Tech Article Title Author Date
S4 Plus Zero Tire Upgrade Don Pavlik 2000


235/40-17 Shoes!

If you'll recall back when I had my A4 at around 6,000 miles I'd had enough of the Goodyear RS-A all season tires--they were a poor excuse for tires.  My S4 came equipped with Potenza RE040 225/45-17 performance tires.  For the most part not a bad tire.  Dry handling never left me frustrated.  Wet performance left me a bit cold though.  My intention was to wear them out and do a "Plus Zero" tire upgrade to some sticky meat.  But, the wrench gods decided to mess with my life once again.

A short while ago I had a vibration at highway speeds; it turned out to be an out of round tire and was replaced under the Bridgestone manufacture warranty.  I paid a pro-rated amount for the tread I used and they "gave" me a new tire.  4 days later while exiting a parking lot I bumped a curb with the rear wheel which was wearing the new tire.  Result:  damaged the tire evidenced by a healthy (unhealthy?) bubble in the sidewall.  Damn, damn, damn.  

The brand new 
injured RE040

I was offended at the thought of paying $258 for another tire which I wasn't really all that fond of.  So, I bumped up my tire upgrade plans and decided to go with the Yokohama AVS Sport in a 235/40-17.  There had been some (ok, ok, TONS) of discussion on the Audiworld message boards about whether a 235 tire would have enough clearance when mounted on the stock Avus 17" rims.  I can assure you... there is plenty of clearance.  I can get my index finger between the suspension bits and the tire on both front and rear--a #2 pencil passes through without touching anything.  The 225s on my A4 were closer--no room for the pencil.  Looks like you could even (dare I say) get a 245 on there.  I also decided to buy Road Hazard offered by Discount Tire for an additional $25/tire--I didn't buy them from Discount Tire but they will sell the warranty to anyone after they verify the tires are currently not damaged.  If I happen to ruin one of my spiffy low-profile tires they'll give me another. 

Front suspension 
clearance
Rear suspension 
clearance

 

225 vs. 235:  Serious meat

The 235 puts a bit more on the road


Initial "quick and dirty" impression (after 2 days):

  • Ride is noticeably firmer.
  • Impact-type road noise and feel has increased.  Tar strips and road gaps like bridge expansion joints make their presence known.
  • I hear some tire noise once I attain freeway speeds.  Not offensive--the radio on low volume masks most of the noise.
  • No real "hard driving" comments on handling yet.  I'm going to allow a few hundred miles for the tires to break in and some time to dial in my tire pressures before I hammer into any corners at 8/10ths.
  • Steering response is crisp and satisfying.  Oh, but then I am in an S4 so... :o

More life with the AVS Sport:

  • I'm still working on dialing in the tire pressure.  Currently I'm running 42 psi up front and 39 psi in the rear.
  • No clearance problems.
  • Crisp, right-now handling and response. Suddenly, I notice the car has body roll--not a lot--I just never really noticed it all that much before.  The body roll is a small, perfectly acceptable amount and not an issue for me.  The car is plenty stiff for my hard daily street use.  While haulin' around a very fast freeway interchange ramp when I dial in more steering it immediately tucks in and takes a new line. The first time I took the ramp with the new tires I dialed in too much steering.  Whoa... this thing turns!  With the old tires there was more of a lag while the car responded to my turn-in request.
  • Cornering force?  Hehehe... oh, yes... we've got cornering force.  Excellent!
  • The tires need time to get heat into them when temperatures are low (50F or below).  That's not to say they perform poorly when it's cold.  There is plenty of grip when cold but I notice the "velcro factor" goes up once the tires are warmed up.
  • No experience with them in the rain yet... things have been mighty dry here in the south.
  • May sound weird but the brakes seem more effective. The only way I can describe it when I apply the brakes the car feels like it is slowing a tad sooner.  Call me crazy but that's my perception... my guess is weight transfer occurs faster since the tires are stiffer and don't squat as much.
  • I'm still getting used to the ride. It's stiffer.  I was close to switching to 235/45-17 or back to the stock 225/45-17 size to improve the ride quality.  But, a friend of mine reminded me I'd loose the crisp handling.  It was a close call.  I've decided to stick with them--the handling is fantastic.  Update: Just rode in a friends S4 with the stock tires.  The difference in ride quality is smaller than I originally thought. Mine is a tad stiffer but not by much. 
  • They produce tire noise (whirring) starting around 55-60 mph. General road noise at lower speeds is more pronounced too. Tar strips, road joints and road imperfections speak clearly and make themselves known.
  • The tires audibly complain when pushed really really hard... as they should, IMO.  (well beyond reasonable and prudent for the street). The stock tires just made a scrubbing sound signaling understeer was eminent.  These make a low frequency squeal,. maybe more of a howl then they start pushing, but at a higher threshold than the RE040s.  Good behavior.
  • All in all, they provide what I'd call a more intimate driving experience. You are closer to the road. You feel and hear what's happening whether you want it or not.  They changed my car from a luxury sport sedan into more of a sport luxury sedan.
  •  I wouldn't recommend them for a non-enthusiast though.  What makes them desirable would turn off casual drivers.  You give up some ride quality.  You get increased noise.

AVS Sport: Cool looking rubber

So how do they look?  Very nice, IMO.  I always thought the stock tires looked too small for the rim width.  The 235 looks "right" to me.  And, the tire will protect the rim from curbs while parallel parking if you happen to get "up close and personal with it" instead of the other way around.

Techie stuff

The 235 is a very close replacement.  The difference in size amounts to about a 2% difference in the speedo readout.  The 235 at an actual 55 mph will read 56.29 mph.  The 235 also weighs about 2.5 lbs more.  The 225, by my digital bathroom scale, is 20 lbs.  The 235 came in at 22.5 lbs.  Of course, my wife says the scale is a damn liar so I dunno... at least the numbers are relative.

Tire Specs

   225/45  235/40
Overall height 24.97" 24.40"
Weight (alleged) 20 lbs 22.5 lbs

Update

I've had AVS Sports for about 10,000 miles. I rotate them about every 3,000 miles, keep them properly inflated and my alignment is perfect.  Yhe loud roar these tires produce (sounds like a truck with big mud tires) above 45 mph is really getting on my nerves. I've never had this style (tread pattern) of tire before--maybe it the nature of the beast, dunno. They are excellent in the rain and stick like velcro in the dry but at this point when it comes time for new shoes I'll probably be looking for an alternate replacement. These are way too annoying. 

Update II

My AVS Sports are starting to look a bit lean... now at just over 12,000 miles of service.  Before you recoil in horror gasping "Worn out already! OMG!" bear in mind that this is the most mileage I've ever squeezed out of a set of high performance tires.  Usually, I get around 8,000 miles out of a set of rubber.  To their credit, these tires have endured two weekends of track time at Texas World Speedway, one autocross event and lots of street time with me braking late and stuffing the car into corners.  I'll be the first to admit I'm hard on tires... I'm addicted to high cornering forces even more than I'm addicted to horsepower.  There are two general types of drivers (broad generalization here); point A to B folks with the goal to just get where they are going and those, like myself, who find getting to point B as enjoyable task rather than drudgery.  The price I pay for my enjoyment is tires (and fuel).  My guess is they've got another 2,000-3,000 left in them at which point they'll hydroplane when the humidity is high.  Even though they have a good deal of road noise I'll probably get them again because they've held up so well... at this rate I can replace them almost once per year instead of twice.  That's a tire rebate I can live with!




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