Videos and articles designed to help you diagnose and maintain your vehicle.
Tires and Wheels Category
Tire Replacement: What Burnsville Drivers Need to Know
Date: November 13, 2013 12:28 PM - Category: Tires and Wheels
Looking at getting some new tires? The choices at Burnsville tire stores can be a little overwhelming. Suppose you have an SUV and are trying to decide between all season tires or some that are also rated for off-highway. Do you get off the payment on the outskirts of Burnsville more than most? If so, some additional off-road traction would be nice.
Maybe the real reason for wanting those off-highway tires is that they look cool. Well there’s nothing wrong with that. If you make sure that you’ve got your functional needs covered with your selection, then you can have some fun with where you go from there.
Let’s suppose you zip around Burnsville in a sporty car. You may like to run a high-performance summer tire when the weather’s good. When Minnesota weather turns cold, you can put on high-performance winter tires. For the kind of driving you like to do, you want full-on performance tires. All-season tires are naturally a compromise that works well for most Burnsville drivers, but since you have a choice, go for dedicated summer and winter tires.
When it’s time for new tires, visit with a knowledgeable Valley Auto Care tire professional. Describe your needs and wants. He’ll come up with some selections for you to discuss. And once you settle on a type of tire, there are options for special needs: like pulling a trailer or carrying heavy loads.
Tires are one of the biggest purchases for Burnsville drivers. With so many choices, you’ll be able to get what’s best for you. Take their time. And don’t worry about what’s in stock. If you want something that isn’t here at Valley Auto Care, manager Scott Brouwer can order it. Chances are you’ll be rolling on your new tires in a couple of days.
Getting New Tires In Apple Valley?
Date: October 9, 2013 11:20 AM - Category: Tires and Wheels
There are so many tire choices in the Apple Valley, Burnsville, and Rosemount area, selecting the right one can be a bit overwhelming for Apple Valley motorists. And even though it’s kind of fun to have new tires on your car, they’re a significant investment for most Apple Valley folks so you want do it right.
Tip: talk with your experienced Valley Auto Care tire professional. He’ll help you sort through the choices.
Here are some of the issues you’ll talk about: One is size – you know, all those numbers on the side of the tire. The right size is essential. All new vehicles are required to have stability control which, along with other important safety systems, is calibrated to work with specific tire sizes. Your Apple Valley tire professional can help stay within manufacturers' specifications or program a different tire size into your car’s computer.
And you’ll want to discuss how and where you drive in Apple Valley to determine the type of tire you need: summer, winter, all-season tires or all-terrain. There are tires for every Apple Valley auto owner's needs.
Like we said, tires are a big investment, so you want to get a good value on tires. Now that doesn’t always mean the cheapest tire. A top tier tire from Valley Auto Care will last a long time and give Apple Valley motorists good performance throughout its life. Tires sold in Apple Valley bargain tire shops may not live up to that promise. Again, your experienced Valley Auto Care tire professional can give you options that offer the best long-term value within your immediate budget.
Last, with a 2-wheel drive vehicle you should always replace both tires on an axle. Modern sensors and computer safety systems for car brakes, stability and traction control need both tires to have the same amount of wear to work properly. And always put the new tires on the rear so you don’t fishtail in a turn. With all-wheel drive you should replace all four tires at the same time.
Schedule a tire inspection at Valley Auto Care to see how much life is left in your car tires and seek the help of a professional when choosing new shoes for your vehicle.
Give us a call
Valley Auto Care 952-431-2700 7125 151st St. West, Suite 105 Apple Valley, Minnesota 55124
Tire Rotation and Balancing
Date: August 28, 2013 8:45 AM - Category: Tires and Wheels
Tires do a lot of work. They transfer engine power and braking forces to the road; they handle steering control; and they cushion all those bumps and jolts. They also support the entire weight of the vehicle, including you and your passengers. With such critical work to do, you want your tires to do their job well. And since replacing tires is fairly expensive, you want them to last as long as possible.
The front tires on a car take the brunt of the steering forces. As they push through turns, the shoulders of the front tires wear down more quickly than the rear tires. Rotating front and rear tires allows them to all wear at about the same rate. That’s especially true of front wheel drive vehicles whose front tires steer, and put the power to the road.
SUVs and pick-ups, especially four wheel drives, also tend to wear their tires more unevenly than cars because of their suspension and drive train set-up. Your owner’s manual will likely contain a schedule for tire rotation. It’s usually every 5,000 miles or so.
Also, there are different rotation patterns for different vehicles. Valley Auto Care will know which is right for your vehicle. That brings us to wheel balancing. When wheels are balanced, they spin on the axle evenly. When they are out of balance, they wobble a bit. That makes the tires wear unevenly and may transmit a vibration to the car. Your service technician at Valley Auto Care puts weights on your wheels to balance them out so that they turn true and smooth.
Tires are a big investment for any vehicle. They’re critical for keeping you safely on the road. The cost for regular rotation and balancing is more than made up in extended tire life. And, can you really put a price on your safety and that of your passengers?
Valley Auto Care Tire Safety: Washington vs. Lincoln
Date: July 12, 2013 2:00 PM - Category: Tires and Wheels
Welcome to the Valley Auto Care automotive blog. Today, let’s talk about the effect of tire tread depth on braking. When talking about stopping power, most Apple Valley and Rosemount car owners tend to focus on our brakes. But our tires are where the rubber meets the road. So having good brakes isn’t enough. Safe Rosemount drivers need to have tires with enough traction to translate braking power into stopping power.
Let’s focus on stopping in wet Rosemount conditions. In order for a tire to have good contact with the road, it has to move the water out of the way. If it can’t move the water, the tire will actually ride on top of a thin film of water.
That’s called hydroplaning. If it’s really bad, Rosemount car owners can actually spin out of control - endangering themselves and the other drivers around them. At best, you won’t stop as fast.
So how does a tire move water? It has channels for water to flow through. Look at your car tire and you’ll see channels: channels that run around the tire and channels that flow across the tire. They’re designed to direct water away from the tire so it can contact the road better.
And the deeper the channel, the more water it can move. A brand new Valley Auto Care tire has very deep channels and can easily move a lot of water. As the tire wears down, the channels become shallower and can move less water. When it wears down enough, it can seriously affect your ability to stop your car on wet Rosemount roads.
So that’s why it’s so important for Minnesota car owners to replace their car tires when they get worn. Consumer Reports and other advocate groups call for a standard of 3/32 of an inch and they have the studies to prove it.
By comparison, you’ve probably seen the wear indicator that’s molded into tires. When tires are worn 3/32 of an inch, the tread wear bar is visible. So the recommended standard has twice the tread depth as a completely bald car tire.
At Valley Auto Care, we want our customers to know that the deeper recommended tread depth makes a big difference. Stopping distances are cut dramatically on wet Rosemount freeway. A safe stop from Minnesota freeway speeds with 4/32 of an inch of tread would result in a crash with worn out tires.
There’s an easy way to tell when a tire’s worn to 4/32 of an inch. Just insert a quarter into the tread. Put it in upside down. If the tread doesn’t cover George Washington’s hairline, it’s time to replace your car tires. With a Canadian quarter, the tread should cover the numbers in the year stamp.
Many Rosemount car owners have heard of this technique using a penny and Abe Lincoln’s head - the old method. That measure gives you 2/32 of an inch – half the suggested amount. Of course, car tires are a major purchase. Most of us in Rosemount want to get as many miles out of them as we can. But there’s a real safety trade-off. It’s your choice.
Fuel Saving Tip: Tire Pressure Saves Fuel In Apple Valley
Date: April 17, 2013 12:48 PM - Category: Tires and Wheels
Under-inflated tires waste gas for lots of folks in the Apple Valley area. Think how hard it is to walk in sand – you just have to work harder because of the resistance. When your tires don't have enough air in them, their rolling resistance is dramatically increased and it simply takes more gas to get from Apple Valley to Apple Valley.
Always check your tire pressure when you gas up at one of our local Apple Valley service stations. If they're low – even just a little bit – bring them up to proper pressure. There's a sticker on the inside of your driver's door that gives the manufacturer's recommended tire pressure.
And don't rely on your tire pressure monitoring system to alert you to when you need more air. The TPMS system is set to warn you when pressure drops twenty percent below recommendations. That's severely under inflated and you needed more air a long time ago. And if you have a slow leak – get it fixed right away at Valley Auto Care.
Get some air and save some gas.
Date: March 26, 2013 1:54 PM - Category: Tires and Wheels
Let me start by saying that your wheel bearings keep the wheels on your vehicle. Did that get your attention? In this article we’ll discuss more about wheel bearings and how you can keep them doing their very important job while you drive around Apple Valley Minnesota.
Come see us at: 7125 151st St. West, Suite 105 Apple Valley, Minnesota 55124
Wheel bearings are pretty simple parts. They’re made of high quality steel and are engineered to last 100,000 miles or more if properly cared for. The bearings do two very important jobs: First they allow the wheel to freely rotate with as little friction as possible. Second, they support the weight of the vehicle. For example, if your car weighs 3,600 pounds, each wheel has to support approximately 900 pounds. That’s a lot of heavy lifting over many, many thousands of miles.
Even though wheel bearings are relatively simple, they need to be in near perfect condition to do their job. The bearings are packed with heavy grease to lubricate and protect them. A seal keeps the grease in and water and dirt out. It’s when the seal starts to leak that problems begin. The grease can become contaminated; causing the wheel bearings to overheat and ultimately fail.
The first sign that your wheel bearings are in trouble is an unusual noise coming from a wheel. It could be a chirping, growling, rumbling or a cyclic sound. The noise could get louder or even disappear at certain speeds. Your technician at Valley Auto Care can inspect for bearing wear by lifting the vehicle and checking for play in the wheel.
Now some wheel bearing assemblies are factory sealed. That means that they cannot be serviced – they can only be replaced. Those that aren’t sealed can be serviced on schedule. The bearings are removed, cleaned and inspected. If the bearings are still good, they’re re-installed – if not, they’re replaced. They are then packed in grease and a new seal is installed.
If your vehicle has a factory sealed wheel bearing assembly, the entire assembly needs to be replaced when trouble arises. Unfortunately, the parts are pretty pricy – but they usually last about 150,000 miles as long as the seals hold up.
Now, even a good seal cannot keep out water that’s exerting pressure on the seal. So if you’ve driven through hub deep water your bearings should be cleaned and repacked if they’re serviceable. If you have factory sealed bearings, you just need to watch for signs of premature failure.
If your wheel bearings can be serviced, your owner’s manual will recommend an interval, usually around 30,000 miles.
Now, if you have any sort of trailer, don’t forget its wheel bearings. They probably need to be serviced even more frequently. This is especially true for boat trailers that are used to launch the boat by backing it into the water. These should be serviced every year, usually at the end of the season so that the bearings don’t have the opportunity to sit and rust all winter.
So what happens if wheel bearings fail? Well, the wheel can literally fall off the vehicle. I don’t need to tell you how bad that could be. So check with your service advisor at Valley Auto Care and see if your vehicle’s wheel bearings can be serviced and when it’s recommended. Listen for warning signs. If you’ve been fording streams or puddle surfing after rainstorms, be especially vigilant.
Come by Valley Auto Care for a wheel bearing inspection, or for Tires. Call for an appointment at 952-431-2700
When Are Your Tires Worn Out?
Date: January 15, 2013 2:20 PM - Category: Tires and Wheels
Hey Apple Valley, are your tires worn out? What is the standard for our Minnesota streets? How can you tell on your car?
While there may be legal requirements for the Apple Valley area, there are safety concerns that go beyond meeting minimum replacement mandates.
2/32 is the depth of the tire tread wear indicator bars that US law has required to be molded across all tires since August 1, 1968. When tires are worn so that this bar is visible, there's just 2/32 of an inch – 1.6 millimeters – of tread left. It's that level of wear that's been called into question recently.
We're referring to the Consumer Reports call to consider replacing tires when tread reaches 4/32 of an inch, or 3.2 millimeters. And the recommendation is backed by some very compelling studies.
The issue is braking on wet surfaces in and around Apple Valley. Most of us think of our brakes doing most of the work, but if you don't have enough tread on your tires, the brakes can't do their job. When it's wet or snowy, the tread of the tire is even more critical to stopping power.
Picture this: you're driving over a water covered stretch of road near Apple Valley, Minnesota. Your tires must be in contact with the road in order to stop. That means that the tire has to move the water away from the tire so that the tire is actually contacting the road and not floating on a thin film of water.
Floating on the surface of water is called hydroplaning. So if there's not enough tread depth on a tire, it can't move the water out of the way and you start to hydroplane.
In the study a section of a test track was flooded with a thin layer of water. If you laid a dime on the track, the water would be deep enough to surround the coin, but not enough to cover it.
A car and a full-sized pick-up were brought up to 70 miles per hour, or 112 kilometers an hour and then made a hard stop in the wet test area. Stopping distance and time were measured for three different tire depths:
New tire tread depth
4/32 of an inch
2/32 of an inch
So what happened with the 2/32 tires on the car? Get this – when the car had traveled the distance required to stop with new tires, it was still going 55 miles an hour. Stopping distance was nearly doubled to 379 feet and it took 5.9 seconds.
Wow! That means if you barely have room to stop with new tires, you would hit the car in front of you at 55 miles an hour with the worn tires.
Now, with the partially worn tires – at 4/32 of an inch – the car was still going at 45 miles an hour at the point where new tires brought the car to a halt. It took nearly 100 feet more room to stop and 1.2 seconds longer. That's a big improvement. We can see why Consumer Reports and others are calling for a new standard.
Of course, stopping distances were greater for the heavier pick-up truck.
How do you know when your tires are at 4/32 of an inch? Easy; just insert a quarter into the tread. Put it in upside down. If the tread doesn't cover George Washington's hairline, it's time to replace your tires. With a Canadian quarter, the tread should cover the numbers in the year stamp.
You may remember doing that with pennies. A penny gives you 2/32 to Abraham Lincoln's head. The quarter is the new recommendation – 4/32.
How do people feel about replacing their tires earlier? Well, tires are a big ticket item and most people want to get the most wear out of them that they can. But do you want that much more risk just to run your tires until they are legally worn out?
For us, and we would guess for many, the answer is "no".
Valley Auto Care 7125 151st St. West, Suite 105 Apple Valley, Minnesota 55124 952-431-2700
Date: October 17, 2012 12:21 PM - Category: Tires and Wheels
You know you need new tires, but you're not sure what type. You look at a tire to get the size: 225, 50, R, 16, 92, H. All the way to the service center you keep repeating it over and over. You even say it over in your mind while waiting in line. Then you get to the counter and the manager asks what size you need. Then your mind goes blank.
Tire size can be confusing. There's so much on the side of the tire, and it's hard to keep straight.
Even though there's a lot on a tire - if you know what it all means, it's actually more helpful than confusing. Let's start with the size number.
For example, let's say a tire reads: 225 50 R 16 92 H. The 225 part is the width of the tire in millimeters - the width between the sidewalls of an inflated tire with no load. The 50 is the aspect ratio - the ratio of the sidewall height to the tread width. Off-road tires will have a higher number and high performance tires will have a lower number.
The R signifies it's a radial tire. And 16 is the rim or wheel size in inches.
The 92 is the load rating index - it's the load carrying capacity of a tire. The higher the number, the more it can safely carry. Your empty vehicle can be safe with a lower number, but you'll need a higher rating if you routinely haul heavy loads. The next letter is the speed rating. Not all tires are speed rated. The ratings generally follow the alphabet: the further up the alphabet, the higher the speed rating - with the exception of H - it comes between U and V (don't ask why).
There's a lot of fine print that you probably need a magnifying glass to read. But there are a couple of other large print items of interest. One is the tread type: highway, mud and snow, all season, severe snow, etc.
And then there're the Uniform Tire Quality Grading System markings. The first is a tread wear index. 100 is the base line - a lower number is poorer and a higher number is better. All things being equal, a tire rated 200 would wear twice as long, on a government test track, than one rated at 100. These wear grades are only valid within a manufacturer's product line - you can't compare with other manufacturers. And it's important to note that a lower rating might be just what you want - a high performance, sticky tire has a softer rubber compound and won't wear as long, but boy, will it take those corners.
The next is a traction grade. This measures the tire's ability to stop on wet pavement in government tests. A - the best, B - intermediate, C - acceptable.
Temperature grade measures a tire's resistance to heat build up in government tests. A, B and C - from best to acceptable.
It's safe to go with the original equipment recommendations that came on your car. But if you want to make adjustments, you'll now be better equipped to communicate with your tire professional.
Saving Lives In Apple Valley With Tire Pressure
Date: July 26, 2012 1:43 PM - Category: Tires and Wheels
All new passenger vehicles on our Apple Valley Minnesota roads now have tire pressure monitoring systems – TPMS for short. They are designed to alert you if your tires are under inflated. Since they are fairly new, a lot of people have questions about TPMS.
First off, the most important thing is that you still need to check your tire pressure every week – or at least every time you gas up. The TPMS system alert comes in when your tire is twenty percent below the factory recommendation. So if the recommended pressure is thirty five pounds per square inch, the TPMS warning won't come on until the pressure is at twenty eight pounds. That's significantly under-inflated. Enough to raise safety concerns.
The worst is tire failure. A severely under inflated tire can overheat and fail. Also, handling degrades to the point that you may not be able to steer out of trouble. Also under-inflated tires wear out faster and they waste fuel. So it's costly to not stay on top of proper inflation.
What's the practical value of the TPMS system? Well, it's twofold. First, it can alert you when your tire is losing pressure due to a puncture or a bent rim. That's an important warning that you might not have gotten until next time you gassed up.
The second is that we all occasionally forget to check our tire pressure. So it's a failsafe system to let you know there's a problem brewing.
Other things can cause your TPMS system to go off. The system also monitors itself. The sensors that are mounted in the wheels have little batteries that send a signal to the monitor. The batteries go dead over time and the TPMS system will let you know. And the sensors could break. Also road salt from our Apple Valley Minnesota roads can ruin them.
There's also a hassle factor that your Apple Valley Minnesota tire center has to contend with. For example, when you have your tires rotated in Apple Valley, the TPMS system has to be re-calibrated so that it knows which tire is on which corner of the car. Same is true for when you have new tires or winter tires installed. Flat repairs, as well.
That takes extra time. And it requires the right equipment and training. Special – and expensive – tire change machines need to be used with some sensors. It's all complicated by the fact that there are a number of different TPMS systems in use so the tire professionals at Valley Auto Care need equipment and training for each kind. Tire centers have had to raise the price of some of these basic services to offset their increased costs.
Also if you add custom wheels on your car, you need to put in new TPMS sensors if your originals won't work on the new rims. If you don't your TPMS light will be on constantly and you won't have the benefit of the warning system.
All in all, the mandated TPMS systems will save lives, so they're worth the added hassle and expense.
Buying the Right Tires and Wheels In Apple Valley Minnesota
Date: December 9, 2011 3:01 PM - Category: Tires and Wheels
Everyone in Apple Valley Minnesota eventually replaces their tires, whether it's because they're worn out or they're just looking for something different. There are so many great tire choices in Apple Valley Minnesota, it can be difficult to sort them out. Let's group the broad spectrum into several categories that will help in the selection process.
One category is often referred to as "summer tires". Summer tires are designed to be driven on the road when temperatures are generally above 45 degrees. Their tread design is optimized for traction on dry roads in Apple Valley Minnesota and they're also able to effectively displace water on rainy roads.
Now the rubber compound gets a little hard and stiff as temperatures drop below 45 degrees as it occasionally does here in Apple Valley Minnesota. And the tread which handles dry roads so well, can get packed with snow or mud – which provides very little traction in those conditions.
So if you live where its summer all year round, these tires will work well for you. If you like maximum performance in warm weather, but still live where it gets cold and snowy, you'll want to change your summer tires for winter tires as the weather starts to change.
Summer tires can be purchased with an emphasis on handling performance, smooth ride or long life. Your Apple Valley Minnesota tire professional at Valley Auto Care can help you find the right tire for the way you drive.
As you can imagine, winter tires are designed to work very well in snow and ice. Their tread is designed with many channels and grooves that throw the snow out of the tread as the wheel turns. This means the tire is always be able to bite into the snow.
The rubber compound used in winter tires is specially formulated to be flexible at temperatures below 45 degrees. This maximizes cold weather traction. When it gets warmer, the softer rubber will wear faster on warm dry pavement than summer tires, so change them out once the weather has turned.
There's a range of tires within the winter tire category. If you live where there's a lot of snow and ice, look for the mountain and snowflake icon that signifies a severe snow rating. If you have milder winters and still want a performance component, they make a winter tire for you as well.
For many people, an all-season tire is the answer. You will give up some of the performance at the extreme ends of the summer tire/ winter tire spectrum, but you will find a long wearing tire that gives both good highway performance and winter traction on our Apple Valley Minnesota roads.
Within the all-season category, there are many choices that you tire advisor can help you evaluate.
Valley Auto Care 7125 151st St. West, Suite 105 Apple Valley, Minnesota 55124 952-431-2700
Outside of these three main categories, some people in Apple Valley with trucks and SUVs like a tire that is designed for both on-highway and off-highway use. They can handle the rocks and bumps off-road, but still work well on the street. Again, many options depending on the relative emphasis on on-road verses off-road.
You may want new wheels to go with your new tires – well, there are hundreds and hundreds of styles to choose from. That's a matter of personal taste. If you want to change the size of your wheels and tires, do get some professional help.
The computers on your vehicle are programmed to the size of wheel and tire combination that comes from the factory. Tire size affects various computer controlled functions like anti-lock brakes, traction and stability controls, speedometer and odometer. Of course, you want these systems to work properly. The computers can be re-programmed for different tire sizes.
And if you want to increase the size of your wheels and tires, you'll want so help to make sure they'll fit in the wheel wells of your vehicle without rubbing during turns or over bumps.
Upsizing Wheels and Tires With Valley Auto Care
Date: October 12, 2011 2:56 PM - Category: Tires and Wheels
At AutoNetTV we love doughnuts. So let's pretend you have three doughnuts right in front of your for our discussion of upsizing wheels and tires. Hey, don't eat them now - your going to need them later.
Many people want to accessorize their car - you know, make it theirs. One of the easiest ways to get a custom look is to get some new wheels. There are thousands of wheel designs out there to get you the look you want. And for many, that look includes bigger wheels. It used to be that cars came from the factory with 15 or 16 inch wheels. Now 16, 17 and even 18 inchers are standard. And the factories are offering optional wheel packages up to 20 inches or more.
Come in to Valley Auto Care to learn more about how you might upsize your wheels or tires. You'll find us at 7125 151st St. West, Suite 105 in Apple Valley, Minnesota 55124.
So let's talk about what to consider when you want to upsize your wheels. It's not exactly a do it yourself project, so you need to know a thing or two before you get started. The most important term to know is rolling diameter. The rolling diameter is simply the overall height of your tire. Unless you want to modify your suspension, you'll want to keep your rolling diameter the same when you upsize your wheels.
Let's think about those three golden doughnuts in front of you. They're all about the same size. So if we pretend they're tires, they would have the same rolling diameter. The doughnut hole is the size of the wheel. Now pretend we've made the hole bigger on some. That's like having a bigger wheel - but the rolling diameter is the same.
It's important to keep the rolling diameter the same for several reasons. First of all, if the tire is bigger, it might not fit in the wheel well. Next the speedometer, odometer and anti-lock brake system are all calibrated for the factory rolling diameter. In order for your anti-lock brakes to work properly, the rolling diameter must stay within 3% of the factory recommendation. If you ignore that, you run the risk that your anti-lock brakes won't work properly.
Some cars today have electronically controlled suspension that will be negatively affected by changing the rolling diameter. Let's think about the doughnuts again. You see, as the size of the wheel gets bigger, the sidewall gets shorter. The tire holds less air, so the sidewalls are made stiffer to compensate.
Low profile tires from top manufacturers use special compounds that give the sidewall the strength it needs without compromising ride quality. As you increase your wheel size, you'll typically get a slightly wider tire. This means that you have a larger contact patch. The contact patch is part of the tire that contacts the road. Because there's more rubber on the road, the vehicle will handle better. And braking distances will be shorter. A lot of people with trucks or SUV's love the extra control.
You do have to watch out that the contact patch isn't so big that the tires rub in turns or over bumps. What we're talking about here is fitment. Your tire professional at Valley Auto Care can help you get this right. He'll install your new wheels, add spacers if needed to make sure your brakes fit inside your new wheels, and get you rolling.
Also, if you drive off-road a lot, you may need a higher profile tire to protect your new rims. And make sure your new tires have the load rating you need if you tow a trailer or haul heavy loads. Again, your tire professional at Valley Auto Care knows how to help.
And don't forget about tire pressure. If you have larger rims, your new tires will hold less air and they'll need to run a slightly higher pressure. Forget that and you'll wear your tires out fast. Finally, get an alignment after you get your new shoes. AutoNetTV wants you to safely have the look you want.
Tire Tread Depth for Apple Valley Minnesota
Date: September 2, 2011 10:54 AM - Category: Tires and Wheels
So, when are your tires actually worn out? This is a question a lot of us in Apple Valley Minnesota ask ourselves. For many, the answer is 'when they no longer pass a safety inspection'. But waiting that long can have a serious impact on your safety.
The U.S. Federal government doesn’t have any laws for tread depth, but 42 of the states, and all of Canada, do have regulations. They consider two-thirty-seconds of an inch to be the minimum legal tread depth. Two other states, including California, consider one-thirty-second to be the minimum and six states have no standards at all. Call us at Valley Auto Care (just call 952-431-2700) to find out what your requirements are in the Apple Valley Minnesota area.
Since 1968, U.S. law has required that a raised bar be molded across all tires. When tires are worn enough that this bar becomes visible, there’s just 2/32” of tread left. But does that older standard give you enough safety?
Well, Consumer Reports issued a call to consider replacing tires when tread reaches 4/32”. And the recommendation is backed by some very compelling studies. Now before we go into the studies, you need to know that the big issue is braking on wet surfaces.
We tend to think of the brakes doing all the stopping, but you also need to have effective tires to actually stop the car. When it’s wet or snowy in Apple Valley Minnesota, the tread of the tire is critical to stopping power.
Picture this: you’re driving over a water-covered stretch of road. Your tires actually need to be in contact with the road in order to stop. That means the tire has to channel the water away so the tire is actually contacting the road and not floating on a thin film of water – a condition known as hydroplaning. When there’s not enough tread depth on a tire, it can’t move the water out of the way and you start to hydroplane.
This is where the studies come in. We think you’ll be surprised. A section of a test track was flooded with a thin layer of water. If you laid a dime flat on the track, the water would be deep enough to surround the coin, but not enough to cover it.
A car and a full-sized pick-up truck were brought up to 70 mph and then made a hard stop in the wet test area. Stopping distance and time were measured for three different tire depths. First, they tested new tires. Then tires worn to legal limits. And finally, tires with 4/32” of tread were tested – this is the depth suggested by Consumer Reports
When the car with the legally worn tires had braked for the distance required to stop the car with new tires, it was still going 55 mph. The stopping distance was nearly doubled. That means if you barely have room to stop with new tires, then you would hit the car in front of you at 55 mph with the worn tires.
Now with the partially worn tires – at the depth recommended by Consumer Reports – the car was still going at 45 mph at the point where new tires brought the car to a halt. That’s a big improvement – you can see why Consumer Reports and others are calling for a new standard.
Now without going into all the details, let us tell you that stopping the truck with worn tires needed almost 1/10 of a mile of clear road ahead to come to a safe stop. Obviously this is really a big safety issue.
The tests were conducted with the same vehicles, but with different sets of tires. The brakes were the same, so the only variable, was the tires.
So, how do you know when your tires are at 4/32”? Well, it’s pretty easy. Just insert a quarter into the tread. Put it in upside down. If the tread doesn’t cover George Washington’s hairline, it’s time to replace your tires. With a Canadian quarter, the tread should cover the numbers in the year stamp.
Now you may remember doing that with pennies. But a penny gives you 2/32” of an inch to Abraham Lincoln’s head. The quarter is the new standard – 4/32”.
Tires are a big ticket item and most people in Apple Valley Minnesota want to get the most wear out of them that they can. But do you want that much more risk just to run your tires until they are legally worn out? For us, and we would guess for many, the answer is “no”.
Well, Mr. Washington, let’s go out and look at my tires.
Valley Auto Care 7125 151st St. West, Suite 105 Apple Valley, Minnesota 55124 952-431-2700
The Fallacy of Cheap Tires
Date: July 28, 2011 2:41 PM - Category: Tires and Wheels
Do you ever shop for shoes in one of our Apple Valley area shoe stores? When buying a running shoe, is quality important? Does durability matter as long as the shoes look fabulous? Would you rather have one pair of long lasting shoes or two pair of lower quality shoes at the same price?
Is the warranty important when buying tires?
When you choose new tires in Apple Valley, what's the most important factor for you?
Give us a call at Valley Auto Care at 952-431-2700 for tire recommendations.
You know, buying tires in Apple Valley is a big deal. It's a big ticket item so you know you'll be spending a lot. You're not only concerned about the price, but you want to know that it'll be a long time before you need to buy new tires again.
And of course there's the safety aspect as well. The tires do a lot of work – they carry the weight of the vehicle and you and your passengers. They need to be up to the task. You want to be sure they hold the road and provide good traction. If you carry heavy loads or tow a trailer, the tires need a high load rating to be up for the job.
As a tire professional, I think it's important that people understand the effect of price on a tire's performance and durability. When I was a kid, my dad had a saying. He said, "Pay twice as much and buy half as many".
Dad applied that to a lot of things. He thought that one high quality suit would last longer and look better than two cheap suits. The saying really seems to hold true when it comes to shoes and boots, too.
I buy high-quality work shoes because I spend a lot of time on my feet. They're more comfortable, have important safety features like steel toes and non-slip soles – and they last at least twice as long as cheap shoes. I feel I get very good value for my money.
I apply the same thinking to tires. The major tire brands that you're familiar with are known as Tier 1 tires. These tires are well-engineered and very high quality. Comparable tires are usually in the same price range from brand to brand.
Stepping down in price you come to private label tires. Some large tire store chains carry tires with the chain's own brand. It's important to know that most private label tires are built by the same Tier 1 brands that you are familiar with – so they are a quality product. You can ask your tire professional who makes their private brand.
The lowest priced tires on the market are Tier 3 tires. These tend to be imported from China or South America. Since you get what you pay for, you can't expect a Tier 3 tire to deliver the same performance and durability as the others.
So let's say you need new tires. You've determined the features you need. So you have several options, including price options. Now, you've probably heard the term 'it's a 40 thousand mile tire' or 'it's a 60 thousand mile tire'. Simply put, the manufacturer warrantees the tire for 'X' number of miles. If that's important to you, look for the warranty.
What's the difference in the tires with higher mileage warranties? It's the rubber compounds and the amount of tread material. As you might expect, you'll pay more for the longer-lasting tire.
Now the cheapest tires you can find won't have a manufacturer's mileage warranty or if it does, it'll be relatively low. That brings us back to dad's saying; if you buy the cheapest Tier 3 tire you can, you will likely go through two sets in the time it would take to wear out one set of good quality tires. And the good tires won't cost twice as much, so you'll end up paying more per mile driven with the cheap tires.
Hey, I realize that sometimes the budget will only allow for a Tier 3 tire. I make them available for my customers who need them because I would rather see them driving with safe, new tires than pushing their old tires beyond their safety limits. But I always counsel my customers to buy as much tire as they can afford, because it will be much less expensive in the long run.
Your tires are the only part of your vehicle that touch the road. You're only as safe as your tires are well built.
Buy value – not price.
Nitrogen Fill For Tires in Apple Valley Minnesota
Date: May 31, 2011 12:29 PM - Category: Tires and Wheels
So, everyone in the Apple Valley Minnesota area knows how great helium is – you know, party balloons, squeaky voices. But a lot of people around Apple Valley still haven't heard about the benefits of nitrogen in your tires, and how it can help your tires. Here's some great advice from AutoNetTV, brought to you by Valley Auto Care.
Nitrogen has actually been around for a long time in the Apple Valley Minnesota commercial sector, but it's just starting to catch on for private vehicles in the 55124 zip code area.
Why nitrogen in your tires? Air is air, right? Actually, it turns out there is a difference.
Contact Valley Auto Care to learn more about nitrogen in your tires You can find us at: 7125 151st St. West, Suite 105 Apple Valley, Minnesota 55124 Or call us at 952-431-2700
The heart of the matter is maintaining proper tire inflation. When your tires are properly inflated, they last longer, handle better and more safely, and save you money at the gas pump.
The problem is that tires filled in Apple Valley with regular air can lose a pound and a half of air pressure every month. This just happens as the oxygen in the tire seeps out. So if you don't check your pressure for a month or two, well, you can be significantly low – low enough to actually affect your handling, shorten tire life and waste money at the fuel pump.
How does nitrogen help? Regular air contains about 78% nitrogen. Nitrogen is the largest molecule in air. It's dry and non-flammable. Air also contains 21% oxygen, which is smaller and seeps out of the tire three to four times faster than nitrogen.
So, a tire filled with nitrogen at Valley Auto Care will take about six months to lose as much pressure as regular air does in just one month. So it's more forgiving for those who don't check their pressure every week.
Also, when oxygen is at higher temperatures – like those inside your tire when you've been driving for awhile – it oxidizes the inside of your tire. Getting the oxygen out of your tire means that it'll last longer.
Who's using nitrogen? Well, let's start with NASCAR and Indy. These racers like nitrogen's ability to maintain consistent tire pressure and reduce tire temperatures under very demanding conditions. The US government requires all commercial aircraft to have nitrogen in their tires. NASA and the US Military use nitrogen. The mining industry has been filling those "humongous" tires with nitrogen for years. And semi trucks and trailers are starting to use nitrogen extensively.
You may have heard some detractors of nitrogen. But the studies and white papers from tire and vehicle manufacturers demonstrate that the technology really works.
In fact, a prominent consumer research group did a study where they filled some tires with air and some with nitrogen and stacked them outside for a year. They observed that the nitrogen filled tires did hold their pressure better, but they couldn't see the economic benefit. But that particular test has very little to do with the real world. Most tires are actually holding up cars and they also get driven around and do a lot of work. So if nitrogen helps them last longer, saves gas and gives safer handling, it's worth considering.
Date: May 13, 2011 10:02 AM - Category: Tires and Wheels
We all know that under inflated tires wear out more quickly. Under-inflation is also a major cause of tire failure. More flats, blow outs, skids and longer stopping distances are all results of under-inflated tires.
It's hard to tell when a radial tire is under-inflated. If your manufacturer recommends 35 pounds of pressure, your tire is considered significantly under inflated at 26 pounds. The tire may not look low until it gets below 20 pounds.
Uncle Sam to the rescue! A new federal law requires manufacturers to include a Tire Pressure Monitoring System - or TPMS system - in all vehicles by the 2008 model year.
Some 2006 and 2007 models already have TPMS. The system is a dashboard mounted warning light that goes off if one or more of the tires falls 25 % below the manufacturer's pressure recommendations.
The law covers all passenger cars, SUVs, mini vans and pick up trucks. The system must also indicate if it has a malfunction. This technology has been used by race cars for years. They are able to head off problems from under inflation by closely monitoring tire pressure on the track. It's up to your car's manufacturer to determine which of many TPMS systems available they'll use to comply with the law.
Obviously, all of this doesn't come free. Government studies have estimated the net costs. Of course, the TPMS system itself will cost something. Maintaining the system will have a cost, replacement of worn or broken parts and tire repair cost increases. The net cost is estimated to be between $27 and $100.
The costs are partially offset by savings in fuel and tread wear. There is also a saving in property damage and travel delay. Also, the government predicts fewer fatal accidents. They estimate there will be between $3,000,000 to $9,000,000 for every life saved.
Your safety has always been a concern of your service center. They want you on the road and accident free. They've traditionally provided things like tire rotations, snow tire mounting and flat fixes at a very low cost. They've been able to quickly and cheaply provide the service, and they pass the low cost on to you as an expression of their good will. That's why they're concerned about how you'll perceive the changes that this new law will force.
Every time a tire is changed: taken off to fix a flat, a new tire installed, or a snow tire mounted, the service technician is now going to have to deal with the TPMS system. Sensors will need to be removed and reinstalled. The sensors will have to be re-activated after the change. And, unfortunately, the very act of changing the tire will damage some sensor parts from time to time - it's inevitable and can't be avoided.
Even a simple tire rotation will require that the monitor be reprogrammed to the new location of each tire. When a car battery is disconnected, the TPMS system will need to be reprogrammed. TPMS sensor batteries will need to be changed and failed parts replaced.
And the service centers themselves will need to purchase new scanning equipment to work with the TPMS sensors and to update expensive tire change equipment to better service wheels equipped with the new monitoring systems.
Service technicians will have to be trained on many systems and new tire-changing techniques. All of this adds up to significantly increased cost to the service center to perform what was once a very inexpensive service for you. So when you start so see the cost of tire changes, flat repairs and rotations going up, please keep in mind that it's because of government mandated safety equipment. Your service center just wants to keep you safely on the road - and it's committed to do so at a fair price. The effects of the new law will take some time to sort out, but it will help you avoid the most common vehicle failure, and possibly a catastrophic accident.
Custom Wheels and Tires
Date: April 15, 2011 10:30 AM - Category: Tires and Wheels
It seems like everywhere you go around Apple Valley you see custom wheels. Big trucks, little cars, mini-vans - it doesn't matter, people are expressing themselves with custom wheels. Some people want smaller tires and wheels - some want larger - and some want them enormous. So where do you start if you want new wheels? We suggest you start with your budget. We know, that sounds so practical. But if the look you're after goes beyond just new tires and wheels and enters into the world of suspension modifications, you need to be prepared for the additional cost.
Let's start with something easy - you want to give your ride a unique look and the stock wheel size is just right for you. One of the concerns you will have is that the new wheels have the same offset as your factory wheels.
First, what is offset? The wheel bolts onto the hub on the car's axel. The distance from the inside edge of the wheel to the point at which it bolts on, is the offset. If the new wheel has a different offset from the factory, the tires may rub on the inside or outside of the wheel well. That could lead to catastrophic tire failure.
Your Apple Valley tire and wheel professional can help you find the right size wheel - or install adapters to make your new wheels fit. All you have to do is pick from the hundreds of styles available.
So, what if you want to upsize? Well, if it is just bigger wheels you want, but you want to keep the same overall tire diameter, that's pretty easy. The same offset concerns apply. You need to know that the tires will likely be a little bit wider than the originals and could rub when you make sharp turns. A tire professional at Valley Auto Care can help you avoid this.
It is also important to keep the same overall tire diameter because changing the rolling diameter can mess with your anti-lock brakes and stability control systems. Are you starting to see why you want to consult with a tire and wheel expert? Is "super-size me" your motto? If it is, you are going to have to lift your vehicle to make room for those huge tires. A mild lift doesn't require extensive modifications. An extreme lift means a lot of new hardware under the vehicle. It also means a lot of stock electronic systems need to be recalibrated to the new tire size. For example, your speedometer and odometer will give false readings if they aren't recalibrated.
You should also be aware of possible performance issues. Bigger tires and wheels weigh more. Experts refer to this as unsprung weight because it isn't held up by your suspension system. Increased unsprung weight affects performance in different ways than an equivalent amount of groceries or little soccer players in the passenger compartment. Acceleration is negatively affected. Stopping distances may also be increased - sometimes dramatically. If you want really big tires and wheels, you might need to upgrade your brakes to compensate.
Heading the other direction, some folks like to run smaller than standard wheels and lower the suspension. All of the same fitment issues still apply as well as calibration issues. Don't think that suspension modifications are a bad thing. Many systems actually improve ride, function and performance over the stock set-up.
Regardless of your budget, you want your vehicle to continue to do all the things you need it to do. Some of those show cars and trucks you see on TV look fantastic, but have been modified in ways that may not suit your needs. For example, if you put large rims on your SUV with low profile tires, you may be in for busted rims if you go off-roading a lot. There just isn't enough sidewall to absorb the impact of thumping over rocks.
Some people stuff the largest tires and wheels possible in their vehicles but have to severely restrict suspension travel so that the tires aren't rubbing all day. That can lead to a very harsh ride. Again, talk with your Apple Valley wheel professional about all of these things: how you drive, what look you are going for, your budget and what compromises you are willing to make.
At the end of the day, you're going to be rollin' out of there with one sweet ride.
Selecting New Tires and Wheels
Date: February 22, 2011 2:25 PM - Category: Tires and Wheels
Some of us just love tires. All those little rubber hairs on new tires and the smell is wonderful. We live in a great time for tires. No matter how you drive, where you want to go or the look you're after; there is a tire for you.
The same is true about wheels. The hardest part is choosing from the thousands of wheels available.
We may not be able to help with that, but we can help you get some things in mind before you consult with your Apple Valley tire professional. Let's start with function and think about how you drive.
For example, maybe you have a large SUV but you don't drive off-road, so an off-road tread isn't important. Also, because you are not out bouncing over rocks in the Minnesota backcountry, you don't need a high profile tire to protect your rims. So that means you can probably go with the low-wide look.
If you have a winter season with rain and snow or if you find you need better ice and snow performance, they make great, high-performance snow tires that won't make it look like you are driving a tractor.
There really are a lot of options for any given vehicle. You will find it very helpful to have a discussion like this with your Apple Valley tire pro when you need new tires. You can find the best solutions for your driving needs and to make improvements in ride or handling.
Picking a wheel that is the same size as what you are now running is pretty simple. But, it gets trickier if you want to upsize. Just get some help when you go bigger. All that tire and wheel still needs to fit in the available space. You do not want your tires to rub when you turn or hit a bump. You also need to make sure your brakes and suspension bits will fit with your wheel of choice. It doesn't matter how great your car looks if it's not drivable.
Taller, wider wheels and tires probably weigh more than your stock shoes. And it's "unsprung" weight - that has a big impact on brake performance. The upsized shoes increase rotational inertia - if you go too big you may need to upgrade your brakes to compensate.
Another possible problem is an inaccurate speedometer. This happens because the number of rotations can change with the new wheels. Fortunately, speedometers and odometers are all controlled by the engine computer; so it is simple to get it reprogrammed and compensate for the bigger tires.
No matter what you are after: low cost, long life, high performance, traction or stunning good looks, your wheel and tire professional at Valley Auto Care in Apple Valley, Minnesota can help you identify your needs and give you a custom fit. With all the options available, you don't have to compromise. There is a tire out there with your name on it!
Date: February 15, 2011 3:03 PM - Category: Tires and Wheels
So you love our job, and your family life is great: You have achieved balance. But can you the same for your wheels? You can tell if your tires are out of balance by vibrations at higher speeds. If one of the front tires is out, you feel the vibration in the steering wheel. If it's a back tire, you'll feel the vibration in your seat.
Tires and wheels are pretty heavy. When a tire is mounted on a wheel, it is usually not perfectly balanced. So the tire technician will spin the tire on a machine to determine where it's too heavy. He will then place weights on the wheels in strategic locations to balance it out. When a tire is out of balance, it actually bounces down the road instead of rolling smoothly. Since the average size tire rotates at about 850 revolutions per minute at 60 MPH, it is actually slamming into the pavement 14 times a second. That's where you get your vibration.
Most people are surprised at how smoothly their car rides after balancing all four wheels.
Most high-quality tires hold their balance pretty well. They just get out of balance gradually with normal wear and tear. If you suddenly feel a vibration, it is probably because you lost a wheel balancing weight along the way. Definitely get a balance if you feel a vibration, change your rims or have a flat repaired. Putting off a needed balance job leads to excessive tire wear, wear to your shocks, struts, steering and suspension parts. wheel balancing not only improves your ride and handling, but also can save you some big repair bills and possibly an accident. Additionally, you will get better gas mileage.
Some people have their tires balanced at every rotation. Others do it every other time. Check your owners' manual for your requirements, or ask your technician. Doing thus will put you on the path to mechanical wheel balance
Apple Valley Tire Repair
Date: December 23, 2010 10:56 AM - Category: Tires and Wheels
Most folks around Apple Valley have had a flat tire. You know it’s inconvenient and a pain. Our tires are important. Keeping them in good working order isn’t just a big safety issue – it also has a financial impact. With high gas prices, we’ve all heard about the importance of keeping proper tire pressure to save on gas. In addition, proper inflation promotes even tread wear so your tires last longer.
There’s another danger to under-inflated tires. Low tire pressure puts added stress on the structure of the tire itself, causing it to break down prematurely. Also, under-inflated tires generate more heat which also reduces tire life. So get those slow leaks fixed quickly – don’t just keep airing them up every few days. You want to avoid serious tire damage.
Tires can also be damaged by road hazards in and around Apple Valley. Punctures, cuts and impacts on curbs or potholes can also cause damage that could lead to tire failure. Sometimes, it’s something that a visual inspection would reveal. Take the opportunity to check your tires when you’re gassing up. Look for slashes, missing chunks, nails or screws in the tread or just uneven wear. Of course check the air pressure too.
Now tire damage can be on the inside where you can’t see it until it’s removed from the wheel. Such damage could come from a severe impact, driving on a flat or even just low pressure. Some punctures can cause internal damage that are too severe to be repaired. You may see our Valley Auto Care professionals take the time to remove your flat from the rim and inspect the inside before repairing it, which means we're just following good procedure.
Now some tires just can’t be repaired. A puncture may be too large to plug. Also, the puncture could be in a location that’s not safe to repair like in the sidewall or outer portion of the tread. So called run-flat tires should not be repaired because their design is such that internal damage can’t be detected by a visual inspection.
It is also important that repairs should only be done by a qualified tire specialist like the ones we have at Valley Auto Care. You can buy self repair kits – save those for emergencies, like when you’re off-roading and need a quick fix so you can hobble back to civilization and get professional help. If you need to use a repair-in-a-can product, remember it’s a temporary measure only and your tire needs to be properly repaired as soon as possible.
Here are some other considerations: Repairing a flat may void your tire manufacturer’s warranty – just something to keep in mind. Also, if you repair a speed rated tire, you should not use it in any motorsports or operate it above legal speed limits. Your tire professional will repair your tire whenever it’s safe to do so and he’ll advise you when it’s better to replace it. So watch those curbs and keep the air – on the inside.
Valley Auto Care 7125 151st St. West, Suite 105, Apple Valley, Minnesota 55124 952-431-2700
Minnesota Balance: Wheel Balancing and Tire Rotation
Date: August 24, 2010 11:47 AM - Category: Tires and Wheels
Everyone in the Apple Valley area wants our tires to last as long as possible. Two ways to maximize tire life are wheel balancing and tire rotation.
When wheels are out of balance, they wobble a bit. That makes the tires wear in a cupping pattern. And they vibrate. To fix this, your service technician at Valley Auto Care puts weights on your wheels to balance them out. If a front wheel is out of balance you’ll feel it in the steering wheel. If it’s a rear wheel you’ll feel it through your seat.
That brings us to tire rotation. The front tires on a car wear out more quickly than the rear tires. As they push through turns from Apple Valley to Rosemount, the shoulders of the front tires wear down. So rotating front and rear tires allows them to all wear at about the same rate over the life of the tire.
Proper tire inflation will also help your tires last longer. Under-inflated tires wear excessively on the shoulder and may even overheat. This could cause tire damage or a blow out. Over-inflated tires wear to fast in the middle.
Four wheel drive trucks and SUV’s tend to wear their tires more unevenly so rotation is even more important with them. Give us a call to get our recommendation on your car.
See your owner’s manual or ask your service technician at Valley Auto Care for your recommended tire rotation schedule. It’s usually every 5,000 to 8,000 miles.
Tires cost a lot and they are one of the most critical safety components on your vehicle. Take care of them and they’ll take care of you.
Valley Auto Care 7125 151st St. West, Suite 105 Apple Valley, Minnesota 55124 952-431-2700
Tire Maintenance In Rosemount
Date: August 5, 2010 2:44 PM - Category: Tires and Wheels
With the recent focus in Rosemount on improving fuel economy, we've been told how important it is to maintain our tire pressure.
Everyone in Rosemount knows that tires wear out, but we all want to make them last as long as possible because they're fairly expensive to replace. In addition to saving gas, properly inflated tires last longer. Under-inflated tires will wear out more quickly.
Some people in Rosemount wonder if there is benefit to adding a few extra pounds of pressure when they fill up their tires. But actually, there isn't. In fact, there are very good reasons not to over-inflate your tires. For one, the middle of the tread will wear unevenly because the full tread is not contacting the road properly. That also adversely affects your handling.
Come in and see us about tire maintenance for your Apple Valley, Minnesota vehicle. Valley Auto Care 7125 151st St. West, Suite 105 Apple Valley, Minnesota 55124 952-431-2700
Every vehicle in the Rosemount area has a sticker on the driver's side door jamb that tells you the manufacturer's recommended tire pressure. This recommendation is an integral part of the vehicle's suspension tuning. A lot of engineering actually goes into the recommended tire pressure, so it's important to follow it.
What else do we need to know about tire maintenance? Tire rotation and balancing are very important. Let's start with rotation. Because the front tires handle the brunt of turning forces, the shoulders of the front tires wear more quickly than the rear tires. We rotate the tires so that they all get to do some duty on the front and they'll all wear evenly over their life.
For most vehicles, front tires are rotated to the rear and vice versa. Others recommend a cross rotational pattern. Some vehicles use an asymmetrical tire so those tires need to stay on either the right or left side – it'll say which on the tire. Some high performance cars have asymmetrical tires and different sizes on the front and rear. These can't be rotated at all. Your owner's manual will have details for your car.
How often should you rotate your tires? Your owner's manual will have a recommendation. Your service advisor at Valley Auto Care can do a visual inspection to let you know if it looks like it should be done. The interval is typically around 5,000 miles.
You know, some people don't think new tires need to be balanced. What they aren't taking into account is the wheel. Between the wheel and the tire – even a new tire – there's enough variation to require balancing.
When you add the valve stem and tire pressure monitoring sensors required on new cars, balancing is definitely in order. When a tire's out of balance, it's actually hopping down the road. You'll feel the vibration through the steering wheel if a front tire's out of balance and through your seat if it's a rear tire.
Proper wheel balance promotes tire life and increases safety. Historically, lead weights have been attached to the wheel to bring it into balance. Lead gives some environmental concern, so steel weights are starting to be substituted.
Also, always use the same size tire on an axle. Different size tires on the front or on the back can lead to some real handling problems. And tire manufacturers recommend that when you get two new tires, they be installed on the rear because that's where you need the most traction to avoid spinning-out.
Winter Prep Service
Date: July 30, 2010 3:22 PM - Category: Tires and Wheels
When winter approaches, we break out the sweaters, coats, boots and mittens. We want to be ready for winter conditions. Your vehicle needs to be ready for winter as well. The last thing you want is to get stranded out in the cold. You need your vehicle to be safe and reliable. It's a good idea to get caught up on any neglected maintenance items anytime - but the stakes are higher in the winter.
There are some specific things that we need to do to have our vehicle ready for winter. The most obvious is having the antifreeze checked. If the antifreeze level is too low, it can't properly protect your engine, radiator and hoses from freezing. If your car does not seem to be making enough heat to keep you warm, your antifreeze level may be low or you could have a thermostat problem. Get it checked out. If you are due for a cooling system service, now is a perfect time to have it done.
In the cold months we always worry about being able to stop in time when it's slick out. The first thing to remember is to slow down and allow yourself plenty of room to stop. Of course, you want your brakes to be working properly. A thorough brake inspection will reveal if the pads or any other parts need replacing. Check with your service consultant to see if it is time to replace your brake fluid. It accumulates water over time which really messes with your stopping power.
It is a really good idea to have your battery tested. A battery's cranking power really drops with the temperature. If your battery is weak in the fall, it may not be up to winter. There is nothing like a dead battery in a snow storm.
Which leads us to an emergency kit. You should always have a blanket or something to keep you and your passengers warm if you get stranded. If you will be venturing away from civilization, pack more items such as food and water to help you survive. Keeping at least half a tank of gas is a good precaution if you get stuck and need to run the car to keep warm and it will help keep your gas lines from freezing up.
Winter always makes us think of our windshield wiper blades - usually during that first storm when they aren't working right. That's why it's a really good idea to replace your blades in the fall before the winter storms. If you live where there's a lot of snow and ice, you might want a special winter blade that resists freezing up. And be sure to have enough windshield washer fluid.
The final thing to consider is your tires. Any tire can lose pressure over time - up to one pound every six or eight weeks. For every 10 degrees the temperature drops you lose another pound of pressure. So if it was 80 degrees outside when you checked your tire pressure two months ago and now it's 40 degrees out, you could be down 5 pounds of pressure. That's enough to be a real safety issue and it wastes gas too. You may need special winter tires as well. Your tire professional can help you find the right tire design for your expected road conditions.
If you're getting winter tires, it is always best to put them on all four wheels. If you are only getting two, have them put on the rear - even if you have a front-wheel drive or four-wheel drive vehicle.
This is a very important safety measure recommended by tire manufacturers. Sliding or fish-tailing on ice and snow is a matter of not having enough traction at the rear end. That is why your newest tires should always be on the rear.
Date: July 26, 2010 1:25 PM - Category: Tires and Wheels
What type of technology do you use? Do you prefer an 8-track tape or an iPod? When it comes to winter tires, much of the public's perception dates back to when 8-track was the best way to listen to the Bee Gees.
Twenty years ago, winter tires differed from highway tires only in their tread design. We called them snow tires back then and they had big, knobby lugs that were designed to give good traction in deep snow. They had the same rubber compound as regular tires and they weren't very good on ice, packed snow or wet roads. They were not even very good on dry roads. They really helped in deep or loose snow, but they did a poor job the rest of the time. They were loud and rode hard. You couldn't wait to get them off in the spring.
Then all-season tires started to come along. All-season tires are really a compromise between summer and winter performance. They have acceptable hot weather ride and tread life, and you can get through mild winter road conditions OK. But there are some really good reasons to consider winter tires.
Modern winter tires do a terrific job in a wide range of winter conditions. First of all, below 45 degrees Fahrenheit, regular tires become hard and inflexible. That means they don't provide the road grip you need. Even if you don't live somewhere with a lot of snow, but it still gets below 45 degrees in the winter, you will be safer with winter tires.
In addition, they are specifically designed to more effectively move snow and water. That's the key to traction on ice, packed snow and wet roads. They use a micro-pore compound that allows the tire to bite into ice and snow. They also use wider grooves that run around the circumference of the tread to expel snow from the tire better. The lugs and grooves on winter tires have a special shape that throws the packed snow out of the tread as the tire turns. The tread is then open when it comes back in contact with the road and can provide good traction.
Winter tires also have a lot of sipes. Sipes are thin slits in the tread. The edge of the sipes grab ice and packed snow to provide tons of traction and to expel water and slush out of the tread. winter tires have a rounder casing to cut into the snow's surface. The treads on regular summer tires can actually get packed with snow instead and become very slick. winter tires offer 25% to 50% more traction than all-season tires. And when it comes to stopping power, all-season tires take 42% longer to stop than winter tires. Sometimes that's the difference between getting home safely and spending the night in a snow bank.
Now back when the 8-track was king, you just put snow tires on the drive wheels. That worked out OK because the rubber compound was essentially the same. Now, winter tires provide so much more traction than all-season or summer tires, that there's a huge difference between the traction at the front and rear ends of the car if you only put winter tires on the drive wheels.
For example: if you take a corner on an icy road and the rear end starts to slide out, essentially the rear is trying to pass the front because it's going faster. If you have high traction winter tires only on the front, they are going to be much more effective at transferring cornering grip and stopping power to the front wheels. This will actually cause the rear end to whip out even more.
That's why tire manufactures instruct their dealers that they must install winter tires on the rear wheels as well whenever they put winter tires on the front end of any vehicle. It's a major safety concern. It's strongly recommended that winter tires be installed on all four wheels on rear wheel drive vehicles as well. The front tires do most of the steering and braking work - it only makes sense that you provide the front end with the best traction you can.
People often assume that if they have four-wheel drive or all-wheel drive they don't need winter tires on all four wheels. Would you intentionally disconnect the four-wheel drive in poor road conditions? Of course you wouldn't, but that's essentially what you do if you only put winter tires on one end. It only makes sense to have the same level of traction and control at all four corners.
The province of Quebec in Canada has issued a law requiring all passenger vehicles, taxis and rental cars with Quebec license plates to install a full set of four winter tires between November 15th and April 1. It's that important.
Many modern cars have traction control and anti-lock brakes so people may think that they don't need winter tires. But you need traction to accelerate, steer and stop. The tires provide the traction so that the traction control and anti-lock brakes have something to work with.
Look for tires with the symbol of a mountain with a snowflake in it. This means the tire complies with the severe snow standard. All-season tires will have an M&S, for mud and snow, on the sidewall.
So when the temperatures drop below 45 degrees, be sure you have a set of four winter tires for maximum performance in snow, packed snow, ice, wet and dry roads. Your tire professional can help you find the right winter tire for your vehicle and driving needs.
Valley Auto Care in Apple Valley MN helps people and their vehicles throughout Apple Valley and along Cedar Ave, County Rd. 42, Galaxy Ave, and 160th St. We work on all vehicles including the following manufacturers: Audi, BMW, Volkswagen, Mercedes, Toyota, Nissan, Honda, Ford, Mazda, Chevrolet, Pontiac, Oldsmobile, Saturn, GMC, Cadillac, Mercury, Lincoln, Infiniti, Acura, Lexus, Buick, Dodge, Chrysler, Jeep, and Plymouth with most auto service needs including: Tires, Wheels, Brakes, Transmission, Tune-Up, Computer Diagnostics, Engine Codes, Suspension, Shocks, Struts, Alignment, AC, Clutch & more.