Sacramento Area Miata Owners Association

Opinions, most everyone has one on a topic or two, they are just still opinions.  Opinions based on experience or fact are a much better barometer of usefullness than someone who is just a blowhard.  During my years of Miata ownership (9 since 1999) and racing (autocross for around 18 years) experience, I get a lot of questions about tires, and most of those start out with what's the best tire.  That is like askng who makes the best pizza.  I had one last night that came highly recommended but in my opinon it was terrible.  So much for recommendations.

The best tire for your useage is best answered with another question.  That being; For what do you use your car?  Autocross?  Track?  Commuting?  Backroads bombing?  Freeway Driving?  Grocery getting?  A combination of any of the previous?  As I inspect and disect the club member roster, I don't recall many track rats or autocross junkies listed.  At 106 years old though, sometimes memory fades on me but generally speaking I don't see a lot of sanctioned high performance drivers in the group.  So let's just focus on the idea that most of the club members like to drive your cars in fun ways that provide the owners with a general feeling of performance mixed in with a couple curves now and then that provide you with a feeling that if you were younger, Lewis Hamilton would have a hard time keeping up.

Let's talk about a few generalalities.  Treadware ratings.  All tires have them.  Generally, but not always tires with a lower treadware rating are stickier and provide you with a greater level of grip on the road.  And therefore handling improves.  Autocrossers like anything with a rating of 200 or less.  Track rats may even go lower than 200 as there are a few in the 180 or lower range that are quite good for that application.  Opinion Alert, Danger Will Robinson!  I don't put anything on any of my cars, except a Corvette, higher than 200.  But that is just me.  If you are squeemish about wet weather then those tires must be looked at critically.  Most are adequate in the wet but some are just terrible.  

Longevity.  How long are performance tires going to last you.  Generally, again, tires in the 200 treadware category are not going to last longer than 15-20 thousand miles.  My current Miata is a 16 Club Sport with 17k on the clock with the 200s on it and they look new.  There are about 12K on that set.  I have had 200s on other cars that only lasted less than some very aggressive 10k.  So your mileage may vary according to tire manufacturers warnings.  Basically choose wisely grasshopper.

Next, "All Season" tires.  Again generally, those tires labelled "All Season" are, jeez, another opinion, Not Great in Any Season.  Just adequate enough to provide the owner with some degree of reliability and confidence to drive moderately in any condition.  I have always ditched them immediately and gone to a personal choice for my driving style.

For our purposes, Load, Speed Rating and M+S are meaningless for performance tires.  I would never buy a tire with less than a speed rating of V, rated up to 149 mph.  The car will only do 130 or so but just to be safe, V would be good.  M+S is "Mud and Snow".  Neither of which you probably are not going to drive.  M+S is often combined with All Season.  M+S is not good in snow or mud and the combination with All Season just proves a point.

Tires, Tires and More Tires