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Hi guys,

I have a '91 Spider Veloce which I seldom drive now since I had a child 5 years ago. That being said, I do enjoy taking him out (yes, he's a he - "Romeo" duh) from time to time and am long overdue for tires. My husband and I have looked over the threads here many times and I just get more and more confused. I read recently that Yokohama 195/60/15 tires were used on a '91 for sale. If I can do it for the $400 range, I'd be happy. I wouldn't mind something that could be put on and "managed" by a local tire place (even Costco has served me well in the past). Keeping the feel of how it hugs the road is important to me. I have always felt safe in the car - and I want to keep that feeling.

Forgive my naiveté & lack of details, but suffice it to say I like the way an Alfa drives so much that it's the only car(s) I've ever owned. My first was an '80 Spider Veloce that I bought in college. I bought this one in '92.

Thanks all!
 

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Hi guys,

I have a '91 Spider Veloce which I seldom drive now since I had a child 5 years ago. That being said, I do enjoy taking him out (yes, he's a he - "Romeo" duh) from time to time and am long overdue for tires. My husband and I have looked over the threads here many times and I just get more and more confused. I read recently that Yokohama 195/60/15 tires were used on a '91 for sale. If I can do it for the $400 range, I'd be happy. I wouldn't mind something that could be put on and "managed" by a local tire place (even Costco has served me well in the past). Keeping the feel of how it hugs the road is important to me. I have always felt safe in the car - and I want to keep that feeling.

Forgive my naiveté & lack of details, but suffice it to say I like the way an Alfa drives so much that it's the only car(s) I've ever owned. My first was an '80 Spider Veloce that I bought in college. I bought this one in '92.

Thanks all!
For what it's worth, I think a lot of people around here are 20 years behind the times on tire tech. Most tires you can buy today will be far superior to what was original to the car, and should feel safe (as long as you avoid bargain basement Chinese no-name tires). A local tire place can mount just about anything, although I like to order from tirerack.com, which can arrange to have the tires shipped to your local installer and tends to have better selection and price.

If you don't care about the speedometer being correct, you would see a massive improvement in warm dry grip by going to a Bridgestone RE-71R in 205/50 (will lower the car a bit and cause the speedo to read about 5% high and shorten your gearing by the same amount). These have grip that was available only in dedicated racing tires when your Spider was new. They are safe in the wet, but would not be safe in winter temperatures (anything below 40F). Expect to get only 10,000 miles out of them (probably not an issue for an occasional weekend driver). $114 a corner from tire rack.

http://www.tirerack.com/tires/tires...VR5RE71R&vehicleSearch=false&fromCompare1=yes

If you want to keep stock size, you won't be getting a truly high-performance tire (they simply aren't offered in such a big sidewall these days), but it won't be worse than what you have. Any major name brand "high performance all-season" category tire will do OK. Yokohama Avids are available for only $65 a corner from tire rack in the stock size. Count on another $125 or so for shipping and install- well within your budget.

http://www.tirerack.com/tires/tires...96HR5ENV&vehicleSearch=false&fromCompare1=yes
 

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I use 205/50/15's and have no issues and good handling. Make sure you get the tread style you want. Some of the Yokohama's are summer only. Also, if your tires are older than 5+ years, the ride and handling has deteriorated and you won't believe how good the new tires feel.

Thanks.
 

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Ive run a 205 & a 215 width all the way up to 18"
I have 18" yokohama S Drives on my 91 and just bought some Bridgestone 16" RE-71R's that are far stickier

if keeping the 15" rims, then this will work well and hold up. Ive had mine for a few years and dont drive it a ton and they are doing great
can do a 205/55/15" tire for 86/ea plus install. Just put a set on my wife's car in that size and she loves it
transformed the car
http://www.tirerack.com/tires/tires...&sidewall=Blackwall&partnum=055WR5S&tab=Sizes
Costco handles these I believe, I know Discount tires does

if you want a slightly narrower 195 width, which run 78/ea then here you go
http://www.tirerack.com/tires/tires...&sidewall=Blackwall&partnum=955VR5S&tab=Sizes

if you want a grippier tire that is definetly more summer only
Bridgestone Potenza RE-71R
or
http://www.tirerack.com/tires/tires...ewall=Blackwall&partnum=955VR6RE71R&tab=Sizes
these will not last long but if not driving much then by the time you do run them out it will be a few years
That was my thinking anyway. :cool:

cheers, Peter

btw, $70 rebate on the 71R's in April
just filed my claim
 

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Agree with the comment regarding contemporary tire performance. It has been said that a high performance street tire today is equal to a race tire from the distant past.

I'm a fan of tire upgrade and tried the 205/55 size for my '91 S4. The only issues were the front tires rubbing the inner fender liners at full lock, and this size wouldn't fit in the spare tire well. I currently have Yokohama Avid 195/60, but will not use again due to tire squeal.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 · (Edited)
THANKS! and more questions ...

Thanks, everyone! I bet I already know more about tire performance than a dozen men around my block at this point. Looking forward to showing this to my husband (who comes back after several weeks away at work in Asia) & knows I am anxious to drive again (but says not until we do the tires). I am leaning toward the Bridgestones. The rebate is nice and I don't see me driving 10,000 miles for a long time.

I have had these tires for a long time, so I am sure I will notice a big difference no matter what I choose. And thanks for pointing out the spare --- I will definitely need to take a look at it. It's got to be ancient.

I'm keeping the 15" rims for now. So does that mean I run a risk if I use 55's? And please explain why one chooses 55 over 50. @ George: Does "full lock" mean when you brake hard to the floor? I am also curious what "tire squeal" means. I used to joke with my Alfa mechanics all the time about how embarrassing the braking at a stoplight was when I would brake just right. Onofrio & Vittorio would say, "Ya know, Becky. Alfas gotta a-squeaky brakes. No-ting you can do." Is this the tires?? I haven't driven it in so long, I don't recall how often or if it's even still doing it.

Important question about winter/summer: I wouldn't choose the Alfa over my SUV any time the snow or ice hit, so that's a no brainer. But when you say "not for winter", does that pertain to specifically to temps below 40 degrees, like Nealric said?

2 add-on questions if you don't mind:
1) Any ideas how to "buff" out the phone dial hubs (you can see in this new pic) where they got a bit scratched up?
2) One of my emblems came off the hubcaps. I can't figure out how to fix it. They seem to be light metal or hard plastic. See the original pic and then look at the one I added here for what I have on the other 3. I don't think a sticker fell off ... but ?? I don't know. I tried to pop one out and broke the rim so clearly that's not the ticket. I think I can superglue it back.

Thanks again so much. This is an awesome forum.

Rebecca (& Kuba)
 

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Some answers (I hope)

Hmmm... Let me try to answer a few of these...

I'm keeping the 15" rims for now. So does that mean I run a risk if I use 55's? And please explain why one chooses 55 over 50.
Let me explain tire size math for you so you can understand those funny numbers.

Let's use 205/55-15 as an example:

205 is the width of the tread in mm

15 is the diameter of the wheel (the metal part by itself) in inches

55 is the complicated one- it is the Aspect Ratio of the sidewall size to the width of the tread. In this example, 205mm x 55% = 112.8 mm. This is the height of the tire sidewall- the distance from the outer part of the wheel to the ground.

Now let's look at a 205/50-15. Now the sidewall height is 205mm x 50% = 102.5mm. Based on this, you can see that if you keep the wheel size and tread width the same but change the middle number- the Aspect Ratio- it changes the size of the sidewall- the smaller the number, the smaller the sidewall.

In this case, the sidewall height went down 10mm which is just over 3/8"

Remember- a smaller sidewall also means that your car will ride closer to the ground. A couple of millimeters probably won't matter much or even be visible, but since our cars are very low to the ground to begin with- keep your eyes on how low you're going. Here in Miami we have lots of speed humps- especially in gated communities, so I don't want my car much lower than stock.

Since your speedometer is calibrated for the tires it came with, you want to have the circumference of any replacement tire to be close to the original. Since circumference is directly proportional to diameter, you can just look at diameters the same way. BTW- this will not only effect your speedometer, but your gearing as well. If you run a tire/wheel combo with a smaller diameter than stock, for each turn of the engine, the wheel will turn the same proportional degree of rotation, but since the the circumference is smaller, the car will move forward less- that's what's known as shortening the gearing.

Shortening the gearing will give you more "grunt" when you start out, but on the highway it means that your engine will run at a higher RPM to go the same speed as it did with the stock gearing.

By that logic, bigger diameter wheel/tire combo = fewer RPMs at speed (relaxed cruising on the highway) but less torque (grunt) when you start off.

The things you need to watch out for (besides the effect on gearing and speedometer error) is the physical space in the wheel wells- where the tires are on the car. If you use a tire that is too big, it may rub somewhere (never a good thing!) Wider treads or higher aspect ratio tires may rub on the wheel wells or the inside of the front fenders or rear quarterpanels. One thing to be mindful of is that even if you bolt on new larger tires and they seem to look good and not rub anywhere, they may rub when doing something besides standing still!

When the car leans over in a corner or hits a bump, the tire may deflect enough to rub on something. Same is true with steering- an oversize tire might even rub against a piece of the suspension. That's why, generally speaking, you probably shouldn't stray too far from stock sizes. That's also why it's a good idea to get info from a forum like this to find out about experiences others had with their wheel/tire combos on the same car as yours.

Does "full lock" mean when you brake hard to the floor?
Full lock refers to steering- turning the steering wheel as far as it will go to the left or to the right is "full lock"

I am also curious what "tire squeal" means. I used to joke with my Alfa mechanics all the time about how embarrassing the braking at a stoplight was when I would brake just right. Onofrio & Vittorio would say, "Ya know, Becky. Alfas gotta a-squeaky brakes. No-ting you can do." Is this the tires?? I haven't driven it in so long, I don't recall how often or if it's even still doing it.
Tire squeal generally means the sounds from the tires when they are working hard around a corner. It is different than brake squeal which I'll talk about in a minute.

When you're driving in a "spirited" fashion around a corner, your tires will naturally protest a little bit- one way they protest is by squealing. if you have your tires properly inflated and you do normal driving around town (i.e. grocery mode) then you'll probably never hear tire squeal. If you do hear tire squeal around town in "normal" driving, that is probably a sign that you need air in one or more tires. It could also mean you need a wheel alignment.

For sports car enthusiasts, a little tire squeal on a highway ramp or twisty road is a beautiful sound! It indicates that you are using a little more of your tire's capability than the mere mortals driving their mundane boxes around you- and it's a sure sign that you're having fun behind the wheel!

Brake squeal is a different matter. Generally, brakes should not make noise when you use them, but there are exceptions. The materials that brake pads are made of vary greatly, and some will squeal a little usually when you are not pressing hard on the brake pedal and at low speeds. If you hear grinding noises- that is never a good sign and means you should have your brakes checked right away. After a while you get familiar with the normal noises your brakes make. When you start hearing something different than normal, you should check it out. Some brake pads have "wear indicators" in them. When the pad is almost worn out, a small metal piece rubs against the rotor of the brake to make a nasty sounding squeal- the effect is like fingernails on a chalkboard. If/when you hear that- it's time to replace the brake pads.

There's lots of YouTube videos about brake squeal and their causes, so I would check some out for more info.

Important question about winter/summer: I wouldn't choose the Alfa over my SUV any time the snow or ice hit, so that's a no brainer. But when you say "not for winter", does that pertain to specifically to temps below 40 degrees, like Nealric said?
I'll leave that to other experts, although I believe Nealric is 100% correct. Since I moved to Miami I haven't worried about winter tires for a very long time and have tuned out discussions of winter and all-season tires. Even my daily driver has high-performance summer tires.

Any ideas how to "buff" out the phone dial hubs (you can see in this new pic) where they got a bit scratched up?
I believe they are painted alloy like my 5 spokes on my '87 Veloce. You should be able to buff them out as you would any other paint. Again- I recommend a YouTube search, and I invite our own experts to chime in on this.

One of my emblems came off the hubcaps. I can't figure out how to fix it. They seem to be light metal or hard plastic. See the original pic and then look at the one I added here for what I have on the other 3. I don't think a sticker fell off ... but ?? I don't know. I tried to pop one out and broke the rim so clearly that's not the ticket. I think I can superglue it back.
I think you should put the superglue back on the shelf and call up one of our friendly parts vendors! I think this is what you need-

Wheel Center Cap from Centerline

You might want to get a spare or two!

Thanks again so much. This is an awesome forum.

Rebecca (& Kuba)
You're welcome! I'm a 28 year veteran of Alfa Spider ownership, but I still learn stuff here. I'm glad I can contribute. Any more questions (or if I confused the heck out of you) let us know!

Good luck- have fun!

-Ray
 

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Great information for a new Spider owner. For tire, there are many on-line calculators that allow comparison between different sizes. Here's one: https://tiresize.com/calculator/
 

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Important question about winter/summer: I wouldn't choose the Alfa over my SUV any time the snow or ice hit, so that's a no brainer. But when you say "not for winter", does that pertain to specifically to temps below 40 degrees, like Nealric said?
To clarify: tires that are rated as "summer tires" are designed to work in warmer temperatures. As it gets colder, the compound gets hard and they loose their ability to stick. The manufacturers tend to recommend not using them below 40 degrees for that reason. They may work ok, in temps slighly below that, but grip will be unpredictable. They would be beyond worthless in snow- as in, you aren't getting out of your driveway.

Tires that are rated "all season" have a compound that's designed to stick in a wide range of temperatures, but the trade off is that they have a lot less grip when warm. For those who live in warm climates or who only drive their car when it's warm, best tire performance will be achieved by using summer tires.
 

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On my '88 Quad (which has 15"x6" phone dials) I run the tire size specified by Alfa Romeo and listed in the Owner's Manual, 195/60 R15.

I would be very cautious about running a tire with a lower profile than original equipment, because it only adds to the potential to "bottom out".

And personally, I don't see much advantage to using a wider tread width than stock, unless the car is being raced, or regularly participating in autocross events.

Just my 2 cents.
 

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On my '88 Quad (which has 15"x6" phone dials) I run the tire size specified by Alfa Romeo and listed in the Owner's Manual, 195/60 R15.

I would be very cautious about running a tire with a lower profile than original equipment, because it only adds to the potential to "bottom out".

And personally, I don't see much advantage to using a wider tread width than stock, unless the car is being raced, or regularly participating in autocross events.

Just my 2 cents.
For what it's worth, the owner's manual was written many years ago when tire selection was completely different.

I run 225/50 in the back and 205/50 in the front. I've not had any issues with bottoming out even with a side-pipe exhaust that is lower than stock.

A higher performance tire in a lower profile is going to dramatically change the car's handling for the better- it will be noticeable outside the track or autocross settings.
 

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For the driving it sounds like you do, most of this thread is crazy talk. Suggest you just stick with the stock 195/60R15 size. My '91 rubs a bit with *those*, so don't listen to these folks with earlier Spiders who say rubbing with bigger tires isn't an issue because they're comparing apples to kumquats. Plus the proper size won't screw up your speedometer reading.

Tirerack.com is a great place to buy tires: they ship to your local installer and they're cheap. In 195/60R15 they have the Sumitomo HTR and the Yokohama Avid, both of which are decent high performance all-season tires and are only $60 each. The car will drive very well with either of them.
 

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My '91 rubs a bit with *those*, so don't listen to these folks with earlier Spiders who say rubbing with bigger tires isn't an issue because they're comparing apples to kumquats. Plus the proper size won't screw up your speedometer reading.
Ehh. More like Fuji Apples to Granny Smith. It would be helpful to clarify what sort of rubbing you are talking about. The 205/50s might actually rub less because they aren't as tall.
 
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