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tires February 10, 2018

Driving Around Burke VA Much More Taxing on Tires in Summer

There are very few things you can do for your car that provide the immediate gratification that a set of quality tires will provide. They can change the whole feel of the car, from the way it corners and stops, to restoring that quiet, smooth ride it had when it came off the dealer’s lot. If you are nursing a set of original equipment tires that are getting up around the 45-55 thousand mile mark, you have probably forgotten how smooth the car rode when it was new.

Tires are the first line of defense in your car’s suspension system, protecting you and the car from the less than idyllic road and traffic conditions in this area. As your car rolls down the road over small imperfections (an inch deep or less), that layer of rubber and composite material that make up the tread area (about 10/32 of an inch thick when new) absorbs the shock and imperfections of the road before the suspension of the car (springs, struts, control arms) have begun to react. Now imagine when that 10/32 of an inch is down to 3/32. You’ve lost about three fourths of the insulating and cushioning of the tread.

Moving beyond the “feel” of the car there are real world consequences for worn-out tires. Handling and stopping, particularly in the wet conditions we see so much of in spring and summer, is dramatically reduced. When that person who did not finish at the top of his class in Driver’s Ed cuts in front of you at 55 miles per hour, practically stops to make his exit, and you have nowhere to go (Beltway traffic) and must depend solely on brakes, good tires mean the difference between inches to spare and spilled coffee, or a fender bender or worse, ruining your day and perhaps much more.

In some ways the improvements in our cars and SUVs via antilock brakes and stability and traction controls have led us to neglect our tires, because all that technology gets us out of jams that a ‘94 model car never could. My brother described coming up that tight ramp from the George Washington Parkway onto the I-495 American Legion Bridge too fast, and feeling the rear of his Honda Pilot begin to lose control. In a split second the traction control system reacted, he felt the vehicle jinking, and it came back under control. Good tires can make the difference.

Although many people think that fall going into winter is the best time to get new tires (for all that snow we get), summer driving is much more taxing on tires. Heat build-up, the kind that occurs at sustained high speeds on a 90 degree day in an overloaded vehicle, is much more likely to cause a catastrophic blowout than anything that happens in winter.

Remember the Ford Explorer tire failure rollovers that occurred in the ‘90s? If you don’t, let me refresh your memory. Tires provided as factory equipment on Fords, from a company that DOES NOT HAVE A BLIMP, were suffering chronic failure issues. At high speeds and in high temperatures they were blowing out often, resulting in loss of control and rollover. The problem never occurred a single time in a cold climate. That problem also resulted in the federal mandate for a tire pressure monitoring system (tpms), which may have turned out to be a good thing.

Tires get old even when they don’t get many miles. My mother-in-law has a 2004 Infinity I-35 that, as of autumn 2012, had but 16,000 miles on it. It is always in a garage away from harmful U.V. rays. Her low-tire light popped on, so I brought it to the shop thinking it would need some air or a tire repair at worst. I was shocked (and felt neglectful) when the technician told me a patch would not be a good idea as the tires had severe dry rot on the tread and sidewall. He was right, and after consulting with my mother-in-law we decided to put on a set of Goodyear Assurance ComforTred Touring, with nitrogen fill and alignment. She had been unhappy with the way the car was riding, but now she can’t say enough good things about how much smoother and quieter the car feels. And I felt much better when she (and her new tires) took a recent trip to North Carolina with my wife and son.

Just 2 more things about your tires:

ROAD HAZARD WARRANTY – GET IT!

Look, if you’re like me, you hate the part at the checkout with your new microwave, toaster, blender (name your appliance), and the cashier says, “Your total is $145… would you like to purchase the extended service plan?” So you think, “Wait a minute. I just bought the best product you had and all it’s going to do is sit on my kitchen counter in a controlled environment and you expect it to break? Maybe I should buy a different product.”

Tires are different! THEY RUN THINGS OVER. IT’S WHAT THEY DO. Look at the road. It’s a very hostile environment. Construction debris from trucks bouncing along, carelessly discarded junk, and probably parts falling off cars not maintained by Burke Centre Automotive – any of which can turn the best-built tire into scrap rubber in a second.

NITROGEN FILL – CONSIDER IT!

In short, nitrogen has been used in tires for construction equipment, jet aircraft, and race cars for years. It maintains a substantially lower temperature than air, is less likely to fluctuate with seasonal changes, and most of all, carries no moisture that corrodes the inside of wheels and attacks those expensive low-tire sensors. In a nice late-model car I would get nitrogen. If it’s a third-string car, pre-low-tire warning, save your money.

All you really need to know about tires is that it’s always a good time to see the experts at Wiygul Automotive Clinic Goodyear. George, Ron, Steve, and Doug can help you make the best choice for you and your car.

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