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Lexus Owners Club

A Question About Performance Tyres? Ask The Michelin Expert!

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- Masters Degree in Motorsport Engineering at Cranfield

Another Cranfield Uni alumni - welcome to the club, Jamie! :D

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Hi Jamie,

Thanks for coming onto the forum! :)

Apologies for my ignorance if this is a stupid question but it's something I've always wondered and I don't think it's been asked before.

With regards to tyre pressures, on most vehicles now (including my IS) there is a sticker on the inside of the door detailing manufacturers recommendations.

As they usually offer advice for different tyres sizes and loads, is it really worth changing the pressures for the different loads or is it just a case of setting it to your most common driving conditions. For example, usually it's just me in the car or me and the other half, but I do the odd fully laden motorway trip with 4 adults and luggage. Is it worth upping the tyre pressures just for these occasional times and then adjusting again after, or does it really matter that much? Am I over thinking this?! :D

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Hi Jamie,

Thanks for coming onto the forum! :)

Apologies for my ignorance if this is a stupid question but it's something I've always wondered and I don't think it's been asked before.

With regards to tyre pressures, on most vehicles now (including my IS) there is a sticker on the inside of the door detailing manufacturers recommendations.

As they usually offer advice for different tyres sizes and loads, is it really worth changing the pressures for the different loads or is it just a case of setting it to your most common driving conditions. For example, usually it's just me in the car or me and the other half, but I do the odd fully laden motorway trip with 4 adults and luggage. Is it worth upping the tyre pressures just for these occasional times and then adjusting again after, or does it really matter that much? Am I over thinking this?! :D

I'd only really change to these higher pressures if you were loaded up and spending 2+ hours or more at high average speed.

All it does is basically protect the tyre's construction and allow it to carry more load. I have a Mondeo estate for work, and in the two years I've had I haven't altered the pressures once.

You'd be surprised just how much "spare" capacity is in most tyres, e.g. 205/55-16 91V's carry 615kgs a tyre, so 2400 a set. Most cars aren't that heavy!

The benefit from changing them is that the added air pressure protects the carcass at high speed. It reduces flexing and heat build up

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Hi Jamie,

Thanks for coming onto the forum! :)

Apologies for my ignorance if this is a stupid question but it's something I've always wondered and I don't think it's been asked before.

With regards to tyre pressures, on most vehicles now (including my IS) there is a sticker on the inside of the door detailing manufacturers recommendations.

As they usually offer advice for different tyres sizes and loads, is it really worth changing the pressures for the different loads or is it just a case of setting it to your most common driving conditions. For example, usually it's just me in the car or me and the other half, but I do the odd fully laden motorway trip with 4 adults and luggage. Is it worth upping the tyre pressures just for these occasional times and then adjusting again after, or does it really matter that much? Am I over thinking this?! :D

I'd only really change to these higher pressures if you were loaded up and spending 2+ hours or more at high average speed.

All it does is basically protect the tyre's construction and allow it to carry more load. I have a Mondeo estate for work, and in the two years I've had I haven't altered the pressures once.

You'd be surprised just how much "spare" capacity is in most tyres, e.g. 205/55-16 91V's carry 615kgs a tyre, so 2400 a set. Most cars aren't that heavy!

The benefit from changing them is that the added air pressure protects the carcass at high speed. It reduces flexing and heat build up

Thanks Jamie, I guess I will stick to what I'm doing then! If it's good enough for you.... :)

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Hi Jamie,

I always seem to end up buying tyres in axle pairs, although I tend to like having a matching set all round as I always feel that a car drives better with matching tyres all round.

However, sometimes I find that when I come to buy a pair (still lots of life left in the other pair) that model I have been using has been discontinued and replaced with a newer model that has a slightly different tread pattern.

My question is....

Is it still a good plan to stick with the newer model and then upgrade the other pair once they are worn out? Am I going to notice much difference in performance by having the newer/older version of the same tyre brand and model on different axles?

Thanks

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Hi Jamie,

I always seem to end up buying tyres in axle pairs, although I tend to like having a matching set all round as I always feel that a car drives better with matching tyres all round.

However, sometimes I find that when I come to buy a pair (still lots of life left in the other pair) that model I have been using has been discontinued and replaced with a newer model that has a slightly different tread pattern.

My question is....

Is it still a good plan to stick with the newer model and then upgrade the other pair once they are worn out? Am I going to notice much difference in performance by having the newer/older version of the same tyre brand and model on different axles?

Thanks

Hi

We tend to kind of have tyres with around a 5-7 year life cycle. So once we launch a product we start working on it's replacement. Hence we can end up with you buying a tyre towards the end of it's life cycle and then it's not available 2-3 years later.

We always advise new tyres to the rear for grip potential and car balance, but an additional benefit of that is that as you normally wear front tyres out quicker, it uses up the old tyres quicker, so you can end up back with a matching set quicker.

With our products, there is very often a level of shared technology between one generation and the next, so the best match is often the newest product. When you use tyres from the same manufacturer, there is more of a "family" commonality between them.

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That makes sense so it's still worth sticking with the "newer model" then. To be honest, that's how I have the car set up now it seems to drive well.

I've bought used cars in the past that have had one odd tyre on (a different brand to the rest) and I've always thought that it never feels right.

I take it that along with fitting new tyre to the rear as you recommend that it's always worth having the axle set matching as a minimum?

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James

I'd always say minimum axle pair. Whilst you may never lean on your tyres hard enough, i think having a "balanced" set up, e.g. one where you have the same potential across the axle, means you won't have different behavior in different turns. So if you steer left or right, it's the same. Plus removes any element of "pull" under traction or braking.

Some European countries actually have same tyres on an axle as law..

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James

I'd always say minimum axle pair. Whilst you may never lean on your tyres hard enough, i think having a "balanced" set up, e.g. one where you have the same potential across the axle, means you won't have different behavior in different turns. So if you steer left or right, it's the same. Plus removes any element of "pull" under traction or braking.

Some European countries actually have same tyres on an axle as law..

Thanks Jamie, I thought that may be the case although I didn't realise it was the law in some countries. I've heard about winter tyres being required in some European countries though.

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Speaking of winter tyres, do you genuinely think there's as much difference in terms of budget, mid range, premium etc as there is in normal summer tyres?

Eg. Am I better off buying a set of budget winter tyres for the winter than using my premium summer tyres all year round?

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Speaking of winter tyres, do you genuinely think there's as much difference in terms of budget, mid range, premium etc as there is in normal summer tyres?

Eg. Am I better off buying a set of budget winter tyres for the winter than using my premium summer tyres all year round?

Sadly (well understandably I suppose), the budget winter tyres never do quite well in the tests compared to the Premium or Mid line tyres.

As with summer tyres, Premium manufacturer's do have the best technology, materials and R&D so their advantage over the budget brands is the same really. And the advances in winter compounds and pattern and sipe technology, aren't easy to replicate.

Michelin, as with most of the Premium brands to have their own ranges in 2nd line, which quite often can be based upon the premium tyre of one/two generations back. So that would be a good compromise. I would personally avoid the budget ones, especially on a quiet well engineered car, like a Lexus..

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I'm a firm believer in using quality tyres, I always have been for some time now and I always buy premium brands for my cars now. You buy cheap, you buy twice I always say! :D

Anyway, I was interested to get your honest opinion as to why I should go for a Michelin over the other main premium brands i.e. what sets apart Michelin in particular? Don't get me wrong, I've had Michelin before and always got on well with them but I was just interested in the main selling points over other premium brands.

It's easy to see the difference over mid range and budget tyres etc but sometimes it's hard to differentiate between the top brands aside from trying them all for a few thousand miles!

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Dan,

apologies for the delay in getting a reply back. This is a tough one to answer without being critical of competitors, or sounding pompous but I will give it a go...

Why are we different?

  • We've lead a lot of developments over the years, and continue to spend more on R&D than any other tyre company. So if you have a Michelin on the car, it's a fairly high probability it's at the forefront of current tyre technology
  • We have a philosophy of Michelin Total Performance. what does that mean? Quite simply that we want our tyres to bring together lots of different areas of performance, including safety, fuel efficiency, wet and dry grip, longevity etc etc. So while Tyre X may perform slightly better in Test Y with Magazine Z, we develop our tyres to give more overall performance to more consumers and manufacturers. We make tyres that work for more people more of the time, for longer
  • We build a lot of our own factory machinery. Sounds simple, but it means we aren't constrained by the machines. If a designer needs a tyre built a certain way and there isn't a machine to make it, we make the machine. It gives us scope where others are constrained by the ability of the machinery.
  • We actually use motorsport for product development, not just as a marketing exercise. So what you cry... i don't drive a sports endurance or rally car.. well the lessons we learn developing tyres are applied to our road tyre range, very often by the same designers. So again visible with our Pilot Sport ranges, where we use motorsport compounds and materials in road tyres.

Apart from that we have the friendliest and most knowledgeable staff :D

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Thanks Jamie that was an interesting write up. It's nice to hear what different manufacturers feel differs them from their competitors as from a consumer's point of view there is quite often little to call between them, particularly amongst premium brands.

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I saw someone else asked you about keeping matching axle pairs etc and I was wondering if your advice would differ when it comes to a 4wd such as the RX? Are axle pairs still OK or should I be ideally sticking with the same pattern all round?

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I have read advise on here and DetailingWorld about tyres.

Whilst I think the premium tyres like Pilot Sport 3 give better grip (And GY EF1A2's etc), some people say they are excessive for non-sports cars.

Have a softer compound, wear quicker and generally the difference it not noticeable from mid~high end tyres.

In my view, more grip = less stopping distance, 'surprising' corners = less surprising. Basically more grip is ALWAYS better.

Even if you only 'need' the extra grip provided once in their lifetime, it could have been the difference between a bump or a verge saying hello.

What's your view on mid to high end tyres vs top end on saloons like the IS250/220D?

(Well, passenger vehicle top end)

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Ian

I couldn't agree more.

Yes, in general gone are the days of "my michelin's/goodyear's etc.. used to last 80,000 miles.."

Why, because, cars performance and drivers expectations have increased significantly over the last 30 years.

If we look at an average family hatchback like a Ford Focus, the on average have a minimum of around 120hp, 16" or 17" wheels as standard, with complex suspension systems and powerful brakes. Compare that to a 1985 Ford Escort, with 75-90hp and 13" or 14" wheels. Are cars performance has improved, tyres needed to improve to cope with the performance improvements.

So with Premium tyres, yes, the extra grip has in general been needed, as the cars have so much more potential.

Therefore, with the increase in grip there has been some differences with mileage attained, but it's not all down to the tyres.

That 1985 Ford Escort, will never work it's tyres like the 2014 Ford Focus. So really you can't compare, as they aren't the same.

I often say to drivers and consumers, that the only reference you have for the mileage you attain, is your car, on the roads you drive on with you driving it. So the only mileage comparisons are with the car you have, and even then it changes as the car ages (suspension and component wear and tear..)

Lastly, you always may find some options, for example on the 17" sizes for the IS's we will offer Pilot Sport 3 and Primacy 3. So the Primacy may give you a better compromise if less sporty...

And the final word is.. really for people trying to save money on tyres..

The one time you need the car to stop or steer or grip.. you want the absolute maximum amount of grip.

£20-40 a tyre extra vs. the costs of an accident and your health.. really can't be summed up easily.

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I saw someone else asked you about keeping matching axle pairs etc and I was wondering if your advice would differ when it comes to a 4wd such as the RX? Are axle pairs still OK or should I be ideally sticking with the same pattern all round?

On a 4wd our advice is simple.

Same brand and pattern.

and no more than 4mm of difference between axles.

All tyre brands have to adhere to the ETRTO regulations on sizing (European Tyre & Rim Technical Organisation). There are levels of tolerance. Hence one manufacturer may make to the minimum one to the maximum. Hence that's why I'd recommend not mixing them.

In some instances if your 4wd is heavy on one axle, it may be worth occasionally moving them from one axle to another, evening out the wear. Yes, you'll end up probably needing four tyres at once, but if the pattern and tyre type has been replaced (we tend to change specs every 5-7 years), you can end up trying to by 2 and not being able to get them.

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Hi Jamie,

tyres have labelling detailing fuel efficiency, wet grip and noise to help consumers with their purchase. Who does the testing? Is it independent or by for example Michelin? This has made buying a tyre confusing because it is a compromise between the 3 categories as I've not come across a tyre that can provide a good result across all 3 without being too expensive. They tend to be a mixture. Budget tyres can be rated as an F for fuel economy and B for wet grip. How different is the gap between a F and A for wet grip? If a tyre had F for wet grip surely it is not safe and should not be sold.

Do Michelin own any other brands of tyres or manufacture tyres under other names?

Thanks

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Ashar

labelling is complex, but let me answer your questions.

Labelling testing is self certifying. E.g. we test our tyres, other brands test theirs. However, we will test other brands too, simply to cross reference and verify.

However, the European regulatory bodies have now started testing people tyres against the published results and in a few cases have penalised manufacturers for not meeting the labelling results in testing.

Michelin follow the regulations for the testing completely, but we also go further, for example we aim to test summer tyres as close as possible to 20 celcius, and winter tyres at 5 celcius. The regulations allow wider temperature windows, but the results can vary dependant on temps, so a manufacturer could decide to test when the temp best suits. Which is why we test at temps where the tyres actually run. Otherwise you develop products that are "false" for their use..

At Michelin, we have a philosophy of Total Performance, so we consider a lot of other performance areas other than the labelling results, so we never make a tyre just for the label.

It's easier to attain a good wet grip rating than the Rolling resistance figure. However, you can compromise a tyre a lot, just to get one result. For example a hard hard compound or a light thin tyre can achieve good rolling resistance. This isn't something Michelin would do. We aim to be good in every area. we aim to be in the green zone for all our key ranges (e.g. C or better)

A wider larger tyre is always going to be worse in rolling resistance than a thinner smaller tyre. It's simple physics.

Wet grip is quite simple. Each band e.g. A->B in wet grip is approximately a car length of wet braking from 50mph. So from the best to the worst you can get 15-18m worse. So the length of a 40ft Truck and Trailer. That's worth the extra money for a good Premium tyre.

Michelin own the mid range BF Goodrich brand, and Kleber, and in budget Kormoran/Tigar & Riken

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Jamie,

Many thanks, very useful information. I'm particularly taken aback by the wet braking from 50mph that it is a car length between each band. I will be keeping a closer eye on the labelling and looking for C and above.

Ashar

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Very interesting reading, cheers Jamie :)

Ive recently bought an Altezza (rear wheel drive like the Lexus) and I currently have winter tyres on it with good tread which the previous owner said he ran through the summer too. The wheels need a refurb so I am looking for a second set, which I would put "normal" tyres on anyway but if I dont manage to find any before spring, what are the main drawbacks of running winter tyres all year round please and will it make a massive difference? Cheers.

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Running a winter tyre in the summer will lose you a little in braking distance

@ 50mph, on a dry summer road you will lose about 4m braking, and the tyres will feel slightly lighter during the braking, but the car will stop in a well controlled manner still. Similar figures on a wet summer road.

So if you never drive hard, you may never feel the difference, beyond that a touch more noise, but only slight

Best is always right tyre for the season, but the losses in winter with a summer tyre are vast.. so running a winter tyre in summer isn't perfect, but it's never a vast difference

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Thanks for answering that :)
Im hopefully getting hold of a second set soon but its nice to know that If I dont get hold of a decent "summer" set of wheels/tyres before the good weather fully kicks back in, then I shouldn't have to sorry too much. Cheers :)

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I noticed a LOT of tram lining recently on the Khumo's that were on the car when I got it.

(Before the winters went on)

It seems the tracking needs done as outside of NS tyre lower than the rest.

Not a lot of tread left, prob 1~2000 miles.

I've read that X or Y tyre design and lower profile both increase tramlining...

What tyre designs best minimise this and which Michelin tyres are the best for minimising tram lining?

If a tyre is good for not tram lining, is there an associated trade off?

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