Archive for March, 2008

Road Safety Starts with Good Tires

Thursday, March 6th, 2008

Regular auto maintenance is imperative to ensure your car is functioning at its best. While oil changes and seasonal preparation are important, one of the most critical parts of your car to maintain is also something that is often overlooked – the tires.

“The truth is that your driving experience is only as good as the tires on your car. And because your tires are the only thing that come between you and the road, it is important to get the right tires so you get the safest driving experience,” says Rick Brennan, executive at Kumho Tire USA.

High performance tires are a great option to help ensure your safety on the road. Most new cars come equipped with performance tires to match today’s more sophisticated handling packages — heavy-duty suspension systems, anti-lock braking systems, increased load-bearing potential and more. High performance tires not only accommodate driving at higher speeds but also perform more safely, especially in the most challenging conditions: slick, rainy roads; tight cornering; and quick stops. So although they cost a bit more, the tradeoff in increased safety is worth the investment.

“Even if you drive a luxury vehicle, performance tires can be beneficial. A high performance tire can deliver 2 percent better braking in a 60-to-zero situation. It appears to be a small number, but that equals about 5 to 6 feet difference, which could be the difference between an accident or not,” comments Brennan.

Why put off shopping for new tires when they are such a crucial part of your safety while driving? Here are the basics to get you started:

Load Index
Your current tire will have a size stamped on the sidewall. It will look something like: 215/55R16 93V. The “93″ is referred to as your load index followed by a single letter (V) identifying the tire’s speed rating. The load index is the indication of weight the tire can carry safely. It is dangerous to have a load index less than the number that is specified. If you have an improper load index, you could have a blowout.

Speed Rating
A common trade off for a higher speed rating is a less comfortable ride. For instance an “S” speed-rated tire will give a more comfortable ride compared to “H” speed-rated tire, but the “H” will function better at higher speeds. The ride comfort characteristics can be attributed to the tire’s overall stiffness. A tire capable of running at high speeds requires a more stiff construction in order to provide the necessary high speed stability and durability. A dealer will not sell you a lower speed rated tire than what is outlined in your vehicle’s manual. It is a liability and not considered safe.

High Performance Tires
In order to maximize tire handling, the high performance tread widths are wider than a typical tire. This allows maximum contact area with the road surface. The tread pattern incorporates larger tread blocks for increased stiffness that performs well on dry and wet surfaces. The stiffer construction helps when traveling at high speeds and enhances your handling abilities. High performance tires are made with different compounds that help them perform better on the road. High performance tires typically have a speed rating of “H” or higher.

One high performance tire perfect for luxury touring or sports sedans is the Kumho ECSTA LX Platinum. The tire features an asymmetrical tread design, three dimensional waffle sipes, a jointless nylon cap ply, and a 60,000-mile limited tread wear warranty. With exceptional mileage, outstanding ride comfort, low noise levels, exceptional snow traction and outstanding dry and wet handling, this tire was made to keep you safe on the road

New Tire Pressure Monitors Do Not Replace ‘Old’ Tire Gauge

Saturday, March 1st, 2008

Starting last fall with the rollout of 2008 models, all new vehicles are required by federal law to come equipped with tire pressure monitoring systems (TPMS) to give drivers a warning when tire pressure drops significantly.

Accutire MS-4350B Programmable Digital Tire Gauge

Price: $11.99 & eligible for FREE Super Saver Shipping on orders over $25.


* Programmable to allow recording of factory-recommended tire pressure for both front and rear tires
* Reads 5-99 PSI in 0.5 pound units
* Extra large, blue, backlit LCD screen for easy viewing
* Features ergonomic “easy grip” shape
* Comes with five-year manufacturer warranty

However, those new-fangled gadgets are not a replacement for your old-fashioned tire gauge, according to the Rubber Manufacturers Association (RMA), a group that represents tire manufacturers.

Federal law requires every new 2008 model year vehicle to come equipped with a tire pressure monitoring system that will warn a driver when tire pressure drops 25 percent. The Rubber Manufacturers Association, which represents tire manufacturers, says that is no reason to throw away your tire gauge.

“Motorists risk tire damage if they wait to check tires until they see a dashboard warning light after a 25 percent loss of tire pressure,” says Dan Zielinski, RMA senior vice president. “For many vehicles, a pressure loss of less than 25 percent increases risk. That’s why motorists must check tire pressure every month with a tire gauge.”

An RMA survey indicates that tire pressure monitoring systems may cause drivers to become more complacent about tire care. Two-thirds of drivers reported that they would be “less concerned with routinely maintaining” tire pressure if their vehicle had a monitoring system. The federal government estimates that under inflated tires contribute to more than 600 fatalities and 33,000 injuries each year.

Additionally, when asked how often they would check tire pressure if their vehicle were equipped with a tire pressure monitoring system, an alarming 40 percent of drivers said that they would either “never” manually check tire pressure or check it “only when the warning light comes on.”

“Tire pressure monitoring systems can be effective at detecting an unexpected loss of tire pressure,” Zielinski says. “But it is no substitute for regular tire maintenance with a tire gauge.” Tires can lose one to two pounds-per-square inch (PSI) of pressure each month.

RMA recommends that tire pressure be checked at least once per month and before long trips. Motorists should use the vehicle manufacturer’s recommended inflation pressure that is found on a sticker on the driver’s door or in the owner’s manual. Never use the pressure listed on the tire sidewall. Also check tires when they are cold or wait at least three hours after driving on them.