What’s the Proper Air Pressure For My Car


Experts and analysts seem to be in agreement on this: the days of cheap oil are finished. As countries compete with each other for oil on a global market, the price of refined fuel and gasoline in the United States may fluctuate somewhat, but it’s likely to stay above $3/gallon for the foreseeable future. That means that every driver needs to be aware of what they need to do to optimize their gas mileage…and that includes tires.

Proper Inflation

You probably already know that proper inflation is vital to fuel economy, and that underinflated tires will not only drop your gas mileage, but will negatively affect handling and drivability. Underinflated tires are also unsafe, building heat that can compromise a tire’s service life and possibly cause tire failur ...[more]

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The Importance of Rotating Your Tires


Rotating tires is one of the most important (and easiest) things you can do to prolong their service life. But why? Why is it so important?

It’s simple. Front and rear tires wear differently. Parallel parking, cornering, acceleration, three-point turns all put different stresses on the front and rear tires. Not rotating them means that they are going to show different wear patterns, which will affect their tread life and your car’s ride and handling.

Regular rotations mean that your tires will wear more evenly, and will improve your car’s drivability. Chances are you’ll notice a difference in ride and handling with every rotation. So how often should you rotate?

Every other oil change seems like a pretty good rule of thumb (in other words, every 7-10,000 miles). Doing rotations yourself in your ...[more]

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What if I Have Mismatched Tires?


As a general rule, your tires should all have the same tread pattern, construction and size, meaning they should all be the same make, model and age. If they aren’t, you’ll compromise on your car’s control, traction, stability and ride. Mismatched tires could mean tires from different manufacturers, winter tires with all-season tires, run-flat tires with conventional tires or tires with different tread patterns.

Until you can invest in an entire set of tires of the same make and model, and if you’ve only got one mismatched tire in the set, you should put it on the rear. If the tire that had a problem was on the front, take one of your rears and put it on the front to replace it, then put the mismatch tire back on the rear axle. This will probably mean the least impact on handling ...[more]

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How to Choose the Right Tire


Before we start talking about which tires you need, you should determine whether it’s time to go ahead and get tires…

The minimum depth where tire tread is still effective is 2/32”. Anything lower than that and your tires will no longer resist hydroplaning in wet weather, dry traction is reduced and traction in snow is practically nonexistent. Tires now include “wear bars” at the base of the tread, running at a right angle to the tread; when the wear bars show through, the tires are at the end of their service life. The old-timer’s gauge is the “penny test,” where you put a penny, Lincoln’s head down, into the tread. If the top of the tread no longer touches Lincoln’s head, then it’s time (some now recommend the same test with a nickel or quarter).

Of course, when yo ...[more]

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Performance Tire Roundup


Performance cars need performance tires. But what’s the difference between performance tires and ordinary touring tires?

Performance tires are usually made with a softer tread compound for “stickiness” and improved grip, reaction and handling on dry pavement – the compromise is in shorter tread life. Many true performance tires also don’t do well in colder weather, and many drivers switch over to all-season or winter tires in colder months.

Tires with H or V speed ratings are typically considered “performance touring” tires, and many are designed for all-season wear. Tires with the W, Y or Z rating (and an aspect ratio of less than 55) are ultra-high-performance tires, designed for high-speed handling.

We rounded up a few of our best- ...[more]

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How Tires Can Vastly Improve Your Fuel Economy


When you think of enhanced fuel economy, you probably think of the usual things…aerodynamics, engine size, rear end gear ratio, vehicle weight, driving style and speed, and your engine’s state of tune (clean air filter, good spark plugs, etc). Did you know, though, that your tires can have a huge bearing on gas mileage as well? 

  • Tire Size – The bigger, wider and heavier a tire is, the more rolling resistance it presents. Don’t believe me? Go for a ride on a skinny-tire racing bike, then go for a ride on a fat balloon-tire beach cruiser and see the difference. You shouldn’t go for a narrower tire than original equipment, as engineers tune suspensions and steering for a given tire size, but also remember that wider tires can cut into your fuel economy (even if th ...[more]

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How Does Your Driving Style Affect Tires?


Does your driving style affect how your tires wear and hold up? You better believe it does.

If you put a lot of interstate miles on your car, that’s about the easiest thing you can do for the tires and your car’s drivetrain both. Tires and engines both love maintaining steady speeds for hours on end (provided the tires are at the correct inflation).

Here are some things that are likely to compromise your tires’ life, though: 

  • Frequently hauling heavy loads (especially for pickup truck tires)
  • Frequently pulling a trailer
  • Hard cornering
  • Hard acceleration
  • Taking potholes, railroad tracks and bumps at high speeds

It’s not surprising that heavy loads or trailer use would wear out tires prema ...[more]

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OE Tires vs. Replacement Tires


Soooo…it’s time to replace the tires on your late-model car. Maybe you weren’t that crazy about the original equipment (OE) tires, or you just want to try something different. Well, here are some things to consider.

The engineers and design teams that worked on your make and model of car selected a specific brand and model of tire for it. All of their formulations for ride comfort, handling, steering response, traction, noise and vibration isolation, roughness and  overall performance used that specific tire as a benchmark (of course, the bid process for tires entered into it as well). A luxury car might have been designed around a grand touring tire with a quiet ride, an eco-friendly hybrid might use a low-rolling-resistance tire, ...[more]

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Tire Load Rating


You’ve probably heard the phrase “tire load rating” and wondered what exactly it meant. Tire load ratings are a pretty important part of safety and proper tire maintenance, so let’s break it down: 

  • Your tires will have a service description embossed on the sidewall. The service description includes proper inflation levels, tire size, speed rating, and other information. You’ll also find tire load rating on the service description.
  • The higher the load rating number, the more weight your car’s tires are able to handle. However, that doesn’t mean an actual weight limit. Tire load ratings are coded according to federal standards. A rating code of 60 means actual weight rating of 250 kg/550 lb. Rating code of 80: 450 kg/550 lb, rating code of 125 ...[more]

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How To Measure Tire Pressure


Rubber is a porous substance, and tires will inevitably lose some air over time due to seepage. Tire pressure is something that’s neglected by many drivers, as an “out of sight – out of mind” sort of condition. Low tire pressure, however, costs money in terms of increased rolling resistance and poorer gas mileage. Tires that are habitually run low on air also wear out prematurely, due to heat buildup and an uneven wear pattern.

The good news is that it’s an easy problem to fix.

For 100 years, tires have used the same valve design (known as a Schrade valve), identical to the valves on bicycle tires. They’re still the same design because the Schrade valve does its job well and there has never been a need to improve on it. 

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