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My Nitto Experience, part 2 (wet weather)

Posted 03-26-2009 at 12:50 PM by guionM
It's been about a month and a half since I was given a set of Nitto NT05s to use and write about. My intention was to write a little something every week or 2. However California's rain season (more like Deluge season) and a bout of pneumonia that kept me in for nearly 2 weeks altered my plans considerably. Afterall, how much can you ring out your tires in the rain?

So... let's make this blog about the NT05s about wet weather performance!

There is both good and not so good to say about the tires. I mentioned in my 1st blog that at 1st glance, I didn't expect much. The tires have a solid thick center band that doesn't have a way to displace water, and the tread design, while unidirectional doesn't seem to be especially designed for rain. Large soft blocks are great for maximum dry road grip, but aren't going to be your first choice (or second or third) for grip when the roads turn wet. Then I wrote that I was pleasently surprised. But there's nothing like California between the months of January and March to really sort things out regarding wet weather performance. Afterall, it was about 20 years ago this season on Interstate 5 by San Diego while driving on a set of original equptment Goodyear Gatorbacks that I hit a especially wet section and nearly performed the automotive equivent to an ice skater's "sitting spin" in my Mustang 5.0 LX. Fortunately, it was about 3 am on a weekday, no one was within a mile of me, and I was in the center of 3 northbound lanes. No harm, no foul... and although I was home 20 minutes later, I was perfectly wide awake for the next 3 hours.

While nothing quite that dramatic happened with the Nitto NT05s and my current Camaro (no doubt partially due to a heavier car, and 20 additional years worth of common sense), there are clearly wet weather limitations with the tires, and those limitations are at first glance a bit lower than with, say, the Comp T/As I had on before the Nittos.

In wet weather, one of the things about the Comp T/As was that I knew in advance when I should let up. Kind of like the robot in the old "Lost In Space" TV series warning "Danger, Will Robinson" whenever something not at pleasent was imminent, the T/As had a bit of progressive slippage to warn me before I ended up off the road in a ditch... or worse.

With the NT05s, on the other hand, I know early on that I'm aren't exactly on rain tires. But, actually, this is by no means as bad as it may sound. While the Comp T/As almost encouraged me to drive as I might on dry pavement, the NT05s tended to make me, almost unconsciously adjust my driving mentality. Sort of like those of us who learned to drive in the northeast or any place that has both hills and seasonal snow unconsciously adjust our driving "program" when there's snow on the ground.

But at the same time, the tires were always more capable than you'd think. Whenever I'd perform a move expecting some type of slippage, the tires simply did what they were supposed to do. Quickly manuver around a suddenly stopping driver on a city boulevard or a fishtailing car about 3 car lengths ahead at 60 mph? No problem.

One wet night after work, at around 2am, I decided to take my Camaro over to a nearby mall's deserted parking lot and toy around with the limits of the tires. In the end, the tires had plenty of grip, and dare I say... very close if not similar to the Comp T/As I used to have.

I did notice one tendancy. While the Comps were more or less progressive in breaking traction, the NT05s seemed to have more abrupt lateral traction loss. It would grip and grip, and then abruptly walk off the job. The Camaro would suddenly plow ahead with understeer, or in a turn the rear would suddenly break loose.... or both.

On day to day freeway driving (about half of the driving I normally do), hitting standing water at 60 or so is also a bit of a revelation. Although I attribute it more to tire width than design, I was far more aware of the brief float of hydroplaning than I was used to. But in line with the rest of my Nitto experience so far (and seemingly recurring theme), there is more grip there than what it may feel like.

And that is the key reason why although I say you know early on these aren't exactly rain tires, that's not exactly a bad thing in this case. The tires told me early on that they weren't going to pretend they were rain tires, I adjusted my driving, and I always had more traction than I thought, as if there was a built-in safety margin on the tires.

Compare that to, perhaps, a tire that doesn't remind you you're in wet weather and therefore you drive as it were dry, perhaps pushing it's limits farther than you should.

California is coming out of it's rain season. Going into April & May, Northern California has it's 1st of 2 summers (from late June to about early August San Francisco is unexpectedly cold before it has it's real summer in September & October), roads will be staying dry, tempertures will go up, and I have no plans to catch pnemonia again (like I did the first time, huh?).

I'm already driving quite a bit more than simply commuting back & forth to work, and looking to put some miles on the tires.... and more feedback.

Stay tuned.
Total Comments 3


I want to clarify that these tires are NOT going to be factory issue on the new Camaro. In my earlier Nitto blog, I mistakenly said they would be.

I also want to say that I got these tires courtesy of Nitto through being a prominent member (nearly 10 years when you consider my 1st screenname) of CamaroZ28.com.
Posted 03-26-2009 at 12:58 PM by guionM guionM is offline
JasonD's Avatar
Gooooood stuff, can't wait until the next update!
Posted 03-31-2009 at 05:24 PM by JasonD JasonD is offline
Looking at the NT05's for my new SS when the P0s wear out. I live in Phoenix so rain or snow is not an issue and I have been running it in NASA events and need more stick. Have you run these on a track yet?
Posted 05-31-2010 at 05:10 PM by dlara01 dlara01 is offline
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