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Tire Guide

Cracked tires? They’re toast

Published May 23, 2013

Q: The Toyo Proxes tires on my ’95 Miata are showing their age, with small cracks starting to appear. They were built in 2008 so I guess it’s time to replace them, even though there is lots of tread left. They are P205/50R15′s on Panasport 7inch rims, not a common size.

I have been searching the Internet, but it seems a case of too much info making it tough to make a decision. You liked the Falken ZE912 in a tire test, and the price is good. Another low end tire is the Dunlop Direzza DZ101. A Mazda dealer recommended the Marangoni Zeta Linea, I’m not familiar with this maker but the tire looks good and at $135 it is not a bad price.

A: Yes, your tires are toast if they are cracking. From the tires you mention, I am assuming that you are not racing around the back roads but rather just doing sporty driving to enjoy the Miata’s great handling.

The tires you mentioned are performance tires but not ultra-high performance, so that is the category I looking at. Of the tires you mention, the Dunlop DZ101 would be my choice over the Falken’s. I think they will have better wet grip and a slight edge in dry as well. The Dunlop’s are $114 at Canadian Tire. You may be able to find a shop with a slightly lower price by phoning around.

Two other tires are worth considering. The General Exclaim UHP is a step up in performance from the Dunlop. I think it will work well on a Miata. It weighs two pounds per tire less than the Dunlop so it will feel a little more agile. It is V rated like the Dunlop but its tread life expectation will be slightly higher. It is listed at CTC at $120.

The other tire to consider is the Hankook V2. It is Korean and an excellent product. It is lighter weight like the General. It is a newer design than the General by several years and has all the latest high tech compound blending going for it. It is exceptional in the wet. CTC lists it at $143 in your size. That is a bit ridiculous as 1010tire.com has it at $91.

In order my choices would be Hankook, General, Dunlop, Falken.

The Marangoni is a well-known line in Europe, they do not have much of a presence in Canada, mostly they sell winter tires here. They are a fine tire for what they are, a lower cost alternative to the big companies. Some people give them bad reviews but they are mostly comparing apples to oranges, comparing to the top performance tires that cost 150% more. The reason I didn’t recommend it for your car is that the tread pattern will be quite noisy. If you do much top down driving it may be a bother. If that is not an issue, include it in the mix.

Q I’m driving an 4wd ’03 Toyota Rav4 and it needs some new treads(P215/70R16). I do quite a bit of driving on gravel roads and the occasional corn field but also use it to commute on the highway. What I’d like is a tire that has got more of an aggressive tread for the field than the Hercules Terra Tracs I have now, but aren’t going to make a tonne of noise on the highway. Also, what is the expected life for a set of tires?

A You are asking for two things that are incompatible, good off road traction and quiet highway ride. So that rules out two classes of tires, the SUV touring highway tires and the full off road all terrain tires. There is a “tweener” class called the on/off road all terrain tire. This is a small group of tires. These have a more aggressive tread pattern with bigger chunkier blocks, but the tread blocks are not as big as an full blown off road all terrain tire.

There are two available in your size worth considering, the General Grabber AT2 and the Yokohama Geolander A/T-S. Between these two the older design General has the more aggressive blocks. It has higher off road traction ratings than the Yoko. Keep in mind that the Yokohama will be quieter once you get on the pavement.

The General is rated for about 96,000 kilometers and the Yoko is projected to last 80,000 klicks. Of course actual wear will vary from one driver to another. Both of these are tough tires; with twin steel belts holding the carcass steady of uneven ground. The Yokohama has the better ride of the two.

Tire questions to: thetireguy_1@hotmail.com. Mail volume precludes personal replies.

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