Working with this magazine over the past five years, I've seen an expansion in the variety of tires available. At the same time, there's a lack of uniform category descriptions, especially when the manufacturer designates a tire as Ultra High Performance and then a retailer calls it Max Performance.

The true measure of the tire's performance also takes into account the type of vehicle on which it is installed. Because a tire with a Ultra Performance designation might be just that on one vehicle and might be Extreme Performance on another. For example, about a year ago I tested a 150-hp VW Rabbit and 290-hp GTI, each equipped with identical suspension modifications. Each used the same 19-inch wheels wrapped in 225/35 Continental ContiSportContact 2 rubber. On the GTI the tires performed well and I would have rated them a 7 on a scale of 10. Those same tires on the Rabbit, however, would earn a rating of 9/10, meaning on this car they performed exceptionally well.

When choosing the perfect tire for your vehicle, you should take into account the vehicle's performance needs, your usual driving conditions-and of course, your budget-and try not to be overwhelmed with the manufacturer or vendor's performance description-Ultra, Performance, Max, Extreme, Street, or some combination thereof.

Deciphering The Sidewall

Let's look at the sidewall of the Goodyear Eagle F1 Asymmetric

225 - Width of the tire in millimeters

35 - Height of the sidewall as apercentage ratio, the sidewall of this tire is 35% of 225 millimeter width

R - Radial construction

19 - Rim Diameter

88 - Load Index, amount of weight the tire can handle at max air pressure, 88 = 1,235 LBS

Y - Speed Rating tire has been tested up to 186 MPH

Made in Germany - Country of manufacturing

E13 - European Union attestation marks, where the product was tested and certified, in this case Luxembourg

DOT - Department of Transportation mark certifies the tire is in compliance with all US Laws

Extra Load - Indicates the tire side wall has been reinforced to handle greater stresses, and it some instances will require different inflation pressure

Treadwear 240 - Wear rating given by the government based on the results of controlled tests

Traction AA - Stopping ability of the tire on wet asphalt and concrete with AA being the highest grade

Temperature A - Heat dissipation ability of the tire as it makes contact with the road, A being the highest grade

Inside/Outside - Indicates how the asymmetric tire is to be mounted on the rim (unidirectional tire will have terms Right/Left to indicate how they are to be mounted and their position on the vehicle)

Sidewall Plies 2 Rayon - The number of plies found in the sidewall

Tread Plies 2 rayon, 2 Steel, 3 Polyamide - The number of plies found in the tread portion of the tire 2 Steel, 3 Polyamide

Max Load 560kg
(1235lbs) 340 kpa
(50 psi) Max Pressure
- Recommended max load and psi

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