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]
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]Read More
You’ll notice that the stamp on your tire’s sidewall specifies inflation for HOT tires. Why is that?
Pretty simple physics, really. Gases expand with heat, meaning both the temperature of a friction-heated tire and ambient temperature of outside air. A rule of thumb is that for about for about every ten degrees Fahrenheit change in air temperature, your tire’s inflation will fluctuate by about one PSI. In most parts of the United States, the difference between winter and summer temperatures can be as much as a 50-degree spread, meaning a potential fluctuation of five PSI. That’s not even thinking about the 20-degree spread between hot afternoon temperatures and cooler nighttime or early morning temperatures in summer.
Tires that are low by 5 psi will hurt traction, steering re ...[more]Read More
If you live in an area that gets cold enough and sees enough winter precipitation to warrant buying winter tires, there’s no substitute for the traction they can provide. Winter tires have come a long way since the heavy-tread, noisy “snow tires” or “mud grips” that were on your dad’s station wagon a generation ago. Modern winter tires offer better ride, road manners and handling than they did in previous years. That doesn’t, however, mean that they are good year-round.
Winter tires are designed with a tread formulation that stays flexible at lower temperatures, which is their chief advantage over all-season tires. All-season tires tend to harden and stiffen at sub-freezing temps, compromising traction and control. The flip side ...[more]Read More
Surely you’ve noticed the wide range of tread patterns and styles available between different tire brands and models. Here’s a brief technical breakdown of how they all work:
- Tread patterns: Tires are commonly designed with symmetrical, asymmetrical and directional tread patterns. Symmetrical treads are the most common, with ribs or tread blocks where the inboard and outboard sections of the tire come together and match. Asymmetrical tread patterns vary the groove pattern of the tire to help deflect water and snow in all-season conditions, making them a good pick for year-round use. The grooves on directional tires form a V shape at the tire’s center, helping to displace water and avoid hydroplaning. The geometry of the tread blocks and tread pattern is designed to fulfill very dedicated, s ...[more]
Tire warranties and treadlife ratings are a popular marketing tool for tire manufacturers, and as tire technology and engineering has improved, 100,000 mile warranties are not uncommon. Of course, they do come with certain strings attached, considering the variety of weather conditions, usage and road conditions that tires might see – that’s why they’re always referred to as a “limited warranty.” Here’s a quick breakdown of some common conditions of tire warranties, and how they are calculated:
- Treadlife and mileage warranties are only applicable to the original owner and original vehicle, meaning it’s crucial to retain the paperwork that certifies proof of purchase and original installation date and vehicle mileage. You may also be required to prove that tir ...[more]
The WRG2 is the third generation of Nokian’s innovative “All-Weather Plus” tires, with a unique asymmetrical tread pattern that can address different driving conditions, weather and road conditions. The outer shoulder is narrow, with a generous number of sipes for handling and traction, with an entirely different tread design at the inner shoulder for winter driving. The tire’s center section uses 3D sipes for handling and stability, with a “slush wedge” and polished grooves to move water and slush away from the tire footprint.
Nokian tires are designed with a unique environmentally-friendly rubber compound, utilizing cool silica, canola oil and low-aromatic, purified oils for reduced rollin ...[more]Read More
Detroit is host to the North American International Auto Show every year, where manufacturers get to roll out their newest offerings. Not surprisingly, the NAIAS draws huge crowds from all over; last year’s show brought close to 800,000 people to the city, and this year’s NAIAS promises to be a worthy follow-up to the 2013 show. A few debuts to look forward to this year:
- 2015 Ford Mustang: Redesigned with a lower silhouette, wider stance, facelifted grille and revamped suspension, the next-generation of the pony car will feature a standard 3.7 liter V6 that churns out over 300 horsepower, as well as an all-new 2.3 liter EcoBoost engine and an upgraded 5.0 liter V8 that yields over 420 horsepower. Even with the changes, the Mustang bloodlines are still clearly there in the overhaul ...[more]
So what’s the difference between winter tires and other designs, such as all-season tires or mud tires?
Winter tires have come a long way since your dad’s clunky, heavy-treaded “snow tires” or “mud grips” of a generation ago. Winter tires are specifically designed with a rubber formulation that stays flexible in sub-freezing temperatures. That flexibility is essential for proper traction on dry or wet pavement either one; other tire designs will become stiffer and hard at low temperatures, encouraging wheelspin and a poor connection with the pavement.
The down side of this is that winter tires tend to harden at temperatures above about 40 degrees or so, meaning poor handli ...[more]Read More
The Ultra Grip is Goodyear’s winter/snow tire, studdable for extreme conditions and designed with a silica-enhanced tread compound for flexibility at freezing temperatures. The Goodyear Ultra Grip features a directional tread design and aggressive tread pattern, with bold shoulder blocks for stability in dry conditions and even treadwear. Wide grooves in the tread help move loose snow and slush away from the tire’s contact patch to resist hydroplaning. Along with sipes cut into the tread for extra biting edges in ice and snow, the shoulder and intermediate tread blocks can accept alternating rows of optional metal studs for hard-packed snow and icy roads (where legal). The Ultra Grip’s tread pattern is tuned and computer-optimized to help ...[more]Read More