Car Talk

This Month's Car Talk is going to be about Tires...yes TIRES. I touched on this before but I think I need to talk about this a little bit more so you can understand the importance of tires, the cost of tires and keeping up on your tire maintenance. Let's roll...see what I did there...

Tires are one of the most important parts of your vehicle, yet I see MANY, MANY, MANY people ignore them even more than they do their oil. Tires are what connects you and your vehicle to the road. Think about it like often do you wear ran down shoes? How well do those shoes grip the ground when they're ran down? Not very well right? Now imagine running in those ran down shoes...better yet, when the ground is wet or there's snow. Exactly, kinda scares you a little bit right? Well it should. But what should scare you even more is driving around with worn down tires. Tires are measured by using a x/32nd system. For new tires they can be a 10 or new for your vehicle may be 10/32. Tires, depending on the type and material used, can have a mileage rating from 40,000 miles to 80,000 miles. During that time they are in use, tires wear down. So your tires after one year, depending on your miles driven may now be down to 8/32nds. The next year 6/32nds and so on. The main thing from that is to realize that tires WILL WEAR DOWN! They will not and do not last a lifetime. I have seen where people have a 2010 vehicle and still have the original tires installed...dry rotted and all and wondering why they keep losing air pressure and sliding down the road when it rains. When you go into a tire shop and new tires are recommended, don't think about it as if the salesperson is trying to get over on you. They are making you aware of a safety and maintenance issue with your vehicle. Instead of thinking as tires as an afterthought, ask questions and get some information. It is an investment so do your reaserch.

Tires come in hundreds of sizes and you need to know your size. Simply saying that you have 16 inch tires is not enough. You are only giving the size of the rim, which helps but it's still not enough because you're only giving one third of the information needed. Let's use this size as an example: 215-60-16. 215 is how wide your tire is from left to right. 60 is how tall your tire is on the side. Meaning from where you see the tire meeting the rim, up. Last is 16, which as I said is the size of the rim. Knowing all three of those is important prior to researching tires. Why? Because for one, there is a price difference in a 205-60-16 and a 245-45-18. We'll go into pricing later. Also, you woud not want to do all this research just to go into a tire store and then not get what you want because the particular tire you want is not available in that size. Just an fyi, never guess on what you think the size is, no need to. It's on the side of your tire and if you can't read it, you're way overdue for tires anyway. You can also check the door plate, usually on the driver's front door to tell you what the OE (original equipment) size is recommended for the vehicle just in case someone had the vehicle before you and changed out the tires. I have also seen where people have two different size tires on their vehicle...that's a whole other story as well. Another little thing I will mention is Speed/Load Rating. That is actually two or three numbers after the size of the tires followed by a letter. Let's use 97V. 97 would be the load rating meaning how much weight each tire is able to hold. The lower the load rating, the less it's able to hold. For example, an SUV or van would have a load rating of 102. Next is the V. That is the Speed Rating of that tire, meaning how fast that tire is rated to travel. There are lots more specifics but I'm keeping this basic. So a 1999 Toyota Corolla might have a speed rating of H whereas a 2015 Camaro SS would have a V-rating. Ahhhhhh, now you get it. Again, all these things make up what type of tire you need and should not be ignored when looking for new ones.

Type: all season, summer, winter , directional
This section is pretty self explanatory but we'll run through it anyway. All Season tires are exactly that. A tire that you can keep installed all year and should be pretty good through all types of weather. Some are better than others and some are better in wet weather than the snow. That's where your research and talking to the pros helps you make a good choice. Most of us have these types of tires on our vehicles right now. Next is Summer tires. Those gyrls and guys who are into performance may have these on in the warm weather months or those who live in mostly warm climates. These tires are only to be used during certain temperatures so trying to drive with them on while it's cold is not a good idea. Pretty much the same with Winter tires. They are great in the cold weather but in warm weather will drive like junk, Also, keep in mind that you are not supposed to mix these types of tires. If you're gonna have winter tires on, get four. Do not get two for the front because your vehicle is front wheel drive. Replace all four so that the vehicle has four tires that will perform the same. Lastly, there is directional tires. These tires must be installed in the proper direction. Otherwise they will get chewed up and not function properly. Again, most of you will not have to worry about these unless you have a specific type of vehicle (i.e. Lexus IS250, AWD or F-Sport, smaller Audi's, etc.).

Cost: The size 14s you had before don't cost the same as your 17s or 18s!!!!!
Alright, next up is BIG BOLD LETTERS. I will put it to you like this: The 14 inch tires you had on your old Neon do not cost the same as the ones on your 2016 Mazda CX5. I get this every single day. Why do they cost so much? It's not me making up the prices, it's them, the manufacturers. Basically, the bigger and thinner the tires are, the more they will cost. Most of you don't even realize that the tires they have are considered performance tires. A lot of the manufactureres are putting no less than 16 inch tires/wheels on all their vehicles. This is with the exception of probably hybrids and ev type vehicles. Still, you may see a 16 inch tire pop up on those types. On top of that, even with having a 15 inch tire, the tire size is so weird that a lot of shops don't keep them in house. For example, a 2010 Honda Fit Sport uses a 185-55-16. No one really keeps that in stock because it's on the skinny side as far as width. At the same time, it can get a little pricey because it's not a common size because most people that have the Fit do not have the Sport model. All I'm saying is keep in mind what type of vehicle it is and what the options are. Another little fyi is that while shopping for a vehicle, check out the tire sizes because some of these vehicles come new with 19 inch tires. These tires can easily range from $150 to $200 EACH and trying to find them in stock can not only be costly but they can be a doozie to find...did I just say doozie?

I shouldn't really have to go through all this but I will. Rotate your damn tires...harsh, I know but I have to be sometimes so you get the point. You have more weight on the front of your vehicle (i.e. engine, transmission) and those tires tend to do the most work, so your front tires tend wear a little faster than the rear ones. Simple fix, rotate your tires every 5,000-6,000 miles. An easy way to remember is if you get your oil changed every 3,000 miles then have your tires rotated every other oil change. If you use syntehitc oil, you could probably do it every oil change since you're going longer on your oil. If you're not sure how often you get your oil chnaged then I can't help you and your vehicle will probably blow up before that anyway. Not really but...yeah. Not rotating your tires can cause premature tire wear and you having to replace them sooner than later. Your front tires will be at 4/32 and your rear tires will be at 8/32. Now this could also be due to some suspension issues but we won't go there right there now. At least rotating them will give you a heads up if something is going on. Another little thing is making sure to check them visually for any cracks, splits, bubbles, etc. Sidewall damage is dangerous and if you ever have bubbles or see the cords inside the tire, replace them immediately. No if ands or butts about it.

The Bottom Line:
To sum it all up, take care of your tires by rotating them like clockwork, check them regularly and most of all, doing your research. Research is good because if you've seen a tire online and read the pros and cons, you can talk with a pro about them and have an idea of what you're looking for. Tires are what connect your vehicle to the road and you should never take shortcuts when it comes to taking care of them!

Have a horror story about getting new tires or having to replace them?. Email me HERE with the Subject: Tire Horror Story and you may just see them in a Car Talk Update!




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