Your tires are a big investment, and while it’s easy to just take them for granted, you want them to last through their entire warranty phase (at least). Here are some tips on how to get the most life out of a set of tires:
Tire rotations: No vehicle has 50/50 weight distribution from front to rear, and front tires see a different set of stresses from braking and cornering. Rotating your tires at a 5,000-mile interval ensures even wear and good drivability and handling.
Proper inflation: Underinflated tires are bad news! They’ll wear unevenly due to their altered footprint, they’ll cost you money in terms of higher rolling resistance and poor fuel economy, and the stress from overheating can lead to premature tire failure. Check your inflation levels at leas ...[more]
So you got a new set of wheels – congratulations! You’re going to want to hang onto it as long as possible, so you’ll want to keep it maintained as well as you can. Here are some suggestions:
First, read the owner’s manual carefully and stick to manufacturer’s recommendations for service intervals. There are certain things that are critical enough that failure to adhere to recommendations can void a new car warranty. Don’t let that happen!
For instance, just about every manufacturer recommends synthetic oil for their engines; it provides better protection in just about every respect, and it’s more stable at high and low temperatures. If your owner’s manual prescribes a 10,000-mile oil change, stick with that and be sure to use the bra ...[more]
So you’re in need of a set of tires for your truck? No problem! The question is, though, what kind of tires are going to be best?
First, you’ll need to think about what you use that truck for. Will you regularly be hauling heavy loads or pulling a trailer? Do you expect to keep it on the pavement for the most part, or will you occasionally go off-road? If you go off-road, will it be on soft dirt or will you be plowing through brush, mud, and rocks? And finally…what’s your budget?
If you’re wanting to keep it on the pavement most of the time and your truck is a daily driver for errands, school, soccer, and grocery runs, all-season tires are probably the right choice. All-season light truck tires can rival the best passenger tires when it comes to noise level, ...[more]
In the old days, a tune-up was necessary about every 35,000 miles. It would usually consist of setting the ignition timing, replacing the mechanical breaker points in the ignition, cleaning and adjusting the carburetor and replacing the plug wires and spark plugs. Today, of course, the carburetor’s job is done by fuel injection and the ignition timing and spark are controlled by the engine computer. Few vehicles still have plug wires anymore either, as the distributor was replaced by the computer and a coil-on-plug design which delivers a spark at each spark plug.
But what about the spark plugs themselves, though? How often do they need to be replaced now?
Manufacturers tout an 80k-100k mile service interval on spark plugs now, thanks in part to improvements in plug design and materials. That might be stretching it, however. Remember that if you have a 100,000-mile spark plug, its electrode is worn down 4/5 of the way at 80,000 miles. A worn ...[more]
Even just a pound or two of underinflation in your tires can be a problem. Why, though? There are several reasons.
Fuel economy: If you ever rode a bicycle with a low tire, you know that it feels like you’re riding through wet cement due to the added rolling resistance. The same thing is happening with your car, and compromising your fuel economy. Over the course of 10,000 miles per year, that can add up to 150 gallons of gas or $500 out of your pocket!
Handling: Low tire pressure means poorer control and longer stopping distances. At high speeds, in particular, this can be downright hazardous.
Premature tire wear: Underinflated tires are under a lot of stress, especially their steel ...[more]
You know that winter and bad weather are coming. Is your car ready? Here’s a quick checklist of things to get up to speed on:
Motor oil: Motor oil has a tendency to thicken in cold weather, making it harder to circulate to upper engine parts at startup. If you haven’t ever used synthetic oil before, this might be a good time to start. The flow properties of synthetic oil are a lot more consistent, meaning it doesn’t thicken in sub-freezing temperatures or thin out when it’s hot outside.
Wipers: Even the best windshield wipers only last about a year. If your wipers are showing cracks or chips or losing strips of rubber, go ahead and replace them. Don’t forget to refill your washer fluid reservoir…you’ ...[more]
At one time, there were only a couple of choices for motor oil. Today, that is no longer the case, and hasn't been for quite some time. Here's a quick breakdown of what you need to consider when it's time for an oil change:
- Viscosity: Viscosity is how thick your oil is, and how it retains its pour properties at various temperatures. In this respect, synthetic oil is far superior. Conventional oils will thicken in cold weather and thin out when very hot, while the viscosity of synthetic is much more uniform. Check your owner's manual -- many newer models require a thinner, lower-viscosity oil, which also helps the engine run more efficiently. Viscosity is expressed as a numerical value -- the lower the number, the thinner the oil. Many are designed to work a ...[more]
When it comes to your car, oil isn't the only thing there's a finite supply of. Rubber has its limits too, and it's estimated by 2020, the supply of natural rubber in the world may be outstripped by demand. And of course, tires require a great deal of oil to produce as well. Tire manufacturers are constantly looking for ways to innovate and conserve resources in tire production. Here are some recent advances:
- Dandelions: Yes, those humble yellow flowers you try to eliminate from your yard. Dandelions actually contain a minute amount of latex in their milky oil, and research shows they can actually produce about as much latex, pound-for-pound, as rubber plants. German scientists have cultivated 1-foot-tall dandelions for just this purpose. This isn't a new development, either -- in WWII, Amer ...[more]
Tires all look sort of the same…round and black…and people tend to think tires don’t change much over the years. That’s really not true, though – engineers and designers are constantly working on advances in tire designs for more miles, better fuel economy and better performance.
Here’s a rundown of current trends in tire technology you may not have been aware of:
- Tall, skinny tires are coming back. If you’ve ever ridden a beach cruiser bike vs. a racing bike, you know that skinny tires have lower rolling resistance. Carmakers are going in that direction, too – the BMW i3 electric/plug-in hybrid uses Bridgestone Ecopia tires, with higher inflation pressure and a taller, skinnier profile. Tall, skinny tires also redu ...[more]
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