What tires should I buy for my SHO?
This is probably the most frequently asked question on the mailing list. This is partially because the "performance" tires used on a car like the SHO rarely last longer than 30,000 miles, and it is difficult to find a magazine tire test that covers the tires of interest in the correct size. The majority opinion seems to be to stay away from the OEM Goodyear Eagle GT+4's; their treadlife is quite short and IMO they're pretty scary in wet weather. The Eagle GA's fitted to the early automatic cars are somewhat quieter and smoother riding, but don't last much longer and are just as bad in the wet. When ordering tires, you will need to ensure that
1. the tires fit inside the wheel wells--in practice, that generally means 225 max tread width on all but '89-'91's with 16" rims, and 2. the outside diameter is approximately the same as OEM to ensure proper function of the antilock brakes. You can figure the outside diameter by the following formula:
OD = 2 * (Tread width, mm) * (Aspect ratio) + ([Wheel size, in] * 25.4)
For example, the 215/65R15 size gives OD = 2*215*0.65 + (15*25.4) = 660.5 mm. Replacing this tire with a 225/60R15 would give 651 mm, which is close enough to work according to most tire dealers I have talked to.
Tire Sizes Explained
Here are some popular alternatives, with sizes, price estimate and previous SHOtimes comments. Some of these are based on single recommendations posted, and I have noted these where I remember them. Keep in mind that SHOtimes membership is scattered across the USA and local driving conditions vary a lot, so you should apply your own judgment. (note: some exist in H-ratings but are not listed here--check your tire dealer)
Also bear in mind that not all tires of a given size (225/60R16, for instance) are dimensionally the same. One manufacturer's 225 may fit, while another's will not. At least one SHOtimes subscriber had a set of tires that seemed to fit but when heated up became large enough to rub on the coil plate in the rear. He ended up buying two sets of tires in a very short time period.
The Tire Rack has an excellent site online that allows you to browse their selection of tires by size, type, or brand. BFGoodrich
Comp T/A VR4, ZR4 all-season 225/60VR15, 215/60VR16, 225/55VR16, 225/55ZR16
Comments, Rumors and Hearsay: A longtime favorite (though not nearly- unanimous as it once was). 215/65VR15 seems to have been discontinued. Good wet handling, though one SHOtimer with the H-rated variety reported very serious loss of traction in winter conditions. Another reports excellent winter traction. Good treadlife (maybe 40% more than GT+4's).
From Steve Reynolds :
Comparing the Comp T/A vs the stock GT+4 tires I observed the following.
In snow the VR4 has better acceleration and braking than the GT+4s. In cornering however the GT+4 were better. I've had the tail come out several times (traveling on straight roads) with the VR4s but I never experienced that with the GT+4s.
In the dry the GT+4s would brake at a maximium of .96Gs while the GT+4s with only brake at a maximum of .91Gs (using a G-Tech PRO). The maximum cornering force I recorded with the GT+4s was .89 Gs while I read .99Gs several times with the VR4s. This comparison may be biased agaist the GT+4s because the VR4s readings were obtained during an autocross.
Both tires seem about equal in the rain and noise level. The VR4s are a little softer riding over sharp bumps such as tar strips.
Both tires were 215/60 16". The VR4s appear to be wearing slower than the GT+4s. The GT+4 would wear the centers out regardless of tire pressure where the Comp T/A tend to be more even with more outside tire edge wear (from hard cornering). The GT+4s would chunk when autocrossed. The VR4s do not. I've never had the out of round symptoms with the VR4s or ZRs but I did have a problem about 10 years ago with a VR (earlier generation) on a different car. Touring T/A CR H: I have 21000 on a set of BF Goodrich Touring T/A. They are H speed rated not V or Z. They seem to handle pretty well in the wet and dry. However we do not get much snow in central Florida so I can't advise how they work in that condition. As far as tread life they seem to be lasting and look like they will for a while longer. I forget what the tread life warranty is. 40000 or 50000. They are also quiet at legal and higher highway speeds. They were also reasonably priced. R1 245/45-16
CR H: Yee Ha, 0.9G measured on the dry skidpad, turns-in yesterday. Drive thru a shallow puddle, car spins. Bridgestone
CR H: This is a fantastic wet and dry tire, good tread wear too, the fronts were only half gone after the 4300 miles of One Lap. ;-) Had our first significant snow of the season this week, pins and needles again, gotta' get the VR-4's back on for Winter. RE940 215/65VR15, 225/60VR15 $100-$125
CR H: Bridgestone's top performance all-season tire, with an asymmetrical tread pattern. Compared to the GT+4, more comfortable and quieter ride, and provides sharper turn-in and steering response, with apparently better grip. Better traction in rain seems better, and in snow (Western Canada winter) seems much better than the GT+4. Tread life looks to be similar to GT+4.
D40M2 225/60ZR15, 225/55ZR16 $110-$130
CR H: Quiet, smooth, good autocrossing tires (one recommendation known of). D60A2 all-season 215/65R15 $70 or so
CR H: Excellent overall performer, especially in heavy rain. Rated for 50,000 miles, so when they wear out at 25,000 get a new set at half the price. D80V4 all-season 215/65VR15 $110-120
CR H: Much better than GT+4's in wet handling noise level. Hard to find. OEM on Infiniti Q45. SP Sport 4000 All Season 225/60ZR15, 215/60VR16, 225/55ZR16 ~$120 VR, $140-165 ZR
CR H: Much better than the GT+4's in wet, dry, and snowy conditions. Also quieter, but with a noticably stiffer ride. Lateral handling is so much better than the OE tires that I've now noticed some negative handling characteristics (rear end jacking) from the SHO that I never uncovered before.
From William Lorman:
Today was another day in snow w/SP4000's. The original GT+4 tires had more bite in deeper snow. In general the SP4000's are just fine. Compared to original GT+4's, they make less noise, stick to pavement under most circumstances, and do a better job in rain. Considering there's no place for speed in snow storm weather I can live with that.
Part of my choosing the Dunlop models was the number of you who said they were quiter and age better than the BFG tires. Don't take this as a "stay away from the SP4000" message, but food for thought if snow performance is important. A friend who changes his Pirelli P4000's with Bridgestone Blizzak models in winter says that is the ultimate solution.
SP Sport 8000 225/50ZR16 ~$165
CR H: According to autocrossers in NESHOC, the tire to go with for serious fair-weather driving. OK in wet, not for winter. Falken Heard fair to good reports from Mustang owners, but one SHOtimes report that the 225's have too much side-to-side play on the 6" stock rims. Firestone
SZ50 CR H: Many rave reviews from owners. Here are some pictures:
sz501.jpg sz502.jpg sz503.jpg General Tire
CR H: [Ed: Avoid. Consistently trails the pack in magazine tests, and an acquaintance of mine is very unhappy with the Generals on her '92. Cheap, but you get what you pay for.] Goodyear Eagle Aquatred Karl Salnoske:
I'm running the Eagle Aquatred 215/60/16. I've got 12K miles on them and can say that they are exceptional in rain and snow and get better wear than the Eagle GT's that were OEM on the car. I don't believe they have the grip of the GTs in the dry although I don't have any numbers to back this up. They just seem to break away a little earlier on some of the interstate ramps I use as a test track. They seem to be about the same as the GTs in terms of road noise and harshness (both okay). Eagle GA Standard Equipment on some automatics '93 to '95.
CR H: very quiet and smooth, but suffer from extremely poor wet-weather traction and a somewhat disconnected feel. Kelly Springfield
Charger VR-4 CR H: Similar dry performance to the Eagles, better tread life (about 20,000 mi per set). Not great in the snow. Michelin Energy MXV4 All-season. 225/60R16 does not fit when warmed up. Michelin Sport XGT V, XGT V4 All-season 215/65VR15, 225/60VR15, 225/55ZR16 (XGTV) $125-150
CR H: Noisy, stiffer ride than GT+4, but good dry wet handling. [At least one netter disagrees with me, calling the V4 'absolutely terrifying in rain' based on experience with a Dodge Spirit R/T.] V4 good on ice snow. Tends to follow grooves in pavement. Expensive (I only have them 'cuz I got a special deal when the local NTW screwed up my Pirelli order). Treadlife only slightly longer than OEM. One (mine!) recommendation.
Another netter reports good results after 20k miles. Expects to get 40k out of them with frequent (2-3k miles) rotation.
Re: XGTV (215/65VR15) awful rain tires, smooth ride even at 40psi, quiet, good snow experience (only once, though), poor steering response and OK grip, stayed balanced, 40,000+ miles: Liked 'em.
One more opinion on the XGT V4 (215/60R16 95V): Wet handling is MUCH improved as compared with the Goodyear Eagle GT+4, and road noise is virtually nil. Cornering is also much better. Interestingly, Motor Trend did a article in November 1995 on this tire, comparing it favorably with another Michelin model, a pure performance tire. Granted, the Goodyears were about gone, so anything would have been an improvement. Pirelli P4000 Super Touring 215/65VR15, 225/60VR15, $100-125
CR H: Much superior to GT+4's in noise, dry especially wet traction, though perhaps too much give at the ragged edge. These are new in the past year or so and have gotten lots of good press.
CR H: Softer ride than OEMs, better in wet and snow, but lack rigidity in sidewall. Steering feels vague. Toyo
CR H: Don't know much apart from less wheelspin than GT+4's. Proxes Z-1 215/60ZR16, others?
CR H: Two recommendations, better ride, lower noise than GT+4's, better handling. Yokohama A008 225/50ZR16 [Ed: OD much smaller than stock, will it throw off ABS?] Price about $185
CR H: Street legal slicks, with just enough tread to pass inspection. *The* tire for autocrossing. Could be a handful in the wet, and forget snow or ice. A509 215/65VR15, 225/60VR15, 215/60VR16 $85-100
CR H: Two enthusiastic recommendations--better grip than OEM, good wet traction, low price, quiet ride. One recommender reported 36,000 mile treadlife. A540 225/55/16
CR H : I have to take them off now because I overheated the outside sidewalls with my "performance driving". They roll-under/ tuck-in in curves, and are now practically 'shot'. This after only 7000 mls. The tires were riding very good, traction, handling, etc. everything, but the soft sidewalls DO NOT stand up to high performance driving. AVS Intermediate 215/65ZR15 $110-$130
CR H: EXCELLENT steering response, EXCELLENT grip, ride worse than Michelins. About as noisy as the OEM Goodyears. AVS U+4 215/65VR15, 225/60VR15, 215/60VR16 $85-100
CR H: I had 215/65VR15 of these. Very good ride. Mediocre straight-line traction. Good braking traction. Very good lateral traction. Mediocre wet traction. OK snow traction, but these aren't snow tires. Nice crisp turn-in. I got less than 20k miles out of mine. Downright scary in winter after 10k miles; OK when new. (Mike Schwartz) S4-V 215/65VR15 $85-90
CR H: I now have these. In almost every way superior to AVS U+4 except for turn-in response. Incredible wet traction; feels like the road is dry. Tire Size Notes The 215/65R15 or 215/60R16 tire size is a bit difficult to find in some areas. Some owners have reported good results switching to 225/60R15's or 225/55R16's respectively, while others have reported that this size won't clear the rear fenders. So far as I can tell, the lowdown is: Model Years Rule of Thumb '89 - '91 225/60R15 fits; 225/55R16 may rub rear fenders '92 - '95 Bigger rear fender cutouts; 225's reportedly OK, in use by several members of NESHOC.
Finally, the 225's in some brands may be marginally too wide with the factory 6" rims. Check with the manufacturer. As with any rules, there are exceptions - at least one reader reports that Firestone SZ-50s will fit the '91s in the 225/55R16 size shown NOT to fit above. Each tire manufacturer has slightly different exterior dimensions for their tires of the same basic size and different SHOs have different amounts of sag in the springs which results in different space tolerances in the wheel wells. Your best solution is to find a tire place (such as NTB - National Tire Battery) that will allow you a "trial period" with the new tires where you can use them as credit for another set.
Many people wonder about the amount of speedometer error that occurs when one changes tires from stock size - thanks to Joshua Teixeira for calculating this table out that shows the differences between some tire sizes. This is just a generalization for gen 1 car with 15" wheels, but should give you an idea of what to expect. Width Aspect Rim Tire diameter vehicle speed at an indicated 55.0 mph. 215 65 15 26.0 55.0 mph 225 60 15 25.6 54.2 mph 225 50 15 23.9 50.5 mph 205 65 15 25.5 53.9 mph 215 60 16 26.2 55.3 mph 225 55 16 25.7 54.5 mph 225 60 16 26.6 56.3 mph 225 50 16 24.9 52.6 mph 215 50 16 24.5 51.7 mph