Tires & Wheels: Most Popular Articles
Need to change your tire size, but don't understand what the tire guy is telling you? Here's how to figure out what tire size you need like the pros do.
Irregular tire wear is a frustrating little gremlin that can steal your tires' performance and tread life if you let it. The problem is that irregular wear comes in so many different flavors. The causes of strange tire wear can range from air pressure to improper balance, from misalignment to bent wheels.
Does your car shake at speed? How to tell if your car's vibration is coming from bent wheels or tires.
The top 5 best snow tires out there for your winter driving safety and comfort.
Alloys or steel wheels: What's best for you? Both types have advantages and disadvantages for different types of driving; but in general if you want beauty and performance you want alloy, and if you want tough, inexpensive, ugly workhorses, you want steels.
My list of the top 5 best aftermarket wheels in terms of sheer toughness and damage-resistant design.
A look at all the little costs associated with new tires; mounting, balancing, valve stems, alignment and so on...
If what you want is superior grip for a high-performance car in both dry and wet conditions, and you plan to either switch out to pure winter tires or not drive the car in the snow, one of these “performance” all-seasons may be just your cup of Texas tea. In general, these tires are excellent for driving from spring through fall, or year-round in climates where you just don't get all that much snow.
The causes of, and some remedies for, noisy tires.
The idea of all-season tires is always a compelling one. Having tires that can be kept on your car year-round, that work well in both the winter and summer is generally a whole lot easier and cheaper than switching between winter and summer tires. The thing is, the requirements for tires designed for summer performance and tires designed to function in snow are extremely different even down to the rubber compounds, which makes it very difficult to make a tire that excels in all regimes. This means that designing all-season tires has always involved some very important tradeoffs.
We all know that wheels come in many different diameters – anywhere from the tiny 14” steels to 24” chrome monsters and beyond. But wheels also come in different widths, and the width of the wheel not only affects how the wheel sits on the car but also how the tire fits on the wheel. Here's a look at how wheel widths affect you.
Wheel balancing, also known as tire balancing, is the process of equalizing the weight of the combined tire and wheel assembly so that it spins smoothly at high speed.
Among the many low rolling resistance âeco-tiresâ being marketed this season is Bridgestone's Ecopia EP422, a Grand Touring, All-Season tire designed to have very low rolling resistance and therefore high fuel-efficiency. The Ecopia is also marketed as an ecologically conscious tire due to its construction. However, the real questions are: How does it handle and how fuel-efficient is it really?
The Firestone Destination LE2 does exactly what it's supposed to do. And no more.
A primer on how to read the numbers and symbols embossed on tire sidewalls. Knowing how to read the tire can provide you with very useful information.
Confused about what that letter means right after your tire size? Ever had a tire shop ask what your speed rating was and didn't know what they meant? Don't know whether you need the more expensive V- or ZR-rated tires that the car came with? Fear not, mighty consumer, for I will edify you.
Air pressure is one of the most important, and most overlooked maintenance items for most drivers. Take a look at some tips and tricks from the industry.
Nokian has made an all-season tire that excels in all the dangerous weather conditions, and is still pretty good in the safest one. That's a beautiful thing.
Tire Size Calculators are one of those things you don't need until you really need one, because nobody wants to do tire sizing math in their head. Here is a list of some of the best ones.
Welcome to Wheel Anatomy 101: Structure. Today we will be reviewing the major structural aspects of automotive wheels, focusing on the outboard, or structural face of the wheel.
Runflat tires are being used more and more by carmakers. Here are some reasons why not to use them.
The Fuzion Touring, made by Bridgestone, is simply a decent tire at a great price.
When it comes to finding the proper fitment for putting aftermarket or other new wheels on your car, the bolt pattern is possibly the most important consideration.
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I always say to start thinking about snow tires around when football starts up, to get the best prices. So here's what I think about snow tires.
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There are lots of websites out there promising discounted tires and wheels, but which one to choose? Here's my list.
Wheel finishes can be quite fragile and vulnerable to all sorts of hazards. How to keep your nicely finished rims looking that nice.
Yokoahama's Avid Ascend is the first consumer tire available in the US using orange oil in the rubber compound, and this technology makes for one great Grand Touring tire.
Here's my list of some of the best Daily Driver tires, the ones that get you where you're going safely with a minimum of fuss and price. The ones that have a nice smooth ride, resist hydroplaning in the rain, and preferably give you good gas mileage and long treadwear to boot. This one's for the real road warriors out there...
There is a great deal of debate going on nowadays about the proper way to repair tires, whether plugs are sufficient for small repairs or whether plugs are dangerous and patches are the only proper way. In fact, this is a debate that has gone on for literally decades. Plugs are an easy and cheap way of repairing small nail holes, while patches are a more involved, more complex and probably safer way of doing much the same thing.
I travel to Ivalo in Finnish Lapland to try out Nokian's newest snow tire, the Hakkapeliitta R2, which is better than it's predecessor in every way I can see.
-Julie Porter, Bridgestone Touring/Eco Product Manager Bridgestone's brand-new Grand Touring tire, the
Why should you downsize winter wheels? Smaller wheels and tires perform better in winter conditions.
An overview of technologies that allow bent aluminum alloy wheels to be straightened out.
Nokian's WRG2 is probably the best true All-Season tire in existence. Nokian's WRG3 is not, but it's trying pretty hard.
Michelin will launch their new Pilot Sport A/S 3 Ultra High Performance All-Season tire this summer.
In our final module of Wheel Anatomy, we will be looking at the complex, but essential concepts of offset and backspacing.
It's a perennial issue with extra sets of tires and/or wheels: What's the best way to store them when they are not being used?
Tire performance categories can be enormously confusing. This can be very important information, because you're going to want a tire that fits your car and driving style. If you don't know the differences, it can be very easy to upsell you into a higher performance, more expensive tire when what you really wanted was something with a smooth ride that will get you to the store and back, or vice versa.
Goodyear's Eagle Sport All Season is a workhorse performer in the HP category, complete with some brand-new technology and some serious fun.
Bridgestone's Blizzak WS80 is a clear improvement over it's predecessor, taking advantage of a large number of technological leaps forward that have been going on since the WS70 was introduced.
The Bridgestone RE97AS is designed to have a smoother and quieter ride than the RE970AS, but has somewhat less track-style performance. At the same time it has more performance and a less smooth ride than, say, the Ecopia line, making it pretty much a “Goldilocks” tire in most respects.
Sailun admits that they are a third-tier tiremaker, but wants to be the best third-tier tiremaker they can possibly be.
So you want some different wheels than the ones that came on your car when you bought it. But how to go about finding the right wheels for you? How do you make sure they will fit on your car? Believe me, the process of fitting wheels and tires can be much more complex than it looks. Here in one convenient place, you will find all of my articles related to fitting and buying new wheels, whether from a shop or online.
Everything you need to know about choosing winter tires but didn't know who to ask.
What is “low rolling resistance” really, and how does one choose between the storm of LRR tires coming onto the market? How does one make a meaningful comparison of fuel-efficiency between, say, Bridgestone's Ecopia and Yokohama's Avid Ascend? What do RRF and RRC mean, and why do they make even my head hurt to contemplate them?
To say that the long-awaited successor to Bridgestone's Potenza RE960AS Pole Position, the Potenza 970AS, exceeds its predecessor in every way is somewhat akin to noting that Salieri was considered to be an excellent court composer until Mozart breezed into town.
In the attached chart you can see the results and in fact ice grip on the WRG3 (orange line) has improved over the WRG2 (blue line).
The ExtremeContact DWS (Dry/Wet/Snow) are Continental's offering in the Ultra High Performance All Season niche, designed for 3-4 season capability without sacrificing high-speed performance. By all accounts, they fulfill on that promise in a big, big way.
All-seasons or snow tires, what's best? The answer is as individual as you are.
We hear all the time from tire makers about their superior siping patterns, but what are sipes anyway?
Got winter? Call in the cavalry! Nokian's Hakkapeliitta R is still the best pure snow tire available. Read about the wheel's technology and handling.
There are a whole lot of unsafe used tires out there on the market. Here's how to avoid ending up with one.
How to find your tire size and aspect ratio. Page 2.
Every tire tech has a mystery vibration story. That one shake you can't lock down no matter what. Is it tires? Wheels? Alignment? Gremlins? Here's how to diagnose it.
Fix-A-Flat is marketed as basically being the equivalent to an instant spare tire, an aerosol can containing a mysterious substance that will not only patch a hole in your tire right by the side of the road, but inflate it as well! But is it really as good as it claims to be?
European Standard Tire Sidewall Markings
To weld, or not to weld, that is the question: Whether 'tis Nobler in the Wallet to suffer The outrageous cost of New Wheels, Or to take Arms against a Sea of potholes, And by Repairing, end them...
Most original equipment wheels are painted. Learn how to (and how not to) care for your painted wheels and what it takes to refinish them if they get damaged.
What's inside your tire? How do they get all that stuff in there. Here's how your tires are made and what they're made up of.
Uniform Tire Quality Grading is the term for three specific ratings applied to tires so that consumers can have standardized, easy to understand comparative data when they are searching for the right tire. That's the concept; the reality is somewhat different.
Tire aging is much in the news lately, with consumer safety advocates on one side and industry representatives on the other. Lots of information gets thrown around. But who is right? Here's the skinny on the science of aging tires.
A history and overview of Tire Pressure Monitoring Systems, which are mandatory on all vehicles below 10,000 pounds Gross Vehicle Weight as of 2007.
A standard automotive wheel diagram, showing the various named parts of a wheel. Page 33.
How to measure tread depth any one of three ways, quick and dirty, quicker and dirtier and the right way.
Cambered tires may well be the biggest breakthrough in tire technology since the vulcanization of rubber.
A profile of the aftermarket wheel manufacturer BBS.
Are your tires being recalled? How can you tell? What should you do if they are? And what's a TIN? Find the answers here.
Chrome is a supermodel. All beauty on the surface, but a nasty personality underneath.
Firestone's Firehawk Wide Oval AS is difficult to describe, mostly because it doesn't really seem to stand out in any area. It's just... there.
A review of the new Bridgestone Blizzak. WS70's are great on ice and snow, but have some trouble on dry roads.
There is a pride like fire among Michelin's snow tire engineering team that makes one suspect that they're thinking, “One Tire To Rule Them All...”
The finish first appeared only on some BMW, Audi and Saab models, but the look became extremely popular and Lexus and Infiniti soon followed.
Michelin's X-Ice Xi2 winter tire is the primary challenger to Nokian's dominance of the winter tire market. Has Michelin finally caught up to the Nokian Hakkapeliitta R?
A look at the best of the aftermarket TPMS sensors now available.
It's hard to know whether to judge the new Goodyear Eagle F1 Asymmetric All-Season by the standards of a track tire or a winter tire, but all indications are that it's at least pretty good at both.
The Pros and Cons of Tire Pressure Monitoring Systems
Nokian Tyres of Finland is well-known for their mastery of snow tires. However, they also are leaders in the field of low rolling resistance, and their newest offering is a summer-biased all-season Grand Touring tire called the eNTYRE. I was able to check these tires out on my Prius Nerdmobile for a long-term test of their handling capabilities and fuel-efficiency.
It's a simple point of fact that just having 4-wheel drive on a vehicle doesn't make snow and ice a non-issue.
Welcome to Wheel Anatomy 201: Beads and Flanges. Today we will be reviewing the various structures located on the outer barrel of the wheel. These structures will include the drop center, beads, mounting humps and flanges.
A primer on the various types of polished finishes out there; how they are created, how to care for them and how they can be repaired.
There are some really amazingly cool wheels out there, so many that it can be hard to even know where to start looking. Given that my other job is wheel repair, I tend to gravitate towards the wheels I know are resistant to damage, but those are not always the best-looking wheels out there. With that in mind, I give you my list of the top ten most beautiful wheels I know of.
The NHTSA has replied to the TIA in a very important letter to anyone who has to deal with Tire Pressure Monitoring Systems. Find out what the NHTSA said and how it can affect you!
In addition to coming in many different sizes and designs, wheels come in all different styles of construction and composition.
Studded tires are the very, very best in terms of winter grip. Nokian's Hakka 7 studded tires are certainly among the very best of that group, at least until the Hakka 8 becomes available.
I've already reviewed the Avid Ascends once, based on about four hours of seat time provided by Yokohama at their launch event in Orlando, Florida. This time I've had about 3 weeks with them on my car, and am able to make some more in-depth observations regarding these tires.
Studded snow tires are great when you absolutely need them, but you want to be sure you absolutely need them.
Enkei Wheels began life as “Enshu Keigokin Co”, which translates as “Light Alloy of the Province of Enshu.” Enshu Keigokin manufactured aluminum alloy aircraft parts. In 1986 they began supplying wheels to the Minardi F1 team, and a wheel company was born.
When Bridgestone looks at the state of the SUV/Light Truck market, they see that it is transitioning away from big heavy SUV's and towards much lighter, sportier “crossover” vehicles. As they note, this is what “The Boss” wants from the car companies, and what “The Boss” wants from these CUV's is not just ample cargo space and better fuel mileage, but the kind of responsive acceleration, braking and handling that crossover-type vehicles provide. That's where the Dueler H/P Sport comes in.
Continental's excellent ExtremeWinterContact tires get some well-deserved respect from reviewers and testers alike.
Along comes the G-Force Sport Comp 2, and BFGoodrich naturally claims that it's even better than the original. Well, of course they do. Who ever thought “Worse Than The Original!” would be a great marketing slogan?
How to brake properly on snow or ice using both ABS and Non-ABS systems.
When it comes to online retailers, Tire Rack is simply the best.
As a reviewer, I try to make clear when I have a bias, whether positive or negative. I do have something of a negative bias regarding Pirelli. Mostly this comes from years of doing tire repairs and seeing lots of “bubbles” in apparently weak Pirelli sidewalls. I do freely admit that this is partially because they tend to aim for very high performance, and partially because they tend to make a lot of very low-profile tires. With the P Zero Nero All Season, however, the sidewalls are clearly not the issue. The issue is the lack of real wet grip and the ease with which the tire breaks away at the limit.
Deep concave wheels are designed with spokes that curve, more or less gracefully, inwards toward the hub center of the wheel, such that if you put the wheel face up and flat on the ground, the cosmetic face of the wheel would form a bowl shape. When on the car, that bowl shape curves inward towards the car's suspension, creating a very interesting and sometimes even jarringly fresh look.
A wheel painted in a standard metallic silver. Page 3.
Looking for winter wheel and tire packages for this year or next? Here's some suggestions, targeted to the needs of different types of drivers.
I've seen it happen so often - a tire tech makes a mistake and scratches up a nice wheel. If you're hardcore about your wheels, here's how to prepare so installation damage is less likely.
The Michelin Pilot Alpin PA4 is an Ultra High Performance snow tire designed for very powerful cars. This may be a small niche, but Michelin's tire is right there at the top of it.
A look at the South African wheel maker TSW.
Page 2 of 2. Tires & Wheels.
Since the demise of Mille Miglia, Sport Edition has taken up the banner of making some of the softest and most easily bendable rims in the industry.
One of the most iconic wheel companies in history, American Racing is a muscle car's dream.
What's the deal with reconditioned wheels? There's a right way, a wrong way and a third way to go about it.
The search for alternative rubber supplies goes back to World War 2, when the Allied countries, particularly Russia and the U.S. had to find ways to deal with the fact that the Japanese held most of the rubber-producing areas in the world. With the end of the war and the resumption of natural rubber imports, the programs to find other sources were soon shut down and forgotten. Until today.
The Bridgestone Potenza RE-11 is one sticky beast.
While TPMS systems certainly do the job they are supposed to do, first-generation sensors are plagued by corrosion problems that can destroy your expensive parts. Here's how to avoid the worst of the corrosion issues.
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What to consider when you're considering new tires.
Continental's summer-only ExtremeContact DW (Dry/Wet) is not quite as good as the DWS (Dry/Wet/Snow.)
It can happen anytime; you're stuck on the side of the road with a flat tire. You can wait for a tow truck, or you can change the tire out for your spare yourself and be on your way. Here's how to do it safely and easily yourself.
I had never heard of the Toyo Observe GSi-5 until a reader sent me an email asking my opinion of it. I've been very impressed by what I've observed.
There are quite a few good small charities where a donation of slightly or even mostly used tires can make a big difference.
General's Altimax Arctic, like most of General's tires, is a no-frills workhorse.
Let me put it this way: BFGoodrich's pure competition tire, the R1 and their street tire, the G-Force Comp-2, loved each other very much. When the stork finally arrived, they named it Rival, and found that they had a child who was greater than the sum of its parents. And what a cute kid it is...
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Dunlop Graspic DS-3's are snow tires for people who don't like snow tires.
The Wheel Doctor commiserates with a Canadian who got runflats on his BMW without realizing the trouble he was in for.
A picture of a deep-dish wheel. Tires & Wheels. Page 35.
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In 1960, Bruce Halle bought a building in Ann Arbor, Michigan and began selling tires. From this inauspicious beginning came one of the more recognizable names in the tire business, Discount Tire.
The Vredestein Wintrac Xtreme is a well-regarded winter tire available mainly in Europe, but you can get it in North America from some online dealers.
A chromeplated wheel. Tires & Wheels. Page 4.
Various facts and knowledge about how F1 tires are made and distributed to the teams.
A Donut-style Temporary Spare. Tires & Wheels. Page 20.
Since the 60's, when wire spoke wheels were the norm, advances in casting methods, CAD/CAM design and changes in tastes and styles have led to an explosion of spoke designs both cosmetic and functional.
Whether to install a pair of new tires on the front or rear axle is one of those questions where there are more opinions than actual possible answers. However, getting it wrong can be downright dangerous.
A profile of Italian aftermarket wheel makers OZ Racing.
Yokohama's Advan Neova AD08 R is part of the latest generation of tires descended from the Advan ENV-R2 racing slicks. It's a straight-up Extreme Performance contender.
Tires & Wheels. Page 37.
Got a Wheel Guy on your holiday gift list? Check out the coolest stuff for tires and wheels in the Holiday Gift Guide!
A forged deep-dish wheel with a bent outboard lip. Page 36.
Positive Offset. Tires & Wheels. Page 38.
Don't sweat the white stuff. Tires & Wheels.
A TPMS Valve Stem Type Monitor. Tires & Wheels. Page 21.
If I had my way I wouldn't give star ratings, because I think that when it comes to tires, they are both skewed and meaningless.
A cross-section view of a standard tire. Page 11.
A closer view of salt damage on a chrome wheel. Page 5.
In 1934, husband and wife Roy and Hildur Hollander published what would become the Bible of the used auto parts industry - the Hollander Book.
These sipes have an internal topological structure preventing them from flexing in most directions, and are called #D Self-Locking Sipes. Page 25.
A cutaway view of a standard tire. Page 10.
We have the technology. We can make your wheels better, stronger, faster, lighter, and just plain cooler. For $15,000.
A closer view of salt damage on a chrome wheel. Page 6.
United Tire & Service is the new brand name for 17 independent tire dealerships in the Philadelphia area who have banded together to compete against the national tire chains.
Zero Offset. Tires & Wheels. Page 39.
The Hakka Sipe, originally patented by Nokian. Page 23.
PB B'laster is a magnetic penetrating lubricant with petroleum-based solvents designed to melt away corrosion. It's just about the best stuff in the world for corroded lugnuts and TPMS parts.
With 25 years in the business, Vossen is a leader in very large, very beautiful wheels. They are also a leader, but not the originator of Deep Concave wheels, a new design style that is sweeping the industry. Instead of a deep outer dish, Deep Concave wheels have a very small or no dish, while the spokes sweep inward to form a bowl shape.
ADV.1 is a small-batch maker that allows customers a great deal of freedom in customizing their wheels' design and finish and then machines the wheels to order. A customer can order a wheel in any finish, including some unique finishes and tinted clearcoats available nowhere else in the industry.