Updated: Oct 14, 2016

High Performance Tire Reviews:

Do you need performance tires for your car? It seems that today more models of cars have performance tires, not just the sports or luxury vehicles. I first heard about performance tires when my friend first started doing autocross events in Northern California. He used to order his Yokohama performance tires through the mail and then have them put on at a local autoshop. The tires were very expensive and I couldn't imagine spending that kind of money on car tires. The other thing that shocked me was the tread life on these tires was not even that good compared to regular tires. Nowadays more tire manufacturers make performance and high performance tires which are rated on speeds which they are able to perform at. The H rating is for up to 130 MPH and the V-rated tires are for 149 MPH. The top of the line ultra performance tires are Z-rated for 150 miles per hour or more. You'll find that these performance tires will give you superior handling and braking at higher speeds. The low profile (short sidewall) performance tires give the car a wider footprint so it holds to the road better than conventional tires.

Although 21% of tires sold on the replacement market are performance tires, many of the cars with them don't actually need them. Sure, if you own a Porsche, BMW or Audi, getting high performance tires may improve your ride at higher speeds, but who normally drives over 100 MPH around town. My older brother is part of a car club in Portland and he has a set of performance tires for his Porsche that he uses on the track but they often don't last that well. He has used a variety of ultra high performance tires over the years with both his Audi RS4 and Porsche 930. The UHP tires are typically suited for wheel sizes from 17 to 22 inches and you'll find the summer and all-season variety tires in this category. The Falken Ziex ZE-912 ($125/each) and the Nitto Neo Gen ZR ($92/each) are considered some of the better all-season ultra high performance tires on the market. They give you superior grip in both wet and dry conditions when compared to the summer performance tires like the Michelin Pilot Sport PS2 ($210/each) or the Pirelli P-Zero ($235/each). Consumer Reports does an exellent job of testing and reviewing performance tires, high performance tires, and the UHP (ultra high performance) tires on the market. Their most recent test of 21 summer UHP tires and 15 all season UHP tires shows some vast differences between brands and ultimately performance. They rated the tires based on braking and handling (both wet and dry conditions), hydroplaning, noise, ride, rolling resistance, and tread life. The all season tires were rated on snow traction and ice braking as well. What they found was that the all-season UHP tires gave marginally better driving performance in winter but gave up a bit of the regular "warm weather" grip that summer UHP tires give. We found some good feedback online at Caranddriver.com for their performance tire tread test and Familycar.com recently did an article on performance tires as well. Highperformancetire.com is dedicated to carrying the best discount performance tires on the Net with all the major brands in their online store. There are dozens of car forums online that offers opinions (both expert and novice) and your local tire dealer should be able to help you make an educated decision on which tires to buy. We asked our Les Schwab dealer and Tires America shop for their advice on the topic and they pretty much went with the tire makes that their respective shops carry which didn't help that much. The best independent source of performance and UHP tire reviews was Consumer Reports with their most recent article. Tire warranties vary by manufacturer but most are based on prorated prices which means even if the tire fails, you'll only get a partial credit towards a new one. Safety should be the biggest concern since these tires are for higher speeds on tracks or roadways. Also, check to make sure the tire was manufactured in the last year or so. The date is usually on the tire itself. If you own a high performance sports car, we can understand putting on these better tires, but many cars don't need the high performance tires since the owners are unlikely to be driving over 80 or 90 MPH at any given time consistently. The top brands include Falken, Nitto, Yokohama, General Continental, Michelin, Kumho, Sumitomo, Pirelli, Bridgestone, Toyo, Cooper, Avon, Hancock, Dunlop, Goodyear, Fuzion, Firestone, and BFGoodrich. Pricing ranges from about $80 up to $235 for each tire.

All-Season UHP Performance Tires:

Two tires came out on top of this category in several reviews we read online and in magazines. The Falken Ziex ZE-912 ($125) is top rated and does an excellent job of braking in both wet and dry conditions and the tires did a good job of handling hydroplaning. Tread life is less than impressive and snow traction was only fair, but overall the Falken performance tire was better than the similar summer models available in stores. The Nitto Neo Gen ZR ($92) is considered a real bargain by most experts at less than $100 for a ultra high performance tire meant for all seasons. The Nitto tire did well with braking in wet conditions, and much better than most in ice braking conditions. The Neo Gen ZR gave a smooth ride with minimal noise and for the price is hard to beat. The Falken Ziex ZE-912 received excellent reviews on the Discounttire.com and America's Tire websites and you can find availability in your region on their site. Check with America's Tire store for the newer Neo Gen ZR and the Neo Gen VR which are highly ranked as well. See all Falken performance tires here.

Ultra High Performance Tires - Summer:

If you do most of your high performance driving in the summer months when there is less rain and not as much reason to worry about wet weather traction, experts say you should consider the Michelin Pilot Sport PS2 ($210) which rates well in wet/dry braking conditions although its tread life expectancy is not that great. For longer tire life consider the Michelin Pilot Exalto PE2 ($160) which offers superior handling. The most expensive tires in the CR ratings was the Pirelli P-Zero and they sell for around $235 a piece. The Pirelli high performance tires were excellent in all braking conditions (wet or dry) and the handling was exceptional. I own the Goodyear Eagle F1 GS-D3 tires and at closer to $160/each they are a good "value buy" scoring above average in most categories that matter. Look for the Michelin performance tires at Tirerack.com and the Pirelli's are sold there too. View Michelin tires here.

Top Rated Performance Tires for Winter Traction:

UHP tires with the best snow traction for harsh winter conditions are the Continental ContiExtreme Contact which sell for $100/each and the Sumitomo HTR+ ($86/each). Sears sells the Continental performance tires and we found a good review on the Tirerack website which notes that the tire has an excellent reputation for winter traction in tests although they do say that the tread noise should be improved. Experts gave the tires a "very good" rating for noise and tread life. The Sumitomo HTR tires were excellent in snow traction and rated very good in ice braking - 2 important factors in any UHP tire that will see winter driving conditions.

Discount High Performance All Season Tires:

Tires can be expensive and buying online can often save you quite a bit when you are purchase a set of 4 at one time. The Yokohama Avid V4s are considered an excellent discount performance tire priced around $90. Reviews we read on Tirerack and Epinions support what the experts say about the Avid V4s in both wet and dry conditions. Don't expect the V4s to do so well in ice and snow, but in milder climates they are a "good value" for the money spent. The Yokohama performance tires have always rated pretty high compared to the competition and the pricing of this model makes it a great choice. You can find it online or in major tire outlets nationwide. The NHTSA (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration) rates tires too and they gave the Yokohama Avid V4s their highest rating possible with a AA for traction when the pavement is wet.