I made an interesting and scary discovery in February – the seriousness of the C19 pandemic was really starting to pick up steam and I needed to spend some time in Colorado, we were still in San Diego at the time. Instead of hopping on a flight like I had originally planned I decided I’d drive the S5 to Denver just in case things got really bad and I had issues flying back home.
At the time, I’d been running Michelin Pilot Sport 4S tires on the S5 – this is Michelin’s Ultra High Performance summer tire. Not a big deal for a San Diegan since about the worst we get is an occasional downpour. The drive to Denver necessitated I cross the Rockies and temps were going to be low – like cold enough to snow, low. On my way toward my first overnight stop somewhere in Utah, it occurred to me I should do some research on how these tires do in the cold, and I considered maybe I needed to pump a few more psi into the tires to compensate. Ho-boy, this led me down the path of discovering that these tires are susceptible to a phenomenon called “cold cracking”.
Here’s a link to the Tire Rack website with very specific warnings regarding cold temps –
“Note: Tires exposed to temperatures of 20 degrees F (-7 degrees C) or lower must be permitted to gradually return to temperatures of at least 40 degrees F (5 degrees C) for at least 24 hours before they are flexed in any manner, such as by adjusting inflation pressures, mounting them on wheels or using them to support, roll or drive a vehicle.” [my emphasis]
My weather app showed temps would drop down to the mid-30s overnight. Eeeeeh, mid-30s isn’t 20 degrees, right? I thought I’d be real smart about this when I woke up in the morning and I drove back and forth on surface streets in an attempt to slowly warm my tires up before jumping onto the highway. I slowly accelerated up to highway speeds. No weird noises, no pulling on the wheel, everything seemed fine – awesome! A few hours later and I pulled over for a quick nature break. What I discovered when I walked around the car to inspect my tires was scary –
My right rear tire had experienced this cold cracking phenomenon and it was UGLY. I’d been doing a pretty steady 80mph before this pit stop and I was quite literally in the middle of nowhere Utah. The nearest town of significant size (ie large enough to have tire stores) was Grand Junction, CO, a few hours away. Lucky for me, the place I’d stopped was at a high enough elevation that I was able to get a cell signal if I was standing in *just* the right spot. I called every tire store in the city and was able to find one with a set of all-seasons in a size that would work, I just needed to nurse the car another 200 miles on this trashed tire!
Luckily I was able to crawl the car to Grand Junction for a fresh set of tires and continue on my way without crashing the car.
OK, what does this have to do with the SLC? After this experience I’d pretty much decided I needed to swear off the Michelin Pilot Sport 4S tires, I just didn’t want to take another chance with cold cracking.
The SLC’s been shod with Michelin Pilot Super Sports and I’ve been exploring the local roads more lately. I haven’t experienced any issues with tire grip but my paranoia was starting to get the better of me. These tires were purchased when I placed the order for my kit and they were over 4 years old now. While they gripped just fine, paranoia kept telling me these tires have been drying out and that it was time I should consider getting a fresh set of rubber for the SLC.
It had been a while since I last researched tires and the Bee’s Knees when I last looked had the Michelin 4S beating out everyone else in just about every shoot-out I could find. A quick search on the popular tire sites revealed that the ONLY manufacturer making tires in my (apparently) odd-ball size is Michelin. And they only offer these sizes in their Pilot Sport 4S model. Awesome.
Seriously, no one else makes a matched 275/30/19 and 325/25/20 other than Michelin’s 4S line. No one.
So … it’s back to a fresh set of 4S tires for the SLC, whether I love them or not!
My initial impressions – and I’m no boy racer type so take anything I say with a grain of salt – the ride is quieter and more comfortable. No discernible difference in grip, but then again I don’t push the car hard enough to make the tires scream for mercy. The peace of mind knowing that the tires aren’t dried, or on their way to being dried out, is worth it for me. The difference in noise and harshness may simply be the difference between 4 year old tires vs new.
If you’ve been following along for a while you’ll know one of my weaknesses is I’m a sucker for tools. Now that I’m no longer 5 minutes away from Bob’s shop I’m having to fend for myself – by stocking up on more tools! I’ve doubled down on Makita’s line of 18V battery tools and picked a few more up recently, the quality and power continually amaze me every time I pick one up.
In addition to power tools I’ve also been slowly amassing more non-electrical shiny pieces of metal. One that I’m particularly geeked out on is this set of wheel hangers made by Reverse Logic. Full transparency – I paid full price for these but they’re so unique I feel every SLC builder should have a set of these in their toolbox. If you click the above link it takes you right to their site, no affiliate link and I’m not making any money by pimping these.
I came across these forever and a half ago but they were sold out at the time and I made a note to check back and get a set once they became available. Fast forward and I’ve gotten knee deep into my build and forgotten about Reverse Logic. I was randomly browsing the web and something triggered my memory to look these guys up again. Bummer – the set I was looking for was sold out. A deep scrub of the internet and it seems NO ONE makes wheel hangers for our stud size except Reverse Logic. I shot them an email and received a response within an hour, on a weekend – wow, cool! Inventory was out but Fred (the owner) expected to have a few sets available in a few days. I asked him to shoot me a reminder once they came in so I could reserve a set. Sure enough, a few days later and I snuck my order in before they sold out once again! **
I just checked the site, surprise surprise – sold out again! They’re back in stock, get’em while you can! Hit them up for a set and get in line, believe me – you’ll wish you had these the next time you have to pull a wheel!**
Standard fare for the SLC are the M12x1.5 threads; pick a set of 3 up because our rear wheels are some hefty chonkers! PN M12x1.5F-200×3. They come packaged individually in plastic cylinders to ensure they don’t get scraped while being shipped or when rolling around in your toolbox.
It’s one thing to remove wheels without this tool in place – if you’re sitting on the ground and you use your knees to take the weight of the wheel and use your hands and arms to sloooooowly nudge the wheel outward it’s doable. It sucks, but whatever. But getting that wheel back ON is an even bigger PITA because now you’ve also got to rotate the wheel to try and get one or two holes engaged with a stud before you can finally give your legs a rest. Hopefully you haven’t scraped the wheel up in the process.
Two stubby thumbs up from me!