Posts tagged ‘TireRack’

The Confusing World of Performance Tires

If you’re in the market for new tires for your BMW or another kind of performance car , you might be a bit confused right now. The proliferation of categories — Extreme performance, Max performance, Ultra High performance – can make selecting the right tires very difficult.

I’m researching right now because my 1999 M3 needs new tires. In my opinion, the proliferation of categories is a product of technology and marketing. Advances in technology have allowed for tires that can combine formerly incompatible attributes like comfort, dry handling and wet handling. Marketing also plays a role, since more categories gives tire brands a better chance of differentiating themselves in a very crowded market.

Technology can only go so far, and every tire involves a trade off. Basically, the more grip you want the more you need to compromise on ride quality and tread life.

A fantastic resource for tire information is Tire Rack. Their site conducts tire tests and shares their findings, along with many customer reviews as well. Here’s an explanation of performance tire categories, from their site. As you move down the list, performance wanes and comfort/durability waxes:

Extreme Performance (Summer Only)
-Trade some comfort, tread depth and hydroplanning resistance to deliver dry road response, traction and handling for serious driving enthusiasts.

Max Performance (Summer Only)
-Technologically advanced tires that provide superior dry and wet traction, handling and high-speed capabilities.

Ultra High Performance (All-Season or Summer)
-Low profile tires designed to provide high-speed capabilities and quick steering response along with stable cornering and traction on dry and wet roads.

High Performance (All-Season or Summer)
-Crisp steering response and predictable  handling for both wet and dry conditions.

Performance All-Season
-Upgraded looks and handling over passenger all-season tires.

Grand Touring (All-Season or Summer)
-Blends many attributes of a performance tire’s bold appearance and responsive handling with a passenger tire’s smooth, quite ride.

So those are the categories, but some of the differences can seem pretty subtle. What’s the difference between Ultra High summer tires and Max Performance summer tires? That’s an example of technology creating a new category. According to Tire Rack, Ultra Highs trade some grip for longer tread life than Max tires.

I don’t need Extreme tires, since I’ve only tracked my car once and I don’t want to be replacing tires after less than a year of use. Also, I don’t drive the M3 in winter. So the two categories I’m focusing on are Max and Ultra High summer. As for price, I want to keep it around $150 per tire.

I’ve narrowed my search down to a handful of finalists. They are the Dunlop SP Sport Max TT, the Sumitomo HTR ZIII, the Continental ExtremeContact DW and the Kumho ECSTA SPT. Final decision will be affected by availability and the best price. I’ll update this post when the M3 is wearing her  new rubber.

August 23, 2011 at 8:39 am Leave a comment

Winterizing the 530

This past Saturday I got the 530 ready for winter by putting the set of snow tires back on the car. I bought the tires last year after an early December storm had me struggling to get up a gradual incline. Last year it never snowed again, but supposedly this year we’ll see some of the white stuff.

The garage I went to said they see fewer people around here doing what used to be very commonplace. With the mild winters the greater DC area has had the past few years, most drivers go with a set of all season tires year round. This is especially true for front wheel or all wheel drive cars, but the 530 is rear wheel. And you don’t want to be caught in even a mild dusting with summer performance tires, which I put on this spring.

For those who experience tougher winters, there are actually different snow categories to choose from. You can choose performance snow, studless snow or studdable, sacrificing ride and handling for better snow traction each step of the way. Here’s Tirerack with the full story:

I went with Hankook Ice Bear W300s, 235×45 all around. They are about as good in dry weather as snows can be, but will help me stay on the road in the white stuff. While I was at it I swapped out the floor mats.



Safe travels and a Merry New Year to all.

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December 22, 2008 at 11:52 pm 3 comments

New Shoes for the 530

New Shoes

I bought a 2001 530 back in September. BMW made the E39 5 Series from 1997 through 2003. It is a fantastic mix of comfort and performance, and in the opinion of many the last “classic” body style before the 5 Series design went in a very different, modernistic direction. Here’s how Edmunds described the car in 2001 when it named the 530 the “Best Midsize Sedan Over $30,000:” “Can the company that creates ultimate driving machines offer supreme luxury and a compliant ride while creating a vehicle that goes, stops and turns with the best sporting sedans on the market? The answer is yes.”

I took my time, since demand is strong for well kept E39s and I wanted a manual transmission, which is much scarcer than automatic. Also wanted the sports package, which came with enhanced suspension, tires and a few other goodies.

My car had low miles but the previous owner was not a car guy, some things had been neglected. Dings, no fluids had been changed except oil, rims all curbed up and never cleaned, that sort of thing. I’ve been bringing the car back up to code as time and budget allows.

Latest project was new rims and tires. The car has the original rubber on it when I bought, so first thing I did was have the rims reconditioned to make presentable. It worked well, but they were never coming all the way back. So I put snow tires on them to get through winter. (Of course, after I did so DC had a very mild one with almost no snow).

For the past two months I’ve been looking forward to putting new rims and performance tires back on the car. The options out there are almost endless, and it took me a while to decide on which way to go. It’s like a lot of things these days — it’s easy to go way overboard. This car is for street use only so I was looking for a good price to quality balance. No need for $250 tires and forged rims that can easily run $800-900 per.

I eventually decided to go with 18 inch Monet New Age rims with Sumitomo HTR Z III tires, 245×40 all around. These tires got a great review from Tirerack and are priced well below comparable summer tires:

It took me a while to find a rim I liked for the car. I wanted something a little different but not too out there, from a company that had been around a while. Monet has a wide variety, including a replica that looked almost identical to my stock wheels, which I like a lot. I decided to go with what they call the New Age rim:

It’s already been a new age of handling with the snows off the car. Now I’m set on this front until around Thanksgiving. But the project continues…

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April 22, 2008 at 9:47 pm 4 comments



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