December 4, 2013
Dear Tire Twins,
As the temperatures are getting colder, I want to make sure I don’t get stranded in the cold with a dead battery. I was wondering if it is necessary to perform any maintenance on my car’s battery. Is it true that car batteries run out of charge more quickly in winter?
Before every winter driving season it is a good idea to take your car in for seasonal maintenance and inspection. Part of this should include a test of your battery. It may also be necessary to clean the battery tray and terminal posts. Your auto service expert may also spray the terminals with a protective spray to prevent corrosion. Along with battery maintenance, your technician can check your alternator and starting system to make sure everything is in good condition and will not inhibit your car’s battery performance.
To answer your second question, technically your car battery does not drain faster in the winter. It is true, however, that extremely cold temperatures do have an impact on battery performance. Cold substantially decreases the effectiveness of chemical reactions within the battery and also increase the battery’s internal resistance. This causes a reduction in cranking power, which is problematic because cars need an increased amount of cranking power in cold weather when motor oil is thicker.
You can reduce the likelihood of being stuck with a dead battery by watching for the signs of a low or dying battery. Your battery could be failing If notice the starter turns slowly, or alternator wiring problems can prevent the battery from fully charging. If you notice your headlights look dim at idle and but become brighter when you accelerate the engine, this could indicate a battery problem. Lastly, check the purchase date on the battery itself. Somewhere on the battery case there should be a sticker that displays its expected life. Avoid problems by replacing it when it reaches the end of its expected life.
November 26, 2013
While some are preparing to host a Thanksgiving feast , many are planning on making a road trip so they can share the holiday with loved ones. If you are in the latter category, please make sure you are safe and prepared. After all, depending on where you are, the Weather Channel is reporting that things could be a little dicey in some areas. Before you head out on the road this holiday, consider these tips:
Prepare your vehicle for the drive
It is a good idea to have your regular maintenance done when the seasons change, but if you haven’t done that yet, do it before you leave town. Be sure to check: battery, brakes, wipers, lights, oil, coolant, fluids, and tire pressure.
Know gas prices and plan your fuel stops
You certainly don’t want to spend all of your Black Friday shopping cash on gas. Save time and money by using a gas price app like GasBuddy to help you find good gas prices along the way.
Know where you are going and how to get there
The best way to spoil holiday fun (and possibly start a big fight with your passengers) is to get lost on the trip. Be certain that your maps are current, whether it’s updating your GPS or getting new paper maps from AAA.
Be ready for anything on the road
Don’t let anticipation of that turkey and stuffing distract you from your scout training – be prepared! Make sure you have all of your roadside emergency items like flares, blankets, and jumper cables – especially if you’re heading into bad weather.
Don’t let pumpkin pie become a dangerous projectile
Are you contributing to the Thanksgiving feast? You have probably decided on what you are taking, but have you thought about how? Not only do you want to avoid spills, you want to be safe. Did you know a 20 lb turkey could hit someone with 600 lbs of force if traveling in a vehicle involved in a 35 mph collision? This blog post from cars.com has some helpful advice to make transporting food a little safer.
Whatever your plans, always be safe and have a wonderful Thanksgiving!
November 19, 2013
Next week is Thanksgiving, and many will be starting their holiday shopping in full force on “Black Friday.” For those of you out there with car enthusiasts on your gift list, here are some ideas to rev up your creativity.
Kind of a Shady Gift
If you have any Star Wars fans on your list, they will appreciate having Jedi knights protect their car from sun damage while it is parked on sunny days. Those who aren’t George Lucas fans might simply prefer to keep an eye (or two) on their vehicle.
Best Mufflers lets drivers express the love they have for their vehicles with heart shaped custom chrome exhaust tips. Nothing says love like a heart-shaped exhaust cloud.
This digital tire pressure gauge from Accutire has a large, easy to read LCD display that provides pressure readings from 5-150 PSI in 0.5-pound increments. Ergonomically designed, easy to use, and accurate, this simple gift keeps on giving by extending tire life.
An Empowering Gift
A must for tailgaters and campers, this heavy-duty 12-foot extension cord plugs into the car cigarette lighter and powers cooking appliances, coolers, heated blankets, or any 12-volt devices.
Peace of Mind
The Battery Tender Junior 12-volt/.75-amp battery charger keeps vehicle batteries optimally powered when the vehicle is not in use. The charger connects to a battery and assures the battery is ready to use when needed.
Keep it Clean
Chemical Guys Poly Clay Bar and Lubricant Detail Spray easily and safely removes stubborn contaminates that do not wash off during the normal washing process.
Here’s a Hot One
Bummed because you can’t afford to give someone you love a new car with fancy features like seat warmers? Just give ‘em the seat warmers! That’s right, Grandma can have the luxury of warm bum, even in her 2000 Corolla.
November 12, 2013
Dear Tire Twins,
I am from southern California and college freshman now living in Michigan. This will be my first winter driving in an area that gets ice and snow. While I don’t do a lot of driving, I do have to drive across town several days a week to get to a part time job. Do you think it would be worth it for me to invest in a set of snow tires for the coming months? Is there really much difference between the performance of snow tires and all season tires?
Michigan winter driving will definitely be a very different experience than what you are used to. Navigating ice or snow covered roads is very challenging, and nothing really prepares you for it other than experience and a properly equipped car with the right tires. Snow tires are without a doubt worth the investment.
Contrary to what the name suggests, all season tires are really not the best tire choice for driving all seasons and weather conditions. All season tires are designed to provide the best ride and driving performance in a variety of temperatures. Snow or winter tires are made to perform optimally in cold temperatures, and driving on snow or ice.
The reason snow tires are better for winter driving lies in the design and the type of rubber used. The rubber in snow tires is developed to grip better in low temperatures. Additionally, snow tires feature small tread blocks and siping, which means that the treads are cut for better traction and to prevent hydroplaning. Since the rubber used in winter tires is softer, it wears faster than all season tires. Winter tires may need to be replaced every three or four seasons, and it will be important to switch back to those all season tires as soon as winter is over.
November 5, 2013
Be Prepared with these Five Winter Maintenance Jobs
Even if you aren’t ready for the coldest time of the year, at least make sure your car is! These five winter maintenance jobs will help get you ready for winter weather driving:
Check your antifreeze
Fresh, quality antifreeze provides your vehicle with essential winter protection. Make sure your vehicle has a 50/50 mix of water and antifreeze. The antifreeze amount should be kept at the full line.
Check Your Tires
The pressure on all tires, including the spare, should be checked monthly, with a reliable gauge and when the tires are cold. Though it may seem logical, do not go by the pressure stamped on the sidewall of the tire. To find out the proper pressure levels for your vehicle, check the owner’s manual or the sticker that is most often located on the driver-side door jamb. Pre-winter is also a good time to check your tire tread depth. Your tires need at least 2/32″ of depth to be safe, but more is even better. Use the penny test you make sure your tread depth is okay. If you have any doubts, check with your tire dealer to be sure your tread is safe.
Make Sure Your Battery is Charged
Extreme weather, including cold temperatures, can break down car batteries internally and can accelerate the rate of corrosion on battery terminals. This can lead to insufficient electrical power and the risk of being stranded. It is a good idea to check the battery cables and ensure they are securely attached to the terminals. Clean the terminals if there are signs of corrosion. Typically, car batteries have a three to five year service life, depending on local climate and vehicle usage patterns.
Check your windshield washer fluid
We tend to use more washer fluid as salt, sludge and snow sprays continually bombard our windshields. You don’t want to be “that person” with the car that looks like it’s just been pulled from a lake. More importantly, you want to make sure you can SEE so you can drive safely. Fill the windshield washer fluid reservoir with winter cleaning solution that contains enough antifreeze components to keep it from freezing.
Replace your wipers
In order for the wiper fluid to do its job, you need wipers that are in top shape to keep your windshield clean and safe. The blades should completely clear the glass with each swipe. Replace any blade that leaves streaks or misses spots. In regions where snow is common, consider installing winter wiper blades that wrap the blade frame in a rubber boot to reduce ice and snow buildup that can prevent good contact between the blade and the glass.
You can perform these maintenance steps yourself, or you can stop by your auto service shop to make sure everything looks good. Just make sure you get it done before Jack Frost gets here!
October 29, 2013
We love Trick or Treat night - it is such a fun time in our neighborhood! It probably will not surprise you to learn that we always give EXTRA candy to the kids that come to the door in auto-themed costumes! Lightning McQueen has been a very popular choice in recent years.
If you are still working on costume ideas and are a do-it-yourself type, here are some clever ideas to help you along:
Many of the components of this cute car costume can be found around your home.
This costume just requires a little dressing up of ordinary clothing items, and has the added benefit of being warm!
Coolest Homemade Costumes has an entire page full of high speed costumes like this fresh idea!
Looking for a family costume? This one covers the entire crew!
If you don’t have the creative skills to make your own car themed costume, there’s a wide variety ready-made options to choose from.
Have a fun and safe Trick or Treat night!
October 23, 2013
TPMS Indicator Light, image courtesy of www.safecar.gov
Dear Tire Twins,
My friend just purchased a new car and one of its features is an internal system that monitors tire pressure. Can you tell me how this system works?
A tire pressure monitoring system, also referred to as a TPMS, is an electronic system that continuously monitors the air pressure of all four tires. The TPMS alerts the driver when tire pressure falls below a preset limit by illuminating a warning light on the dashboard.
As of 2008, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has required that all passenger cars, light trucks and vans (Gross weight less than 10,000 pounds) be equipped with a TPMS. Earlier model vehicles can be retro-fitted with a tire pressure monitoring system installed by a qualified service professional.
Tire pressure monitoring systems come in two designs – direct and indirect. A direct monitoring system places a pressure sensor on each tire, usually on the valve stem or band mounted. The sensors used in direct systems are powered by separate lithium batteries, which ultimately need replacement. This means that direct tire pressure monitoring systems need to be serviced regularly and should be part of scheduled maintenance.
The technology used in indirect tire pressure monitoring systems is based on the calculation of factors, including tire size. The diameter of a tire is smaller when it is not properly inflated, and when one tire is smaller than the other three, it will have to spin faster to keep up. Speed sensors applied at each wheel position identify an underinflated tire by comparing the rotational speed of each wheel with the average speed of all four wheels. This calculation is used to determine if one is spinning significantly faster than the others, and therefore underinflated. While the indirect system does not require servicing, the design does have some issues, such as the problem that if all four tires are underinflated, the system may not detect an abnormality.
All tire pressure monitoring systems installed on 2008 vehicles and later are required to detect and warn the driver when the system is not functioning properly through a malfunction indicator. For some systems, a malfunction is indicated by a flashing of the low tire pressure warning light for a period 60 to 90 seconds with the warning lamp remaining illuminated following the flash sequence. The flash and illumination sequence will repeat at each subsequent vehicle start-up until the problem is addressed. If your vehicle has a TPMS, be sure that you are familiar with the malfunction warning for your specific system.
October 15, 2013
Dear Tire Twins,
I have heard the term “rolling resistance” used in describing tire features. Can you tell me what rolling resistance means and why it is important?
Rolling resistance is a term that describes the force resisting motion as a tire moves along the surface of the road. Most vehicle manufacturers install original equipment tires with low rolling resistance to optimize performance for government Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) mandate testing. Tires developed for lower weight and rolling resistance are often constructed with thinner sidewalls and shallower tread depths. The materials that go into tires can also have an impact on rolling resistance. While tires with low rolling resistance are good for fuel economy, these tires may not have all the features you need for your replacement tires.
The kind of tire you put on your car should offer both performance and safety for your particular model, as well as the kind of driving you do on a day to day basis. Weather factors may also be a consideration if you happen to live in a climate that experiences extreme conditions on a regular basis.
In today’s market, most tire manufacturers offering fuel-saving, low-rolling-resistance tires. Make sure you work with your tire dealer to find a quality tire that offers the right features for your needs, vehicle, and budget.
While we are on the subject fuel economy, remember that proper tire maintenance is essential in getting the best fuel economy, and maximizing the life of your tires. Check tire pressure at least once a month, and keep the pressure at the level recommended by your vehicle’s manufacturer. Scheduled maintenance checks on balance and alignment will also help you get the best mileage and optimum performance life from your tires.
October 8, 2013
Dear Tire Twins,
I have recently been having problems with my car’s steering pulling to the left. As I am driving, in order to keep the care straight, I have to pull the wheel to the right. Is it normal for a car to do this as it gets older? Is it something I should have checked out?
If your car is pulling to one side, that is definitely a sign of trouble. Mostly likely your car is in need of a front end alignment. Misalignment is usually not the result of normal driving wear, but instead the result of a collision, driving over an obstruction, or some other type of impact.
It is important to get your car in for front end alignment service as soon as you can. Not only is it unsafe to drive a vehicle that does not steer or handle well, your tires will be subject to improper wear. When tires do not wear evenly, as they were designed to do, they wear out much faster in certain areas than they should.
When you bring in your car for a front end alignment, your auto technician will adjust the angle of the wheels to be in accordance with the recommendations of the vehicle manufacturer. They will use precision equipment to set the proper front end alignment, making sure that all the necessary adjustments are made. Depending on how long your car has been out of alignment, you should ask your technician to also inspect your tires to make sure your tire tread is still in good condition.
October 2, 2013
Dear Tire Twins,
I always dread winter driving season. Now that fall is here, I am beginning to worry about the ice and snow that is around the corner. A friend told me that if you reduce the pressure in your tires you will have better traction on snow and ice. Is that good idea?
Trying to improve your traction by decreasing the air pressure in your tires is definitely not a good idea. Not only does it not work, underinflated tires actually cause the engine to work harder, due to increased rolling resistance. Under inflated tires also affect your car’s steering and handling. Under inflation is the most common cause of tire failure because it promotes excessive tire stress, irregular wear, and poor handling.
It is, however, a very good idea to prepare for the winter driving season, and there are plenty of things you can do to drive safely. The best way to avoid dangerous situations is to maintain control and remain safe on the road. Being ready for winter driving will help you do just that. Here are a few safe winter driving tips:
- Install a set of quality snow tires, and be sure to install four of them to achieve the best handling and tracking.
- Always drive a little slower during winter conditions.
- Double your anticipated stopping distance when braking in bad weather because it always takes longer to stop a vehicle on ice and snow.
- Keep in mind that a four-wheel drive SUV does not have better braking ability than a two-wheel drive car.
The changing of seasons is also a good time to make sure you are up-to-date on your required routine tire and auto maintenance. Driving a car that is equipped and ready to go is always the best way to avoid any problems on the road.
September 24, 2013
Dear Tire Twins,
I am considering inflating my tires with nitrogen instead of air. Can you tell me if there are benefits to using nitrogen, or is it not that much different than air?
According to the nitrogen proponents, benefits to choosing nitrogen over air include increased fuel economy, longer tire life, and improved handling. Though the air ordinarily used to fill tires is 78% nitrogen, supposedly filling with pure (93% to 95%) nitrogen does make a difference.
Nitrogen is reported be less affected by outside temperatures and more reliable for maintaining tire pressure. Because nitrogen is supposed to do a better job of keeping pressure under hot and cold conditions, it can improve gas mileage, increase tire life, and is safer because tires are not as likely to blow-out at high speeds. Since nitrogen is dry and does not support combustion, it has long been used for aircraft and racing cars, which require tires to run extremely hot.
Another advantage advocates tout with nitrogen is that it is a dry gas, and as such reduces oxygen and moisture. The reason this is significant is because oxidation accelerates as the tires heat up, leading to damage to the tire and wheel. The moisture in air increases oxidation and pressure fluctuation.
So, the question is, are these claims true? Some research suggests that while there may be advantages to nitrogen use, the tangible benefits tend to be modest. Since you usually have to pay for nitrogen inflation, some feel the benefits are not worth the expense.
It is important to note that whether you choose air or nitrogen, the key is tire pressure. Checking and maintaining proper tire pressure will assure you of longer tire life, improved safety, and better gas mileage, whether you fill with nitrogen or regular air.
September 17, 2013
When you love tires the way we do, you appreciate a really good tire ad. Some of our favorites have been the Superbowl ads, including: the one with the beaver, the one with the squirrel, and the one where the guy hits “Reply All”.
Humor always makes for a great tire commercial, and these international ads featuring a an unfortunate gymnast and a reminder to appreciate good traction prove it.
Some funny old school commercials include an elderly tire customer with a return and explain what tires did for Cinderella.
For all of the funny tire commercials that have been made, there have also been some really strange ones. This ad for “Wide Boots” uses bizarre costuming and weird choreography with a nod to a 1960′s classic hit. This one raises the serious issue of tire problems when there’s no man around.
Hopefully the marketing masters are already working on some great new ads for the next Super Bowl, because we never tire of a good ad!
September 10, 2013
Dear Tire Twins,
My job requires me to park my car in some not so safe areas. I would like to invest in some kind of car security, beyond the alarm system it came with. What are the most reliable anti-theft devices that are currently on the market?
There are several options you can invest in to protect your car. Although there is no one device that is fail safe, any barriers that you can put between your car and thieves will help. If you choose a highly visible device, it may be enough to cause a thief to not choose your car, just to avoid a hassle. Depending on what kind of budget you have for this investment, you may want to try to do a combination of devices. Here are some of the auto theft protection options that are available:
VIN etching puts your vehicle identification number onto several parts of your car, including in the windows for would be thieves to see. While this should be serve as a deterrent, it is also is helpful in recovering a stolen vehicle. VIN etching kits are available for purchase, or in some areas VIN etching services are provided. A quick online search will show you local options.
Tire and Wheel Locks
Similar in appearance to the boots used by law enforcement, these devices are instantly visible and make a car nearly impossible to move. These can be purchased online or from an automotive supply store. For those who are primarily concerned with protecting wheels, McGard offers a variety of wheel locks. These locks function like a regular lug nut, but require a special key tool for installation and removal.
Steering Wheel and Steering Column Locks
These are based on the same concept as the wheel lock boots , and offer the same visible message to would be thieves. The options range from fairly inexpensive locks that must be installed manually each time the driver leaves the car to more expensive options that can be installed permanently.
A kill switch is a hidden switch that must be flipped in order to start the car. The effectiveness of this approach depends on how well the switch is hidden from the thieves, who probably know most places to look for them. If you opt for a kill switch, make sure installation will not affect your car’s warranty.
For more ideas for preventing auto theft, check out these suggestions from the Pennsylvania Auto Theft Protection Authority.
September 3, 2013
The week following Labor Day weekend is traditionally recognized as back to school time. Even if you do not have kids in school, you can’t miss the myriad of school supply promotions, sales, and advertising. Another unmistakable indicator is the increased presence of those big yellow monsters on the road. Though sharing the road with school buses can be somewhat of a nuisance, they do play an essential role in the safe transportation of children, so it is important to support them by knowing and obeying school bus traffic laws.
According to the National Safety Council, school buses are one of the safest forms of transportation for students. They warn, however, that more children are hurt or killed outside of the bus when they fail to watch where they are going, or when a motorist does not pay attention and illegally passes a stopped school bus.
The council offers the following points to remind drivers of school traffic safety laws and procedures:
- In all 50 states it is illegal to pass a school bus that has stopped to pick up or drop off children.
- In all 50 states traffic in both directions is required to stop on undivided roadways when students are being picked up and dropped off.
- State laws vary on divided roadway requirements, however in all cases, vehicles driving behind the bus, and moving in the same direction must stop when the bus does.
-Flashing yellow lights on a school bus indicate the bus driver is preparing to stop to load or unload passengers. Red flashing lights and an extended stop sign arm signals that the bus has stopped and children are exiting or entering the bus.
- A required distance of 10 feet around a school bus must be observed to allow sufficient space for children getting on or off the bus.
- Be on the lookout for children who may run or fail to observe safety rules when moving to and from the bus stop.
- Drivers should never block crosswalks when waiting to turn or stopped for a red light.- In school zones be alert for warning flashers, and while you are in an active zone, be sure to yield the right-of-way to students crossing in the marked crosswalk.
If you know your morning route includes an area with school bus stops, be sure to leave a little early so you won’t have to stress about delays. Take a few extra sips of coffee, and listen to another song or two. The most important thing is to make sure EVERYONE gets to their destination safely!
August 27, 2013
Dear Tire Twins,
I am wondering if you can tell me what tire siping is? I have heard it improves traction and tire performance, and improves handling when driving on snow and ice. Friends of mine were talking about having their tires siped this fall, before the winter weather hits. Is this something I should be doing?
When tires are siped, it involves a process of cutting slices across the tire tread. The concept is that the slice opens up on the surface of the road, griping the road and dispersing water to improve traction.
The idea of tire siping goes back to the early 20’s when John Sipe, a slaughterhouse employee, had problems with his shoes slipping on the wet floor. Sipe discovered that by cutting groves into the sole of his rubber shoe, he could greatly improve their traction. Sipe was so confident in his discovery that he had the concept patented and it became officially known as “siping.” By the 1950’s, tire manufacturers were using siping in tire tread designs. Today specialized siping patterns are used for a variety of tire types.
There are varying opinions on as to whether or not after-market tire siping is beneficial. On the pro side, those who believe in tire siping say that that it offers real performance and safety benefits. There are actually tire siping machines that can do a variety of configurations for after-market tire modification. On the con side, many argue that today’s tires already use siping in the way that there are designed and manufactured. There is a lot of engineering and performance testing behind modern tread design, and many think that there is no need to modify it. It is also said that after-market siping could void your tread-wear warranty.
As to whether or not you should sipe your tires, your best bet will be to talk to your tire dealer who knows the type, condition, and age of your tires. It might make more sense to purchase a quality set of winter tires that are manufactured to incorporate siping features and benefits.
August 20, 2013
Dear Tire Twins,
I’ve noticed that tire balancing and rotation are commonly advertised auto services, but I am not really sure how necessary it is to have these services done on my car. Can you explain what these services are and why they are important?
Tire balancing and rotation are necessary services – you should check your owner’s manual to find out how often service is recommended and make sure you get them done. Here is a brief description of what these services are and why they are important:
Tire balancing is needed because tires and wheels lose balance over time. The weight distribution around the tire changes as the tread wears, leading to an imbalance that causes vibration or shaking. To restore proper balance to your tires your technician will use a calibrated spin balancer. Both static (non-moving) and dynamic (moving) wheel balance is usually tested. Out of balance wheels are adjusted to the proper balance.
Tire rotation is essential because front and rear tires wear very differently. Tread tends to wear more quickly on the front tires because they are subjected to more pressure than rear tires. In the tire rotation service process, the front tires are usually exchanged with the rear tires. More often than not, the driver side tires remain on the driver side and the passenger side tires stay on that side. Since types of vehicles and tires vary, in some cases the approach may be different. Your experienced professional technician will know the best process for your car.
Both tire balancing and tire rotation are important maintenance step to keep up with as they will extend the life of your tires and significantly increase the safety of your vehicle.
August 13, 2013
Dear Tire Twins,
My mom is going to be going away on business for a few days, and I would like to surprise her by washing and waxing her car, including detailing the tires and wheels. She is so proud of her “baby” but she has been working so much, she hasn’t had time to do the washing or tire detailing herself. Do you have any tips or suggestions for me?
- Ethan M.
What a great surprise – your mom will really appreciate that! Wheel and tire detailing is not a difficult job – it just takes a little time and investment in the right cleaning products.
When you wash the car, have two wash buckets – one for the car and one for the wheels. Since tires tend to have more abrasive dirt on them, it is important not to use that cleaning water on your car’s painted surface. Clean the wheels and tires first, scrubbing with a sturdy, soft-bristle brush to prevent scratching. Finish and rinse each tire before moving on to the next so that the cleaning product doesn’t dry on the surface. After washing the entire car, dry it with a chamois, then towel dry each wheel. As with the water, designate a separate towel just for wheels and tires. After waxing the car, you should apply a wheel wax and tire dressing. Give your mom’s tire dealer or mechanic a call to find out the best product for her particular tires.
Although you may have a wide selection of cleaning products at home, but not all of those may be safe for cleaning wheels and tires. Non-petroleum based products should be used to clean tires. A cleaner that has no abrasive detergents or harsh acids is the best option for your wheels. Look for products that are specifically designed for tires and wheels. There are many good ones on the market, including environmentally friendly formulas.
Clean tires and wheels not only make a car look great, it is an important step in good vehicle maintenance. Brake dust accumulates on your wheels and tires, and includes abrasive elements such as metal, adhesive, and carbon residue from your brake pads and rotor. Driving creates heat and friction that makes this dust extremely corrosive. Regular wheel cleaning removes the dusts and contributes to longer tire and wheel life as well as an awesome looking ride.
August 6, 2013
Dear Tire Twins,
Do you have any advice for handling a tire blowout? I recently saw an auto accident on the highway that was caused by a tire blowout and it really got me wondering if I would know what to do if that happened to me. It seems like my instinct would be to hit the brakes and swerve off of the road. Would that be the right thing to do? Also, I know there is not a lot a driver do about road debris, but are there things I can do to help prevent a blowout?
Experiencing a blowout at highway speeds is scary situation. Even seasoned drivers may panic and handle the vehicle in a way that makes a bad situation even worse. If you experience a tire blowout try to remain calm. Maintaining control and balance of the vehicle is critical in getting off the road safely. While your instincts may tell you to hit the brakes or abruptly take your foot of the accelerator, you should not do either of these as it will diminish your vehicle stability and control.
In order to safely maneuver through a tire blowout your must first slowly release the accelerator. As you gradually reduce speed, you will be able to correct your steering and maneuver the vehicle off the road.
Be aware that front and rear tire blowouts do not feel the same. A front blowout is felt in the steering of the vehicle, and a rear blowout is felt in the vehicle’s body. No matter which tire is effected, a tire blow out should always be handled in the same manner.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) has some information and videos that explain what to do and what not to do in the event of a blow out.
Ashley, you are wise to think about steps you can take to avoid a tire blow out. Making sure your tread depth is adequate and keeping your tires properly inflated will help decrease your chances of trouble.
July 30, 2013
This summer we have seen a lot of crazy weather including rain, storms, and often times hail. Though hail storms are typically brief, major damage can result from those punishing pellets of ice. Vehicles are at particular risk if they happen to be exposed at the time of a hail storm.
Hail is known to dent the roofs and hoods of vehicle bodies, and may even shatter windshields, headlights and side view mirrors. Hail is such a serious issue that an inventor in Texas has developed a hail protection system that has been featured on History Channel’s Invention USA and other programs.
If you do not have the cash to procure a hail protection system, here are some tips you can follow during hail season:
- Be alert for the weather conditions that lead to hailstorms. When a hailstorm is predicted, pull cars and other vehicles into a garage or covered area. If you must leave vehicles exposed, cover the hood, roof and trunk with thick blankets for protection against possible hail.
- If hail begins to fall while you are driving, try to find a safe area, like underneath an overpass, where you can wait the storm out. Otherwise pull completely off the highway to the side of the road, remain in the car, and turn away from windows.
- After the storm has passed check your car for dents and broken or cracked glass and headlights. Remove any broken glass from the car interior to prevent injury to passengers or damage to leather and upholstery.
- If you do experience hail damage to your vehicle, your vehicle insurance policy should cover hail damage if you have comprehensive coverage. Check with your insurance agent or company as soon as possible to report the damage and discuss the repair process.
- Discuss the repair options with your body shop. While hail damage to sheet metal often needs to be hammered and painted, sometimes paintless dent removal (PDR) may be an option. This involves the use of specially-molded metal tools on the underside of a damaged area that will not disturb the factory finish.
Lastly, for your own safety, remember to stay indoors or under cover once a hail storm begins to avoid harm or injury.
July 23, 2013
This is the last post in our series on tire code. A uniform tire code is found on most every vehicle tire manufactured. Those who may be shopping for a new set of tires will find a wealth of information in this code to help them determine which type of tire to buy. The first post focused on the type of tire and section width and the second post looked at aspect ratio, tire construction and wheel diameter. This week, we will examine the rest of the code.
The tire performance index is displayed after the wheel diameter, and represents the tire’s load and speed ratings. In this case, the 93 load index represents 1,433 pounds, and the speed rating of V represents 149 mph.
Common Speed Ratings
All-Season Tires with Mud and Snow Designation
When a tire has M+S on it, that means that it meets the Rubber Manufacturers Association (RMA) guidelines for a mud and snow tire. Similar markings for this include MS, M&S, and M/S. In order for a tire to receive the Mud and Snow designation, it must meet specific RMA geometric requirements.
Why are Load Index and Speed Rating Important?
A tire with the correct tire load index for your vehicle assures you that your tires are made to handle the weight of your vehicle. The speed rating shows the maximum speed your tires can handle, which tends to be more important in countries with roadways that are not subject to speed limitations.
Of course importance of the mud and snow designation will depend on the climate you live and drive in.
With the entire tire code, it is important to stick with your vehicle manufacturer’s recommended specifications to assure safe and optimal tire performance. Remember – choosing a dependable, quality tire is just the beginning. Your tires must also be developed for the best performance for your specific vehicle.
July 16, 2013
Last week, we began a series for those who may be shopping for a new set of tires and need a little more information in determining which type of tires they need. We began looking at the universal tire code that is found on most every vehicle tire manufactured. Last week we looked at the type of tire and section width. This week, we will get a little further into the code.
The aspect ratio of the tire is listed as a percentage and gives the height of the tire from the bead to the top of the tread. Here the number is 55, which means the tire height is 55% of the section width of 215 millimeters. The height of this tire would be 118.25 millimeters. A lower number indicates a lower tire profile.
The construction of the tire is identified by the letter following the aspect ratio. The most common designation is R, which stands for radial construction. Other, less common construction types for modern passenger cars may include D for bias ply construction and B for belted tires.
The number following the construction code indicates the size of the wheel that the tire will fit in inches. The example tire would be designed to fit a 17-inch wheel. Tire sizes on most vehicles begin at 13-inches and go up to 18-inches.Custom package wheels can be 22-inches or even larger.
Why are Aspect Ratio, Tire Construction, and Wheel Diameter important?
Aspect ratio is an important sizing calculation in tire fitting, and should be considered with wheel diameter with the best tire and wheel combinations. Lower aspect ratio typically indicates a high performance tire, with better lateral stability. Most of the new tires you encounter will be marked R for radial construction, however if you are replacing old tires, you may see the D or B designations.
As with last week’s part of the code, it is important to select your vehicle manufacturer’s recommended specifications to assure safe and optimal tire performance. While buying a dependable, quality tire is important, it also must be developed for the best performance given the weight and design of your vehicle, so consulting a tire expert is a must.
Next week, we will wrap up decoding tire code by taking a look at Load Index, Speed Rating, and use designation.
July 9, 2013
Even though tires may basically look the same, there are a lot of distinct characteristics and features to consider when selecting tires. If you are shopping for a new set of tires, you may be overwhelmed by the choices, and wondering which tires are the right ones for you. Fortunately there’s a pretty quick and easy way to gain a lot of information about your vehicle’s tires – just read the tire code on the tire. You may have noticed the tire code, which is imprinted into the side of the tire, while washing your car or checking your tire pressure.
Each section of this alpha-numeric sequence tells you something about the tire. Being able to decode the tire code on your current tires will help you determine the type of replacements you need.
Type of Tire
The type of tire and it’s intended use are indicated by the first letter in the code. Letter designations include P for passenger vehicles, T for temporary spare, LT for light truck metric, C for commercial, and ST for special trailer service.
Following the tire type letter is the section width of the tire, which is listed in millimeters. This is the widest point from sidewall-to-sidewall, so a larger number indicates a wider tire. In this case, the tire has a width of 215 millimeters.
Why are Tire Type and Section Width important?
The correct size and tire type are necessary to assure safe and optimal tire performance. Selecting a quality tire will not assure the best performance if the tire is not made to accommodate the weight and design of your vehicle. Additionally, tire size is a factor in the calculations of the computerized functions of today’s vehicles. To assure accuracy, it is important to hold to the recommended tire size.
Next week, we will continue to decode tire code by taking a look at Aspect Ratio, Tire Construction, and Wheel Diameter.
July 2, 2013
Happy Independence Day! This is the week for celebrating our nation, relaxing, and enjoying good times with family and friends. If you are looking for something to do this holiday weekend, happen to be artistic, and have some old tires lying around, this post is for you!
Hundreds of millions of old tires end up in landfills every year. Not only is this a serious burden on the environment, it is also a terrible waste. Did you know you can create some seriously awesome art with old tires? We found some amazing examples in this article from The Throttle, an automotive website. The artworks range from a life-sized horse to an enormous turtle sculpture.
We are thinking about creating our own collection of tire art. Hopefully we might even be able to sell some of our art and retire early!
June 25, 2013
Dear Tire Twins,
As the temperatures rise, I am worried about my car overheating. This summer I have a delivery job that will require me to be on the road most of the day. What should I be doing to make sure my car does not get overheated?
You are smart to be thinking ahead about the possibility of your car overheating. That is a very bad situation which can leave you stranded and with a very big auto service bill. Depending on age and condition of your car, you may want to have your car’s cooling system inspected before the temperatures get too intense.
Here are the basic parts of your cooling system, which you will want to have checked out in order to avoid a meltdown:
Radiator - Make sure that your radiator is in good condition, and that the radiator core has not been damaged by salt corrosion. Another problem to check for is a plugged radiator core, which can happen when coolant flushes are neglected.
Coolant – Anti-freeze and coolant are critical to your car’s heating and cooling system. Having the coolant flushes performed per your owner’s manual recommendation is critical in assuring your engine runs cooler and cleaner.
Thermostat – If you have an older car, you may need to have the thermostat replaced when you have cooling system service performed. A failing thermostat is a common cause of engine overheating.
Cooling Fans – Overheating can result from cooling fan failure. Often problems with the air conditioning system can be a sign that you have a cooling fan issue. Have cooling fans inspected so you and your car don’t have to take the heat.
Belts and Hoses – Check the condition of the belts and hoses in your cooling system. Make sure they are tight and in good condition, and free from cracks or rubber deterioration.
Water Pump – An experienced repair technician is usually able to spot a water pump that is about to fail. A break in the water pump will often cause a coolant leak, so if you notice the coolant level dropping at a faster rate, you may have a water pump problem.
June 18, 2013
Dear Tire Twins,
I recently noticed that one of my tires is continually losing air, so I need to either repair the tire or replace it. I know that some places repair tires, but I have heard that the only safe option is to replace a damaged tire. I like the idea of repair because my tires are fairly new, however safety is my primary concern, so I am ready to buy a new tire if necessary. Is it okay to repair a leaking tire or should I just get a new one?
If your tire is in good condition, with plenty of tread left, repairing the tire is definitely a wise option. There are two different ways to approach tire repair, depending on the nature of the damage.
A plug can quickly fix a tire, and can be installed without even having to remove the tire from the rim. Unfortunately, not all types of tire damage can be fixed with a plug. For example, in the case of a puncture near the side wall, a tire plug is not a reliable option. If the angle of the penetrating object is relatively straight, and located between the treads, a plug should work just fine.
For other types of damage, a patch plug may offer a more reliable repair. A patch plug is more labor intensive, since it has to be installed from the inside of the tire. If you want a more dependable repair, with a high degree of safety, a patch plug is a good option.
Tire repair is a great alternative to the expense of replacement. Just make sure you have your tire repaired by a tire expert you can trust. It is important that tire repair be done properly to make sure you are safe on the road. Also, don’t put off that repair too much longer. Tire damage that is unaddressed will only worsen, and eventually ruin the tire.