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Thu Apr 13, 2006
Anyone who knows me knows that I'm hooked on snow tires. I started using Bridgestone Blizzak WS-50s a couple of years ago, and absolutely love them. We have 2 sets of them - one for my Golf (175/65-14 on black steel rims) and one for Claire's Golf (195/65-14 on a set of factory VW Orlandos).

Blizzaks could be used all year, as they really do perform fairly well in dry conditions as well as snow and ice, but the rubber compound will wear extremely quickly on dry roads so it's best to switch over to summer or all-season tires once the nasty weather is gone. So we also have a couple sets of summer tires that I swap over to during the spring. Last summer, Claire ran my set of cheap (yet decent looking) American Racing 15x7 wheels with 205/50 Kumho Ecsta 711 tires and I ran my infamous set of practically-brand-new factory VW 14" snowflake alloys with 195/55 Dunlop SP Sport 8000 tires. The Dunlops are great tires and I've had them for about 4 years now, only putting a few miles on them here and there. I should have put them to better use, because now they're getting cracks in the rubber down in the tread blocks. So this year I had a choice to make - either get new tires for the 14" snowflakes and continue using the 15" wheels and Kumhos on Claire's Golf, or use the 15" wheels and Kumhos on my Golf (what I originally bought them for, actually) and buy a set of tires to fit the 16" wheels that our 96 Golf (Claire's) came with from the previous owner. The wheels are just fine, and look pretty sharp on the car - but the previous owner was running them without hub-centric adapter rings, which is a big no-no in my opinion. I think the 16" wheels look better on the 96 than those 15" American Racing rims, so I decided to get some tires for the 16s. I was planning on either 205/45-16 or, preferably, 225/40-16. After looking, just about the only tire I could find in 225/40-16 was the Kumho Ecsta 712... and they were about $85 a piece plus shipping plus mounting/balancing. Ouch. Grumbling the whole time, I started looking for tires in ho-hum 205/45 instead and had pretty good luck finding a deal. I found that General Tire actually makes high performance summer tires, and their Exclaim UHP is very reasonably priced. The reviews on The Tire Rack were great and people here at work have had good luck with General Tires, and the price was right so I decided to give them a shot. They arrived yesterday, so now I am just waiting for the hub-centric adapter rings that I ordered to come in. In the meantime, I need to get the new tires mounted on the wheels and have them balanced... then they can go on the car as soon as the rings get here.

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