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Are your tires safe? (Part II)

So you know it’s time to replace those tires, but just where do you start?

First off, match the code with the car as stated in the previous blog. I have seen thousands of tires on all kinds of cars in all kinds of conditions and here is what I have to say: Buy tires as a set, or in pairs, but stay away from buying one at a time (unless it is an obvious circumstance). BUY HIGH QUALITY TIRES from someone you trust! You also get what you pay for. Generally the quality of the tire increases with the price. I don’t promote poor quality, inexpensive tires. They are unsafe and, frankly, a poor value. If there is a rating system for myself of good, better and best, I only promote better or best.

Brand new cars come with better or best level of quality tires from the factory as they were designed. However, you will find many tires of lesser quality and price available. Why? Because there is a market for them. Tire stores sell tires, I sell service. Here is a good example. When I met my wife she drove on a poor quality set of two tires on the front and a worse set of two on the rear. The car (a nice Cadillac) handled like a shrimp boat in rough seas.

The steering and suspension were in good shape. I installed a set of Michelins and she almost fell over after driving it. She said it literally felt like a different car and she was not going to get rid of it because of that. We track all the maintenance and she just keeps driving. I love this response.

She is now so passionate about good quality tires she wanted me to share this with you: “My car weighs 1-3/4 tons. I can stop on a dime in the rain with Michelin tires, and handling is dramatically improved. In my opinion, driving on poor quality tires (even if they’re brand new) is as risky as driving with worn out brakes. If you’ve never purchased a high quality tire, drive (don’t ride) around the block in someone else’s vehicle who has them. You’ll be amazed at the difference. It’s comforting if you drive a car that has a high rating in the safety crash tests, but you’re less likely have an accident in the first place if you have top quality tires.”

Another example, if you buy a cheap set of tires for $400, they will likely last 25,000 miles. If you buy high quality tires for $800, they will very likely last more than 50,000 miles. This is what I mean by a good value. I got 88,000 miles out of a set of high quality truck tires for my old Toyota pickup.

They were only rated for 60,000 miles, but I meticulously rotated and balanced them, maintained the air pressure and alignment, and did not drive like a madman.

I finally had to repair one due to a nail. The rubber started to come apart on the tire machine due to age. Otherwise, I still had 4/32″ of tread. I really got my money’s worth out of those tires.

There are lots of tire manufacturers. Each one has many levels of quality within its lineup. Some companies have a wide range, trying to meet everyone’s needs. These I am skeptical of. Some manufacturers sell out to large corporations and make lower quality and cost tires for marketing purposes (in my opinion), so don’t be fooled.

Another thing about quality: All tires are round, but better quality tires are rounder. What I mean is when you stare at a tire on a balance machine, poor quality tires vary a little radially. They actually allow up to 3/32″ of “out of roundness” before calling them defective. A good Michelin will spin true most every time. Also, poor quality tires require more weight to balance. It is not unusual to check a set of high-end Uniroyals or BFGs to find only two of the four require only a small weight change every 12,000. And if we fixed 100 flat tires, 90 of them would be “of inferior quality.” In other words, you can run over more debris with a high quality tire. It’s all in the tread design, type of rubber and inner carcass.

I really only have about a dozen tires I prefer, based on quality first and cost second. They all depend on the car, the driver and a few other circumstances. I think Michelin tires are some of the best, though they do cater to large corporations for market share and “sell out” at times. My best selling tires are Uniroyal and BFGoodrich who make a mid- to upper-class tire at a good price. I have also become partial to Hankook for some of our fleet customers. Once again, tires can be confusing. Feel free to call us at any time for our opinion (based on experience) and a quote. Your safety is our concern!