Are you looking to spice up your ride with a set of new rims? When you have a vehicle that you're proud of, it's only natural that you want it to look the best it can.

There is no better way to get your truck looking good than by giving it a new set of wheels. Shopping for new wheels can be a frustrating experience or it can be a rewarding one. Just remember, a little research goes a long way and will yield a lot fewer headaches. Also, aftermarket wheels will definitely add value when it comes time to sell.

When it was decided that our Toyota Tacoma project was going to be built as a daily-driver and not a full-blown custom, we knew the wheels were going to be the key point in making the truck stand out and get noticed. We started our search for the perfect wheels in a place that is endless with information, the World Wide Web. When you shop online, you aren't limited to just what the retailers in your area have to offer you. Now you can shop for rims in every store, in every town, in every state, in every country. As long as they have a website.

After a few hours of looking at different wheels, we hit up MHT Luxury Alloys website and found the perfect style of wheels for our Tacoma. The style of wheel we decided to go with is out of the MHT Forged Series. The Sprint is a five-spoke, two-piece aluminum wheel, and MHT offers its customers a wide variety of customizing options. We started in MHT's Design Studio, where we were able to choose how our wheels would look. You can have them painted, powdercoated, brushed, chromed, or any combination you can think of. We decided to have a chrome hoop with a black powdercoated center. When we were done designing our wheel, we submitted the request to MHT. We were contacted within 48 hours by one of the sales staff and referred to a wheel dealer in our area where we could purchase the wheels. There were several in our area so we picked the closest one. Once paid for, MHT processes the order and in three to six weeks, the rims we designed arrived at our local wheel dealer.

We ordered our wheels and tires through Performance Plus Tire in Long Beach, California, and when the wheels arrived from MHT we were contacted and an appointment was set up to have them installed. The whole ordering process was simple and headache-free. We got a set of wheels that we liked in the color and finish that we wanted, and you can too by checking out mhtwheels.com.

Road Testing Nitto's NT555 Tires

The NT555 are classified by Nitto as ultra-performance street tires. Translation: they're designed for dry traction without sacrificing ride comfort and noise suppression. The NT555 has a unique design. The tire incorporates standard tread design with three, wide-rib deep channels across the contact patch. The high block rigidity of the centersection of the NT555 ensures a stable contact patch for all driving conditions. The rest of the tire consists of a reinforced tread compound, variable pitched grooves, and large inner and outer contact patches for improved handling while accelerating, cornering, and braking.

The NT555 come in sizes ranging from 205/45R16 to 295/30R23 monsters. The tires are "W" rated; good for speeds up to 168 mph. The 20-inch tires we installed have a 92 rating for load, which means a maximum load per tire of 1,389 pounds. Our Toyota Tacoma has a gross vehicle weight of 4,850 pounds, which is 700 pounds under the total combined weight for our tires. Nitto warranties the NT555 tires for uniformity problems for 60 months after purchase, subject to rotation every 3,500 miles. As expected with performance tires, no mileage warranty is offered.

Without sophisticated equipment, tire testing on a scientific basis is impossible. As to mileage tests, one requires either many years of patience or a machine to artificially add mileage. Having neither, we can only provide our subjective analysis of the tires based on experience. The other issue with tires is the trade-off between comfort/noise/longevity versus performance and traction. Tires that fall on the performance side usually have comfort and noise issues. Softer, higher series tires ride great but lose performance capabilities.

We tested the NT555s for four characteristics: noise, comfort, dry traction, and wet traction. The easiest to measure was the Nitto's noise level. We found the tires extremely quiet, with a little noise with the Taco's windows down, and none with the windows up. We did find that road conditions affected noise. The rougher textured roads produced a little more noise than smoother roads did, but hey, that's what the radio is for. We just turned it up and didn't hear anything.

Comfort was harder to measure; due to the limited suspension travel of the lowering kit, the Tacoma is already at a disadvantage. Compared to the stock tires, we found a big difference, going from a 70-series tire to a 35-series tire. The steering response increased dramatically, and we could feel just about every crack in the road through the steering wheel. However, the comfort level with the NT555s is very respectable for the given parameters and overall we are good with that.

The fun part of testing is pushing tires to the limit on the streets in simulated track tests in open lots. All tests were performed with the traction control turned off. We tested dry handling by doing high-speed turns and simulated slaloms. We found the traction to be more than adequate for the Taco, with the truck failing to break loose. We also tried several panic stops, inducing ABS vibration. Again, the NT555s performance was flawless. Wet traction was slightly worse, which is normal, with slower slalom speeds and longer braking distances. However, we never felt a loss of control. With the install, we paid less than $750 for all four shoes at Performance Plus Tire. Overall, the NT 555s perform excellent and we would recommend them for any vehicle.

SOURCE
MHT Luxury Alloys
mhtwheels.com
Performance Tire Plus
performancetireplus.com
Nitto Tire USA, Inc.
nittotire.com