The Truth About Cars » tire The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. Tue, 15 Jul 2014 20:01:03 +0000 en-US hourly 1 The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars no The Truth About Cars (The Truth About Cars) 2006-2009 The Truth About Cars The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars » tire Piston Slap: Keeping A Low Profile on Boston Streets? Wed, 07 May 2014 12:27:40 +0000

TTAC Commentator slance66 writes:


The B&B helped me choose a car three or four years ago, and now I’m thinking of its replacement, ahead of time. I bought a CPO 2007 BMW 328xi, which has been nearly flawless to 67k. I only drive 8,000 miles a year with a 3.5 mile commute each way, so it should last a long time. I love the car and do plan to keep it a few more years, but, I don’t know if it will survive the potholes.

I live in the Boston ex-urbs, and six months of the year we have what some might call roads, and others might call random chunks of asphalt in a rough trail like pattern. I can exceed the front suspension travel in the 3 series just on some manhole covers. Hitting actual potholes produces a major crash/slam. The car is good for dodging them, but you can’t miss them all and oncoming traffic both. It’s not the RF tires either, as I have 4th gen versions that are a big improvement.

Since I buy 2-3 year old used cars, I thought I’d ask now what 2013-14 car, trucks, SUVs would best equipped to survive roads like this? Gas mileage matters a little, so a V8 half ton might be off my list, but otherwise I’m open to most anything if it has four doors, heated seats, is reliable and isn’t smaller than the BMW. Crossovers might fit, but while my wife’s used RX350 feels better on these roads, it’s cost us two bearings and two struts, so durability is a factor in my thinking. Thought the B&B would know what vehicles can really absorb this punishment and not punish the driver. No, not a Panther.

Sajeev answers:

I’ve been to Boston a coupla times, I can see your concern.  That said, no Panther?  No truck?  Really?

Odds are your BMW will not survive Boston without cratering your wallet: to the tune of new lower control arms, struts, strut mounts(?) miscellaneous bushings and who knows what else. If you like the BMW, by all means, replace the worn suspension bits as they fail.  If not…

Well, get over the German tuned suspension for something more Third World friendly.  Seriously, how can you not want a Grand Marquis now? Fine. I can imagine the cold, Panther Love-less world you clearly live in.

And while I’d never live in such a sad place, I’d recommend a Panther-Like world.  A car that’s had a good track record (recently) for cost-effective suspension engineering, proven in fleets of some sort.  Not cop cars, not limos…maybe rental cars.  Maybe a Camry LE with the big sidewalls on 16″ wheels.  Maybe any CUV with the base wheels, with the most amount of sidewall you can find. ZOMG I CAN NO HAZ A RENTAL CAR AFTER MY BEEEMER!

Long story short: remember when all cars came with these things called tires? Their rubber to metal wheel ratio was definitely more Boston-friendly.  I recommend finding a vehicle with more sidewall and a reputation for a more robust suspension.  Even if it isn’t a Panther.


Send your queries to Spare no details and ask for a speedy resolution if you’re in a hurry…but be realistic, and use your make/model specific forums instead of TTAC for more timely advice. 

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Piston Slap: “Spare” Me from Dry Rot! Tue, 11 Mar 2014 12:05:09 +0000

TTAC Commentator sastexan writes:

With the extreme cold throughout the US and seeing a few shredded tires on the highway this week (in fact, I had a flat myself – not sure what caused it but possibly doing donuts in the FR-S on a parking lot last week with lots of broken up ice on the edges), I got to thinking about spare tires.

Many of the Best and Brightest have “keeper” cars – myself included with our old Camry. Tires have limited lifespans due to dry rot, and I’m guessing spare tires are included in that category. The spare in the Camry is the original 14 year old tire (full size spare at least). How often do people change their spares, if ever? Has anyone with an aged spare had it blow out due to dry rot? Can you just order a new space saver spare off of tire rack?

Take care,


Sajeev answers:

Very interesting question, one that raises even more questions! Keep these in mind before we proceed:

  • Tires dry rot slower when living in an enclosed space with no exposure to sunlight (UV rays).
  • You may not see visible cracks like other rotted tires, but rest assured at some point the rubber has petrified like a rock.
  • The odds of getting stranded by a rotted temporary spare is less likely than an ordinary tire, as nobody wants to roll around on that tiny donut for an extended period.
  • Low air pressure can be the reason for a spare blow out, as they tend to leak profusely after a few years of hibernating in a trunk.
  • The items listed above will not necessarily apply to externally mounted spares in trucks/SUVs/CUVs. Treat those more like your other four wheels.

Externally mounted full size spare owners: change the tire every 5-10 years…more or less, depending on your risk tolerance and driving needs.  Or re-use one of your “old” tires as a spare when upgrading to new ones for your regular wheels. And if you are luckily to have a matching 5th wheel as a spare (or unlucky enough to have 5 steel wheels on your ride) just rotate it into the mix.

Externally mounted temporary spare owners?  Good question, as this is a future quandary of my little Ranger pick-em-up truck.  Then again, it might be similar to our next case…

Internally mounted spare owners?  Who knows the safe lifespan, but I’d wager that 10+ years is fine, since I’ve used the original spare in my Mark VIII for short distances in urban conditions. I’d change my tune if I was traveling hundreds of miles daily on rural roads…grabbing spare tires from crusher-bound Taurii and Fusions in the process.

Whenever you “internally mounted spare” folks are ready for new rubber, well yes, Tire Rack sells spares…but I’ll assume China’s finest off-brand donuts trade for less money from another vendor, as that happened when my 1983 Ford Sierra needed new tires in it’s unobtanium space saver-esque size for a measly $34 a pop.  Which is more than adequate for the job.

In the case of your Camry?  I say replace it (full size spare in the trunk) with one of the external tires when its time for new shoes. Or get a used tire from any local shop for $20-ish.  Or just make sure it’s inflated to spec and you drive SLOW (i.e. 50mph or less) for a short period of time. There’s no wrong answer here, unless you’re stranded in the middle of no where and must rely on a fresh tire to take you hundreds of miles away in a harsh climate.

As with everything in life, this Piston Slap boils down to: It depends.

So eyeball the rubber and keep it inflated to spec.  That’s a good start. Off to you, Best and Brightest.


Send your queries to Spare no details and ask for a speedy resolution if you’re in a hurry…but be realistic, and use your make/model specific forums instead of TTAC for more timely advice. 

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Piston Slap: Burnt Rubber Sienna? Mon, 27 Jan 2014 12:08:37 +0000

Mike writes:


Here’s a hot topic for you and the B&B. I have a 2006 Sienna LE (front wheel drive) that has been absolutely bulletproof and reliable for the past 140k miles, except for the tires. I run “all seasons” in the summer and winter tires on separate wheels in the winter. We drive about 10k miles in the summer and another 5-7k in the winter. We live in the Finger Lakes region of NY.

This thing eats any tire that I put on it.

I just took a pair of Cooper CS4s off the front that have less than 11k miles on them and they are completely worn out. I can get three seasons out of a set of 4 winter tires but the summers never last more than one season on the front. I get 20k or so miles from a set of 4. The alignment is good and the wear is very even. Rotating the tires doesn’t change the tire wear, it just delays it. Almost all of the wear occurs when the tire is on the front.

I’ve run Firestone FR710, Yokohama Avid Touring, Dunlop SP, Cooper Lifeliner; and Cooper CS4. They all are load index 98. Granted these aren’t the most expensive tire off the rack but do the ultra expensive high mile tires really last that much longer? All of the tires that I’ve purchased have a “warranty” of 60k miles or so. The CS4 is 80k.

It is a heavy vehicle (nothing mini about this van); my brother joked that maybe I should run LT tires on it. So I’m wondering, should I switch to tires that are marketed for SUVs? Tires in the same size have a load index of 102 so maybe they’d handle the weight better and last longer? They also cost 50% more; will they last 50% longer?

I know everyone has an opinion about tires, perhaps one from the B&B will be the nugget I’m looking for.


Sajeev answers:

Hell, if my 3200-ish lb Ford Ranger has LT tires (that wear like iron, still looking new after 20,000 miles) why not put them on a minivan that weighs 1000+lbs more???  If you are towing, carry a lot of cargo, etc. then perhaps LT tires are a good idea.

I poked around and found LT’s for both the 16″ or 17″ applications for similar amounts of cash as their passenger car brethren.

But one question remains: tire pressure.  Are you inflating to owner’s manual specifications?  Have you always used the same gauge?  Are you 100% sure that gauge is still accurate? I learned to not trust old gauges the hard way when a bad voltmeter (20+ years old) and the alternator problems with Fords (and lifetime warranty parts) from the 1990s ganged up to lie to me in a most convincing way.

Then again, I’ve fallen for dumber, far more obvious lies. My easily malleable life aside–and even with TPMS in mind–could this be the problem?

Buy a new gauge, the cheap ones (with the super handy magnetic end) at the service counter of Wal-Mart/Autozone will suffice. If the gauges aren’t lying, then get some LT tires.

Off to you, Best and Brightest.


Send your queries to Spare no details and ask for a speedy resolution if you’re in a hurry…but be realistic, and use your make/model specific forums instead of TTAC for more timely advice.


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Piston Slap: It Ain’t Easy Being on the Front Left! Mon, 21 Nov 2011 15:49:02 +0000

Matt writes:


I own an 06′ Hyundai Elantra GLS hatchback and tire wear on the front left tire has been much worse than the other three, despite rotating the tires. The outside of the front left tire is worn down so that it is smooth and now I can see a secondary layer of rubber being exposed. At first I thought maybe there was something wrong with the alignment but I took it to three places, one wanted to charge me a $90 “diagnostic” fee so I walked and the other two couldn’t find anything wrong. One place mentioned that since I had directional tires I couldn’t really get a proper rotation and thats probably what’s causing the wear.

My best guess is between the directional design of the tire tread and the nature of my driving it has caused extreme wear on the outside of my front left tire. The other three tires look fine and seem like I could get at least another year out of them. Anyway, my question is should I just replace the front left with an inexpensive replacement and get the remaining life out of the other three or should I just replace all four with an asymetric set? Factors to consider are that I live in the Northeast so I do get snow but it is not a requirement that I be out on the roads when it is falling so snow tires are not important, just a decent set of all seasons. Also I am a student right now so the cheaper option is more appealing to me but not if it is a minimal one. I have about 35k on the tires right now and they are General Altimax HP’s.

Sajeev Answers

It has nothing to do with the tread pattern of your tires. Damn son, you don’t need to pass everyone around EVERY corner!

I’m serious! But it’s all good. Before balancing things out with proper rear anti-roll bars, my rear-wheel drive cars normally had more wear on the front than the rear. It magnified my desire to push my vehicles hard, but not hard enough to induce oversteer and raise the ire of my neighbors…and the local law enforcement. So perhaps I shouldn’t cast stones from within my glass house.

Front wheel drive vehicles are prone to extra front tire wear because those doughnuts have to both accelerate and steer the vehicle. It’ll abnormally wear out the best of rubber. Combined with your obvious lead foot and the Hyundai’s lack of a limited slip differential, the left front wheel takes more than its fair share of tire wear.

What to do? I would recommend more handbrake turns or lift-off oversteer, but that’s pretty terrible advice for a hoon like yourself. The short-term answer is to get one tire to replace the worn out one, as this isn’t an AWD vehicle that demands equal tire circumferences. That’s the easy part.

The hard part? Getting you to chill out when you’re behind the wheel.

Send your queries to . Spare no details and ask for a speedy resolution if you’re in a hurry.

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Piston Slap: The Wheel That Won’t Budge Thu, 22 Sep 2011 16:34:07 +0000

Matt writes:

Hey Sajeev. Looking for your wisdom, or perhaps that of the B&B. I’ve got a 2005 Hyundai Elantra with about 50k miles. Back around 40k, we had new tires put on it at Sears. Now I want to rotate the tires (yes, I know, I should have done this a while ago), but when I got to the very last wheel, I ran into a roadblock. The rear right wheel is fused to the hub! It seems to be rusted on. Poking around a few forums online, I got a couple of ideas:

  • WD-40
  • WD-40 and let it sit a while
  • Solid whack with a rubber mallet on the driving surface of the tire
  • Place some wood over the steel wheel and hit it with a hammer, rotating the wood around the tire so as not to damage the wheel
  • Loosen the lug nuts, drive it back and forth a few feet

None of this worked, and now I’m at a loss for what to do next. I tried those things about a month ago, and haven’t taken any further action. I fear that the good people at Sears may not be equipped to properly address the issue and that said lack may not stop them from trying. I don’t have a mechanic I trust* and don’t have a relationship with the Hyundai dealer. In the meantime, the wheels are back to their original locations so that we don’t get any weird wear or tread issues.

Basically, I’d like some advice: is there another home remedy I can try, should I suck it up and pay the dealer, or give the tire store a shot? If the latter, do I mention it when I drop the vehicle off, or let them “discover” it on their own?


*I had a mechanic I thought I could trust. But after getting charged $400 to replace “stuck” hood hinges which I was later able to loosen up with some PB Blaster, I’ve moved on.

Sajeev answers:

You’ve done your homework, and done the basics. Which makes my job easier and far more entertaining. So remove most of the lug nuts–not all, that’s very important– on the Elantra and get it safely on jack stands, and let’s brainstorm.

Hint #1: Whack the tire tread with a hammer, not a rubber mallet.
Hint #2: No wait, make that a sledge-hammer. The biggest one you can find and safely use, of course.
Hint #3: Lay on your back and kick the tire’s sidewall. A lot. I mean kick the living shit out of that thing, son!
Hint #4: Let the WD-40 dry and get a heating device (i.e. a heat gun) to expand the metal center of the wheel, preferably from the inside and not against the paint (alloy wheels only). Follow up with liberal use of Hint #2.
Hint #5: Drive slowly with all lug nuts SLIGHTLY loose and quickly activate the E-brake.

I’m not especially thrilled to do #5, but then again, it might be better than kicking a tire on a raised vehicle resting on uneven pavement. No matter, this will be a great story to share with your family and friends! Good luck!

Send your queries to Spare no details and ask for a speedy resolution if you’re in a hurry.

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