Tire Selections in the USA

Before we jump into any talk about tire's performance, keep in mind that tires performance can greatly change with many factors outside of the tire itself.   An automobile's total weight, distribution, wheel alignment, suspension's dynamic alignment changes, chassis rigidity, and tire pressures...all affect greatly how a given tire can perform.  some of this can be found at the following page, if you are not familiar with these factors.

Tire guidelines from Yokohama tires USA


The sheer grip is determined by the tire contact patch and its compound as well as the surface it is resting on. The wheel size do not make drastic changes to grip necessarily, but rather it does make tire construction and behavior differ, as tire's sidewall characteristics change greatly from a 14 through 17 inch size (rim diameter)

Driver's perception of how a tire feels is determined mainly by tire construction, namely the sidewall... Generally, the harder the sidewall, the more "train-tracking effect" you will feel with an added feeling of directness and peakiness of grip (more positive feel but at the same time, more difficult at limits).  Softer sidewalls have more comfort in character and the steering information softer but much more forgiving at limit.

Some of the true high performance and ALL competition tires have stiffer sidewalls, so the tire wear is more even between shoulders and center as well as giving the driver most feedback.  However, these tires also have higher grip compounds and make novice drivers really feel nervous with snappy, unforgiving characteristics.  Naturally, its a very questionable choice if you had lots of "drifting in mind" (smile)...

On the  other hand, the more general use high performance grade tires have softer sidewalls, for easier controls at limits (though lower limits), and less nervous behavior traveling the long highway stretches.

There are exceptions however...  Some tires are designed to be abused for fun...  Though not necessarily expensive or competition worthy for sheer lap times, these tires have longer lasting compounds and provide lots of abusive driving without giving your wallet a big dent.  These "fun" tires as I call them have stiff sidewalls so even drifters can wear them and make every millimeter of the tread count towards fun per dollar.  My list of "FUN" tires include Falken Azenis, Kumho Ecsta 712, Dunlop Sport W-10, and Bridgestone RE730.  The shoulders of these tires don't roll off too much so contact patch stay stable and wears evenly.  Reasonably priced and very well matched to 4A-GE's power and MR2/Corolla's weight.

Choosing tires that are lower in profile within the same product tires naturally will stiffen the sidewall. And thus you will tend to feel more instability in traveling in a straight line as road irregularities affect the car more...if that bothers you, then select something with a softer sidewall.

Lastly, though most important...  always chose your tires according to you specific use.  If extended mileage is accumulated in your daily travel, it is usually a very wise and likely economical idea to own 2 or even 3 different sets of tires and wheels for competition, city use, and abuse and fun.  As there is no such thing as the BEST tire for everything...tires can only rated in specific categories and all other areas are a balance of compromises.

Harder sidewalls tires:1. Falken Azenis ($)
2. Bridgestone Potenza S-03 Pole Position ($$$)
3. Yokohama ES100 ($)
4. Kumho Ecsta 712 ($)


Bridgestone Potenza S03 Pole Position

 Yokohama (ADVAN) ES100

 Kumho Ecsta 712



Medium stiff sidewall tires:1. Yokohama AVS S1 and A520 ($$)
2. Bridgestone RE730 ($), and S01 Pole Position ($$$)
3. Dunlop SP8000 and 9000 ($$)
4. Falken ZIEX 502 and Gr-B (Beta) ($)
5. Michelin Pilot Sport series
6. Goodyear Eagle F1 series, and GS Series ($$$)

 Bridgestone Potenza RE730

 Dunlop Sport SP8000

 Dunlop Sport SP9000

 Falken ZIEX, and GR-ß


Soft sidewall tires:

1. Yokohama AVS Intermediate
2. Dunlop FM901
3. Michelin Exalto, MMX3 and SXGT
4. Continental CZ91 Sport Contact
5. Dunlop SP6000
6. Firestone Firehawk SZ and EP
7. Nitto NT555 and 555R (Excellent for Drag, Poor sideways loading)
8. Most sport all season and touring tires Yokohama AVS Intermediate

 Yokohama AVS DB


Now, most European and American tires have softer sidewalls than equivalent Japanese tires due to the higher usage by consumers at extended high speed and long range travel. so Michelins, Goodyear, Pirelli, Uniroyal, Continental and other tires offer more comfort and less peaky handling than equivalent high performance category from Japan and Korea. (General rule of thumb, but not always)


As for racing tires...which are DOT legal but compounds being unstable for daily use (heat cycles excessively and hardens over very short time) R usually designates hard compound race, and A designates soft autocross/qualifying tires)... Even the most forgiving of these have much stiffer and peakier characters than ordinary tires above as it is designed to be used only under serious abuse and with no factors accounted in the comfort department.  These are DOT legal only due to the regulations in most entry level racing such as Solo2 and other SCCA venues that the tires must be DOT approved.  These tires are not meant for use on street, as life of the tire, performance over prolonged use, decomposition, and adverse weather performance are greatly compromised.

In order of grip and lap times, and generally the lower in the list the longer lasting.

1. Hoosier (R)R3S03 (A)A3S03 (somewhat forgiving, needs larger steering input than BFG R1 below)
BFG G-force R1 and TA R1 (unforgiving, peaky, sharp, fastest but only with good skills, expensive)
2. Kumho Victor Racer V700 (very forgiving, gives out little to above 2, but can hold it's own, economical)
3. Yokohama 032R, and A008R (forgiving, harder compound than above)
4. Toyo Proxes RA1 (closest in feel to street driven tires)

Hoosier A/R3S03 Race

BF Goodrich T/A R1 Race

Kumho Ecsta V700 Race

 Kumho Victor Racer V700 Race

Yokohama Advan A032 R Race

Toyo Proxes RA1 Race