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Doug's Domain

Doug Vetter, ATP/CFI

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Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Pirelli Review

After some time with the new set of Winter Carving Edge I can fairly say that they are the worst tire I have put on the car in 15 years. They have completely destabilized the handling of the vehicle. I was expecting some decrease in performance, obviously, but what was once sure-footed and accurate is now disturbingly unsettled and vague. It feels like I put the original front and rear suspensions back on the car. I kid you not.

(Image: Blackstone Labs report for 12/03/2012)The tires have an annoying tendency to wander and lose traction at speed. I've found I have to be exceedingly careful performing lane changes at 70+MPH because the rear end tends to step out, particularly if the lane change is accompanied by some acceleration (and it usually is) or conditions are wet. I concede that the front end "uncertainty" may be due to my toe setting but the rear end has no excuse: it's just sloppy.

Dry and wet performance is so horrible I'm glad I don't suffer from photosensitive epilepsy...as I have never seen the traction control light flicker as much in the life of the car as I have the last two weeks. I mean -- seriously -- when was the last time you heard me say this car had the power to break the wheels loose when shifting into third at 60+MPH during full-throttle acceleration on the highway...with an automatic transmission no less?

You might be thinking "well, what did you expect from a winter tire"? What I expected was performance roughly equivalent to the Winter Sport M3. That tire had the dry performance of a high performance all season (like the Pilot Sport A/S) the wet performance you'd expect from a deep directional tread designed to evacuate water, (hell, the steering was so positive in standing water I used to drive into puddles for fun), and outstanding snow performance. I could drive in 4+ inches without a bead of sweat on my brow. I wish the Pirelli was so capable and frankly can't understand why it isn't.

I haven't seen snow yet but, even if the snow performance is excellent, I know that I'm unwilling to sacrifice dry and wet performance to this extent and I plan to pitch these tires with a smile on my face when they're spent. I'd be willing to try the Sottozero's if Pirelli offered to buy these back and pay for the remounting but I'm not waiting at my inbox if you know what I mean. When I combine the below average road force numbers (i.e. poor quality construction) and dismal performance I think it's safe to say this will be my last set of Pirelli tires. And while I'm unwilling to condemn the entire product line based on this narrow sample I strongly advise anyone considering this tire for a BMW or similar high performance car to choose something else. You have been warned.

Oil Service and Analysis

A couple weeks ago I realized that a bit over 5000 miles had passed since my last oil service so I conducted one last weekend in little more than 20 minutes...a personal record. I also took a sample and received the analysis yesterday. The numbers seem to jive with my assertion that the increased lead wear seems to be caused by winter starts, but I'll have to see next summer's report to confirm it. All in all this was a reasonable report with no surprises. If these trends continue I expect the engine to reach 300K.

Mileage: 228625 [Oil Service at 228038], Parts: $55, Labor Saved: $100