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.