Through Hail and Back

This summer we have seen a lot of crazy weather including rain, storms, and often times hail. Though hail storms are typically brief, major damage can result from those punishing pellets of ice. Vehicles are at particular risk if they happen to be exposed at the time of a hail storm.

Hail is known to dent the roofs and hoods of vehicle bodies, and may even shatter windshields, headlights and side view mirrors. Hail is such a serious issue that an inventor in Texas has developed a hail protection system that has been featured on History Channel’s Invention USA and other programs.

If you do not have the cash to procure a hail protection system, here are some tips you can follow during hail season:

  • Be alert for the weather conditions that lead to hailstorms. When a hailstorm is predicted, pull cars and other vehicles into a garage or covered area. If you must leave vehicles exposed, cover the hood, roof and trunk with thick blankets for protection against possible hail.
  • If hail begins to fall while you are driving, try to find a safe area, like underneath an overpass, where you can wait the storm out. Otherwise pull completely off the highway to the side of the road, remain in the car, and turn away from windows.
  • After the storm has passed check your car for dents and broken or cracked glass and headlights.Remove any broken glass from the car interior to prevent injury to passengers or damage to leather and upholstery.
  • If you do experience hail damage to your vehicle, your vehicle insurance policy should cover hail damage if you have comprehensive coverage. Check with your insurance agent or company as soon as possible to report the damage and discuss the repair process.
  • Discuss the repair options with your body shop. While hail damage to sheet metal often needs to be hammered and painted, sometimes paintless dent removal (PDR) may be an option. This involves the use of specially-molded metal tools on the underside of a damaged area that will not disturb the factory finish.

Lastly, for your own safety, remember to stay indoors or under cover once a hail storm begins to avoid harm or injury.

Decoding Tire Code: Load Index, Speed Rating, and M+S Designation

This is the last post in our series on tire code. A uniform tire code is found on most every vehicle tire manufactured. Those who may be shopping for a new set of tires will find a wealth of information in this code to help them determine which type of tire to buy. Our first post focused on the type of tire and section width and the second post looked at aspect ratio, tire construction and wheel diameter. This week, we will examine the rest of  the code.

Performance Index

The tire performance index is displayed after the wheel diameter, and represents the tire’s load and speed ratings. In this case, the 93 load index represents 1,433 pounds, and the speed rating of V represents 149 mph.

Common Speed Ratings













Max. MPH












All-Season Tires with Mud and Snow Designation

When a tire has  M+S on it, that means that it meets the tire has been developed to handle driving in mud and snow. Similar markings for this include MSM&S, and M/S. .

Why are Load Index and Speed Rating Important?

A tire with the correct tire load index for your vehicle assures you that your tires are made to handle the weight of your vehicle. The speed rating shows the maximum speed your tires can handle, which tends to be more important in countries with roadways that are not subject to speed limitations.

Of course importance of the mud and snow designation will depend on the climate you live and drive in.

With the entire tire code, it is important to stick with your vehicle manufacturer’s recommended specifications to assure safe and optimal tire performance. Remember – choosing  a dependable, quality tire is just the beginning. Your tires must also be developed for the best performance for your specific vehicle.

Decoding Tire Code: Aspect Ratio, Tire Construction, and Wheel Diameter

Last week, we began a series for those who may be shopping for a new set of tires and need a little more information in determining which type of tires they need.  We began looking at the universal tire code that is found on most every vehicle tire manufactured. Last week we looked at the type of tire and section width. This week, we will get a little further into the code.

Aspect Ratio

The aspect ratio of the tire is listed as a percentage and gives the height of the tire from the bead to the top of the tread. Here the number is 55, which means the tire height is 55% of the section width of 215 millimeters. The height of this tire would be 118.25 millimeters. A lower number indicates a lower tire profile.

Tire Construction

The construction of the tire is identified by the letter following the aspect ratio. The most common designation is R, which stands for radial construction. Other, less common construction types for modern passenger cars may include D for bias ply construction and B for belted tires.

Wheel Diameter

The number following the construction code indicates the size of the wheel that the tire will fit in inches. The example tire would be designed to fit a 17-inch wheel. Tire sizes on most vehicles begin at 13-inches and go up to 18-inches.Custom package wheels can be 22-inches or even larger.

Why are Aspect Ratio, Tire Construction, and Wheel Diameter important?

Aspect ratio is an important sizing calculation in tire fitting, and should be considered with wheel diameter with the best tire and wheel combinations. Lower aspect ratio typically indicates a high performance tire, with better lateral stability. Most of the new tires you encounter will be marked R for radial construction, however if you are replacing old tires, you may see the D or B designations.

As with last week’s part of the code, it is important to select your vehicle manufacturer’s recommended specifications to assure safe and optimal tire performance. While buying a dependable, quality tire is important, it also must be developed for the best performance given the weight and design of your vehicle, so consulting a tire expert is a must.

Next week, we will wrap up decoding tire code by taking a look at Load Index, Speed Rating, and use designation.


Decoding Tire Code: Type of Tire and Section Width

Even though tires may basically look the same, there are a lot of distinct characteristics and features to consider when selecting tires. If you are shopping for a new set of tires, you may be overwhelmed by the choices, and wondering which tires are the right ones for you.  Fortunately there’s  a pretty quick and easy way to gain a lot of information about your vehicle’s tires – just read the tire code on the tire.  You may have noticed the tire code, which is imprinted into the side of the tire, while washing your car or checking your tire pressure.


Each section of this alpha-numeric sequence tells you something about the tire. Being able to decode the tire code on your current tires will help you determine the type of replacements you need.

Type of Tire

The type of tire and it’s intended use are indicated by the first letter in the code. Letter designations include P for passenger vehicles, T for temporary spare, LT for light truck metric, C for commercial, and ST for special trailer service.

Section Width

Following the tire type letter is the section width of the tire, which is listed in millimeters. This is the widest point from sidewall-to-sidewall, so a larger number indicates a wider tire. In this case, the tire has a width of 215 millimeters.

Why are Tire Type and Section Width important?

The correct size and tire type are necessary to assure safe and optimal tire performance. Selecting a quality tire will not assure the best performance if the tire is not made to accommodate the weight and design of your vehicle. Additionally, tire size is a factor in the calculations of the computerized functions of today’s vehicles. To assure accuracy, it is important to hold to the recommended tire size.

Next week, we will continue to decode tire code by taking a look at Aspect Ratio, Tire Construction, and Wheel Diameter.

Celebrate Independence Day and Tires!

Happy Independence Day! This is the week for celebrating our nation, relaxing, and enjoying good times with family and friends. If you are looking for something fun to do this holiday weekend, and happen to have some old tires lying around, this post is for you!

Anyone who is feeling creative and loves tires as much as I do will find some fantastic project ideas in the environmentally friendly website WebEcoist’s feature on items made from old tires. As the article points out, more than 290 million tires per year end up in North American landfills. Meanwhile, people are spending top dollar on things like fashion accessories, flooring, shoes, and playground equipment. This article brings these two ideas together by showing some amazingly creative ways to turn old tires into the new items you want and need.

I just love these ideas and have started my personal project list. Hopefully some of you will find ideas here. If you have enough old tires, you might even sell some of these items and retire early!