Monday, July 15, 2024 Detailed Auto Topics
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Truly saving money always involves thought. Many things appearing to have a lower price, will cost us much more, when considered over time. This is seldom more true than with tires. A wise choice when purchasing, sets the stage for lowest costs. Caring for the tires after the purchase, really delivers the savings.

Where to buy tires

Many people offer tires for sale, but few can solve tire problems. Buying tires from an online supplier or at a department store may seem to save money. When a problem arises, no one is available to help. If a tire goes flat, needs rotation or if wear is a problem, the buyer has to pay a healthy charge. Reputable businesses often include these things in the price of the tires. Before buying, consider the things included in the price, other than just the tire.

1. Quality mounting and balancing by a trained professional

2. Tire rotation, without damage, and resetting of the TPMS

3. Proper high quality tire repair

4. Expert wheel alignment and problem diagnosis

5. Local service and support, when a problem arises

Most tire dealers operate at around 20 to 25% gross margin on tires. For this, they provide insurance, equipment, inventory, training and backup support. Buying tires from a reputable local business, supports the community and offers outstanding value for the buyer.

Always check the age of the tire, before buying.

Experts agree that six-years is the safe lifetime of a tire. Buying three-year-old tires does not make sense. Click here, for instructions on reading the age-code of a tire. Tires should be one year old or less, when possible.

Preventing tire problems

Wheel alignment

The most critical factor in the life of a tire is wheel alignment. Never buy tires from a source that cannot properly align the vehicle. Vehicles will NOT need wheel alignment with every tire purchase. A proper wheel alignment will last for many years. To be certain if the vehicle needs an alignment, please read this article.

Tire inflation

Air pressure supports the vehicle weight and the tire holds the air in place. That may seem strange, but it places things in perspective. The proper pressure is a tricky mix of requirements. For instance, we must have enough pressure to support the load, but not so much that it causes a harsh ride or damage to the tire. These factors provide a range of pressures that might work.

With passenger car tires the size designation starts with the letter P. An example is a P255/60R18 tire. This is different from a light truck tire that will NOT start with the letter "P" and will have "LT" in the designation. A passenger car tire considers the ride far more than truck tires, which focus on the load. More information on the pressure for these two tire types is in this article.

Door placard with recommend tire pressures

With passenger vehicles, the manufacturer provides a recommended pressure. This is how much air the tire requires safely to support the weight of the vehicle. On the sidewall of the tire is the maximum tire inflation. This should be considered the maximum safe limit for passenger vehicle tires, when the tire is hot.

For the best ride, the vehicle maker’s recommendation works well. Many vehicles also wear the tires faster at this pressure. We have found, with passenger vehicle tires (P-metric) a pressure ten-percent under the maximum, will often accomplish better tire life. For instance on a tire that specifies 44 PSI maximum pressure, 40 PSI would be a starting point. This will also increase the harshness of the ride, so we may need some experimentation to find a compromise. Never drop below the manufacturer’s recommended pressure, or exceed the maximum.

With tire pressure monitoring systems or TPMS, the pressure may have to stay in an even more narrow range, to keep the light off. They can sometimes adjust this but some vehicles are preset. In these cases deciding between the light being on and extended tire life is the choice.

Is nitrogen worth the extra money?

We gain no advantage from the use of nitrogen, over a tire properly inflated with dry air. Nitrogen tire inflation is more of a gimmick than any real benefit. It also makes it far more difficult to keep tires properly inflated, when a source of nitrogen is not available.

Where to find dry air

Fird a good source of dry air for your tires

In highly humid areas, finding dry air can be a problem. Air contains humidity and when we compress it, this becomes water. A high-quality tire dealer goes to great length to insure dry air. Asking about such steps can tell a lot about the commitment to quality the business makes.

A good air delivery system for dry air

Automatic drains help to remove water that accumulates in the compressor tanks. Refrigerated air dryers and desiccant filters take the process to another level. The best shops will have air lines routed to reduce water problems. For instance the lines slope away from the pickup points and toward drain legs.

Filters remove debris and moisture from compressed air 

Separate desiccant filters, installed in the lines, will further clean and dry the air.

Valve stem caps

Valve caps protect the core and seal the tire

The valve-stem cap seals the core and keeps debris out of the tire and the TPMS sensor. Replace any missing caps and tighten securely after checking the tire pressure.

Tire rotation

Rotating tires helps to even the wear on all tires. This keeps the drive-wheel tires from wearing before the other two. A detailed article on rotation can be found here.

Contrary to common belief, the tires with the most tread should be on the back of the vehicle. This is also the case, when replacing only two tires. The new tires should go on the rear of the vehicle.

Tire dressings

Tire dressing do NOT benefit the tire and may cause problems

Tires should be cleaned with soap and water, but tire dressings are not beneficial. Dressing may make the rubber shine, but do nothing to protect it. Some chemicals can damage the rubber and remove the ozone protection built into the tire. Careless application can also get onto braking surfaces and cause more problems. The best advise with tire dressing is not to use it.

Tire repair

Properly repairing a tire is very involved. We must dismount the tire from the wheel for proper repair. Never us the cord-type plugs to repair a tire. These do not allow proper inspection of the damage. If air seeps past the plug, tire separation may result. This is extremely dangerous and may cause a loss of control. An improper repair will void the warranty on most tires.

Cross section of a properly repaired tire

The best tire repair has a patch combined with a method to seal the puncture, inside and out. When properly installed, these high-tech products seals the tire completely and restore its original performance. This process is expensive. It can take almost an hour to remove the wheel, from the vehicle, dismount, repair, remount and balance the tire. While expensive, this provides the ultimate in safety and reliability.

A quality tire, well cared for, will give many thousand miles of trouble-free service. Cheap, out of round tires wear out quickly, and they damage shocks, struts, wheel bearings and suspension components. Considering all factors, cheap tires are just too expensive.

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