By on October 27, 2014

wheels-Scion-tC-blogSpan

TTAC Commentator Sam Hell Jr. writes:

Hi, Sanjeev!

The first car I bought for myself was a 2011 Scion tC. Compared with some other decisions I made three years ago (cough, cough, career in human resources, cough), this one’s turned out okay — to date, I’ve put 40k on the odo with no repair costs but regular maintenance, and the hatchback utility and decent fuel economy have both matched up well with my needs. I’ll probably have the tC paid off this year, and I’m looking forward to debt-free living, so the car and I are stuck with each other for some time to come.

My biggest complaint is with the car’s interstate manners. I take a handful of significant road trips every year, and at freeway speeds on anything but pristine pavement (of the kind one does not often traverse on I-80), the ride gets jittery, and the tire noise is, well, tiresome.

I’m still running the stock 225/45R18 high-performance Toyos; based on the treadwear, I’ll be shopping for tires sometime in the next 12 months. I’m willing to trade some responsiveness for a little more comfort and quiet.

Would moving over to a grand touring tire like a Michelin Primacy be a reasonable option for me? Or would I just turn my noisy econohatch into a noisy econohatch with less-capable handling? (All-seasons are my only option — I live in northwest Ohio, and I don’t have anywhere to store a second set of tires.)

Follow-up question — are there some other reasonable steps I’m overlooking which might make this car a little less Celica and a little more Solara?

Thanks so much for your time — I’m a big fan of your columns!

Sajeev writes:

You don’t like being in command of people’s careers as An Almighty HR Professional?  I enjoy blackmailing certain super-cheaty racers as a judge in The 24 Hours of LeMons. You can do that too!

Just get the dirt on key executives, or middle managers hot-to-trot up the corporate ladder. Think about it: you could be bribing your way to a 2-car garage with ultra-plush Mercury Grand Marquis levels of comfort in a matter of months. After a year, LSX-FTW swap on both vehicles! Problem solved!

Sanjeev writes:

Oh that’s just lovely advice, you are such a wise man.  No wonder everyone wants ME to answer their letters, even with YOUR mindless rantings in tow. My friends: listen to Sanjeev.  Sanjeev knows Toyotas.

Sanjeev knows that your tires are old enough to need replacement, no matter their tread life.  Their noise level is tiresome, quite common for worn-out high performance rubber.  You can probably downsize to a Scion/Corolla 16 or 17″ wheel for maximum effect, maybe you’ll regret the lack of coolness in your cool Scion-branded Toyota. Why is Sanjeev right about this?  Because he did a mere tire change after Sajeev failed in his choice for his mother’s Lexus GS430.

Sajeev put a “high performance” all season tire, they drove everyone nuts after 3 years.  So Sanjeev wisely installed a less aggressive “touring” all season tire. Now everyone is happy. Because now it’s a proper V8-powered Lexus, with tires that will last longer, ride better (probably) and stay quieter. So, with Sanjeev’s blessings, switch to a more conservative all season tire!

 

Send your queries to [email protected]com. Spare no details and ask for a speedy resolution if you’re in a hurry…but be realistic, and use your make/model specific forums instead of TTAC for more timely advice.

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42 Comments on “Piston Slap: A Scion’s Ideal All Season Tire?...”


  • avatar
    mikey

    Your a cool one Sajeev…I’ve been trading cars around for the last few years. Its been a while since I bought tires. I don’t recall the last time I bought tires that were not Michelin. The Mustang has the factory Pirelli. they have worn well, but have flat spots from sitting.

    The Impala has factory Firestone. I’ve had nothing but great service from Michelin. Michelin will be my only choice when I replace tires

  • avatar
    BMWnut

    Going down to 17″ or 16″ (ugh!) wheels will definitely hurt resale value. So keep those 18″ wheels and tires and find a place to store them. And do it now, while there is some tread left. But then there is the issue of storing tires – worth a Piston Slap thread all by itself.

  • avatar
    Halftruth

    Check the alignment too. What I mean is, it may have come from the factory with the tops cambered in for better cornering. Check that that wear is even and that the camber is more or less neutral. My IS300 did the same thing and I had it aligned more “neutrally”. The noise went away but new tires were needed as the old ones had been worn. Just a thought.

    • 0 avatar
      rpn453

      It’s less about camber and more about toe. But you’re right on with the alignment recommendation. Poor treadwear due to alignment issues is the biggest cause of tire noise. Base your alignment settings on visual analysis of the tread wear as much as on the factory specs.

      I’d want to get some more s*dewall on there for ride comfort, noise isolation, and wheel protection. So 225/50R18 or 235/45R18, depending on your fitment preferences. 235/50R18 might even fit. As others have mentioned, a 16″ or 17″ tire would be a more practical choice.

      I’d be wary of touring tires. Most are terrible in snow. The Michelin Pilot Sport AS3 would be my ideal choice. Compare the Primacy’s tread design to the Pilot’s and you’ll be able to predict which one can dig snow more effectively. Also expect the Pilots to have more dry grip, wet grip, and hydroplane resistance. I can vouch for the Pilot AS being very quiet on the three vehicles in which I’ve done highway trips with those tires, and they’ve done well at the track, too.

  • avatar
    319583076

    Sajeev,

    Your patience is endless. Even I find this Sanjeev nonsense annoying!

  • avatar
    Lie2me

    Sanjeev, that evil alter-ego of yours, Sajeev, is starting to get the better of you, don’t let it. Fight it man, fight it

  • avatar
    bball40dtw

    Some tire places will store your take offs for you. I think Belle Tire charges in the neighborhood of $100 a year, I’m not sure if Discount Tire does it. There are also plenty of indy tire places or shops that will store your offseason tires.

    If you must stay with an all season, I’ve had good luck with the Continental ExtremeContact DWS in winter. While I use winter tires on all of my cars, I drove a 2012 Focus with DWSs in the winter because I knew I was going to get rid of it. There was no sense investing in another set of winter wheels/tires. You would probably get some comfort benefit dropping from an 18 to a 16/17 as well.

    Also: I haven’t had experience with Nokians, but some people, like DavefromCalgary, swear by them. Even for all season use.

    • 0 avatar
      slance66

      Do not buy Nokians if you want quiet. They are remarkable in the snow, but are anything but quiet on the highway.

      To the OP letter writer, do what everyone does. First decide if you are willing to get some 17 inch or 16 inch wheels and store the 18’s. Whether you do or don’t, go to Tirerack.com and research the tires that fit your car. You should get a good feel for dry, wet and snow performance, tread life and noise.

      If you stick with 18’s I’d go more for a touring tire, to counteract that nasty 45 aspect ratio. If you got 17’s you could probably go “performance” but I’d avoid high performance.

      • 0 avatar
        missmySE-R

        100% agree regarding the Nokians. I’m now on my 2nd set for my ’05 Mazda3 but one of the primary trade-offs to having a highly winter capable all-season tire is the elevated noise.

      • 0 avatar
        MBella

        The ExtremeContact DWS is a solid all season tire, but quite it is not. My suggestion would be a Good Year Eagle RS-A or ContiProContact. The Good Year is in my opinion one of the best values in a quite comfortable tire with still acceptable performance.

        • 0 avatar
          CoreyDL

          Sorry, I’ve got Eagle RS-A’s on my car right now. While the winter traction was pretty decent, they are certainly not quiet. Reviews generally agree with this view.

    • 0 avatar
      sproc

      +1 on the Continental ExtremeContact DWS as long as you’re not on tight budget. Excellent balance of handling, noise, treadwear and reasonable winter performance.

      I’d also recommend the Yokohama AVID ENVigors I run on my RSX. The car spent most of two winters ago in southern New England and did just fine in a few light/medium snow events. (I even had a set of Dunlop Winter Sports in the garage, but for barely 25mi/week of driving, it wasn’t worth the swap.) The Yokohamas are a little cheaper than the Contis and the treadwear has been terrific.

    • 0 avatar
      davefromcalgary

      Yo!

      bball speaks the truth. For year round sure footed driving, you can’t beat the Nokian WRG3 (due to the combination of both meeting the severe service requirements but having a compound that borders on “hard” for a winter tire, improving durability). However, they will certainly be as loud (if not louder) than the current high performance tires, due to the blocky tread. The trade off, as it were.

      Given your request for a combo of some winter ability as well as quiet comfort, ie a traditional all season my technique is to look for the highest concentration of transverse grooves. For example the Verano T has ContiProContact OEM tires, which are tripe on a bike for winter because they focus on circumferential grooves and have almost no grooves that travel from ring to ring, and no ability to dig through the snow. Touring tires that are more towards comfort than handling tend to have this, but 18″ rims and 45 series generally tend towards performance. Looking at tirerack.com for your size, the DWS mentioned by bball or the PureContact ecoplus mentioned elsewhere in the thread are likely your best bet. (please bear in mind this is NOT scientific, just based on my experience in the Cdn prairies for the last 15 years.)

      However, I know Nokian is touting their current high end winters as “low rolling resistance” and that there should be no fuel economy hit. Perhaps this translates to lower noise? For the record, my new Hakka R2 are surprisingly not that much louder if at all than the OEM tires.

      As an aside, I just stored my OEM 235/45/18 on 18×8 for winter (in the storage room of my apartment, I had to do some clever rearranging), and bought some sweet powdercoated 8 spoke OEM Buick rims and 215/60/15 Nokian Hakka R2 for winter. They look like they belong there (because they kind of do) which is a nice feature. I am really looking forward to putting them through their paces once this crazy warm October gives up the ghost.

      http://i749.photobucket.com/albums/xx140/dave_bernardin/Winter%20Tires/IMG_5899_zpsf3c73081.jpg

      As another aside, in my opinion, the real solution if you can afford it is the downsizing mentioned by others. You won’t believe how much difference an actual sidewall with some gives makes. Plus you will have so many other attached benefits of cheaper rubber, less rotational inertia to overcome with engine power (which improves fuel economy and acceleration) and the ability to rub a curb if you are having an off day without scraping the rim.

    • 0 avatar
      davefromcalgary

      Damn, I just wrote a masterful reply but I think the spam filter is sick of my winter tire soap box.

      EDITING TO TRY AND ADD MY COMMENT

      Yo!

      bball speaks the truth. For year round sure footed driving, you can’t beat the Nokian WRG3 (due to the combination of both meeting the severe service requirements but having a compound that borders on “hard” for a winter tire, improving durability). However, they will certainly be as loud (if not louder) than the current high performance tires, due to the blocky tread. The trade off, as it were.

      Given your request for a combo of some winter ability as well as quiet comfort, ie a traditional all season my technique is to look for the highest concentration of transverse grooves. For example the Verano T has ContiProContact OEM tires, which are tripe on a bike for winter because they focus on circumferential grooves and have almost no grooves that travel from ring to ring, and no ability to dig through the snow. Touring tires that are more towards comfort than handling tend to have this, but 18″ rims and 45 series generally tend towards performance. Looking at tirerack.com for your size, the DWS mentioned by bball or the PureContact ecoplus mentioned elsewhere in the thread are likely your best bet. (please bear in mind this is NOT scientific, just based on my experience in the Cdn prairies for the last 15 years.)

      However, I know Nokian is touting their current high end winters as “low rolling resistance” and that there should be no fuel economy hit. Perhaps this translates to lower noise? For the record, my new Hakka R2 are surprisingly not that much louder if at all than the OEM tires.

      As an aside, I just stored my OEM 235/45/18 on 18×8 for winter (in the storage room of my apartment, I had to do some clever rearranging), and bought some sweet powdercoated 8 spoke OEM Buick rims and 215/60/15 Nokian Hakka R2 for winter. They look like they belong there (because they kind of do) which is a nice feature. I am really looking forward to putting them through their paces once this crazy warm October gives up the ghost.

      http://i749.photobucket.com/albums/xx140/dave_bernardin/Winter%20Tires/IMG_5899_zpsf3c73081.jpg

      As another aside, in my opinion, the real solution if you can afford it is the downsizing mentioned by others. You won’t believe how much difference an actual sidewall with some gives makes. Plus you will have so many other attached benefits of cheaper rubber, less rotational inertia to overcome with engine power (which improves fuel economy and acceleration) and the ability to rub a curb if you are having an off day without scraping the rim.

  • avatar
    CJinSD

    Get yourself some Continental PureContact with EcoPlus Technology(sadly, this is what they’re called) tires in the stock size. They’ll last a long time and smooth out your ride and noise issues.

  • avatar
    Occam

    Mine had Toyo tires from the factory, and they were indeed loud. I replaced them with Firestone Firehawk Wide Oval Indy 500s, and have no complaints. The ride is less jittery and noise levels are lower.

    That said, the car has fairly high road noise levels regardless of tires. I’ve driven mine coast to coast, and on several 2000 mile road trips (I’m at 65,000 miles), and the noise levels on very coarse pavement or chipseal can be a bit much. The Firehawks improved it, but they don’t work miracles – there’s just a certain amount of road noise that you live with in a sub-$20K car. The ride was noticably better, and the wet-road handling (particularly resistance to hydroplaning) is MUCH better!

    • 0 avatar

      + ONE MILLION for those Wide Ovals. I’ve switched to larger wheels when they quit making them for my OEM size as time goes by.

      • 0 avatar
        Occam

        They aren’t as grippy as the factory tires were, but I find that they’re actually more fun. Understeer is a bit more pronounced, but more predictable (it comes on more gradually rather than a sudden loss of traction), and it becomes far easier to modulate the liftoff oversteer. Take a corner just a bit hot, throttle-off, and the car just snaps into line!

        The wear has been much better – these have plenty of tread left at 65,000 miles (35,000 miles of use), and the originals had to go at 30,000.

  • avatar
    CoreyDL

    “the ride gets jittery, and the tire noise is, well, tiresome.”

    You bought a lil tiny car without much insultation, which has been created for young people who wear flatbills and say “Hey brah.”

    LIVE WITH YOUR CHOICE!

    Or, get a bigger car.

    • 0 avatar
      DeeDub

      I think the source of the problem is the big wagon wheels everybody “needs” to look cool these days. If you’re rolling on metal with just a thin veneer of rubber overlaid, the ride is gonna be harsh. Sidewall works, bro.

    • 0 avatar
      30-mile fetch

      That’s rather unhelpful given
      1. He came here to ask about tires
      2. The guy is enjoying his $0 monthly car payment
      3. He seems to like the car otherwise
      4. The flatbills and Hey Brah joke isn’t quite funny enough to warrant posting something that doesn’t address the original question.

      • 0 avatar
        CoreyDL

        1. I’ve just scanned the comments, and I do not see your extensive recommendation list and wisdom imparted yet. Thus, your comment is just as helpful as mine.

        • 0 avatar
          30-mile fetch

          Wrong. I responded to your off topic micro-rant while you posted the original yourself. But you’re right in a sense; as with feeding trolls I probably shouldn’t respond to irrelevant comments either.

        • 0 avatar
          30-mile fetch

          I just re-read your comment and saw the “live with your choice” in all caps, and yeah, I stand by my first comment. It really is unhelpful.

          Dang it, I’m responding to irrelevant comments again!

    • 0 avatar
      Occam

      Ooo! Let me try!

      The Corvette is for aging plumbers with hair plugs!

      Mitsubishis are for people with a FICO score of 7!

      Audis and BMWs are for people scraping by on $40,000/year to lease and park in their apartment complex parking lots!

      Camaros are for balding boomers who thought they were a big deal back in ’68.

      Porsches are for divorced CPAs!

      Camrys are for boring married CPAs!

      Pickups are for compensation!

      I’m so creative!

    • 0 avatar
      FormerFF

      At 176 inches long, the tC is not a “lil tiny car”. The problem is not the size of the car, it’s that Scion put the wrong tire on the car for its actual use. Odds are that if the OP puts a set of Grand Touring style tires on said car he’ll be much happier with his daily drive.

  • avatar
    ttacgreg

    Go to Tire Rack’s web site and drill into their crowd sourced ratings of tires in various categories.
    It amazes me how often the random unscientific crowd sourcing there agrees with the methodological conclusions of Consumer Reports when it comes to particular tire models.
    I can attest that my OEM Firestone FR700’s made my 2000 Corolla thunderously loud on coarse pavement at speed, and getting the top rated Tire Rack tire for quietness at that time, the Yoko Avid Touring made a huge difference in road noise.
    Pick you priorities and go for it.

    • 0 avatar
      Preludacris

      Yep! I have been surprised how much I agree with Tire Rack user reviews for tires I’ve owned. Ignore the outliers and you should get a pretty good feel for how well you’ll like a given tire.

  • avatar
    22_RE_Speedwagon

    Wide ovals is summer tires, no?

    • 0 avatar
      Occam

      Either summer or all-season. I’m not sure – I live in South Texas, so winter tires fall into that same category as heavy coats and snow shovels – rumored, but probably don’t exist.

  • avatar
    mikeg216

    Buy 16 inch steelies with Bridgestone blizzaks for the winter and put the tires in the closet or pay Belle tire. In the summer put on some nice Michelin summer tires and continue to enjoy your Scion

  • avatar
    NeilM

    The OP lives in NW Ohio and I live in NE Indiana, which is pretty much same-same as far as snow and ice go: plenty.

    Unless you hibernate at home for the cold third of the year you should get 4-wheel snows on cheap rims. Figure out the storage issue — friends, family, U-store, under your bed, whatever — and just do it. Having dedicated snows frees you up to get the tires that work best for you the rest of the year.

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