tire care tipsTires are a crucial part of vehicle maintenance, but often get the least attention. Everyone focuses on the engine while simply ensuring that the tires are inflated, or checking to see if they need to be rotated or changed entirely because the tread wear it too low. However, tires need much more attention than that. They can’t be treated like other parts of the car where you can simply replace them when they wear out. How should you treat your tires? Our article roundup regarding tire care and maintenance has everything you ought to know about giving your tires the care they need.

How Maximum Tire Pressure and Saving Gas are Related – Your tire pressure affects your gas mileage, and an over-inflated tire hurts your fuel efficiency (and your tire’s tread wear) as much as an under-inflated tire. Some have recommended that maximum tire pressure is what you need to have the best fuel efficiency and the safest ride, but this isn’t exactly the case. Proper tire pressure is not the same as maximum tire pressure.

3 Things You Need to Know About Buying New Tires – When purchasing a set a new tires for your car or managed fleet vehicles, there are three factors you need to consider: size, performance, and weight. Size is of particular importance, as a tire’s fit can be off by a few millimeters, and those few millimeters can mean that yours will lose its pressure much more quickly. Obviously, the tires needed for a tractor trailer aren’t the same as those needed for a two-door, but determining the right size for your car is much more complicated than that.

How Water Harms Your Tires – Water isn’t good for your tires. You don’t want to be driving with it sloshing around inside, which can happen if the air you use to inflate your tires has water vapor (which happens more often than not). Water can deteriorate the rubber of your tire, rust the axel, and cause your tire pressure to fluctuate more often as the water heats and cools as you drive. Removing the water vapor from the air when you inflate your tire, even if you do it yourself, is much harder than it sounds.

The Cost of Under-inflated Tires – Under-inflated tires hurt your fuel economy, your tires, and even your safety. Under-inflated tires also hurt because it can be hard to tell when your tires are under-inflated. You can’t always tell by looking at them, and if you’re using regular air, then your tire pressure is likely to go up or down, depending on when you measure it because the heat from driving will increase the pressure.

Guess What? Air Isn’t Free Anymore. Nitrogen Tires are a Better Deal – One of the arguments against nitrogen tire inflation is that air is free, so why pay the money? But, not everyone offers the service for free anymore, where it can cost up to $2 to use an air compressor. With this in mind, comparing nitrogen tire inflation and air tire inflation becomes a product/service comparison instead of a straight price comparison. Does a $2 charge mean you’re only getting $2 worth of tire inflation?

Prep Your Tires for Summer Travel Season – Winter may not be over yet for a few more weeks, but summer travel season (especially Memorial Day Weekend) is the weekend with the highest incidences of tire troubles. This includes blowouts, flat tires, and other scenarios that require the help of AAA. Stay safe as you use your long weekend for a quick vacation by prepping your tires for the road trip ahead.

Car Repair: When to DIY and When to Go to a Mechanic

On October 24, 2013, in Guest Posts, Tire Care, by allisonmreilly

DIY car repairA recent study by the Automotive Aftermarket Suppliers Association (AASA) found that the trend of DIY car repair is shifting. Perhaps as people recover from the 2008 recession, they are going back to the old means of car repair: hiring a mechanic to do it for them. While DIY can save money, it isn’t always worth it and may be more expensive in the long run—especially if you don’t fix the right part (or don’t fix the part correctly) and then need to take your car to a professional anyway. Learn when to DIY and when to have someone DIFY when it comes to car repair.

DIY: From Beginner to Expert

As The Humble Mechanic notes, there are five variables to consider when deciding whether or not to make that car repair yourself:

  • Price – How much will the job cost to outsource, and how much will you save by doing it yourself? If you can purchase a part for $25 and save $50 on labor, that seems like a good deal. However, if a job takes you three times as long, you lose out in the end.
  • Passion – If you can take or leave car repair, leave it to the pros and spend that time doing something you love. But if you love tinkering, you might opt to challenge yourself with long repairs just because you love it, and that’s fine.
  • Time – It may make sense to pay for the repair if it will take you a long time to complete the job. For simple tasks with a low time frame, DIY makes sense.
  • Knowledge – There are many ways to get knowledge, so if all that’s holding you back is lack of knowledge, get to work. You can use print and online resources to boost your skills.
  • Tools – If you need special tools to complete the job, it’s generally worth it to pay the mechanic rather than invest in tools you may not use again.

With these tips in mind, evaluate the difficulty of your project and decide whether to DIY or call your go-to guy. AASA recommends that auto repair newbies begin with easy jobs like changing the antifreeze or replacing the car battery, and folks with some experience try mid-level tasks like installing brake pads and brake shoes. High skill-level projects like changing water pumps require expertise and special tools and aren’t usually good candidates for the average DIYer.

Tips for Dealing With Your Mechanic

Even if you decide to leave the job to your Savannah mechanic, you don’t have to trust every word he says. The AutoParts Warehouse app lets you check the price of car parts to ensure you’re not being overcharged for make/model replacements.

The National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence enables you to search for qualified mechanics by zip code, and you can check the value of your old car with Kelley Blue Book. When your car’s maintenance costs outweigh its value, you can find used cars in Savannah by Drivetime dealer or zip code, for example. When you need a mechanic’s aid, these tools help ensure that you’re getting quality service for the price point and that the vehicle you’re driving is safe.

marketing nitrogen tiresRight now, if you want to purchase nitrogen for your tires, you have to go to a mechanic or an auto shop. You can get nitrogen tires somewhere like Costco, but you usually will only get nitrogen tires if you purchase a new set of tires. If the ones on your car are just fine, then the neighborhood auto repair shop is your best bet. It’s great that nitrogen tire inflation is available at these places, but these same places are also marketing the practice incorrectly, saying things that simply aren’t true about nitrogen tires while not understanding the science behind the practice. Here are what mechanics and auto shops are getting wrong about nitrogen tire inflation when trying to sell it to consumers:

Nitrogen is Less Volatile than Oxygen. Thus, it’s Safer in a Fiery Crash

Although nitrogen is less volatile than oxygen, the point that nitrogen is safer in a car accident is false and doesn’t mean anything. Once the car is on fire, the car is on fire, and nitrogen tire inflation isn’t going to prevent that fire or make the fire any smaller. The way this argument should apply is that since nitrogen is less volatile, your tires are less likely to overheat and to result in a blowout. There are 23,000 collisions per year due to a tire blowout, and this is a safety problem that nitrogen tire inflation can actually solve.

The Rubber of Nitrogen-Filled Tires Last Longer

This one’s important to note because naysayers will respond to this with, “What about all the air on the outside of the tire?” It’s a valid question, but the degradation of the inside isn’t on the rubber It’s on the axle, where the oxygen and water vapor can rust the axle over time. Axle’s are much harder to replace than a tire, and aren’t looked at as often. Also, the rubber ends up lasting longer because the proper tire pressure that comes with nitrogen leads to even tread wear. Even tread wear means your tires last longer because you don’t have to change them as quickly because of uneven tread wear. Although any excessive tread wear isn’t a good thing, if that tread wear is uneven (where it’s predominantly in the middle or on the outside of the treat), you will have to change your tires sooner because the uneven tread wear isn’t safe to drive on.

Air is 78% Nitrogen

Get this into your head, as most people consider this common knowledge, and waving this fact off with, “Well, I don’t know,” or “I’m not a scientist” only makes the practice look like a scam. This is true, so the point that needs to be emphasized is that oxygen and water vapor are the problems. Naysayers like to throw this one out there, thinking that 12% more nitrogen can be all that important, so it’s extra important to know the counterargument and to not get stumped by the resistance. Nitrogen tire inflation eliminates the oxygen and water vapor that’s in air, and this 12% increase in nitrogen concentration is substantial (as well as a 100% decrease in oxygen and water vapor) and it makes a world of difference in fuel economy and tire life.

This equipment is expensive, and you need to make your money back on that equipment. We understand that, but the way to do that isn’t to dupe people and not have counterarguments for those who aren’t as easily duped. The way to make money from this service isn’t to push it on as many people as possible. Once you understand the science and the pitches you’re making to these people, then you can be prepared to show that nitrogen tire inflation isn’t a scam, but is a practice that provides value to drivers.

Related Links:

How to Implement a Nitrogen Tire Inflation Program into Your Fleet

Nitrofleet99 Helps Drivers Green Their Vehicles, Create Hybrid Tires

How Nitrogen-Filled Tires Improve Safety

nitrogen tire inflation white paper cta

3 Things You Need to Know About Buying New Tires

On July 12, 2012, in Tire Care, by allisonmreilly

buying new tiresIt’s inevitable that your tires will wear out after a few years of usage. Sooner or later, they will have to be replaced. The good news is that you have many options to choose from when it comes to buying new tires. You’ll have the opportunity to pick a set that’s best suited for your car. Of course, having many options can be confusing to the uninformed buyer. Better arm yourself with the following tips so that you’ll know exactly what to look for:

1) Size

Bigger vehicles need bigger tires. For example, compact cars have smaller tires than SUVs. This consideration is obvious and straightforward, but surprisingly, many people don’t get it right. They don’t give size much thought because they think it’s easy to determine. After all, just one look will tell you that a truck’s tire can’t fit on a two-seater sports car. However, a problem can arise when tires seem to fit, but actually don’t. A few millimeters off is not obvious to the naked eye, but it sure makes a difference in the car’s long-term performance. Precision is the key here.

Before buying a new set tires, check the specs of your car if you’re unsure about the exact size. You can usually find the information you need in the manual that came from the manufacturer. You can also look for the decal that has a listing of the tire specs on the glove box lid or on the door jamb.

If you don’t have the manual or the decal, you can refer to the sidewall of one of your current tires. You’ll see an alphanumeric code that begins with “P” running along its circumference. The three numbers following “P” indicate the tire’s width in millimeters. Next, you’ll see a slash, after which, you’ll see two more numbers that tell you the percentage of the tire’s height compared to its width. The next letter, “R,” identifies the radial construction. The two numbers after it represent the diameter of the rim in inches.

These numbers should be enough to tell you what size to get for your new set of tires. As a general rule, get tires with the same specs if your current tires have worked well for your car.

2) Weight

Two tires can look the same, but they may have different load-carrying capacities. Again, check your car’s specs to determine the maximum weight your tires should carry. The manual and the decal have that information.

The alphanumeric code on your tires has that, too. After the two numbers indicating the wheel diameter, you’ll see another pair of numbers. This corresponds to the load index of the tire. You can search for complete load index charts online to check the exact maximum weight that corresponds to your tire’s numbers, or you can go here. As a general rule, a high index means a high maximum load.

Take note that tires should not just support the car, but the passengers and cargo inside it. Thus, it’s not advisable to go for a new set of tires with a lower index than what your car is used to. It’s best to stick to the load index of your current tires.

You can also go higher if you know that your car will regularly carry a lot of people and/or stuff. Just make sure that the size and the other measurements match your car’s when you buy tires with a different load index.

3) Performance

Ultimately, your tires affect your car’s performance. It’s best to think about how you use your car when buying a new set of tires.

If you know you’ll be driving down some snowy streets, equip your car with all-season tires, or better yet, with specialized snow tires. Summer tires won’t be up for the job; don’t even try driving in winter with these on.

If you drive fast, choose tires with a high-speed rating. You can determine the rating by looking at the letter beside the load index in the alphanumeric code. The range is A to Z, with A being the lowest and Z the highest, but you’ll usually find a range that falls between Q to Z for most cars. Again, refer to charts that are searchable online, but for a quick reference, you can check this out.

Remember that these are just guidelines to help you get started on your search for a new set of tires. When in doubt, the best thing you can do is find a store that you trust. The salespeople will be more than happy to entertain any specific questions you may have about buying new tires.

nitrogen tire inflation myths paper

tire care tips for managed fleets

Sure, flat tires happen from time to time. But good tire care can prevent a tire disaster from happening.

It’s no secret that taking care of your tires will allow them to last longer. The same is true with most things in life. To keep your tires at their optimum,  make sure to check them monthly for tire wear, proper tire pressure, and any damage that would indicate that your tires would need to be replaced. Here are a few tire care tips to keep in mind this year in order to keep your tires, and your fleet, running at their best:

1. Consider the Load When Looking a Tire Pressure – Tire footprint and traction are reduced when van, pickup or RV tires are over inflated for the loads carried. In particular, tires with aggressive tread patterns may contribute to oversteer or “roadwalk” if inflated beyond the inflation pressure specified in the Owner’s Manual and vehicle placard for standard or customary loads. Over inflation also increases the chances of bruise damage. Higher inflation pressure increases stiffness which may deteriorate ride and generate unwanted vibration. If worried about over inflation when on the road, make sure to check the tire pressure when they are cool and not right after a drive.

2. Tire Care is Also a Safety Issue – Under inflation is the most common cause of failures in any kind of tire and may result in severe cracking, component separation or “blowout,” with unexpected loss of vehicle control and accident. Under inflation increases sidewall flexing and rolling resistance resulting in heat and mechanical damage. Also keep in mind that under inflation reduces a tire’s ability to support the vehicle’s load and transmit cornering, braking and acceleration forces, which could increase the chances of a flat tire or a tire blowout.

3. Check Tire Pressure Regularly – Although nitrogen tire inflation maintains proper tire pressure for a longer period of time, it is not meant to be a replacement for good tire care and regular maintenance. For managed fleets, tire pressure should be checked weekly, as under inflated tires not only increase safety risk, they also reduce your fuel efficiency and end up costing you money. There’s should be no substitution for safety.

With these three tips in mind, managed fleets should have an excellent 2012 with their vehicles.

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