QotW: What advice or stories do you have about tires?

Today, April 8, is Tire Day in Japan. The day was established by the Japan Automobile Tire Manufacturers Association to remind people to inspect their tires, and in fact JATMA holds free tire inspections at popular expressway rest stops throughout Japan on this day. Our biggest dilemma with tires — other than the time we had a blowout on an 800-mile road trip — is that it’s become so hard to find tires in smaller sizes for older cars. When the average new car has 18-inch wheels, manufacturers aren’t offering as many 13- and 14-inchers any more.

What advice or stories do you have about tires?

The most entertaining comment by next Monday will receive a prize. Scroll down to see the winner of last week’s QotW, “What’s the biggest joke in the automotive world?“.

There are many things wrong with the automotive world, according to this week’s comments. Let’s start off with the actual cars. In terms of Japanese ones, Lakdasa nominated the Nissan-bodied, Alfa-powered Alfa Romeo Arna, while speedie called out the Suzuki X90, and Mark F Newton-John elected the Datsun F-10. StreetSpirit named kei trucks as a category, but more for the crazy amount of cheap fun you can have in them, and Ryan S pointed his finger at the Nissan IDx.

However, the question wasn’t restricted to Japanese cars, so many of you came forth with a rogue’s gallery of terrible machinery: Mitsubishi Magna‘s Kia Soul, speedie‘s Pontiac Aztek, Fred Langille‘s Edsel, and エーイダン‘s Chrysler PT Cruiser. Both Michael Jue and r100guy suggested the Tesla Cybertruck, the only vehicle to receive more than one nomination.

Then there were the general trends in the industry that are just laughably bad. JJ mentioned the tragedy that SUVs and crossovers all have a Sport Mode now. Jonathan P. submitted the ever-increasing complexity of modern cars, as well as the moronic burnouts leaving car meets. RX626 pointed out the irony that sports cars now have factory “safari” versions while SUVs are trying to be more like sports cars. And Taylor C.‘s screed on the crossover should be required reading.

Ultimately, it was Julien‘s short but brutal answer that had us laughing the most, which is of course the purpose a good joke:

A CEO in a travel case.

Omedetou, your comment has earned you a set of decals from the JNC Shop!

JNC Decal smash

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22 Responses to QotW: What advice or stories do you have about tires?

  1. George says:

    When buying new tires, always check the TIN (tire identification number–yep that’s what they call it) and make sure the tire is well within the 2 year limit for selling a tire as new. If you have not checked your current tires, 6 years is a good limit to replace if older.

    As noted in the article the tires sizes for older cars are not fast sales movers, so you will probably be getting a tire that is from a batch make a while back, and stored in a warehouse, maybe not under ideal conditions. Beware I have had big tire retailers try to sell me way out of date stock.

  2. steve says:

    Bigger isn’t Better

  3. MWC says:

    i love tires. its a thing for me – when i got my drivers license when i was 16, my dad bought a BJ42 Land Cruiser. As he traveled abroad quite a bit, i ended up adopting it as my daily driver. The first thing we did was put on a set of Yokohama’s and they lasted the life of that TLC – never had a failure with those tires. In my mid 20’s i traded it in on a mustang…but a couple years later, I really felt the need to get another TLC, this time an 80 series that i had to import because they we not sold in Canada. the first thing i did was put on a set of Yokohama’s. they lasted 16 years and never had a failure. i put on a new set 5 years ago and they are still going strong. its a pretty impressive feat to never have a tire failure in roughly 30 years of continuous driving.

  4. Land Ark says:

    Not only is finding 12″ tires for a Figaro a significant challenge – we had a no-name brand shipped from the Figaro Shop in England – but most shops don’t have a machine that can mount them on a wheel. We tried 10 different shops before we found one that could do smaller than 13″.
    What finally worked for me was calling Tractor Supply thinking they may know who can mount trailer tires and being directed to the shop next door that could do it.

    • Ian N says:

      Crikey, you should’ve called me! With my trusty rubber mallet and a couple of levers, I could’ve fitted those for you easily! No machinery required.

      Oh…. forgot to mention the air fare… oops, sorry!

  5. Fred Langille says:

    The worst experience I had with tires/wheels … OK, this is supposed to be about just tires but, I think it’ll fit in … was with an ’85 Renault 5-door LeCar. Yup, I had one of those too (along with 2 different Fuegos … both really nice GTs but, I digress). We were in Chicago, I had just completed what was a high speed run to Great Lakes Naval Training Center to have our baby daughter looked at at the hospital there (I was a USAR captain and unit technician so, we could utilize the base hospital). Anyway, I had flogged that little spit kit up there and back when we not only had a blowout on the RF tire but the force of it BROKE THE FLAMING WHEEL OFF OF THE BALL JOINT JUST AS WETURNED DOWN OUR STREET!!!! Consider what would have happened it that occurred on the highway! Fortunately, we had friends in the repair business who fixed the car and, I was able to trade it in on a used ’88 Alfa Romeo Milano that we kept for about 5 years. We traded thast in on a new Hyundai, thereby being a different story all together.

  6. Lee L says:

    When I was young and had my first Z31, an 86 Non-Turbo I was driving on a highway and a sudden storm hit me. Being 20 and broke I knew I needed new tires, but couldn’t afford them and was driving on essentially bald tires. That was the scariest drive of my life and ever since then I always made sure to replace tires before they got that bad

  7. Chet Manley says:

    Sumitomo is Falken’s parent company and most Falken tires are also sold as Sumitomos with the same compounds and very similar tread for about a 20% discount. I have a half dozen AutoX trophies telling me that Sumitomos are also quite effective.

    • Ben Hsu says:

      I just got a set of Sumitomos a couple of months ago. Agree that they’re being slept on.

    • Land Ark says:

      Interesting – my Legacy had new Sumitomo HTR+ when I bought it and I couldn’t wait to get them off my car. I hated them – especially in non-optimal weather conditions. They were rock hard, loud, and wasted my car’s ability in the wet/snow – so much so I bought Continental DWS dedicated winter tires. That ended up compounding the problem because the Sumitomos never wore out.

  8. Jonathan P. says:

    Some of you may already know, but this is the formula for finding the diameter of your tires.

    Tire width times aspect ratio as a percent multiplied by two then divided by twenty-five-point-four plus wheel diameter equals your tire diameter.

    215 x .65 = 139.75 (sidewall height)
    139.75 x 2 = 279.5 (height of both sidewalls together)
    279.5 / 25.4 = 11.00393700787402 (Sidewall height converted to inches)
    11.00393700787402 + 15 = 26.00393700787402 (Sidewalls plus wheel diameter)
    215/65R15 = 26 inches in diameter.

    • Negishi no Keibajo says:

      👍 Really important when you’re trying to fit replacements for a discontinued size on a vintage. PS; Even with the numerous “calculator websites”, it can be a painful math exercise.

      • speedie says:

        I have an Excel sheet I created to do the calculation as well as the mph speedometer discrepancy based on transmission and axle ratios.

  9. Brett says:

    Take good care of your tyres; you will miss them when they are gone!

    (with appropriate apologies to Kurt Vonnegut).

  10. Negishi no Keibajo says:

    Buy a 12 volt compressor to keep in the trunk. They don’t cost too much & keeps you from adding to the roadside separated treads from under inflation. Properly inflated tires will gain you more performance than a cold air system or plastic vortex generators on your roof.

  11. Taylor C. says:

    I think keeping tire pressures monitored is very important. I attended a Michelin tire seminar a long time ago, and the instructor did a quick survey where 95% of the attendees haven’t check their car tire pressures in over a month; I guess it’s something we take for granted. The New England seasons can definitely affect tire pressures, which in turn affects fuel economy. I have my tires pumped to 38-40PSI to maximize that last drop of fuel. Some might say that tire pressure is dangerous, but most passenger car tires can go up past 50PSI.

    One set of tires I remember quite fondly is the Kumho Ecsta XS. That tire is probably the grippiest tire I have ever driven. I bought a used set of 15″ BBS RS wheels for my Miata, and it came with some slightly camber-worn Ecsta XS. With 180 treadwear rating, I knew these were going to good. I took them to Buttonwillow twice and Thunderhill once and even in the 95degF heat, the tires would not give up. I specifically recall taking Turn2 at Buttonwillow harder and harder, and the tires just keeping the grip. Similarly, I saw speeds close to 70MPH at turn2 at Thunderhill. The tires were fantastic, BUT VERY noisy.

  12. speedie says:

    I used to be a tire mechanic (i.e., mounting slave) at a Sears tire center in the early 80s. Back then tires were all over the map quality wise and retreaded tires were still a thing. When asked what to get by friends I always tell them to get the best they can afford as the four small patches of your tires are the only thing connecting the car to the road. They affect performance, braking and handling. They can save your life or possibly kill you if poorly made. I live what I preach and only purchase Michelin tires. They are way too expensive for most people and I understand that, but I have never had a bad experience in over 30 years of purchasing them. Brands that have done me wrong include: Good Year, Firestone, and Pirelli. Brands that have done me well: Bridgestone, Dunlop, Continental, Falken (surprised me how good they were for the price), and Nokian (best snow tire I ever had, including Michelins).

  13. JJ says:

    My advice: Don’t let your child arrange to order new tires for their vehicle over the phone by themselves for the first time.

    The child was me and I needed new tires for my first car, a 1990 Chrysler Daytona with the Mitsubishi 3.0 V6. I was extremely in love with the car, and I thought I knew all there was about tires thanks to Gran Turismo. Turns out, not so much. The phone conversation went something like this.

    Mechanic – “Tire shop, how can I help?”

    Me – “I need new tires for my car.”

    Mechanic – “What size?”

    Me, with all the confidence of a teenager who doesn’t realize they’re an idiot – “I don’t know, it’s a 1990 Chrysler Daytona”

    Mechanic, realizing exactly what kind of person he’s speaking with – “Oh wow, that’s a pretty fast car. You’ll want directional tires for that. Goodyear Eagles, they’re built for that kind of car. And they’re not that bad of a price, $260/tire.”

    Keep in mind this was in the late 90’s, when prices were a lot lower. Also note that he never said anything about disposal, installation, or balancing.

    Me – “Sounds good, I’ll bring it in.”

    Those tires were way too expensive for the car, cost a month’s summer wages, and made me start to realize exactly how much of a naïve individual I was/am.

  14. Alan says:

    14- and 15-inchers are hard to find in 2024 mmmkay.

  15. Ben says:

    This is a little late because it happened just this past week. Check your tires before you leave the dealer or service shop. We took our CX-5 to the dealer for a tire swap (remove winter tires, and replaced with new all seasons, throw the winter tires back in the car when done). We requested 4 new all seasons because ours were 6 years old and one was bad and the other 3 were not much better. So following sage JNC’er advice, we wanted to get them replaced at the same time. Especially since these are the tires responsible for carting our kids around. I told my wife to check the tires before she brought the car home, but she did not. And came home with the same 8 tires she started the day with. And after the dealer charged us for a new set of tires. The dealer ultimately addressed the issue but I will be using a new service department next time.

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