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Our experts discuss buying and testing car tires

Talking Cars Episode 19: Tire talk

Published: December 17, 2013 12:00 PM

In the latest episode of the "Talking Cars with Consumer Reports" video podcast, host Tom Mutchler takes the show to our tire test building, where he is joined by Tire Program Manager Gene Petersen and Director of Operations Jennifer Stockburger.

The engineers touch on the expansive tire test program, focusing on truck tires this year. (We tested ultra-high performance tires on a Scion FR-S last year.) The year ahead will see hundreds of tires evaluated on a 2013 Chevrolet Silverado and a redesigned 2014 Silverado.

The tire team delves into what makes a truly great tire. Having tested thousands of tires already this decade, the engineers have deep technical insights… but they recognize price is key. Petersen advises on doing the research to find the best tires for a given vehicle, then shop around for a great price. Tires are almost always on sale or incentivized with rebates.

Stockburger explains how tires have changed over time, with ever-evolving technology. Automakers are pushing for tires that better balance attributes, including rolling resistance and performance. As a consequence, the aftermarket is delivering tires with fewer compromises, but testing shows, there is still significant variation within each tire category.

The reward for researching a tire purchase? The right replacement tires can even transform a car, as demonstrated with an upgrade we did on the Scion FR-S that resulted in record-setting performance.

We also discuss the value of winter tires, and whether they are necessary on cars with all-wheel drive. We also talk through the benefits of summer tires.

Tune into the show with the video above, or the links below, to learn more about those four black rubber donuts on cars and how we test them.

As with the other shows, this episode is also available free through the iTunes store. Subscribe to the video or audio. The audio is also available via SoundCloud.

Also view:
Talking Cars Episode 18: Sports cars
Talking Cars Episode 17 - Infiniti Q50 vs Lexus IS 250

Talking Cars Episode 16 - Car reliability
Talking Cars Episode 15 - Toyota Corolla
Talking Cars Episode 14 - GM is on a roll
Talking Cars Episode 13 - Chevrolet Silverado vs. Ram 1500
Talking Cars Episode 12 - Have American cars really gotten better?
Talking Cars Episode 11 - Ford C-Max, Mazda3, and other fuel-efficient cars
Talking Cars Episode 10 - Track time with Fiat 500 Abarth and Ford Focus ST

Jeff Bartlett


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