Niagara Gazette

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September 27, 2013

TOM'S CORNER: Selection and maintenance of tires for maximum life

(Continued)

Niagara Gazette — I am frequently asked what distinguishes all-season tires. They have two major characteristics:

A tread design that disperses weather elements (i.e.: rain, snow, mud) out from under the footprint of the tire. If you were to observe a typical all-season tread design under a slow-motion camera, you would see that it performs two functions. It squeegees the road and it pumps water, snow, and slush from under the tire’s footprint, providing maximum tire-to-road traction.

All-season tires are made of a rubber compound that doesn’t freeze in temperatures below the freezing point. This characteristic is essential for the pumping and squeegee actions described above.

The big craze today is plus-sizing tire/wheel combinations. It is commonly referred to as installing “dubs.” A typical dub application might be to go from a 17” tire/wheel combo to a 22” setup. This kind of setup allows you to move to a wider footprint tire with a larger diameter rim. There are two factors to consider when making this kind of a move:

Make sure the new tire is not too wide so that it will clear critical suspension and steering components as well as the body panels. Careful measurement before installation is critical. Measure and re-measure! It could save you lots of dollars!

Make sure the overall diameter of the new tire/wheel combo is very close to the original configuration (ideally, it should be exactly the same). If the change is too drastic, the speedometer and vehicle performance computer is affected. The computer receives critical information from speed sensors and this info is used by the performance computer to work out fuel delivery, ignition, and transmission shift strategy.

Many of you who live in winter climates often ask about snow tire applications. If you want maximum traction in snow, install snow tires at all four corners of the vehicle, giving you maximum traction in all winter conditions. On a front wheel drive vehicle, installing snow tires only on the front will cause the rear end to fish tail when cornering (the rear tires don’t have the bite). On a rear wheel drive vehicle the opposite is true. On four wheel drive vehicles, four snow tires make for sure-footed traction in all winter conditions.

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