Putting Tires to the Test
Meeting Modern Demands
Larry Jewett - August 18, 2014 10:00 AM
The CS5 Grand Touring tire is engineered for real life performance on real life roads and real conditions.Image: Cooper Tire
The tread pattern of the CS5 Ultra Touring reflects the asymmetric design that focus on handling in all weather conditions.Image: Cooper Tire
This display board, with information that can be viewed at participating dealers, spells out the advantages of the 3D Micro-Gauge grooves in the treads.Image: Larry Jewett
Here’s a cutaway view of the CS5 tire, which gives a look at the layers created during the tire’s construction. The Cooper CS5 Touring tire will be built exclusively in Tupelo, Mississippi.Image: Larry Jewett
This tire section shows the Wear Square technology that is part of the CS5. The “square” can be found at the far right. As the tire wears, the square is reduced as you can see by the examples moving left on this tire section.Image: Larry Jewett
The Cooper Tire Vehicle Testing Center in Pearsall, Texas, served as a critical place for development and testing. It is also the site of our after-market testing.Image: Larry Jewett
Cooper Tire engineers and staff gathered feedback from the drivers on the dry course. Five-time Indianapolis 500 qualifier Johnny Unser (in cap, center of picture) is Cooper Tire’s Performance Tire Advisor who played in key role in the tire’s creation.Image: Larry Jewett
There was lots of room for error on the dry track, but few needed the space. A twisting course through the pylons gave a variety of challenges to the tire…and the driver.Image: Larry Jewett
Over at the wet pad, the challenge was a bit different, but the results showed the quicker reaction of the tire when slippage occurred. The heavier Mustangs became easier to handle with the Cooper CS5.Image: Larry Jewett
There was a dry spot on the course that showcased the tire’s grip in changing conditions.Image: Larry Jewett
The Wear Square on the Cooper CS5 will essentially replace measuring tread with Lincoln’s head on the penny. Who carries cash these days?Image: Cooper Tire
Tire pressures are a critical element in durability and performance. As part of the education process, consumers need to pay attention to this and tire manufacturers are involved in making this understood.Image: Cooper Tire
Cooper Tires is celebrating its 100 years of business and hopes the CS5 will support the decision to discontinue their best selling tire.Image: Cooper Tire
Mandy Gladden of www.lifesongsofabusymom.com (foreground) took her CS5 driving experience with the distracted driving team. The exercise allowed participants to feel the tire performance in less than optimum conditions. Moms focused on understanding the importance of a safer tire for daily driving.Courtesy of The Zimmerman Agency
It’s a bold move. When you make the decision to replace your best selling product with something new, you had better be right.
That was the pressure faced by engineers, product developers and everyone involved in the creation of the CS5 Touring tire at Cooper Tire. The company, celebrating its 100th year, had seen phenomenal success with the CS4 Touring, but it was time for a change. The question rested in how the change was going to take place.
There was nothing wrong with the CS4 and it provided a tough act to follow. It was not a task taken lightly by Cooper and there was no rush to market. If it was going to be done, it was going to be right and it was going to be right the first time.
Stat geeks will love this. The company mixed 1,142 different batches in search of the proper formulation. There was 11,000 pounds of rubber used to create the compound that wasn’t even formed into a tire. The compounds went through 20,000 different tests in the course of development. When it came time for the actual testing, there were 270,000 pounds of tread compound used in testing before Cooper would even think about bringing it to the market. Millions of dollars and thousands of person-hours were spent on the product with the idea of creating the next stage in technology and innovation. That’s getting it right the first time.
Cooper Tire ranks as the fifth largest tire company in the United States and ranks 11th in the world. The Findlay, Ohio-based company remains staunchly independent, but has a global reach with plants and research facilities around the world. For those who like their tires American made, the CS5 is constructed in the Cooper facility in Tupelo, Mississippi.
The CS5 Ultra Touring and CS5 Grand Touring fall into a position between the mid-range touring tire (Cooper’s CS3 Touring) and premium ultra high performance (Cooper’s Zeon RS3-A). The company knows quite a bit about the category, developing the Lifeliner Classsic in 1989, a pioneer in the “touring” tire segment. Cooper has been producing radial tires since 1973.
There are many important elements that make this tire special without getting into the proprietary secrets that other tire companies are rushing to find, but we can tell you a little about them. Each CS5 features a durable uniform construction that brings the tire to life through layers. They start with an inner liner and a layer of polyester ply is added. From there, two super tensile steel belts are put into place with a nylon wound overlap encasing them. The amount of overlap is dependent on the size of the tire being constructed. At this point, the coupled silica tread compound finishes the construction process.
The new second generation compound features advanced polymer technology. Goals reached by this compound include greater handling in wet conditions, reduced distance required for stopping and lower rolling resistance, which translates into greater fuel mileage.
The tread pattern is an asymmetric design for all weather conditions. Essentially, each half of the tire is designed with certain performance characteristics in mind. The inside is dedicated to improved wet grip and traction while the outer regions target better handling and cornering. As Product Segment Manager Bruce Sanborn described it, “We engineered the tire for real life. We took a look at how it was going to be used and that was the prevailing thought throughout the entire process.” Cooper’s Scott Jamieson added, “We measure performance in people.”
A critical element in improved performance and dependability is the CS5’s 3D Micro-Gauge Siping. Maximum surface contact is achieved through tread elements linking together. Full-depth siping improves wet and dry performance through the life of the tire and testing has shown the Cooper CS5 to retain 85 percent more siping than a competitor’s baseline tire.
At the edge of the tread elements, consumers will find STABILEDGE technology, which incorporates small bumpers that keep the larger grooves open while driving. It stabilizes the tread to improve response and traction. The little things mean a lot.
One of the most consumer-friendly aspects is the Wear Square, a visual wear indicator. Cooper is not the first company to incorporate wear indicators into the tire, but consumers often had to rely on the interpretation of a tire dealer whose livelihood depends on selling tires. With Wear Square, a child could theoretically determine the life remaining on your tires.
There is a square on the outer and inner edges. If the tire is 25 percent worn, a portion of the square is worn away and now has a “U” shape. An additional 25 percent changes the shape to “L” and a 75 percent worn tire has just one side of the square remaining. It’s time to seriously think about replacing the tire. If the Wear Squares are not consistent, there is an indication of a possible alignment issue.
In testing, Cooper officials found the Wear Square to be the overwhelming factor for consumers to consider this tire in their next purchase. It can replace the “penny test” (how many of us carry cash these days?) to determine tread life.
Once the tire was developed, it still has a way to go before Tupelo could tool up and dealers could start ordering. A strenuous testing regime was developed with 13 separate winter tests being conducted in a European indoor facility. There were treadwear tests and component tests by the dozens. Once it was all said and done, nearly 3,500 tires were used on vehicles travelling 1.1 million miles.
Some of the testing was done at the Cooper Tire Vehicle Testing Center in Pearsall, Texas, 40 miles south of San Antonio. The 1,000 acres encompass four separate testing facilities with three of the four playing a role in the development of the CS5. Those include a two-mile oval, 1.3-mile dry handling circuit (think high speed road course) and a 14-acre wet vehicle dynamics assessment pad. Test drivers with extensive experience put the tires through a battery of tests with engineers standing by in many cases for feedback.
Once all of the testing had been completed, the product was brought to market. While most tires are brought to market in few applications, Cooper immediately offered a wide variety of sizes for consumer purchase. The CS5 Ultra Touring, available in H, V and W ratings, covers over 70 percent of the H and V rated markets with a 60,000-mile warranty. The W-rated CS5 Ultra is available in 20 percent of the market for now with a 50,000-mile warranty.
The CS5 Grand Touring is a T-rated tire with an 80,000-mile warranty, offered in a wide range of sizes for most passenger vehicles and SUVs.
Tire consumers don’t have the luxury of taking the product on a test drive before making a buying decision. They have to rely on accurate information and be able to cut through the marketing and/or dealer incentives to get the tire best suited for their needs. That’s where research comes in. Each consumer has his or her own means of research. For those who choose the opinion of car magazines, we are about to launch into revealing our own results.
In May, Cooper Tire invited a group of journalists to the Texas track. The next day, a group of “mommy bloggers” (ladies who write about matters important to moms, but not necessarily automotive-related) were due for their own tests. We’re all consumers, we just have different agendas. Our tests were slightly different, but the idea was the same – just how good is this new tire?
The journalist testing took place on the wet pad and a portion of the dry track, giving us two distinct and different conditions. The T-rated Grand Touring tire was put onto Ford Mustangs with Mustangs also shod with Hankook Optimo H727 tires. BMWs carried the V-rated CS5 Ultra Touring and Pirelli Cinturato P7s. Competitor tires were chosen based on suitable comparisons in price point and characteristics for conditions.
Testing results from professional drivers is a completely different animal. Though it wasn’t my first trip to the Texas track, I couldn’t be considered anything more than a “normal tire consumer”, so my findings are likely more in line with what the average tire buyer would find. Some in the group had never experienced the track before, but could offer comparison to their own real world experience.
Based on the electronic timing, lap times came down two seconds with the CS5 versus the Pirelli in the wet track. They were reduced by a second on the Mustangs with the CS5. Over on the dry track, the difference was greater. The Cooper units resulted in faster times, but consistent laps were recorded in the four timing laps in the BMW. The T-rated tires again resulted in one second quicker and better confidence with the car’s ability to perform.
While any tests could be considered subjective, the timers didn’t lie and the “seat of the pants” dyno is always a good indicator of performance. For those who only had the previous experience of real world driving, the comments were even more enlightening. Across the board, each driver found the Cooper CS5 to be superior.
Time will tell if the CS5 will, in fact, replace the CS4 as the best selling tire in the company’s 100 year history. With the recent testing and reviews, it’s off to a good start.
A Different Perspective
Our world is cars, but we sometimes forget that much of the rest of the world doesn’t share the same view (no matter how hard we try to convert them). The automotive matters we consider elementary – oil changes, tire pressures, etc. – don’t hold the same status in the minds of everyone.
All of us can’t be moms. Gender differences aside, moms view the world from the role they have been blessed to have and have to give consideration to that when making decisions. More moms are faced with making decisions in the best interests of their family in areas where they have never had to before, whether because of change of circumstance or just a need to know.
Mandy Gladden created “Life Songs of a Busy Mom” (www.lifesongsofabusymom.com) to cover an array of topics important to today’s mothers. She found that “moms tend to stick together” and content such as product reviews and helpful shared experiences can go a long way.
Mandy was invited to be a part of the CS5 tire test by Cooper. It gave her insight into an area where some may simply take it for granted. “I never really thought about my tires,” she admitted. “My husband took care of it. I didn’t think about much of the car. We knew safety was important and this experience has changed my thinking to realize that I need to be more concerned about my tires.”
The participants went through distracted driving exercises and also experienced the tires in different conditions, including worn tires versus new tires. While the journalists were interested in the science and physics and other such matters, the moms were rightly concerned about the safety.
“We are safety freaks,” Mandy said. “We also need to know what’s important and we were very impressed with the Wear Square. It will reduce the times when women are taken advantage of, because having that knowledge will allow us to stay informed and do what is right for our families. We could really feel the difference in the tires especially on the wet track. The competitor tire slipped a lot while the Cooper tire slipped a little but caught real quickly.”
The participants have shared their knowledge with their audiences through the various websites and have taken a step toward an informed public and safety roadways. “It was eye-opening,” said Mandy. “There really is a difference.”