May 10, 2018
Tire Code Part 3: Load Index, Speed Rating, and M+S Designation
When shopping for tires, you can learn a lot about a particular tire by looking at the uniform tire code imprinted on the tire. This code not only identifies the tire, it also provides useful information about the tire. Previously we looked at type of tire and section width, next we discussed at aspect ratio, tire construction and wheel diameter. With this post, we complete our series with a look at last three parts of the uniform tire code: load index, speed rating, and M + S designation.
The tire performance index is displayed after the wheel diameter, and represents the tire’s load and speed ratings.
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.
A tire with the correct tire load index for your vehicle means 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. Whether or not the mud and snow designation is important will depend on the climate in which you live and drive.
Once you’ve purchased your new tires, it is important to follow your vehicle manufacturer’s recommended specifications to assure safety and best vehicle performance. Selecting a dependable, quality tire is just the beginning. Maintaining the proper tire pressure will help you extend the life of your tires .
April 30, 2018
Tire Code Part 2: Aspect Ratio, Tire Construction, and Wheel Diameter
It is important to familiarize yourself with the differences between the many available tire types when shopping for new tires. In this three-part series, we are looking at the tire code that is imprinted on all tires. Each part of the tire code alpha-numeric sequence identifies something about the tire. Being able to interpret that code can help you choose the best tires for you.
The aspect ratio of a tire is calculated by dividing a tire’s section height by its section width when the tire is:
- inflated to proper air pressure
- mounted on the approved measuring rim
- under no load
The aspect ratio affects steering stability. Generally, the shorter the sidewall, or the lower the aspect ratio, the less time it takes to relay the steering input from the wheel to the tire, for faster steering response. Aspect ratio also affects the tread contact patch. A low-profile tire typically produces a wider tread contact patch. This wider tread contact patch creates a firmer footprint that provides improved cornering traction.
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. 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.
An important sizing calculation in tire fitting, aspect ratio should be considered with wheel diameter for the best tire and wheel combinations. Lower aspect ratio typically indicates a high performance tire, with better lateral stability. Most of the new tires will be marked R for radial construction, however if you are replacing old tires, you may see the D or B designations.
When considering aspect ratio, tire construction, and wheel diameter, you should always select your vehicle manufacturer’s recommended specifications to assure safe and optimal tire performance. Just as choosing a dependable, quality tire is important, it also necessary to choose one that is developed for the best performance given the weight and design of your vehicle.
Next Up: Tire Code Part 3: Load Index, Speed Rating, and Use Designation.
April 17, 2018
Shopping for tires can be a little overwhelming with the wide range of styles and choices that are available. It is important to choose the right tire for your vehicle and the type of driving you do in order to get the best safety, performance, and gas mileage from your vehicle. So, how do you go about choosing the right tires?
Getting to know the differences between the many tire types that are out there is a great place to start. In this three-part series, we will look at the tire code that is imprinted on all tires. Each part of the tire code alpha-numeric sequence tells you something about the tire. Understanding that code can help you find the right tires.
Tire Code Part One: Tire Type and Section Width
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.
The proper size and tire type are important to assure safety and the best tire performance. Buying a quality tire will not guarantee the best performance if the tire is not made to accommodate the weight and design of your vehicle. Also, since tire size is a factor in the calculations of the computerized functions of today’s vehicles, it is essential to install the recommended tire size.
Next Up: Tire Code Part 2: Aspect Ratio, Tire Construction, and Wheel Diameter
March 23, 2018
It’s good old pothole season! Winter can really do a number on the roads, causing an increase in potholes & overall road damage. Potholes are not just a nuisance, they can actually cause damage to your tires and even your vehicle.
If your vehicle hits a very deep, dreaded divot in the road, you could experience its wrath on your vehicle. While you may see a full-on tire puncture or a bent rim, the result of it is not always obvious. If you have experienced a sudden jolt from a pothole, a timely inspection should be in your future. If you ignore it, your vehicle can experience even further damage and stress that results in budget-breaking repairs. Read more…
February 28, 2018
Washes are Important Now for Removing Road Salt
Road salt is a necessary evil. It is great for preventing accidents and keeping roadways safe. Salt lowers the freezing/melting point of water, making it a fast and inexpensive way to melt slippery snow and ice on the road. The problem is that salt is also a highly corrosive element, and its affects can be extremely damaging to your vehicle.
Road salt exposure throughout the winter can wreak havoc on the metal components of your car. Most vehicles have an exposed underbody, so most salt damage occurs underneath the car, where it goes visually undetected. Rust on essential parts of your vehicle can leave you with huge problems ranging from brake system leaks to frame damage. While your rubber tires will suffer little or no damage from salt, your wheels are highly vulnerable, since the metal areas of your car are most at risk for salt damage. Read more…
February 16, 2018
Two Likely Reasons Why Your Car Heating System is Giving You the Cold Shoulder
You dust the snow off your vehicle and scrape the ice from the windshield. After letting your engine warm up for the usual amount of time, you turn up the thermostat, anticipating that warm, comforting heat. But then it hits you – a blast of cold air. You wonder, what happened to my car’s heating system?
How the Car Heating System Works
Your car heating system depends on an essential element called the heater core. The heater core acts as a heat exchanger, distributing heat into the cabin of the car. The car’s engine provides the original source for this heat, which increases as the engine operates.
Heat is conveyed from the engine to the heater core by way of a liquid called coolant. Coolant serves a dual purpose in that it first pumps through the engine to cool it and protect it from overheating, and then recycles the heat it removes by sending it into the radiator and circulating it to the heater core. Read more…
January 30, 2018
Does it seems like you have been seeing your tire pressure monitoring system light illuminating a little more frequently lately? If so, you can probably blame one simple reason – the cold.
In order to understand how cold effects your TPMS, it is necessary to know how your TPMS works. The system use sensors technology to alert drivers when tire pressure in one of the tires goes below a predetermined level. When tire pressure in one or more of your tires drops, the light comes on. Read more…
January 16, 2018
Let’s face it, we tend to take our ride for granted. For the most part it is always there, ready to take us wherever and whenever we need to go. We only think about taking care of it when there is an obvious problem, like a flat tire or a dead battery. The problem with this approach is that it is not good for your car, and it can be very risky for the safety of you and your passengers. Why not make 2018 the year you resolve to make vehicle maintenance a priority? Regular auto and tire maintenance not only make sense for protecting and prolonging the life of your vehicle and tires, it also means you’ll be safer on the road.
Check Tire Pressure & Tread Depth
Make it a point to check your tire pressure at least once a month. You can find the proper pressure for your vehicle’s tires listed in your owner’s manual. Keep in mind that the maximum pressure is not the same as the recommended pressure. Don’t forget to also check the pressure of your spare tire.
You also should check the tread depth on your tires two or three times a year. The penny test is a simple way to gauge your tread depth. Hold a penny so you can read “In God We Trust” across the top. Insert it into five different sections of the tire and look at Lincoln’s head. If you can see the top of Lincoln’s head, your treads are excessively worn, and it is time for a new set of tires. If Abe’s head is covered to about the forehead hairline, the tread is in good shape and you probably do not need new tires. Read more…
December 20, 2017
If there is anything I love as much as vehicles and tires, it’s the holiday season. With that in mind you can imagine how delighted I am to find any combination of cars and Christmas! I recently happened upon a real treasure trove of holiday automotive artwork on the classic auto enthusiast website, Petrolicious. In honor of the season, I wanted to share some of these beautiful paintings.
Image Courtesy of Petrolicious.com
December 14, 2017
There is nothing I love to hear about more than someone who is enthusiastic about taking care of their car. I am a big proponent of drivers investing time in learning about their vehicles so they can do their own service and repair work. Having said that, I will add the following caveat, some automotive services should always be left to the professionals. No matter how much of a car enthusiast you are or how much you need to save money, some auto services simply should not be done at home for the sake of vehicle safety.
What does the auto professional offer that you cannot? Unless you are a trained and certified mechanic, you more than likely do not have the education and experience needed to do the job right. Also, people do not have in their home garages the costly and complex equipment that is required to properly diagnose and repair today’s vehicles. Your local auto service professional is equipped to perform all automotive services in an affordable and timely manner. Read more…
November 29, 2017
Brake system failure is one of the most dangerous situations a driver can experience on the road. The brake system on your vehicle is highly complex, involving an extensive number of integrated components, all of which are subject to wear and eventual failure. Brake failure can have serious and deadly consequences, so it is important to be aware of, and responsive to, any indications of brake trouble.
Your car has many ways of letting you know that brake trouble may be ahead. By paying attention to these five indicators, you can have brake system issues addressed before they put the safety of you and your passengers at risk:
Hearing Weird Noises
Hearing a high, screeching sound when you apply your brakes? It could mean that your brake pads need to be replaced.
Pulling to One Side When Braking
Does the vehicle tend to pull to one side when you are braking? This could be an indication that the brake lining is wearing unevenly or that the brake fluid is contaminated. Read more…
November 14, 2017
This time of year finds everyone busy preparing for holiday celebrations, shopping for gifts, and making plans for holiday travel. Odds are you are not thinking about your car. But you should be.
When Thanksgiving Day arrives, we imagine we’ll be sitting around the dinner table with loved ones, enjoying great food, sharing memories, and reflecting on all those things that make us truly thankful. You sip a glass of wine or a cup of coffee, nibble on a few more bites of pumpkin pie, and settle into that warm, cozy, holiday feeling.
But what if Thanksgiving Day comes and you hop into a car that has been woefully neglected for maintenance service? You may end up sitting in a cold, dead car, digging through seat pockets for something to eat while waiting for a tow truck to arrive. You sip a half empty water bottle, nibble on a few more bites of stale saltine crackers, and settle into that awful, regretful, why-didn’t-I-get-an-oil-change feeling.
If a road trip is in your plans this year, make sure it is a safe trip. Now is the time to get your vehicle in for a pre-trip service check! Read more…
October 31, 2017
Today is a day for tricks, treats, and fun, but it also seems like a good day to remind drivers of something truly scary – driving on old tires! Not only is it critical to recognize the signs of worn out, dangerous tread, it is also important to understand that even if old tires look okay, they could be seriously compromised and a safe driving hazard.
Old tires often show no visible sign of deterioration. While they may appear to be safe, usable tires, cracks can develop both on the inside and the outside of the tire. Since the rubber compounds used in tires degrade over time, cracks will develop in the rubber, regardless of mileage and wear. Ultimately, this cracking leads to the steel belts in the tread separating from the rest of the tire. Read more…
October 17, 2017
Falling leaves and crisp temperatures are sure signs that winter driving season is just around the corner. If you are considering investing in a new set of winter tires this year, now is the time to plan. Waiting until the snow and ice hit to shop for winter tires could be risky. Winter tires are typically manufactured during the summer, so quantities are usually limited. If you wait too long to shop for your winter tires you may not get the best tires or the best deal. Read more…
September 25, 2017
Do You Know What to Do When You Have a Dead Car Battery?
It can happen at any time. You climb inside your car, turn the key or press the start button and nothing happens. Soon the temperatures will be getting colder so your odds of experiencing a dead car battery will be increasing since low temperatures cause batteries to become more sluggish. It is important to not only be equipped with a quality set of jumper cables in your car, but also to know how to use them properly.
Jump starting a dead car battery isn’t difficult, but it can be dangerous if not done correctly. Jumper cables actually transmit electrical current from one car to another. It is essential that you take precautions to prevent dangerous electric shocks. Once you have one end of the jumper cables connected to a car, it is critical that the metal clamps on the other end of the cable do not touch anything other than the specified components on the other car. It is a good idea to keep rubber gloves and protective eye wear with your jumper cables and wear them for extra safety.
September 6, 2017
Tire failure is something all drivers need to be concerned about. You spend a lot of money on your tires. More importantly, when you drive, you depend on those tires for your safety and the safety of those you love. The good news is that the most common cause of tire failure is a condition that is highly preventable – under inflated tires.
One of the best things you can do to protect your tires is to make sure they are properly inflated. Under inflation causes a number of problems in tires including increased stress, friction, and overheating. When tires do not have the proper amount of air, sidewall flexing can occur and eventually lead to a rupture. Overheating can cause the rubber to degrade, which makes tires weaker and more prone to failure.
According to the NHTSA, four out of five drivers are driving on improperly inflated tires. There are many benefits of maintaining correctly inflated tires. Not only can you greatly reduce the risk of tire failure with proper inflation, you can also save as much as 11 cents per gallon on fuel and increase tire life by an average of 4,700 miles. Read more…
August 22, 2017
Distracted driving used to just mean things like eating lunch or changing the radio station while driving. Today, distracted driving has reached a whole new level of activity that can potentially lure someone’s eyes away from the road. As a new school year begins, now is a good time to think about the problem of distracted driving. Consider your own habits and talk to the younger drivers in your life about texting and driving.
On average, it takes about five seconds to send or read a text message. That might not seem very long, but did you know that at 55 miles per hour a car travels the length of a football field during that five second interval? A lot can happen during those five seconds of distracted driving, including a life-changing accident.
The more we rely on smart phone technology, the greater the temptation becomes to focus on a screen instead of the road. How can we take practical steps to avoid the perils of distracted driving? Here are seven ideas: Read more…
August 8, 2017
Spark Plug Replacement and Tune Ups – Getting in Gear with Car Maintenance
This post, our last in the Getting in Gear with Car Maintenance series, focuses on spark plug replacement and tune ups. Spark plug replacement and tune ups are necessary for keeping your vehicle running reliably and performing its best.
Spark plugs initiate the combustion and power needed to move your vehicle. The combustion drives clean gas and air to the vehicle’s cylinders. Eventually the fuel injectors can become clogged, fuel filters get dirty, and the spark plugs can become corroded. When parts are compromised, your engine will not perform as it should, and your gas mileage will suffer.
During a tune up, your automotive technician will check the condition of your spark plugs and test their performance. Other items that are typically checked during a tune up include the fuel filter, fuel pump, fuel injectors, PVC valve, as well as the engine timing and idle. Read more…
July 20, 2017
Transmission Flush and Fluid Replacement – Getting in Gear with Car Maintenance
Transmission service is the topic of this post in our Getting in Gear with Car Maintenance series. Part of your recommended regular vehicle maintenance, transmission service includes a transmission flush and transmission fluid change. Regular transmission services will keep your car performing at its best, and keep it running dependably.
What a transmission flush does for your vehicle
Transmission fluid is an essential lubricant that cools and protects the moving components in your vehicle’s transmission, and facilitates gear shifts. Like other automotive fluids, transmission fluid degrades over time. Transmission fluid deterioration can be accelerated by certain types of driving, such as city driving or heavy hauling. A transmission flush service gets rid of the old transmission fluid so it can be replaced with new fluid.
June 29, 2017
Cooling System Flush & Coolant Replacement – Getting in Gear with Car Maintenance
In this post in our series on Getting in Gear with Car Maintenance, we are going to take a look at the one of the best ways to help your car keep its cool – the cooling system flush. The best way to understand the importance of a cooling system flush is to start by looking at the role of coolant.
The main job of coolant, or antifreeze, is to transfer excess heat from the vehicle engine to the radiator. The coolant absorbs the heat and redirects it to the radiator where it is evacuated into the air. It may also be directed through the heat exchanger to heat the passenger area. Coolant is comprised of a 50/50 ratio mixture of ethylene or propylene glycol and water. Though water alone could do the job of transferring heat, it is not used alone because it would be too corrosive to the engine. Read more…
June 15, 2017
Tire Rotation and Tread Inspection – Getting in Gear with Car Maintenance
Tires are the focus of this post in our series on Getting in Gear with Car Maintenance. As one of the most important safety and performance features on your vehicle, tires need the same attention to maintenance that essential mechanical components require. Tire rotation and tread inspection are two recommended maintenance items that need to be done regularly.
What tire rotation and tread inspection do for vehicle performance
Tire rotation and tread inspection are about extending the usable life of your tires and making sure they are safe. By rotating the tires, you can balance out the wear to get the most even wear on all four tires. Since tires in different positions do not wear the same, this will also help to assure there is a safe and sufficient amount of tread on every tire.
What happens during tire rotation and tread inspection service? Read more…
June 6, 2017
Oil Changes – Getting in Gear with Car Maintenance
The more you know about car maintenance, the better prepared you’ll be to keep your vehicle safe and performing at peak levels. The goal of our Getting in Gear with Car Maintenance series is not to make you an expert, but to help you understand some key services and why they are important. Today we will take a look at oil changes.
What does an oil change do for my vehicle’s performance?
Over time oil decreases in effectiveness and becomes saturated with dust, water, and combustion residues that cause engine corrosion. Regular oil changes will improve engine performance because clean oil performs much more efficiently than dirty oil. Regular oil changes are essential to vehicle’s performance and safety and will also help prevent costly repairs throughout the life of your vehicle.
What happens during an oil change?
Your auto service provider will change your vehicle’s motor oil using full synthetic oil, synthetic blend, or high mileage motor oil, depending on the recommendation of your vehicle’s manufacturer. The old oil and oil filter will be removed, replaced, and recycled. Read more…
May 19, 2017
We all know the importance of making good car maintenance a habit. So, how are you doing with that? Just in case you haven’t quite gotten in gear, we have a five-part series ahead to inspire you.
First, let’s take a look at some eye-opening stats from AAA :
Among U.S. adults who drive, one third (35 percent) have skipped or delayed maintenance or a repair that was recommended by their mechanic or specified in the factory maintenance schedule
And a survey of AAA approved auto repair facilities revealed:
Six in ten (62%) repair shops say more than half of the vehicles they service are behind schedule for routine maintenance services.
Three‐quarters (77%) of repair shops estimate customers who forget or ignore manufacturers’ recommended maintenance could save, on average, $100 or more per visit if they properly maintained their vehicles. Read more…
May 5, 2017
Hydroplaning occurs when the tires of a vehicle ride on top of water that is on the road rather than on the surface of the road. Many drivers may not realize that hydroplaning can happen even when road surfaces are slightly damp. Hydroplaning is a very real possibility whether you are driving in heavy rain or just after a passing shower. It is important for drivers to know how to handle hydroplaning when it occurs, and more importantly how to avoid it.
Those of us who have experienced hydroplaning can attest that it’s really scary situation. If hydroplaning does ever occur while you are driving, it is important to fight the urge to brake or turn suddenly. Try to ease your foot off the gas until the car slows and you can feel the contact with the road. If you must brake do it with a light pumping action. Most vehicles are now equipped with anti-lock braking systems that will safely and effectively pump automatically as you brake. Read more…
April 19, 2017
April is National Car Care Month! Now is the time to take care of car maintenance, including any problems you put off having checked over the winter.
Car care begins with making sure you are on track with recommended regular maintenance services. Not only does this keep your vehicle running properly and performing at its best, finding problems before they escalate will save you time and money while extending the life of your vehicle.
The list below includes services are usually part of regular car maintenance. Be sure to consult your owner’s manual for your recommended services and frequency:
Battery & Cables
Check Belts & Hoses
Coolant Flush and Replacement
Exhaust System Read more…