Stupid Question about Tires [Archive] - Honda Element Owners Club Forum

: Stupid Question about Tires

01-11-2005, 11:18 AM
So I've been reading here and elsewhere about which tires to replace the OE tires on my Element. It's only about a month old, but I know from experience (Odyssey) that the stock tires are not so great.

Anyhow, it looks like a lot of people like the Yokohama Geolander H/T-S tires as a replacement... good ratings at and seems like a pretty good all purpose tire. I live in Atlanta so there's little or no snow.

Alright, not to get off topic, but I don't see any retailers selling those around here. So what do I do? Who'll mount them and balance them for me if I don't buy from them?

01-11-2005, 12:01 PM
I noticed the last time I was at a Walmart, that they had a price shown for carry-in tires.

You should also be able to find some place that will special order the tires for you. When I asked at one local place about snow tires, they looked in their computer and then looked in a catalog.

Good luck,

Bald Eagle
01-11-2005, 12:43 PM
Consumer Reports did an SUV tire comparison in the November 2004 issue. Geolanders finished 18th out of 22 brands. Poor ratings for snow traction and rolling resistance (evidently this can eat about 2 mpg at 65 mph). Fair ratings for ice braking and ride. Excellent/very good for dry and wet braking respectively. For the about same money Hankook DynaPro ASRH03 finished 3rd, Kelly Safari Signature-4th, Dayton Timberline HT-5th, Hankook DynaPro ATRF08-6th, Dunlop Radial Rover AT-7th, General Ameritrac SUV (Sears)-8th, UniRoyal Laredo Cross Country-9th, Toyo Open Road M410-10th, Khumo Road Venture HT (cheapest at $65)-11th, Firestone Destination LE-12th, Bridgestone Dueler H/T D684-13th, Uniroyal Laredo All SeasonAWP-14th.

Two expensive Michelins were rated 15th and 19th. All of the above were rated poor or fair in at least one catagory (ususally ice braking) EXCEPT for the Dayton Timberlines and Uniroyal Laredos.

01-11-2005, 12:53 PM
Be careful about replacing the tires just because others say the stock tires aren't any good. If you are not aware of problems (handling, noise, traction, etc) you may have difficulty identifying any improvement in those areas when you get new tires. When driving straight down a smooth road, it is hard to tell one tire from another - provided you are comparing tires in the same general category (e.g. highway all-season SUV). It is only as you push performance in one way or another that you start feeling deficiencies.

The stock tires are a compromise that ends up pleasing no one. They are 'highway all season' with a 'hp' (high performance) label. They have some molded in siping that helps on ice, but not nearly as much as a true winter tire. They have have large shoulder blocks, supposedly to help with dry traction and wear, but also have a relatively soft rubber (wear rating of 340). They have circumfirential grooves to evacuate water, but only 3 compared to 4 on many other tires, and poor lateral evacuation routes.

The Geolanders do rate well in various owner reviews such as on Tirerack. However one Element owner found them to be noisy in a specific high speed range, at least for the initial 3000 miles. And in the Consumer Reports testing they rank 18. So there are some mixed signals about this brand.

Buying from someone like Tirerack and having them installed locally is one option. However negotiating a complete package, with trade in on relatively new OEM tires, with a local tire dealer might give you a better deal. Alternatively, you could stick with the stock tires, and reconsider replacement 15,000 miles from now.


01-11-2005, 01:02 PM
I think TireRack also has a search function for locally recommended installers.

01-11-2005, 01:31 PM
I think TireRack also has a search function for locally recommended installers.
In fact, they will ship the tires to the installer of your choice (from their list) so you don't have to schlep them yourself.

01-11-2005, 03:32 PM
"The Geolanders do rate well in various owner reviews such as on Tirerack. However one Element owner found them to be noisy in a specific high speed range, at least for the initial 3000 miles. And in the Consumer Reports testing they rank 18. So there are some mixed signals about this brand"
There is nothing bad or wrong about the Geolanders. They are not noisy at any speed. They do not hydroplane like the factory tires do. You can still spin the tires at startup if you give it a lot of gas but that's not a bad thing since that tells me how much power the Element has.

01-11-2005, 03:40 PM

The G051 tread pattern does look like it would be good at evacuating water. However, when is hydroplaining resistance important, as opposed to wet traction? Even though I live in an area known for its rain, I don't often have to make a panic stop in a puddle of water.


01-11-2005, 05:04 PM
Paul, there is actually quite a bit wrong with the OEM Goodyear Wranglers... even on a straight road. You can actually tell the different between various tires going down a straight road as well. The OEMs offer barely any traction in rain. On my awd exs I could feel the back end all squirrely in the rain. The front end constantly felt as though it were washing out as well. Snow driving... let's not even go there; useless! Was not and still was not happy with the OEMs until I finally replaced them.

I don't know anything about the Geolanders or any of the other tires mentioned in the Consumer Reports issue, but I would rather listen to actual owners of the tires instead of CR that barely puts any miles on tires that still have the fresh mold release on them... Does the CR article mention if these tires have been driven for at least 500-1,000 miles BEFORE being subjected to their tests? That should be the minimum a tire should have on it before evaluating it's performance. Mold releases make tires VERY slick and the only way for a consumer to get it off is by driving it off.
When reading any tire comparison charts, look at a few different items for comparison.

1. Treadwear Rating. This covers two things. How soft the tire is, which generally determines how well it grips/offers traction and also how long it will last. For the most part the softer the tire the better the traction and braking, but the shorter the lifespan.

2. Look at the tire design. Not just the tread itself, but also the sidewall. How squared off is the shoulder? How round? A more square shoulder will in general offer better lateral control; because the tire isn't designed to roll over onto the shoulder. The tread design can offer a clue as to the type of weather it is designed for. Compare the tread design to pure rain tires, compare it to dry weather tires, compare it to snow tires; etc. Then see where the designers compromised.

From the above make your choice; but I would also listen to others that drive in your type of climate and put on similar mileage to make a final decision as to what is best for you.

Oh yeah... buy whatever you can afford. :)

01-11-2005, 08:06 PM
Could you name a 'pure rain' tire? For that matter, apart from competition tires, I don't think I've seen any labeled as 'dry weather'. High performance tires, though, might be described as 'dry and wet, no snow' tires, with large tread blocks and arrow shaped tread grooves.

As an interesting exercise, what is wrong with GYs claims for the HP?

Advanced tread pattern :Excellent on- and off-road traction in any weather

Lower profile sidewalls :Improved responsiveness and handling

Wide outer shoulders :Quick handling and agility

Wide circumferential channels :Efficient water evacuation at highway speeds

Numerous strategically placed tread blades :Enhanced all-weather traction and a comfortable ride

Can you see behind the GY hype, and point to features of the HP that contribute to the bad performance that you experienced? Not enough sipes (tread blades) for winter use? To hard or too soft rubber? Not enough water evacuation channels? Too wide or too narrow shoulders?

I notice that you have Nokian WRs. 225/70/16 size? What is the tread width?

Tread width compared to section width is something of a measure of square v rounded shoulders, though it also depends on sidewall profile. In the picture the HPs appear to have square shoulders, though the measured treadwidth is relatively low. This low treadwidth was quite evident when the Element was parked next to my RAV4 with Cooper tires. But then Cooper has a reputation for favoring straight sidewalls and square shoulders.


01-11-2005, 10:10 PM
Actually the tires are called "Summer Tires", I was speaking in generalities before so I said "dry weather".

"Pure Rain Tire" Yokohama AVS Series. They have been building these tires for years. They began life as a tire almost strictly geared towards full on wet weather driving with some dry weather tossed in for good measure. The tire has obviously changed over the years but its original intent is still there:
AVS Sport

"Pure Performance Tire" Bridgestone Potenza Pole Position SO-3. This tires is geared almost exclusively to dry weather performance. It can be driven in the rain at the vehicles limits, but it excels in dry weather conditions. In temps even approaching 40*F it becomes VERY loose and dangerous. The soft rubber compound (treadwear 220) becomes very hard in colder temps.

Ok, now you want for me to rip apart the horrible Goddyear Wrangler HPs that come standard on the Element? Sure, not problem...

Advanced tread pattern :Excellent on- and off-road traction in any weather I don't know how they handle in off-road traction conditions, but as for on-road in "any weather"... They SUCK in the rain and snow. That leaves what; dry? They squeal like a banshee even on exit ranps when going under the speed limit. No, tire pressures were checked and rechecked. Alignment was also checked. You could actually spin the tires with the A/T when starting off... if you chose ot do so. Not talking tire smoke, but they could be spun to the point of needing to back off and start off slower. This isn't good when trying to merge onto a parkway when you only have a 50 foot merging lane.

Lower profile sidewalls :Improved responsiveness and handling See above

Wide outer shoulders :Quick handling and agility I will give them this. When I first got the Element I had to make an emergency lane change at 70+ because something fell off the back of a truck. I was able to move from the center lane to the left lane and back again without incident.

Wide circumferential channels :Efficient water evacuation at highway speeds Sorry, the Element was not very good in the rain. Don't hit even a shallow puddle at speeds above 40mph, or the front end washes out or the back end kicks to the outside of the turn, if the puddle happens to be in a turn. Experienced this almost daily on my commute to work for days on end when we have had lots of rain. Have not experienced this since switching to the Nokian WRs.

Numerous strategically placed tread blades :Enhanced all-weather traction and a comfortable rideI will give them comfortable ride. But I didn't purchase the Element because I wanted a comfortable ride per se. I bought it for the utility and the ability to drive in all weather conditions. I have got to tell you I was VERY pissed off and upset to the point of almost selling the Element last winter. At the time I didn't have the time to take to go buy Nokian's last winter. I was travelling every single day for work and when I was home I was sleeping. I decided to wait for this winter to replace the tires. I figured I would just rack up the miles on the Goodyears and save the real tires for the winter. Last year I couldn't get any traction in the snow. I so missed my Audi and the Nokian's I had on that. That car drove like a SnoCat. The Element drove like a car running on slicks. It was that bad.

Getting the Nokian's has transformed the Element into what an AWD vehicle should be able to do; that is actually get itself moving in snow, rain and dry weather safely.

With the Goodyears I could actually skid and the ABS would be activating all the time in the snow. With the Nokian's the ABS barely has to do anything because I actually have traction.

As to an overall evaluation of the Goodyear tires and what was wrong with the design of the tire?

The overall problem was/is most likely rubber compound/construction and tread design. It is a tire with too many compromises and it can't do any one thing right/properly. Looking at the tire shoulder it is trying to be able to work off-road... why? That is something that isn't needed and most likely is one of the reasons I found the tire to be noisy and ill handling, except for my high speed lane change. The shoulder is probably too soft; too allow better bite off-road; but that is a guess.

The 3 channels down the center are there to provide good water evacuation, but that doesn't help when going through standing water at speed...

You can look at any tire and find good and bad, but the real tell is either driving them or listening to others that have driven them.

For comparisons sake; here is the Nokian WR

The shoulder looks rounded in the pic, but is actually more square. The water is also evacuated away from the contact patch through a much better tread design when compared to the Goodyear HP.

As for traction, when compared to the HP it is all about tire compound. Don't know what the HP is constructed of, but the WR is made of a silica compound. The Yoko AVS Sport is also made of a silica compound. As we had discussed a while ago; silica must be the magical tire compound because I have been seeing more and more tires using it.

I don't know what the tread width of either tire actually is. Their sites don't give every last detail. The HP shows to have a section width of 8.7" when mounted on a 6.5" wheel and the WR shows a 9.0" overall width on the same 6.5" wheel. Neither explains where the measurement is being taken from.

Something we have never broached in any discussion has been contact patch. This also plays a major roll in how a tire performs. It would also be easy to post on here. Just jack the Element up, roll some ink onto the tread, place a piece of paper under the tire, lower the Element until the weight is on the paper and then jack the E back up. Presto... contact patch! Then scan into Computer and compare. Just something else to bring into the discussion if we wanted. :)

01-11-2005, 11:03 PM
Contact patch - see this image left on the pavement after washing my Element. Note that it is roughly square. This may have been the rear tire, since the other image I have is a bit longer than wide, which is what I'd expect with lower pressure in front, and more weight.

I can't give you the exact size, but someone with HPs still on their car could scale it from the size of the tread blocks.

215 in the tire size is the nominal section width in mm - roughly speaking the tire at its widest. Your 225 should be 10 mm/.4" wider, give or take a bit. Some manufacturers also list a tread width. For these tires about the widest I've seen is 7", with some closer to 6". For something like a BFG TA KO is pretty easy measure the tread width, but for a rounded shoulder like the GY Integrity this is harder.

Contact patch width for a properly inflated tire should match the tread width, especially with a square shoulder. Patch length will vary with tire pressure and axle weight.

Tirerack has a tech note on how contact patch shape affects handling. I think the gist was that a short wide patch (as with a wide low profile tire) gives better handling on turns, a longer narrow patch gives a more predicable ride with less sensitivity to road roughness (think a sedan or minivan ride). A long narrow patch is generally preferred for snow.


01-11-2005, 11:39 PM
Contrary to popular belief, a narrower tire width will help in snow and rain b/c there is less surface area for the tire to ride up on top of the water(Hydroplane)/snow. Although my element weighs in almost twice as much as my Toyota Tercel, the tercels narrower 155 width tires (Studded BF Goodrich) outperform the element on flats in the snow and the rain. Going up hills is another story.........The extra two drive wheels (In the rear especially) make all the difference.

01-12-2005, 12:10 AM
The AVS tires, as well as the Nokian WR have a directional tread. That is, the grooves are arranged in an arrow head pattern. So once mounted the tires have to stay on the same side of the car when rotated (back to front, no crossing).

I wonder just how important this in evacuating water. I imagine that it does help. However Nokian makes a similar tires, but without this directional tread - the Vatiiva.

The hydroplaning problems with the GY HPs never jumped out at me, possibly because the wet roads that I drive don't usually have much standing water. Also after a couple of decades of driving SUVs I naturally take it easy when traction gets bad. I've never had an Audi-category of car.

I did spin the front wheels some when the car was new, but readily avoid that now. I get the Element rolling with a light touch on the gas. Once it is rolling I can apply as much power as I want to get up to speed.

By the way, with the Nokians, what pressures are you running?


01-12-2005, 07:53 AM
Because of where I live when it rains the water can't readily drain. I live on Long Island; south shore to be precise. Basically the roads I am driving on are either at, just above or in a few cases below sea level. Flooding is fairly common, but you get used to it. I'm not talking about feet of water, but 2"+ could in covering a lane or more on the parkways in various locations.

Yes, directional tires will work better in most situations. They are designed to be used in a single direction and thus don't generally compromise on tread design. But you also generally pay extra for that privelege. lol

Contact patch shape and size has just as much to do with tire design as it does with vehicle weight and tire pressure.

A longer skinnier patch will cut through snow and water much better than a wider shorter contact patch. The easiest way to look at a contact patch and how it works is to take your hand and move it through water. Cutting through the water with the edge of your hand offers little resistance, but pushing through the water using your palm offers quite a bit more resistance. the same holds true for a contact patch. Now using the same hand try and slide it on the surface of a table. The edge of your hand slides along the table offering very little resistance. Now put your hand palm down on the table and try to push it across the table... pretty hard. In a simple example this is what the tires contact patch is doing.

I am running the stock pressures. Have not fine tuned the air pressure just yet. I will in the Spring. This usually takes me a few weeks until I get it within half pound of where I want it.

01-12-2005, 08:09 AM
Now I know more than I ever wanted to about tires, and perhaps will select a different tire. I was not planning on replacing my tires until I needed to, but wanted to know ahead of time how to approach ordering tires from someplace online, and what kind of shop will take four carry ins and mount and balance them for you. I didn't see the section at tirerack for finding a local place, I'll have to look again (but it's not letting me access it with Mozilla, only IE, because it complains about cookies even though I'm accepting them)

For the record, I live in Atlanta and haven't visited places north in a LONG time. I very rarely even go farther north than the metro Atlanta area. While we do get snow, it's maybe twice every three years or so. When we do travel, we take the van anyway.

So any more suggestions? I want something safe, grippy, and quiet.

01-12-2005, 11:29 AM
If spdrcr5 arguments regarding dry and wet traction are convincing, look also at tires in the 235/60/16 size. This is just a bit smaller than stock, and has a larger selection of models, especially in the performance direction. For example Yokohama makes their Avid V4S in this size. Another poster has been enthusiastic about handling with the Kumho ECSTA.

I think of this size as a large passenger car size, while the 215/70/16 is a small SUV size.


01-12-2005, 01:18 PM
One of the better tire discussions I've read here. Want more food for (possible) thought? Wrangler HPs are standard on the Land Rover LR3. What that implies for us, I'm not sure.

01-12-2005, 03:34 PM
A promising choice of tire for someone who wants good wet weather performance, without a lot of concern for snow or off-road use, would be the Cooper Discover Sport HP. It has a directional tread pattern, and comes in the stock 215/70/16 (as well the lower profile 235/60/16). Wear rating is low, but normal for a performance tire. Cooper is sold more by local dealers than large chains.