Best daily driver tires/15" Magnum wheels/rainy FL

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I have been poking around the forum and didn't really see an answer to this. My son is using his 72 with a 302 for a daily driver. We have both found it very skittish in FL rains with the Coopers Cobras it came on. It has the apparently classic Magnum wheels with 215x15 65 series on the front and the 245x15 60 series on the back. The rear will very easily break loose and you can make the whole car slide without much effort on a wet road. You can do it on a dry road as well, but it takes enough effort to not be scary.

I have no idea how old the tires are. They have light wear and were on the car when we bought it going on 3 years ago. Could it be they lose traction as they age? The Tire Rack customer ratings are not bad for the tire, though not as high as some others.

It appears from other threads, we could go with up to a 245x15 60 series all the way around. My son like the current look, but I want better traction on a wet road. In theory, the wider tires in the rear should provide more traction there, but that is not what seems to be happening. I am used to serious understeer on US cars of this vintage, so I was surprised at how easy it is to punch the rear loose. If we go to the same size all around, we can find tires with higher ratings, though only up to a 225x15 series 60 which includes the General Altimax which is highly rated by Tire Rack.

Thoughts would be appreciated. Again, this is for a daily driver and looking for a tire that provides safe and good handling wet and dry in a hot climate. The car has a mild cam, Edelbrock street heads with a 4v, and dual exhausts, so a bit more power than original plus a T5 in place of the FMX. We had the wet handling issues before all this work, but it got predictably worse afterwards. The front suspension was rebuilt with all new parts and there are new shocks on the rear. We have new springs and an anti-sway bar for the back, but no time yet to get them in. I worry they might exacerbate the oversteer.

Thanks for thoughts!
 
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Check the date codes on your tires. Old tires are dangerous, not only do they dry out and lose traction but the tread can separate from the carcass:

Because it's getting harder to find 14-inch and 15-inch tires you'll have to check the wet traction ratings on any that you find.
 
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There are not too many options with 15" wheels. I had new BFGoodrich Radial T/A and they were horrible in the rain. As a comparison I now have Michelin's PS4 of similar width but 18" and they are really good in the rain. As Don suggested, make sure your tires are not too old. The compound in older tires will also loose grip as it ages.
 

Hemikiller

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I would simply look on Tire Rack and find the highest rated tire for wet weather. Wide tires do not guarantee more traction, that's a factor of contact patch, rubber compound, tread design etc. Narrower tires typically cut through and displace water better than wide tires.

Check the date codes on the sidewalls, anything over six years old is due for a replacement, especially in a hot climate like FL.


The General Altimax is rated excellent for wet weather and offers a 215/65R15, but nothing the same diameter in a wider width. Hankook Kinergy ST offer a 235/60 and 245/60, and have only a slightly worse wet weather rating.


 

Mister 4x4

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Unfortunately, the world has pretty much moved away from 15" wheels, which is why there are precious few selections to be had. Even then, they're geared more toward weekend hot-rodders who typically don't drive in the rain, and the last of the old fart generation who just won't let those old land yachts go.

I've heard very few good things about Cooper Cobras, but haven't had issues with mine (245/60R15s & 295/50R15s, respectively) - but then again, I don't drive in the rain.

Something to consider, maybe find a suitable set of 16" rims and the selection of good all-weather tires will open up greatly.
 
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I am using Copper Cobras in 235/60-15. There really isn't much out there as far as a high performance tire for 15" wheels. It would be great if we could get some Michelin Pilot Sport tires in 15", but we can't, and honestly, I don't think that is going to change. Only thing I could suggest would be to go to a 17"-18" wheel and then you can get some good street high performance tires.
 
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I would simply look on Tire Rack and find the highest rated tire for wet weather. Wide tires do not guarantee more traction, that's a factor of contact patch, rubber compound, tread design etc. Narrower tires typically cut through and displace water better than wide tires.

Check the date codes on the sidewalls, anything over six years old is due for a replacement, especially in a hot climate like FL.


The General Altimax is rated excellent for wet weather and offers a 215/65R15, but nothing the same diameter in a wider width. Hankook Kinergy ST offer a 235/60 and 245/60, and have only a slightly worse wet weather rating.



Thanks all for the replies!

The Altimax is available from Tire Rack in a 225/60R15 and that's sort of where I am leaning.

I do need to check the date codes. I had completely forgotten about those.

I had a couple of sets of Hankooks on my last F150 and was not impressed, but that's a very different sort of tire, so probably not fair. I have usually been a Michelin guy, but the ones we have put on my wife's 2 Foresters did not impress me. As soon as I can afford this, I probably ought to run it by Tire Rack and see if they have any ideas. Unfortunately, my wife's car is going to need tires soon too. Once I have done something, I will post back.

Any other thoughts would be welcome, but it does appear that the choices are narrow.

Good point on wider tires not always being the best solution for wet. A friend long ago learned that the hard way.
 
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I just bumbled into the site https://tiresize.com/ which allows you to check diameter and circumference and also lets you see what tires are available for a given size. There are more out there than Tire Rack carries, but it doesn't have reviews.

And yes, probably better to get 16" rims someday, but we are so far over budget on this thing I am in a state of panic. The tires seem to be a safety issue, though, so they need to be addressed.
 
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The fronts are 2519 and the rears are 1420, so they should still have life, if not wet traction. We bought the thing in July 2020, so the tires, and possibly the wheels, were part of the dress up campaign to move the car. They do give it a nice look and that's what they usually go for when trying to sell something.
 

73 Mach 1 4 me

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I have been poking around the forum and didn't really see an answer to this. My son is using his 72 with a 302 for a daily driver. We have both found it very skittish in FL rains with the Coopers Cobras it came on. It has the apparently classic Magnum wheels with 215x15 65 series on the front and the 245x15 60 series on the back. The rear will very easily break loose and you can make the whole car slide without much effort on a wet road. You can do it on a dry road as well, but it takes enough effort to not be scary.

I have no idea how old the tires are. They have light wear and were on the car when we bought it going on 3 years ago. Could it be they lose traction as they age? The Tire Rack customer ratings are not bad for the tire, though not as high as some others.

It appears from other threads, we could go with up to a 245x15 60 series all the way around. My son like the current look, but I want better traction on a wet road. In theory, the wider tires in the rear should provide more traction there, but that is not what seems to be happening. I am used to serious understeer on US cars of this vintage, so I was surprised at how easy it is to punch the rear loose. If we go to the same size all around, we can find tires with higher ratings, though only up to a 225x15 series 60 which includes the General Altimax which is highly rated by Tire Rack.

Thoughts would be appreciated. Again, this is for a daily driver and looking for a tire that provides safe and good handling wet and dry in a hot climate. The car has a mild cam, Edelbrock street heads with a 4v, and dual exhausts, so a bit more power than original plus a T5 in place of the FMX. We had the wet handling issues before all this work, but it got predictably worse afterwards. The front suspension was rebuilt with all new parts and there are new shocks on the rear. We have new springs and an anti-sway bar for the back, but no time yet to get them in. I worry they might exacerbate the oversteer.

Thanks for thoughts!
It’s the nature of the car the best way to avoid the car breaking loose is to know and accept the problem. Then drive accordingly, you can throw all kinds of money at it but in the end the cheapest and best way is be easy on the gas pedal and watch your speed in the rain. I know that many of these cars have been wrapped around trees because of careless driving. I did it myself about 40 years ago with a Mach 1 that I had been driving for about 6 years. During those 6 years the rear end broke loose many times but I got complacent and thought I could handle it. Then the day came when I found out there are limits to everything. I have no one to blame I knew what could happen but I pushed it anyway. Thankfully I didn’t suffer any major injuries and tried to replace that car but life happens and it took me 30 some years to replace it. Now that I have replaced it I drive it without the lead foot because I know what can happen no matter how good you are.
 
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It’s the nature of the car the best way to avoid the car breaking loose is to know and accept the problem. Then drive accordingly, you can throw all kinds of money at it but in the end the cheapest and best way is be easy on the gas pedal and watch your speed in the rain. I know that many of these cars have been wrapped around trees because of careless driving. I did it myself about 40 years ago with a Mach 1 that I had been driving for about 6 years. During those 6 years the rear end broke loose many times but I got complacent and thought I could handle it. Then the day came when I found out there are limits to everything. I have no one to blame I knew what could happen but I pushed it anyway. Thankfully I didn’t suffer any major injuries and tried to replace that car but life happens and it took me 30 some years to replace it. Now that I have replaced it I drive it without the lead foot because I know what can happen no matter how good you are.
And that might be the best thought of all. I will print it and make my son read it.
 

BUCKWHEAT

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It's in the HP-to-brain cells ratio. I have had a high horsepower car that needed wide meats to get decent 60 foot times. I had two sets of tires for the rear. On the street, I only used factory spec sized tires. Not a light-to-light winner, but it didn't go sideways on the street. On the strip, it was M/T drag radials. No way I could go over 35mph with them wet. I did have matching factory rims for appearance vanity, but the M/T's were on widened factory rims.
 

Hemikiller

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Something else to consider is how the carburetor linkage is set up. Aftermarket carbs have a series of holes in the throttle arm, and often people choose the wrong one to install the ball stud for the throttle cable. The further out from the throttle shaft it's installed, the more pedal movement is required for a given throttle opening. This will give him better control over the throttle until he gains more experience.

You can also reduce the initial timing for a softer low end.

Make sure the tires aren't inflated to their max rating. When we were young and poor, and burnouts were king, us kids with the lower power cars would inflate the tires to the max to make them spin easier. The 255/60 Cobras on the front of my 71 are rated at 44psi. I run them at 32.
 

machcrazy

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Don't understand the need for speed in the rain. Myself I wouldn't take a classic out in the rain....it's like thier worst enemy (rust) is encouraged. Been running BFG's and have no issues. I also have good 5 leaf springs and a 1" sway bar in the rear. I'm am adult so I drive according. I do admit to eating a challenger or a camaro occasionally from light to light.. ... Be care full not overdriving conditions.
 

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Thanks all! I like the HP to brain cells ratio. It seems to improve as we age! Thanks for the tip on the carb linkage, It will see if it is on the farthest out hole. Concur on being out in the rain. The plan is if we know there will be rain, he will drive my truck to school, but this is FL and we get lots of surprise rain.

I also need to sort out what PSI we should be running them out. I keep meaning to chalk them and see.

Again, thanks all. I think we will try a set of the Generals as soon as budget allows. Tire Rack likes them in the wet, but there aren't any A-B comparisons with the Coopers.
 

detritusmaximus

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From my own experience...make sure the equipment is up to the task before relying on driver ability to keep it under control.
Cheap, unsuitable, or bad tires can send even an experienced driver into a ditch.

Years ago I totalled a 73 Grande, stock H code 351c 2v (not much power there...) because of cheap 205 tires that were new and had plenty of tread. Even the 154hp would spin the tires in the wet without even trying. The day I wrecked it I was complaining all day about not being able to take off from a dead stop if there was the slightest incline. In the end, a bumpy curve in the rain at about 30mph was all it took.
I have never bought a set of tires since then that were either cheap or not highly rated on Tirerack. Tirerack has not failed me yet.

Good quality shocks, steering components, and effective wet weather tires (not RWL tires that 'look' cool) for daily drivers are required.

If you can't find something good in 15" and need to step up to 16", get a set of the late-90s basket weave alloy HPP wheels from a Crown Vic. 16"×7" and usually under $300 a set. Or even the steel cop car wheels.
 

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