Of all the areas of automotive technology that have improved over the years, perhaps none is as significant—or as little understood by the public—as the advances in tire technology. After all, a vehicle’s tires are its sole points of contact with the road; if they lose grip, the car loses control. But to many drivers, tires are a dark art, round and black and mysterious. The cause is not helped by the tire companies themselves—few are prepared to sit down with journalists and explain in any real detail how and why their particular offerings are better than they used to be. But there is one good resource for doing some tire shopping, and it’s one you as a denizen of the Internet may already be familiar with.
It’s Tire Rack, a massive (now) online retailer of the round black things, and since 1995 the company has been doing independent tire testing as a way to give consumers the ability to cross-shop their new rubber. You don’t even need to be a Tire Rack customer to benefit. The company probably won’t like to hear it, but I’m sure I’m not alone in having done hours of research on the site trying to decide on new shoes for my old MX-5 and Saab 9-2x before going to Costco.
Actually, it’s something Tire Rack already knows. “There have always been people that want to educate themselves, particularly with a connection to safety. The Internet makes it very easy for people to find us who aren’t able to make that time investment in the process” says Woody Rogers, Tire Rack’s product information specialist. “We build out tools on the website to help people do that.”