When I was writing the ad to sell the Miata, the one negative that gnawed at me was the old, flat-spotted Dunlop tires. I knew they were old, because 1) I had the receipt, and 2) they were the same Dunlop D60 A2s that I bought for our 1994 Miata in early 1997. I don’t think they’ve made these tires for over 10 years. Regardless, they were old, hard, flat-spotted and in dire need of replacement. It was not a story I wanted to explain to potential buyers, and was a definite knock-down to a really terrific car. Now that I have decided to keep it, I decided it was high time to address the issue.
Now if you’ve been following these updates on the Miata, you will know that I have vacillated on replacing the tires on the OEM wheels or “upgrading” to something larger. I put the quotes around that word because the benefit of larger wheels is highly subjective, and comes down to your preference in looks, ride, handling, and so on. After reading forum post after forum post for what seems like months, I finally decided on replacing just the tires in the smallish 185/60 14 original size on the OEM minilite-style alloys. I do still like the slightly bigger wheels, but at double the cost and for the type of driving I do, it was frankly money that I simply didn’t need to spend.
Having decided to stay with the factory wheels and size, the obvious next decision was which tire. There are actually several options in this size, ranging from cheap no-names to $150+ per tre top-end rubber. Again I let my mouse do the walking and got pretty heavily into reviews posted all over the interwebs, focusing on anything from the last two or so years, so there would at least be a reasonable chance that the tires I was considering were still available. Having had good luck in the past with Kumho tires, I came close to buying a set of their ASXs. The reviews for those tires on a Miata, however, were lackluster at best. The Michelins were rated very highly, but come at a huge premium over most everything else. The tire that kept coming back as the best all-season all-around tire was the Sumitomo HTR AS P01. Uninspired name, I’ll grant you, but good looking tire with a pretty aggressive tread and a more classic-looking sidewall. So, yes, that’s the one I went with.
After investing $400 in new tires, I decided it would be the better part of valor to also have the alignment checked and adjusted. I was very pleased to find that there was only a single adjustment out of specification, so the tire shop made the correction gratis and set me on my way.
The difference was astounding. I’ll admit, I thought I might just be throwing money down a hole, since appearances made the old Dunlops seem quite useable and with a lot of life left. How wrong I was. Gone was the thrump-thrump-thrump of the flat spots, and what I get in exchange was a smooth yet supple ride. The backroads were more fun, and I even caught myself just driving down the road thinking “I love this car. I LOVE this car!!” and being very happy that I didn’t sell it.
So next up? I purchased some second-hand trim panels to help with the install of the behind-the-seats chassis brace out of a 1994 car, and I need to replace the valve cover gasket. Stay tuned…….!