Archive for April, 2013

All-Season vs. Summer Tires: What’s the Difference?

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Ford Mustang on Felixstowe beach

 

Ahh, summertime has come to much of North America, and if it hasn’t come yet: don’t worry, it will. This change means lots of things, not least of which is summer travel, and planned summer road-tripping may have you thinking about tires. So what’s the difference between winter wheels and summer ones? Here’s a quick look:

 

Is All-Season Really All That?

Yes and no. All-season tires are always a compromise, designed to give drivers adequate performance year round. Wet grip is sacrificed for mobility in the snow. For best performance, you’ll have to do the hard thing and swap out summer tires for winter tires, and back again.

 

Why Summer Tires Aren’t Good in Snow

Summer tires (also known as regular or 3-season tires) don’t function well in the snow because their soft and strong-gripping tread compound, which deals with rain so nicely, hardens at freezing temperatures. As the tire hardens, the grip weakens. Add snow to this, and you’ve got a bad combination.

 

I Live in a Place Without Snow, So…

Hey, good for you! Some of us aren’t so lucky. If you do live someplace where it never (or rarely ever) snows (like right here in California!), you’re fine with a “regular” three-season tire. If you live someplace with snow, however, better give an all season set or swap out your regular tires for winter tires before the first snowball fight.

Think it’s time to buy some new summer tires in Burbank? Check out Discount Tire Centers. And leave us a comment: when do you swap out your regular tires for winter tires?

Photo courtesy of Steve Arnold 

Spare Me! Dude, Where’s the Spare Tire?

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monster truck tires

 

When’s the last time we heard an entirely positive news story come from the automobile manufacturers, especially General Motors? It seems like it’s always a sales pitch, a recall or a bailout, and here’s another one to add to the pile: in order to cut costs and make vehicles lighter, car companies are cutting the spare tire as a standard feature on new models. Yikes!

It doesn’t take a genius to imagine this might result in some sticky situations. In fact, Reuters reported that 12 percent of the 3.5 million calls AAA receives are due to problems with tires. We can almost picture the situation: You borrow your friend’s new car for the weekend, get a flat, call AAA (handy), and… boom. No replacement tire. Yuck.

So what can the savvy motorist do? Three things:

  1. If you’re buying a new car, get the spare tire option. You’re going to want one.
  2. If you’re buying a used car, always check to make sure the spare is there.
  3. Check your car now to make sure your spare tire is there and in good condition. If it’s not, get one.

Though it’s not all bad. Because a spare tire and its jack typically add an additional 25 pounds to a car’s total weight, this ‘no spare tire’ trend will make your car slightly more fuel efficient (it’ll add about one MPG).

What do you think about this? Are you okay with your car not having a spare tire? Or would you rather pay extra and be on the safe side?

For all of your tire needs (spare or otherwise!) or for tires in Canyon County, call Discount Tire Centers at 1 (800) 808-4737.

Photo courtesy of Oakley Originals.

Buying Tires: What’s more important? Cost or Performance?

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tire mud track

Did you know that the quality of your tire has a direct impact on your fuel costs? It’s true. So next time you’re shopping for tires, here are some facts to keep in mind:

Spend a Bit, Save a Lot

Many people are inclined to save money on tires by opting for less-expensive versions and/or using worn tires longer than is economical in terms of fuel. This is a fairly near-sighted approach, in that what you spend on tires by spending up front, and replacing tires more frequently than you otherwise might, actually pays for itself in terms of reduced fuel costs over the life of the tires.

An Example

Let’s imagine a scenario in which you drive a vehicle for 60,000 miles on a set of slightly-more-expensive performance tires for $100 apiece ($400 total), you pay .6 cents per mile. These tires result in more fuel efficiency and better performance. Compare to less-than-ideal tires at $60 apiece ($240), and per mile you’re paying .5 cents, and that’s assuming the cheap tires even last 60,000 miles.

Quality Tires: It’s Worth It

In reality, you’re saving very little by opting for cheaper tires. Yes, in the above example you save $160 up front, but over tens of thousands of miles this amounts to very little in terms of real savings per mile. Add that to the fact that the performance tire will handle better and in all likelihood last longer than its less expensive counterpart, and you see there’s a good argument for spending a little more now on better-quality tires. 

How do you choose what tire’s best for your vehicle? Leave us a comment and share your insights! Looking to buy tires in Bakersfield? Visit Discount Tire Centers!

Photo courtesy of Leonardo Aguiar

The 6 Most Common Tire Myths Explained

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Tires are among the most important part of your vehicle and, we hope anyway, the only part of your automobile that touches the road with any regularity. So it’s important for drivers to have an understanding of what tires are and, just as importantly, what they aren’t. Here are six widespread myths about tires every driver should know:

monster truck with giant tires

Myth #1: Only got enough money for two new tires? Put them in the front

Replacing only two tires on your vehicle? Without exception, the new tires must go on the REAR of the automobile. Why? Because the rear tires provide stability, and if you have a set of new tires up front, in wet weather they’ll easily disperse water while the back tires sit on the top of the water. This is can lead to hydroplaning. So in order to prevent your car from fish tailing or spinning completely out of control in wet weather, the tires with the most tread (i.e, the newest tires) should be in the back and NOT the front.

Myth #2: My Tire Pressure Monitoring  System will always tell me when my tires are under-inflated 

Ahh, technology! It makes our lives easier, if not simpler. Or it seems to anyway. But sometimes we get carried away and become over-dependent on our new tech. If your car has a Tire Pressure Monitoring System, it might be tempting to think you never need to check your tire pressure yourself, but the fact is most TPMS systems won’t warn you until your tires are 25% underinflated, which can already be well in the range of unsafe driving. So don’t think of this system as a free pass when it comes to tire pressure, just a handy backup to your reasonable diligence.

 

Myth #3: My tire will burst if I fill it past the  tire’s “max press” number

False! The “Max Press” number on the tire wall doesn’t tell you anything about burst pressure. Max Press (short for max pressure), along with “Max Load,” let you know how much the tire will carry.  This doesn’t mean you should fill the tire past this pressure, just that most tires won’t burst at even twice Max Press.

 

Myth #4:  Max Press = Maximum Cornering Grip

Also false! Oh, Max Press, it’s just not your day. No, that Max Press has anything to do with the maximum cornering grip of a tire is another myth.

 

Myth #5:  Low Profile Tires + Large Wheels = Handling Heaven

Yes, low profile tires provide extra response when you first turn the wheel, but that’s where the benefit ends, at which point the tread compound – or how sticky the rubber is – determines grip and thus handling.

 

Myth #6:  Tires with the Same Designations are the Same Size

One might think that a tire marked 225/35 suggests the sidewalls are precisely 35% the width of the tire, but this isn’t always true. Manufacturers’ standards vary and tire companies might scrimp on a little bit of rubber here or there to improve their margin. The only way to know for sure what your tires’ size is, to the centimeter, is to measure it yourself.

Looking for tires in Canyon Country? Visit Discount Tire Centers! What do you know about tires? How do you keep yours in good shape? Leave us a comment and let us know!

Main image courtesy of Miroslav Petrasko

Tire FAQ: How Can I Tell if My Tires’ Air Pressure is Correct?

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Tires are a really important part of your vehicle – no other part suffers so much wear or deserves such regular attention. But how often do you check your tire pressure really? Maybe it’s time to take another look, and here’s how:

little boy and giant tire

 

Three Possibilities: Over, Under, Correct

There are really only three possible pressures for a tire: overinflated, underinflated, and correctly inflated. Of course this is a matter of degrees, and perfection in anything is difficult to maintain constantly, but you owe it to yourself to try and keep your car’s tires properly inflated.

Underinflated tires become flatter, and and just 6psi beneath recommendations can lead to tire failure. It’s also hard on the tire’s life, and who wants to have to purchase a new set of tires earlier rather than later? Overinflated tires, on the other hand, put your tire in more danger of becoming damaged by a pothole or other road hazard. It also means a harsher ride.

Why Check?

Not only does having the correct tire pressure improve the way your vehicle handles, you’ll also improve your gas mileage. That’s good for your pocketbook and the environment.

How To?

So how do you know your tires are properly inflated? You go by look alone. Take them in to a professional or check yourself using a high quality pressure gauge. This little step will give you peace of mind and keep your tires happy for miles to come.

 Time to have your tires checked and maybe get a set of new tires in Santa Monica? Visit Discount Tire Centers! And leave us a comment: how do you make sure your tires are always properly pressurized? How often do you check? Maybe it’s time to check now…

4 Tires Changed in 2.05 Seconds…Seriously (VIDEO)

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Dodge Charger Race Car For 2013 Sprint Cup Series

What’s the fastest you’ve ever changed a tire on your car? Ten minutes? Five? Now how fast do you think you and your buddies can change all four of your tires on your car? Two minutes?  Maybe if you’re lucky.  Now try 2.05 seconds.

That’s right, 2.05 seconds. Not minutes. That’s how fast Red Bull’s F1 racing team swapped out Mark Webber’s tires at the Malaysian Grand Prix. Try counting two seconds to get an idea of what we’re talking about here: one, one thousand, two one thousand, t—four tires on and off, bam.

 

 

Don’t believe us? Watch and see for yourself:

 

 

This change smashed the previous record of 2.3 seconds, and there’s talk a sub-two-second change in the near future. Time, of course, will tell. And in F1 every tenth of a second counts.

Are you an F1 fan? Leave us a comment and share your love. What do you think of this insanely fast pit stop? Do you think they’ll ever swap tires in under two seconds?

 

Looking to buy tires in Long Beach? Visit Discount Tire Centers!

Photo courtesy of Chrysler-Group

How Can You Determine The Age of a Tire?

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You don’t need to be a car expert to know the age and wear on your tire are really important. It’s fairly easy to determine whether your tires are worn out, but how old are they exactly? Here’s how to check the age of your tires:

goodyear tires

Tires Since 2000

Since the year 2000 the year and the week a tire was produced can be found represented by four digits, called the Tire Identification Number.  The first two digits represent the week, and the second two digits identify the year. 0407, for example, would mean the tire was manufactured in the fourth week of 2007. Simple! You may need to check both sidewalls, but find these numbers and you’re set.

Tires Before 2000

Tires manufactured before 2000 received marks under the assumption they wouldn’t be used for more than ten years. The week and year only contain three digits, such that the first two digits indicate the week and the last digit indicates the year.  So a tire marked 107 means it was produced in the tenth week of the seventh year of a given decade. Unfortunately there’s no way to know what decade a tire was manufactured, although many tires from the 90s are marked with a triangle.

Have any tire tricks you’d like to share?  How do you keep track of your tires’ age and life?  Leave us a comment.

Looking to buy tires in Fresno? Visit Discount Tire Centers!

Photo courtesy of Robert Terrell

Do You Need New Tires? Here’s How to Tell

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tire wear

At the risk of stating the obvious, there’s only one part of your car that actually touches the road with any regularity: your tires. A good set of tires properly fitted to your vehicle can make a huge difference, and worn tires aren’t just bad for gas mileage and handling: they’re a safety hazard. Here are five ways to tell your tires are, well, tired:

Check the Tread Wear Bar

If your tires are newer, they may have a feature older tires don’t: a tread wear bar built into the tire. At first this bar won’t appear, but as the tires are worn it will show up. They’ll appear as flat bars perpendicular to the tire’s tread.

The Classic: Penny Test

A penny might be just about worthless at this point, but at least it’s useful for one thing. Tread on tires ought never to be less than 1/16th of an inch. How can you know? Take a typical penny, insert it in the grooves of the tire, and if you can see all of the 16th President’s noggin, it’s time to replace your wheels.

Check the Sidewall

Tire problems don’t necessarily begin on the tread; they can occur on the sidewall too. Fortunately checking this is simple: look to see if there’s any cracking or wear.

Blisters & Other Irregularities

Another visual sign there’s a problem with your tire, or you’re about to have one: blisters, bulges, and other irregularities mean it’s time to think about replacing your round rubber friends. Remember, it’s better to replace tires early and save yourself a couple hours stranded by the side of the highway.

Not So Good Vibrations

If you’re experiencing excessive vibration while driving, one of the first things you should check is the tires. There are good vibrations and not so good vibrations. Make sure your car’s giving you the former, with the help of new tires.

Think it’s time to replace your tired tires?  Visit discounttirecenters.com for great deals on tires in Los Angeles! And leave us a comment: do you have any handy car maintenance tricks you want the world to know? How do you keep track of the life of your tires?

Main photo by: (nz)dave

Tire FAQ: How Long Can I Drive My Car with My Spare Tire?

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changing flat tirePhoto courtesy of Seven Block

Maybe you know the feeling: you’re driving at a nice clip when suddenly BANG, your tire goes flat. You get to the side of the road, pop the trunk and, yes, you do have a spare! But here’s a question: how long can you drive around with the thing? Here’s a quick FAQ:

 

Durability

The short answer to the question of how long you can (or should) get around with a spare is: not long. Durability is one reason why. Lately car manufacturers have opted to include slimmer spares to save weight and space, and slimmer tires are less durable tires.

 

Safety

Spare tires, generally smaller and slimmer than the real deal, are less safe than regular tires, inasmuch as they offer less traction. This means an increase in stopping distance, which reduces safety.  There’s also an increased risk when turning if one tire is larger than the other.  You should only go as far as you have to on your spare.

 

The Bottom Line

Car manufacturers rightly suggest drivers using a spare tire maintain speeds less than 50 miles per hour and only go as far as is necessary. Read your car’s owner manual for the recommended mileage limit, but 70 miles is the usual maximum. It’s not good for your vehicle to drive on a spare longer than you have to, as it can put stress on the differential.  So if you care about your own well-being, and the life of your car, you’ll treat your spare the way it’s intended: as a stopgap and not a replacement tire.

 

Time to get yourself some new tires? For tires in Pasadena, visit Discount Tire Centers!  And leave us a comment: do you have any spare tire horror stories?