Driving a high-performance car can be expensive since you’ll be paying more for fuel, but also for tires. That’s because fast driving quickly eats the tread, significantly shortening the life of the tire.
For that reason, many buyers opt for a cheaper option, such as the Federal SS595. This tire is very popular in the tuning, drifting, and autocross community, primarily because it’s so cheap.
But does that mean it’s good? Well, to answer that question, I prepared a detailed review of the Federal SS595, where I’ll cover any meaningful category. I’ll focus mostly on dry traction and grip but also cover wet performance, comfort, and durability.
What are the features of the Federal SS595?
According to Federal Tire, the SS595 utilizes its latest TTIC tire technology for smoothness, speed, and safety. Moreover, the tire features the M.P.O. (Magnified Performance Optimization), which should provide consistent performance throughout the tread life.
Meanwhile, the directional tread pattern features Three Radius Tread Arc for more pressure throughout the contact area and Opti-Noise technology for a quieter ride.
What are the maintenance indicators?
The Federal SS595 has the industry-standard tread wear indicators (TWI’s). These are narrow rubber bars that sit recessed into the grooves of the tread. As the tire wears down, the TWI’s become more visible.
When the tread reaches 2/32-inch, the indicators will be completely flush with the surface. At this point, the tire won’t be safe for driving in rainy conditions anymore, although it might work on dry surfaces. Even then, tires with less than 2/32-inch tread are not road-legal in most places.
When it comes to tire wear, the Federal SS595 won’t last very long. The tread wears quickly, meaning you’ll have to replace the tires every 10,000 to 15,000 miles, especially if you drive aggressively.
How does it behave on a dry tarmac?
The most important reason people buy these tires is handling. They are ultra-high-performance summer tires, after all, designed to provide the driver with the best possible grip in the corners and feel through the steering wheel.
The thing is, there are many cheap performance tires on the market, and in my experience thus far, they aren’t quite what they promise to be. Now, sure, you’ll get higher grip levels than you would on an all-season tire, even the best one. However, we are talking about ultra-high-performance summer tires here, and as such, I’ll compare the Federal SS595 to similar products.
I’ll start with the first impressions here because they often make or break a tire. And honestly, they were not good. When I drive on ultra-high-performance tires, I expect them to react immediately to my inputs. I also expect a good amount of feel from the road surface since it helps you understand when the tires lose traction.
Well, I didn’t get any of that from the Federal SS595. Sure, thanks to the stiffer sidewalls, it provides a better driving experience than your run-of-the-mill all-season tire. However, compare it to established ultra-high-performance summer tires, and the SS595 simply can’t compete. It’s not as responsive as a seasoned driver would like, and it certainly doesn’t communicate well with the driver.
Fortunately, the SS595 redeems itself with the grip it provides. The tire might not be responsive, but damn, it grips in the corners. You can experience very high G’s in your sports car with a set of these tires, which is all the more impressive given the price. Thus, I found the SS595 to be an excellent companion on autocross courses. In addition, thanks to the reliable grip through the corner, it’s a great option for drifters as well.
But, and this is a big “but” here, stability under braking is sub-par. The stopping distances are also consistently longer than the premium competition, which makes the SS595 a worse option for track days, especially on high-speed courses. On top of that, the rolling resistance is higher than on premium competitors, which might translate into slightly lower mpg’s. Not that you care about that in your sports car, but it’s good to note.
Overall, I was far from impressed with the dry performance. You simply don’t feel like driving an ultra-high-performance tire behind the wheel, and general performance is far from stellar. Now, autocross drivers and drifters will be please with the consistent cornering grip, which is a redeeming quality for the tire.
Or, if you want it this way: as long as you don’t think you could get Michelin Pilot Sport or Bridgestone Potenza-level of performance, you’ll be fine. You really get what you pay for here – the SS595 is a lot cheaper than those competitors.
How is it over wet and slippery roads?
Contrary to popular opinion, ultra-high-performance tires are outstanding in the wet, especially on damp surfaces. How is that? Well, these tires have a grippier tread compound, which sticks to the road better, even when wet.
So, how does the Federal SS595 fare in those conditions? Sadly, it’s quite poor actually. Since it had higher levels of grip on dry pavement, I expected similar performance in wet conditions.
Slightly wet roads (damp) shouldn’t pose a problem, but rain can be an issue. And by that, I mean you should drive carefully. Cornering grip diminishes quickly, and the tires quickly go to understeer.
An even bigger problem is that when you push the gas pedal (RWD cars), the tires then go into oversteer, making it hard to drive the car fluidly. Put simply, you’ll need a lot more concentration in the rain than you would on a premium ultra-high-performance summer tire.
To make things even worse, the Federal SS595 doesn’t stop as it should in the rain. The distances are much longer than tires from Michelin, Bridgestone, and Pirelli, but also longer compared them to Kumho’s, General’s or Firestone’s tires.
Therefore, if you live in areas where it rains frequently, you should avoid the SS595. It would only make your driving experience a chore rather than enjoyable. Sadly, for good wet performance, you might need to shell out quite a bit more.
With that being said, how is it on snowy roads?
I’ve seen many car enthusiasts not changing their summer performance tires in the winter. That’s okay in warm places, like Florida, but certainly not ideal if you encounter snow.
Put simply; the SS595 won’t have any grip on snow, ice, or slush. Moreover, freezing temperatures can easily warp the rubber and make cracks on the tread compound. As a result, your performance summer tire won’t work the next time you hit winter.
The summer tread compound is so gentle that you even need to store the tires in warmer spaces. If not, you’ll need to gradually increase the tires’ temperature – otherwise, cracks may appear.
So, no, you should absolutely not use the Federal SS595 in the winter.
Is it suitable for off-road driving?
Well, you probably know the answer to that question. The Federal SS595 isn’t designed for off-road driving, meaning it won’t provide you with a meaningful grip. Besides, small rocks and debris will stick to the tread pattern and then gradually destroy it when you hit the road again.
Is it comfortable and refined?
Federal employed an Opti-Noise technology in the SS595, and it worked to a degree. This is still not a quiet tire, but it’s bearable in urban scenarios and even on the highway. What I found, though, is that the SS595 is noisier than other performance tires when you drive fast through the corners. And when I say noisier, I mean squeaking noises.
But what about the ride quality? Well, it’s certainly not exceptional, but it’s also not worse than other performance tires. It goes without saying – you should expect worse comfort when you put performance tires on your car. If comfort is your concern, then you might want grand-touring tires.
You can see more Federal SS595 Review here: Videos created by BESIM X CARS
Should I buy the Federal SS595?
It all depends on what you’re looking for. The Federal SS595 is no Michelin Pilot Sport, Bridgestone Potenza, or Pirelli P Zero beater. It also can’t compete with the BFGoodrich g-Force Sport COMP-2, Kumho Ecsta PS31, or Falken Azenis FK510.
Then again, the SS595 is cheaper than all of those tires, and it has a place on the market. In my opinion, it would be a good choice for autocross drivers or drifters, simply because it’s so cheap. You won’t worry about damaging this tire since you can easily buy another set.
However, for serious performance driving, I still prefer premium tires. They work consistently better, both on dry and wet surfaces. Moreover, premium performance tires provide a more enjoyable driving experience, which, in my eyes, is a very important quality.
With that said, the Federal SS595 price is hard to beat, making it a tempting option. If you are prepared for its limitations, then go for it! Otherwise, I think that premium tires are definitely worth the extra cost.