introduction in 2004.

With the new Pilot Super Sport, Michelin has certainly met the challenge. Pilot Super Sport tires offer improved handing while delivering durability, traction and increased tread life. The tire is comparatively light, with weight savings of up to 10% compared to tires of similar dimensions. This reduces unsprung weight to improve handling. In addition, this Max Performance Summer tire has a treadwear rating of 300, which is a 27% improvement over the Pilot Sport PS2.   

Brembo Gran Turismo Brake Upgrade for Porsche 911

Friday, March 4, 2011 by Logan Woodworth
Brembo Gran Turismo SystemsMany Porsche owners are looking for better lap times at the track and more aggressive brake performance on the street from their 911.

If you have already tried changing your brake pads and still lack the performance you are looking for, it may be time to upgrade to a larger caliper and rotor.

Brembo has built a reputation of producing quality products for drivers looking for the ultimate in braking performance. The Brembo Gran Turismo Systems provide excellent stopping power in everyday traffic, as well as high performance during street and track driving.

For more information, contact one of Tire Rack's sales specialists.

HRE Wheels Available at Tire Rack

Saturday, February 19, 2011 by Logan Woodworth
HRE WheelsTire Rack is excited to announce the introduction of a new wheel line.

wheels are high performance custom wheels with uncompromising engineering and manufacturing quality.  

They are offered in 12 different styles with sizes ranging between 18"-22". Some popular applications include: BMW M3, CorvettePorsche, Nissan GT-R, Audi R8, Aston Martin, Lamborghini and Ferrari.

Shop by vehicle or contact one of our sales specialists for fitment options and pricing.

New Wheels from Helo

Thursday, February 3, 2011 by Logan Woodworth
Helo Wheels Tire Rack is excited to announce new wheel options from Helo.

Helo wheels are available in unique styles that define the look of stock, lowered or lifted trucks and most passenger cars.

Helo is a car and light truck custom wheel (rim) line offered in 20 different styles with sizes ranging between 16"-24". Some popular applications include: Cadillac Escalade, Dodge Ram, Volkswagen CC and Nissan Altima.

Shop by vehicle or contact one of our sales specialists for fitment options and pricing.

Not Too Late for Winter Tires

Thursday, January 27, 2011 by Logan Woodworth
As much of the country is finding out, Old Man Winter is hitting us hard this year. Luckily, many drivers have switched to dedicated winter tires, making traveling along snow and ice-covered roads easier and safer.

For those not using winter tires, take it from someone who is a first-time user of the Bridgestone Blizzak WS70. These tires make driving on ice and snow-covered roads nearly as comfortable as being on dry pavement.

Most winter tires last several winters providing safe, confident driving in even the worst winter conditions. As many sizes are still available in stock, it is not too late to purchase your new set. It is important to remember that winter tires are a seasonal product and once we are out of stock, the new inventory will not arrive until Fall 2011.