Proper Tire Storage

Dear Tracy,

I am planning to switch my tires this weekend and am wondering about proper tire storage. Can you tell me the best way to store tires while they are not in use?

Jim G

Dear Jim,

Great question! Proper tire storage is an important part of tire maintenance, and it is too often overlooked. Storing your tires the right way will keep them looking good and performing well.

Store tires is a clean, cool and dry area, away from sunlight and protected from strong air currents. While the rubber used to make tires is formulated to resist the effects of sunlight, ozone, and water, these elements do cause wear. During storage it is easy to minimize exposure to these stresses and help extend tire life.

Here are a few additional suggestions:

  • Wrap tires or cover them. A variety of cover types are available online or from auto part stores.
  • Tires mounted on rims should be stacked, no more than four deep, underneath a tire cover.
  • Tires not mounted on rims should be stored upright, under a cover rather than stacked or suspended from the ceiling.
  • Tires with whitewall or raised white lettering should be stored with the whitewall or raised white lettering facing each other to prevent black rubber staining.
  • If tires must be stored outdoors, they should be raised off the storage surface.
  • Tires stored while mounted on rims should be inflated to 10 psi
  • Tires initially put in storage during warm weather should be inflated to about 15 psi to offset the pressure drop during cold weather months

Spring Cleaning for Your Car

Dear Tracy,

Now that winter is officially over, I am wondering what kind of spring cleaning I should do for my car. Is a basic car wash enough, or are there other end-of-winter maintenance items that need to be performed?

Jared G.

Dear Jared,

Spring cleaning for your car is an excellent idea. Not only will it get your car looking great, it will help to undo some of winter’s damage. Spring also may be a good time to stop by your auto service center to have regular services performed including oil and fluids changes, wheel alignment,  and tire rotation.

Start your spring cleaning with a complete car wash including underbody. After a season of driving on winter roads, the bottom of your car will be coated with salt, sand, and other grime that can cause corrosion. Since corrosion leads to rust  that will seriously damage your car, it is important to get it cleaned from top to bottom. It is worth the time and money to get the undercarriage power wash at your car wash or spray the car’s bottom with your own hose. Soap or cleaner is not necessary, just a thorough rinsing.

Make sure you clean the car inside and out. Wipe down the engine to remove all the debris that ends up under the hood.  Remove any crusty white residue off the battery with a toothbrush, baking soda, and water. If enough of this corrosion residue accumulates,  it may prevent your car from starting. Battery cleaning also helps prepare it for the stress of warmer temperatures.

Spring cleaning is a good time to scrub the bottoms of doors and clean the window channels. You may want to apply a silicone spray that will repel dirt and lubricates the surfaces so the windows will not stick. Remove all the salt from the car’s inside. Take the time to clean rugs and upholstery. Salt can break down some fabrics and lead to rips or damage. You should also check the wiper blades and replace them if necessary.

Finally, don’t forget .. wax on, wax off! Waxing gives your car protection and a great looking finish.

Don’t Leave Your Tires to Luck

Tis the season of Erin go bragh, and even folks who aren’t Irish tend to feel a wee bit green. This year’s Food City 500 NASCAR race, held in Bristol, Tennessee, takes place this Sunday, on St. Pat’s Day and Danica Patrick has her car decked out for the occasion. For those who want to sport green on the road but cannot indulge in a custom paint job, don’t worry! There are other ways to dress up your car.

Though you may be feeling lucky in the spirit of the season, remember  that it is never wise to leave your tires to chance. It is very important that you check your tires on a regular basis. At the first indication of trouble, you should have a trusted tire professional inspect and correct issues or replace your tires if necessary.

Warning signs to watch for include:

  • Uneven tread wear. Any number of problems can cause uneven wear – have them corrected before it’s too late.
  • Excessively worn tread. Most tires have tread-wear indicator bars running across the tread, or you can use the penny test. When the tread wears down to 1/8″, it’s time to shop for new tires.
  • Cracks, cuts, bulges or blisters. If you see these potential weak spots, replace the tire as soon as possible.
  • Excessive vibration. Tire vibration may indicate misalignment, imbalance, or internal tire damage. Get service right away.

Top of the drivin’ to you and Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

Tire News: Air-free and Care-free

Non-Pneumatic Tires - Fox Car Report

Occasionally there are interesting developments in the tire industry that I like to share with my readers. This one relates to a recent post Talkin’ Tires post on the topic of run-flat tires. The run-flat is a type of “blowout-proof” tire, which is still susceptible to pressure loss limitation. There is another kind of tire on the horizon that is even more impervious to damage,  and it may be one step closer to reality for consumers.

Wisconsin-based Resilient Technologies has been developing a patent-pending design for non-pneumatic (airless) tires since 2005. The tires  are made from a proprietary plastic and feature a honeycomb-like structure, which allows the tire to remain rigid without the need for air-filled support. The three main elements of the tire include an inner steel rim, the honeycomb support structure, and a rubber tread band with makes contact with driving surfaces. Since pressure is never a factor, damage to the outer band from tears or punctures do not compromise the tire performance. These tires have been in use in military applications and have proven successful in withstanding damage and performing reliably in hostile situations requiring continuous mobility.

Bridgestone, Michelin and other leading tire manufacturers have also invested research into the development of their own iterations of the non-pneumatic tire, but are still a long way away from rolling  out a consumer version. But according to a recent Fox Car Report, an ATV version will soon be available. Off-road vehicle manufacturer Polaris, which acquired Resilient Technology, plans to release an ATV model for consumers as early as next year.

While time will tell how this new tire design fares down the road, the NPT tire as some impressive military grade testing behind it. According to the report:

“Engineers shot test tires with 50-caliber rounds from an AK-47 and then subjected them to 5,000 hours of off-roading. On another outing that involved crossing a train tracks, a rail spike punctured the tread band of an NPT, but the rider kept going on it for more than 1,000 miles.”

Stay tuned for more on this air-free up-and-comer.

Tire Buying 101

Dear Tracy,

I am in need of a new set of tires, and am a little intimidated by the idea of tire shopping. Where should I buy to get the best price? Can you tell me what I need to know before I get started? Basically I am wondering what things are important to look for and how to know what the best choice for my car will be.

Kim W.

Dear Kim,

While some may suggest cheaper ways to buy tires online, I recommend finding reputable, trust-worthy tire retailer in your area who will really help you in the tire buying process. Especially since you are new to the process,  a knowledgeable tire dealer will be able to recommend the type of tire that will best fit your vehicle, driving style and budget. You will know you have found a good source if the dealer asks you questions about the type of driving you do and if he or she guides you in considering things such as tread wear, ride and handling, and driving conditions. Buying from a brick and mortar store may cost a bit more than an online bargain source, but it will be worth it to know what you are getting and to know where you can go if you need support. If you are not sure what dealer to trust, start asking around. You never know who might have a great recommendation in your own neighborhood.

You are right to want to be an informed buyer! Even with assistance, it is important that you have a basic understanding of tires before you start shopping. Here are some point to consider:

  1. Manufacturer Recommendations It is important that your tire selection is in keeping with your vehicle’s specific manufacturer recommendations for the best safety and performance.
  2. Regional Climate Think about the kind of weather you get in your area. Do you get a lot of rain or heavy snow falls? Be sure you make the safest selection to handle the road conditions you will encounter.
  3. Ride Quality Some tires will look great on your car, but will not provide a smooth and comfortable ride or solid handling.
  4. UTQG Rating The U.S. Department of Transportation requires each manufacturer to grade its tires under the UTQG (Uniform Tire Quality Grading)labeling system and establish ratings for tread wear, traction and temperature resistance.
  5. Tread Design Some tread designs result in more road noise. This varies between tire brands and tread designs. If you mainly do highway driving, you’ll want to consider this. A knowledgeable dealer will be able to tell you which tires are quieter among those you’re considering.
  6. Buy a Full Set It is always best to replace all of your tires at once for optimal performance and even tread wear.
  7. Protect your Investment When you have your tires installed, be sure to have other checks made, such as the alignment and balance. Otherwise a vehicle maintenance problem that may have caused your old set of tires to wear out too rapidly will also ruin your new tires.