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Tire Talk Forum users visit Consumer Reports' Auto Test Center

Tire Talk Forum users visit Consumer Reports’ Auto Test Center

At our Auto Test Center, we recently were host to a group of die-hard tire enthusiasts who over the years have provided a lot of good advice and spirited discussion on Consumer Reports’ Tire Talk forum page.

Our moderator, Jerry Josz, sent out an invitation several weeks ago and we were happy to get a number of takers who found the time and were willing to drive to our facility in East Haddam, Conn., on a beautiful Saturday. Our guests included David Lim, Mark Schaffer, Mark Mill, and Krystof Szemiot and family. 

More than a tour of our Auto Test Center, it was a discussion on our tire test philosophy and how we rate tires. As expected, everyone shared their experiences in buying the right tire for their car.

Then came the fun stuff. We demonstrated handling tests, showing how a car responds with and without stability control, tire hydroplaning resistance, at-the-limit handling on our track, and wet handling through our autocross course. Everyone had an opportunity to ride along in each of tests. Some participants were a little reluctant at first, but they could not keep the grins off their faces afterward.  

From a safety standpoint, these tire enthusiasts learned what if feels like to spin out of control in our double lane change maneuver test with the ESC switched off and how effective this technology is in eliminating many dangerous situations. Likewise, our guests got a good sense of what tire grip and extreme handling means when we pushed some of our test cars around the track. We used the ultra-fun-to-drive Scion FR-S and Subaru BRZ twins shod with our top-rated summer tires on one and a not so-great tire set on the other. The inferior tire car was clumsy but won applause for its entertaining drifting and tail-wagging.

We then splashed through the hydroplaning course, demonstrating the disconcerting feel of losing steering control at a speed when the tires start to skim on water. Needless to say, all of our guests now have a new respect for the dangers of driving in standing water. Last, we had a ride and a drive on our autocross course to highlight the handling grip levels of ultra-high-performance tires. The remarkable wet grip level of one tire set was described by a guest as if he was “driving on rails.”

My mission was completed by day’s end with the group departing with smiles on their faces and a thoughtful appreciation of our test capabilities. I personally want to thank each one and hope they can spread the word that we at Consumer Reports can talk tires with the best of them.

If you wish to talk tires, join in the discussion in our forums. Be sure to check out our tire buying guide, and consult our recently updated tire ratings before buying.

Gene Petersen

Consumer Reports has no relationship with any advertisers or sponsors on this website. Copyright © 2007-2013 Consumers Union of U.S.

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