This is my method for modelling car tyres. It takes a bit of preparation but I believe the accurate results that can be achieved are worth the effort.
Referencing in Maya is great in theory but there are a lot of bugs in practice. The scene needs to be set up in a certain way to ensure that the referencing works properly. This can be done by hand of course but can get tedious. Here are some useful bits of python code that can be used to speed up the process.