On the night of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day (Monday, January 19, 2009), I drove over a piece of debris on the 10 East while I was passing through Downtown Los Angeles and approaching the East LA interchange. During my drive to work the next morning, I noticed a white 2005-2007 Subaru Outback 2.5i in the adjacent lane to my right slogging through traffic on the 60 West with me. A minute or two later, he honked his car’s horn to get my attention. I put the right front window down for him to tell me the right rear tire was flat.
Love. It’s what makes a Subaru, a Subaru.
This notice completely surprised me because I did a quick walkaround (with a flashlight) when I got home the previous night looking for damage. That “inspection” was prompted by a loud bang I heard from the left front when I ran over the debris (remains from an accident?). I was really surprised the right rear tire had been affected.
As displayed above, the right rear tire’s sidewall had been slashed. By the time I pulled the car off the freeway and stopped, the air pressure reading I took showed 0 psi. I was impressed with how well the tire’s sidewall supported the weight of the corner and prevented the car from riding on the wheel/rim. Also surprising was the fact that I didn’t perceive that the tire was low. After stopping the car in a Jack-In-the-Box parking lot, I took out the 12V comprossor than came with the emergency kit I bought a while ago from the Tire Rack. Minutes later the tire was now at 37-38 psi. With air in the tire, I completed my morning commute to work. I measured the tire pressure again when I got to work and saw that it was still around 37 psi.
I decided to take the car to Stokes Tire Pros. during my lunch break for a closer inspection. There, a technician noticed the gash in the tire’s sidewall. Jack presented me with my options and I drove back to the office. My plan was to order a replacement BFGoodrich g-Force Super Sport A/S tire (P215/45R17) from the Tire Rack (I only needed one because the left rear tire was still relatively new) and have it drop-shipped to Stokes. While waiting the two days for the new tire to arrive from the Tire Rack’s distribution center in Reno, Nevada, I thought it’d be okay to use my full-size spare tire.
The gash in the sidewall was amazing in the sense that it usually remained closed which allowed the tire to retain its air. The tire didn’t lose any air over the course of my trip home! I swapped my full-size spare tire, an old Bridgestone Potenza S-03 Pole Position P215/45R17, with the right front tire and moved the right front to the right rear. Why didn’t I simply put the spare on the right rear corner? As a former summer/track tire,I knew the spare had a lot of wear on it (I prayed it wouldn’t rain) and thus, wouldn’t have a circumference similar to the left rear tire’s. Having different circumference tires on the rear corners could potentially overwork and damage the rear (limited-slip) differential.
The next morning, I snapped some shots of my 2004 Subaru Impreza WRX Hybrid. j/k Doesn’t the car look amazing with mismatched wheels? The replacement tire arrived around Noon on January 22nd. I went to Stokes shortly thereafter and had them replace the tire that afternoon.
In 9-1/2 years of driving, I had never lost a tire to a nail, screw, or other road hazard. It was that thinking that led me to think I would be okay without the Road Hazard warranty the Tire Rack offers. Now I’d think twice before passing up on the warranty again for my next set of street (read: primary use) tires. On one hand, it’d be great to have that protection and peace of mind. On the other hand, the coverage isn’t worth it if it’ll be another long time until I need to replace a tire or tires due to unforeseen circumstances.
Happy Thanksgiving to everyone who reads this! This Thanksgiving, I am most thankful for the grace and salvation God has given me. What are you most thankful for?
A few weeks ago, I purchased a set of BFGoodrich g-Force Super Sport A/S ultra high performance all-season tires (P215/45R17 91W) from the Tire Rack ($118 each) for my 2004 Subaru Impreza WRX Sedan. On November 15th, I had them mounted, balanced, and installed on my car at Island Tire & Service in Pasadena for a very reasonable rate, although it appears they may have slightly scratched some of my wheels in the process.
Why select an all-season tire in (Southern) California? Or rather, why not?
First, I have a separate set of Bridgestone Potenza RE-01R (P225/45R17 91W) extreme performance summer tires that I use for the track. Second, I like knowing that my car can be driven in snow if necessary to go snowboarding, skiing, or to retreat sites. Third, it would be nice to have a set of tires that last for a while compared to summer tires or even the factory supplied Bridgestone Potenza RE92 tires, which only have a treadwear rating of 160 compared to the BFG’s 400.
So how exactly did I equipped my car with 12 tires? The answer is I didn’t. But in a way, I did. BFGoodrich’s g-Force Super Sport A/S tire replaced the venerable g-Force T/A KDWS. The g-Force Super Sport A/S is constructed with three distinct rubber compounds to provide traction in dry, wet, and snowy conditions. Many all-season tires may have three distinct zones, but each zone uses the same rubber compound.
Dry: The outer sides of the tread feature large shoulder blocks designed to maximize traction while cornering. Additionally, these same blocks also contain sipes to aid with acceleration and braking in snow. Displayed in the middle, the continuous center rib provides the driver with excellent steering feel.
Wet: The center rib and grooves on its sides work with the swept lateral grooves to effectively channel water and reduce hydroplaning.
Snow: In-between the dry and wet tread zones is the snow zone. Working in conjuction with the outer shoulder blocks’ sipes, the intermediate tread block provides a snow hook shape to function like snow chains.
You don’t have to take my word for it, though. In May, the Tire Rack conducted a test of the BFGoodrich g-Force Super Sport A/S tires against its chief competitors. You can see their results here. Although it finished second in their comparison, the g-Force Super Sport A/S produced the dry performance numbers. It didn’t have the wet grip of the Bridgestone Potenza RE960AS Pole Position tire (another tire I was considering at $150 each) or the ride comfort, but I figured most of the miles I would accumulate would be on dry tarmac. Thus, I decided to sacrifice road manners for better handling (after all, I’m still young, right?).
If that’s not enough to convince you of what an excellent tire this is, Car and Driver also plays host to a BFGoodrich Tires Virtual Test Drive (Adobe Flash required) mini-site. There you can learn more about BFGoodrich tires including the g-Force Super Sport A/S. Four-time SCCA Trans Am champion and host of SPEED Test Drive and SETUP, Tommy Kendall, will talk, or rather, drive, you through the features and construction of the tire. You can even ride along with Tommy as he drives a Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution IX on the track at Miller Motorsports Park.
Here’s a cool did you know (dyk): BFGoodrich is owned by Michelin (FRA) like Firestone (USA) is owned by Bridgestone (JPN)
With old man winter now upon us–or right around the corner–there isn’t a better time than the present to make sure your vehicle’s shoes will keep you and your loved ones safe in inclement weather. If your tires’ tread depths are less than 4/32 of an inch you should consider replacing them as soon as possible. 2/32″ is the legal limit, but grooves shallower than 4/32″ are less resistant to hydroplaning.
Not sure how to measure your tires’ tread depths? Here’s an excellent article you may find useful. Remember to keep your tires properly inflated as well!