C5 Corvette Square Wheel Handling + Track day Tire Reviews

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In my quest for improved performance and handling on a budget, one thing I heard a lot of people mention early on was that some people would go with a "square" setup for wheels/tires on their C5 Corvette. A square setup is equal size wheels and tires on all 4 corners. On the C5 Corvette, this differs from the OEM staggered situation of a larger rear wheel/tire combo than front, generally 17" in the front, 18" in the rear.

Now there's a lot of information out there on just what does and doesn't work for going square on a Corvette, and then there's all sorts of silly stuff like folks saying it will make a car understeer versus oversteer, etc etc. Welp, I've tooled around with all of the above, so here are my findings, combined with my experience taking various different tires out on the track!

Does going square cause "oversteer" on the C5 Corvette?

So let's answer this one right off the bar. No, it doesn't CAUSE oversteer. In my experience, saying it as "causing" something is downright silly. In my experience, both endso f the car have their limits, and one having more limit than the other will cause the car to behave one way or another. So in that regard, increasing the limits of the front DOES mean you will experience oversteer first possibly... if you upgrade the front end so much more that the rear can't handle it.

Where I dissent from the belief that going square can "cause" anything is that a modification that reduces the limit is more of a "cause" situation, such as if you've got too many packer spacers in your coilovers and you bottom out the shock going into a turn... that will CAUSE understeer.

So what you will experience is a bit of a balance shift at the limit. It however is managable.

Going Square on A Budget - 4x 18" Wagon Wheels

So you undoubtedly know by now as a reader that I'm all about trying the budget options. At first on my C5, wheels and tires were no exception. After researching, I discovered I could source 2x rear 18x9.5 wagon wheels for $100 to go with my current 2x rear 18x9.5 wagon wheels and then get them  all powder coated black for $150, bringing me to $250 for wheels that look halfway decent. This also would let merun 275 width tires on all 4 corners of my C5 Corvette, getting both the square setup I was after and increasing my front grip as I was experiencing understeer at the limits of my car, at least if I wasn't intentionally inducing oversteer for fun!

For those looking to do this for themselves, it's a great budget option for the C5. A lot of drift folks do this as well. You can source the wagon wheels as I mentioned for cheap, and sometimes even find them for FREE as a lot of folks can't even get rid of them as nobody wants them. Powdercoated black they don't look half bad either!

Going Square And Maximizing Your Tire Size

So in the pursuit of speed, you will pretty early on want to maximize your mechanical grip. You can get coilovers and sway bars, but ultimately the tires will make the biggest difference, and the wheels holding them combined with the wheel well space of your vehicle will in turn determine just what you can and cannot get away with on the car.

On the C5 Corvette, 18x11 is the golden standard of wider wheels. A lot of early 2010s information out there will say getting 4x of the C5Z06 rear wheels is the budget option on the C5 Corvette, but I haven't seen that as the case for the last few years. Nearly everybody sells the C5Z06 wheelas as the staggered set and seeks about $1000. Thus, you'll need to get two sets for $2000, and have 4x 17x9.5" front wheels leftover that nobody will want. For a bit less, you can get into the Apex SM10 ET57 wheel, or the Trackspec C5 Corvette wheel. Both at the time of me writing this article cost about $1700 a set, but can be had at various sales for a bit less.

Going with 18x11 wheels will let you run 295 width up through 315 width tires. Most folks just go straight to 315 width tires, which I think is likely the best choice. Some folks go with 295 width tires though to save a bit on cost, at the expensive of a bit of grip. Some will argue the grip isn't as much of a loss as there is rotational mass gains... but nobody has really A/B tested this on the C5 Corvette so who knows!

Tire reviews with the C5 Corvette

I've now got 30+ track days on my car with various tires, and I think I can safely review the lot of them! I'll link to them all below along with include some general information on how they handled!

Falken Azens FK-510
Run Flats - 300tw


-Good street tire!
-Good grip right from cold.
-Lots of audible feedback at the limit for novice drivers
-Solid Novice Tire

-Not 200tw tires, so less grip
-Would get hot and "greasy" relatively early in a session
-Limited to novice levels

Federal 595RS-RR

$850-Fine street tire!
-Fun on the track.
-Good audible Feedback.
-Wears better than most 200tw tires
-Less grip than other 200tw tires.
-Gets greasy when hot and can get slippery.
-Limited to Novice to Intermediate skill levels
-Semi loud on the street, but it never bothered me.

$980-Good street tire!
-Extra grip, and taller profile over 275's that visually filled the wheel well.
-Good audible feedback
-Good wear compared to most 200tw tires.

-Tall tire meant lowering the car to not look like a buggy, which in turn compromises steering geometry.
-Less grip than other 200tw tires.
-Greasy when hot
-Limited to Novice to Intermediate skill levels
-Semi loud on the street, but it never bothered me.
-Rare and difficult to find tire size

Falken Azenis RT615k+


-Just okay on the street
-Good grip, but slower turn it
-Decent feedback
-Goes most of a session pushing the limits with consistent handling and temperatures
-Frequently good sales

-Less audible feedback for novices, fine for Int+
-Grip does drop with heat cycles, best first 2 track days.
-Would understeer for me when pushed.
Continental Extreme Contact Force


-DEEP tread depth!
-Good tactile feedback
-Decent audible feedback
-Exceptional turn in
-Holds front very well

-Did get some oversteer with when hot.
-Tires get greasy 1-2 laps before the 615's
-Wrong tire height for the C5 (295/35 would be better)
Continental Extreme Contact Force



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