Belle Tire Blog

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Bald is Not Beautiful When it Comes to Your Tires Tread

According to most state laws, tires are legally worn out when they have worn down to 2/32″ of remaining tread depth. Tread wear can be identified by using U.S. coins substituted for a tire tread depth gauge as tires wear. Consult your local tire retailer if you need help with the condition of your tires.

No matter where you live, or what time of the year it happens to be, there is always the potential for inclement weather. Any time it rains or snows and you get behind the wheel of your car, you can be faced with driving risks. Depending on road conditions and your driving speed, stopping on wet roads can take up to four times the normal distance. And if your tires are worn … they can hydroplane, or skim over the surface of the road with little or no traction.

Unfortunately, there are more people than you may realize who are sharing the road while driving on worn tires. Recently, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) conducted a study of 11,500 cars, pickup trucks, vans, and sport-utility vehicles and found that nearly 50% had at least one tire with half-worn tread wear. Another 10% had at least one bald tire.

Worn tires … especially bald ones … can be deadly on wet roads, where the grooves aren’t deep enough to channel water out from beneath the tread. The result is hydroplaning, where the tread wear allow the tire to skim the water’s surface and the vehicle no longer responds to the steering wheel. Wet weather braking and snow traction also decrease with tread wear on balder tires.

Industry advocates like the Rubber Manufacturers Association (RMA) remind drivers to check their vehicle’s tires as part of regular seasonal maintenance. According to RMA research, two out of three drivers don’t know how to tell if their tires are bald.

The accepted standard for tires to be considered bald is when one or more of their grooves reach 2/32 of an inch deep, compared with about 10/32 of an inch for new tires. FYI – tire tread wear is usually measured in 1/32-inch increments. To make bald tires easier for owners to spot, manufacturers have placed a series of molded horizontal bars at the base of the grooves. As the tire treads wears away the bars become flush with surrounding tread when the groove’s depth reaches 2/32 of an inch.

Traditional tread condition has been easily checked with a Lincoln penny. Placing the penny upside down within the tread, if you saw the top of Lincoln’s head, the tire needed to be replaced. However, testing shows that you should consider changing tires sooner. There is quite a dramatic difference between the stopping distance of a tire with 2/32- inch of tread compared to 4/32. Using a quarter will help you quickly find out if you have 4/32- inch of tread left. If you can see the top of Lincoln’s wig, then it is time to get new tires.

Since tire tread provides the gripping action and traction to prevent a vehicle from slipping and sliding, a tire is not safe and should be replaced when the tread is worn down to 1/16th of an inch. Not only is it extremely important for your driving safety to ensure that your tires have ample tread, but it’s also very important to make sure your tires are properly inflated. It can’t be stressed enough … if you drive on tires that are bald or substantially under-inflated you risk injury, or worse, to you, your passengers, and other drivers on the road.

It’s important to understand the risks you face as a driver when driving in challenging weather conditions and the affect worn tires can have.

Winter Grip Slips On Worn Tires
Deep grooves and an array of small slits, known as “sipes,” help new tires bite into snow. Shallower tread and worn-away sipes reduce snow grip, affecting traction on acceleration and overall braking performance.

Summer Rain and Hydroplaning Starts Sooner As Your Tread Wears Away
Common sense should tell you that the faster you drive on wet pavement, the greater the risk of hydroplaning. Simply put, higher speeds allow less time for water to escape through the tread grooves. Shallower tread worsens that situation by allowing more water to stay beneath the tire.

Less Tread = Longer Wet-Weather Stops
Reduced wet-weather braking can be even more dangerous than hydroplaning. Compared with new tires, well-worn tires take much longer to stop, even on vehicles equipped with antilock braking systems.

To better protect motorists, the NHTSA has launched a tire safety campaign called: “Tire Safety: Everything Rides on It.” Through ads, brochures and radio ads, the campaign advises car owners to check their tires monthly, as well as prior to a long trip, to be sure they have safe tread wear, and will stress the importance of proper tire inflation and vehicle load limits.

About Belle Tire
People have trusted Belle Tire for the best value since 1922. Because at Belle Tire we challenge ourselves every day to make sure that you always get the lowest tire price, period. Prove it to yourself. Take the Belle Tire Price Challenge. Challenge us online, over the phone or even challenge us right in the store. Come in to any Belle Tire, and we’ll check other stores’ prices with you, right at the counter, and prove to you that Belle Tire has the lowest tire prices, PERIOD! Plus, at Belle Tire, you’ll always get out the door with more value, services and protection with every tire installation than the competition can offer, at any price! For the Lowest Tire Price, Period and great low prices on Custom Wheels, Alignments, Brakes, Batteries, Oil and Lube, Shocks & Struts, Windshield Repair and Replacement, and more. Visit http://www.belletire.com and also join our online communities: BELLE TIRE CARES BLOG | FACEBOOK | TWITTER

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Custom Wheels, More Than a Fashion Accessory

Summary: Custom wheels and rims are more than just a fashion accessory for some drivers, it is a performance upgrade. There are many reasons why you might like to invest in a set of custom alloy wheels including weight reduction and handling improvements.

Belle Tire

Custom Wheels at Belle Tire

To some, a car is just a car, but to many it’s much more. Your car, or truck, says something about you … your aspirations, your taste … your statement to the world of who you are, where you’re going and that you want to get there in style. For those folks that want to make their car their own, the best place to start is with custom wheels.

No one wants to be rocking a new outfit and then throw on an old pair of shoes, and that’s the reasoning for many automotive enthusiasts who replace their factory wheels with a stylish set of custom wheels. Also referred to as alloy wheels, custom wheels can have a dramatic impact on the appearance of your ride. However, there are other reasons beyond aesthetics as to why many choose to swap their original wheels for custom wheels.

One reason for making the move to custom wheels is the reduction of the unsprung weight of the wheels. Unsprung weight is the combined weight of all components connected to the wheel, which includes the custom wheel and tire, as well as the brakes, wheel bearings and a portion of the weight of the half shafts, springs and suspension links. With lighter alloy wheels you end up with reduced unsprung weight compared to steel wheels. Alloy metals provide greater strength and dramatic weight reductions over ferrous metals such as steel. Today, it is hard to find a high performance road car or world class racing vehicle that doesn’t benefit from using alloy wheels.

Why is unsprung weight an issue? Keeping the unsprung weight as low as possible helps your car or truck maintain optimum road contact. The higher the unsprung weight, the slower your suspension will react, thanks primarily to the inertia created by the weight of the wheel. Alloy wheels, being lighter than most steel wheel applications, help reduce unsprung weight, allowing the suspension system to react more quickly to road surface imperfections, thus maintaining better traction and helping your vehicle become less susceptible to road shock and cornering forces.

By reducing unsprung weight, alloy wheels provide more precise steering input and improved cornering characteristics. The added strength of a quality alloy wheel can also reduce tire deflection in cornering. This is particularly critical in a car equipped with high performance tires where lateral forces may approach 1.0g.

In addition to handling improvements, adding alloy wheels and lowering unsprung weight has further advantages. Keep in mind that the wheel, which is a moving part, builds up inertia more than a stationary part, like the axle. More inertia requires more energy to speed up, or slow down. The lighter rotational weight of alloy wheels can reduce the overall weight of your vehicle, all of which can provide a slight increase in acceleration, braking and fuel economy.

As mentioned above, the reduced weight of the vehicle and will improve brake performance, but there’s more than just a lighter-weight issue that will help the brakes. Most alloy wheels are designed to dissipate brake-heat build up more efficiently than their steel counterparts. The metals in alloy wheels are excellent conductors of heat and improve heat dissipation from the brakes. Besides the alloy material they are made from many custom wheels are designed with additional slots that allow better airflow over a greater surface area, allowing cool air to flow over the brake calipers and rotors. Better brake performance can help reduce the risk of brake failure and increase their life expectancy.

Another important consideration for many custom wheel buyers is the plus concept. Plus-sizing your wheels and tires is an excellent option to improve both the performance and appearance of your vehicle. Plus-sizing … using a larger diameter wheel with a lower profile tire … maintains the overall diameter of the tire, helping maintain accurate odometer and speedometer characteristics. Performance-wise, a shorter sidewall tire delivers gains in quickness in steering response and better lateral stability. On the appearance side the visual appeal is obvious; most alloy wheels are a better look than the black sidewall of the tire, thus more wheel + less sidewall = a very attractive look.

All-in-all there are many reasons why you might like to invest in a set of custom alloy wheels. They will require an initial cash investment, but depending on how much you spend, you could find that they save you money in the long run with improvements in fuel economy and increased brake-life. Be honest with what you need, factor in your budget considerations, and you’ll be flying high when it comes to keeping your vehicle well grounded and looking good.

About Belle Tire
People have trusted Belle Tire for the best value since 1922. Because at Belle Tire we challenge ourselves every day to make sure that you always get the lowest tire price, period. Prove it to yourself. Take the Belle Tire Price Challenge. Challenge us online, over the phone or even challenge us right in the store. Come in to any Belle Tire, and we’ll check other stores’ prices with you, right at the counter, and prove to you that Belle Tire has the lowest tire prices, PERIOD! Plus, at Belle Tire, you’ll always get out the door with more value, services and protection with every tire installation than the competition can offer, at any price! For the Lowest Tire Price, Period and great low prices on Custom Wheels, Alignments, Brakes, Batteries, Oil and Lube, Shocks & Struts, Windshield Repair and Replacement, and more. Visit http://www.belletire.com and also join our online communities: BELLE TIRE CARES BLOG | FACEBOOK | TWITTER

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Free Mobile Coupon Strategy Webinar from Belle Tire and Hipcricket

ALLEN PARK, Mich., April 26, 2010 – A free webinar titled “Belle Tire: How to Create an Effective Mobile Coupon Strategy” hosted by Belle Tire and sponsor Hipcricket will be held on April 28 from 2 p.m. to 3 p.m. EST.

The webinar, which is part of the Mobile Marketer webinar series, will highlight the success of Belle Tire’s mobile coupon campaign and discuss strategies and tips that retailers and marketers can use to manage effective similar campaigns. To register, please visit: https://www2.gotomeeting.com/register/864565922

“Mobile coupons are mobile at its best: incentive combined with ease, portability and tracking to steer foot traffic into stores,” said Mickey Alam Khan, editor of Mobile Marketer and Mobile Commerce Daily.

Webinar themes include:

  • Why the mobile coupon is the best store driver
  • Overview of mobile coupons: Research, types, use cases and integration with other channels
  • Belle Tire case study: How mobile coupons helped the retailer win new customers and retain existing business
  • Key takeaways from the Belle Tire effort
  • How retailers and marketers can get started with mobile coupon programs
  • Best-practice tips for mobile coupons

Webinar registrants will get first-hand advice and tips from Don Barnes, a marketing manager from retailer Belle Tire, who found that mobile coupons worked effectively to drive traffic to stores in a highly competitive market. Presenting will also be Ericarber, President and Chief Operating Officer of mobile marketing firm Hipcricket, a veteran of 50,000-plus mobile campaigns.  Mobile Marketer staff reporter Dan Butcher will moderate.

Mobile Marketer is the leading news publication covering mobile marketing, media and commerce. Its goal is to help readers and marketers understand how the mobile channel can be used alone or in conjunction with other channels for branding and customer acquisition and retention purposes.

The Mobile Marketer franchise currently includes the Web site at www.mobilemarketer.com, Mobile Marketer Daily newsletter, other newsletters and a blog. The franchise also covers Webcasts, seminars, events and conferences, white papers, videos, books and awards – all related to mobile marketing news and information. 

About Belle Tire
People have trusted Belle Tire for the best value since 1922. Because at Belle Tire we challenge ourselves every day to make sure that you always get the lowest tire price, period. Prove it to yourself. Take the Belle Tire Price Challenge. Challenge us online, over the phone or even challenge us right in the store. Come in to any Belle Tire, and we’ll check other stores’ prices with you, right at the counter, and prove to you that Belle Tire has the lowest tire prices, PERIOD! Plus, at Belle Tire, you’ll always get out the door with more value, services and protection with every tire installation than the competition can offer, at any price! For the Lowest Tire Price, Period and great low prices on Custom Wheels, Alignments, Brakes, Batteries, Oil and Lube, Shocks & Struts, Windshield Repair and Replacement, and more. Visit http://www.belletire.com and also join our online communities: BELLE TIRE CARES BLOG | FACEBOOK | TWITTER

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Tire Reviews and Buying Tires

American tire consumers can easily shop low prices when buying tires and auto care services. The Internet is a great place for consumers to get tire coupons, oil change coupons and automotive part rebates. However, consumers don’t have to trade quality and customer service at the expense of saving money.

The Internet offers consumers impartial community testimonials, tire reviews, product and service reviews to help make the best decision for a vehicle and the needs of consumers. Moreover, the Internet provides consumers with tire reviews from other consumers who have bought tires, automotive products and auto services. The Internet also offers the consumer a way to engage with tire retailers and businesses who are listening. Tire retailers are providing customer service and communicating via more valuable social media tools today than ever before.

The increased listening, communication and accumulation of shared information or “Crowdsourcing” provides consumers with the ability to find trusted information on something like “buying tires” that traditionally came from only a smaller controlled group or an employee at a tire retailer. Instead, it is sourced by a community, who provides contributions based on having already bought the tires they are reviewing.

Niche websites like AskPatty.com have community functions for consumers to find and share information. Business Week reports over 80 percent of the buying decisions in U.S. households today are made by women. Other reports and statements show statistically women buy more passenger tires than men.

Buying tires is generally not an extremely exciting purchase for consumers to talk about. Tires usually come in one color, black. Anyone who owns a vehicle needs tires. However, these consumers want to know about certain attributes, such as ride comfort, handling, traction that consumers are discussing and they are sharing their opinions with other consumers.

The Internet provides a diverse approach for consumers to find viable information today to make the best decision when buying tires from tire retailers. However, the fact that the Internet provides the means for consumers to share this meaningful information with one another is powerful.

Understanding consumer feedback and marketing research both online and offline today is critical, especially in our high tech “mobile” society. All customers have a voice, needs and expectations. These days, tire retailers are listening and reaching out to their customers in better ways to exceed their expectations, thanks to social media.

Tire retailers and local car care centers cater to their diverse audiences and are providing a better customer service experience for all. Whether the customer is buying tires or replacing wiper blades, it is great when the voice of the customer is heard, understood and embraced. The Internet has have developed more comprehensive solutions for engaging, sharing information, advertising and retaining customers. Listening, sharing relevant information and appealing to individual customer needs is critical to provide the best experience for all customers.

Tire retailers and car care centers are adapting with rapidly changing times and listen to their diverse customer base taking the initiative to communicate more effectively. In today’s high tech fast paced world, consumers can feel comfortable when taking their cars in for service or buying tires.

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Tire Reviews and Comparison Tips

Summary: Buying tires is one of the most important purchases for a car. Tires perform quite differently in tests. Here are some things to consider when choosing the right tire on a budget to meet specific needs.

Tires need to be replaced a number of times during the lifetime of a vehicle. Even with advances in tire technology, tread life will vary by vehicle type, tire type such as AWD and 4X4 tires, driving habits, road conditions and weather conditions.

If your need for new tires has been determined after thoroughly inspecting and maintaining tires, identify the best tires for your vehicle and driving demands. Your local tire discounter can help determine this with you but there are some tips on how to choose that you should always consider.

How to Choose New Tires

1. Put safety first. Find tires that do well in braking, handling, hydroplaning resistance testing. Weather conditions should also be considered to learn about the tires traction and performance in snow and ice so that you can keep your passengers safe on the road.

2. Do your research. The Internet provides many great resources for researching tire attributes and tire reviews but the key to find the best prices is comparison shop. Visit your local tire stores when comparison shopping to find the best tire price for your vehicle because prices are not always listed online. Some tire retailers, like Belle Tire, can actually help you online, over the phone or even right in the store to check other tire stores’ prices on your behalf.

Also, independent tire reviews such as from ConsumersReports.com, perform tread life tests on tires that show that a manufacturer’s warranty doesn’t always indicate how a tire will wear. These independent tire reviews are great sources for nonbiased information that can help with your decision buying your next set of tires.

3. Understand what you are getting and avoid “hidden charges.” Once you have researched tire reviews and decided on the tires that suit you and your vehicle the best the technician should detail all charges associated with the tire installation. Many times tire dealers do not include installation fees and tire warranty charges in the tire price quote. Make sure that your comparison shopping gets you out the door with more value, services and protection with every tire installation.
Here is a list of what you should expect with every tire installation:
• Lifetime Alignment Checks – The alignment of your car is important to extending the wear and performance from your tires, and it’s vital to steering performance.
• Nitrogen Tire Inflation – Nitrogen is a safe, more stable alternative to filling your tires with air because it leaks out naturally much more slowly and does not react to changes in outside temperature.
• Lifetime Tire Rotation – The purpose for regular rotation is to achieve more uniform tread wear on all tires on your vehicle.
• Lifetime Spin Balancing – Every time a tire is fitted to a wheel, it should be balanced.
• Lifetime Flat Repairs – Flats happen. If your tire can be repaired, trust a tire retailer who is there for you when you need them with free flat repairs.
• A 36 Month Pro-Rated Road Hazard Warranty – Tire retailers such as Belle Tire offer a warranty to replace a damaged tire on your vehicle when an unexpected event occurs that ruins the tire, such as running over debris or potholes.
• Mounting Tires – Your tires should be professionally mounted by expert tire installers.
• Tire Disposal – Consider the environment and make sure that 100% of the tire is recycled and not put in a landfill.
• Rubber Valve Stems – The rubber valve stem, although a small part of the tire and wheel assembly, it is one of the most important parts.
• Hand Torque of Wheels – Many tire stores rely only on an air wrench to mount your tires and wheel but, by hand-torquing each lug nut to make sure that your tire and wheel assembly are securely fastened your safety is still the top priority.

4. Understand the kind of tire you need. Choose a tire type and size to suit your vehicle and driving conditions. The largest percentage of consumers will be satisfied with regular and high-performance all-season tires, but models for SUVs and other trucks and 4X4 or AWD vehicles are different than those for cars and minivans.

Researching tire reviews and performing your own tire comparison will help get your rolling again.

About Belle Tire
People have trusted Belle Tire for the best value since 1922. Because at Belle Tire we challenge ourselves every day to make sure that you always get the lowest tire price, period. Prove it to yourself. Take the Belle Tire Price Challenge. Challenge us online, over the phone or even challenge us right in the store. Come in to any Belle Tire, and we’ll check other stores’ prices with you, right at the counter, and prove to you that Belle Tire has the lowest tire prices, PERIOD! Plus, at Belle Tire, you’ll always get out the door with more value, services and protection with every tire installation than the competition can offer, at any price! For the Lowest Tire Price, Period and great low prices on Custom Wheels, Alignments, Brakes, Batteries, Oil and Lube, Shocks & Struts, Windshield Repair and Replacement, and more. Visit http://www.belletire.com and also join our online communities: BELLE TIRE CARES BLOG | FACEBOOK | TWITTER

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Common Tire Replacement Tips

Tips to properly maintain tires for a safer, more comfortable ride and a longer tread life during tire replacement.

Understanding tire basics sounds simple. Tires are essentially flexible containers of compressed air or nitrogen. They help support a car’s load and trust it forward when the driver puts it in gear and pushes the gas pedal. Tires also help stop the vehicle when braking and cushions the load from potholes or other hazards in the road.

Today, tires have many advanced components and are engineered for important tasks such as absorbing more bumps, providing better cornering ability and helping the driver with sharp steering responses. Here are some tips to help add some life to your tires when replacing tires.

Mixing Tire Types

The same tire type should be used on all four wheels for the best performance. Different size tires, constructions and stages of tire wear may affect the vehicle handling and stability.

Mixing radial and non-radial tires on a vehicle is not advised too. If mixing tires is not avoidable during tire replacement, never mix radial and non-radial tires on the same axel.

For 4×4 and AWD vehicles following these guidelines is advisable:
• Do not mix tires
• Do not mix radial tires
• Ensure that the outside circumference of all tires are similar
• Do not mix tire tread patterns, such as all-season and all-terrain
• Replace all

Matching 4×4 tires is also extremely important to avoid failure of a 4×4 driveline component that can turn into an avoidable and expensive proposition.

Tire Speed-Rating

Using replacement tires with ratings equal to or greater than original equipment manufacturer (OEM) tires originally installed on the vehicle is recommended to maintain the speed capability of the vehicle. Do not use a tire that has a lower tire speed rating.

The performance and handling may be different depending on the type of vehicle, if replacement tires are not the same speed rating. The vehicles owner manual can help identify any tire speed rating restriction that could impact the operation of the vehicle.

Same Tire Size

Choosing a tire that is the same size is critical. Don’t choose a tire that is smaller or larger in size or has less load-carrying capability than the other tires on the vehicle. Tires should be replaced with the same size designation and approved options as recommended by the vehicle or tire manufacturer. The correct tire size can be found in the owner manual, on the door placard, on the sidewall of the current tires on the vehicle or by seeking the advice of your local tire retailer.

Caring for New Tires

Properly maintained tires will provide longer tire tread life and give a more comfortable ride. Here are a few final tips on proper maintenance:

• Balance tires when they are mounted on the wheels
• Rotate tires every 6,000 to 8,000 miles
• Check alignment when new tires are installed and at the first sign of uneven tire wear
• Check air pressure at least monthly
• Check tires frequently for tire wear, punctures, cuts, slow leaks, or injury
• Clean tires with mild soap and water and a soft rag or brush

Many tips such as these can help lengthen the life of your tires during tire replacement. Consult with your local tire retailer or look for tire reviews with consumer research when selecting new tires.

About Belle Tire
People have trusted Belle Tire for the best value since 1922. Because at Belle Tire we challenge ourselves every day to make sure that you always get the lowest tire price, period. Prove it to yourself. Take the Belle Tire Price Challenge. Challenge us online, over the phone or even challenge us right in the store. Come in to any Belle Tire, and we’ll check other stores’ prices with you, right at the counter, and prove to you that Belle Tire has the lowest tire prices, PERIOD! Plus, at Belle Tire, you’ll always get out the door with more value, services and protection with every tire installation than the competition can offer, at any price! For the Lowest Tire Price, Period and great low prices on Custom Wheels, Alignments, Brakes, Batteries, Oil and Lube, Shocks & Struts, Windshield Repair and Replacement, and more. Visit http://www.belletire.com and also join our online communities: BELLE TIRE CARES BLOG | FACEBOOK | TWITTER

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Belle Tire Contest to Win Two Tickets to Ride in the Goodyear Blimp

Register here to win a pair of tickets to ride in the Goodyear Blimp

Register here to win a pair of tickets to ride in the Goodyear Blimp


Register here to win a pair of tickets to ride in the Goodyear Blimp

About Belle Tire
People have trusted Belle Tire for the best value since 1922. Because at Belle Tire we challenge ourselves every day to make sure that you always get the lowest tire price, period. Prove it to yourself. Take the Belle Tire Price Challenge. Challenge us online, over the phone or even challenge us right in the store. Come in to any Belle Tire, and we’ll check other stores’ prices with you, right at the counter, and prove to you that Belle Tire has the lowest tire prices, PERIOD! Plus, at Belle Tire, you’ll always get out the door with more value, services and protection with every tire installation than the competition can offer, at any price! For the Lowest Tire Price, Period and great low prices on Custom Wheels, Alignments, Brakes, Batteries, Oil and Lube, Shocks & Struts, Windshield Repair and Replacement, and more. Visit http://www.belletire.com and also join our online communities:

BELLE TIRE CARES BLOG | FACEBOOK | TWITTER

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Custom Car Wheel And Tire Packages

There is no other single accessory that can so dramatically change the appearance of your vehicle as a set of custom wheels. In the old days, custom or “mag” wheels came from just a few manufacturers like Cragar, AT and American Racing. Now you can find all types of designs to fit any look or attitude from a myriad of makers including Pulse, Avenue, Dub, Enkel, Foose, and of course, American Racing and Cragar Classic.  When talking about custom wheels for street use, “Mag” is actually a misnomer.  In the early ‘60s, “Mag” was a term that racers used to refer to their lightweight, yet strong wheels made of magnesium.  But due to the drawbacks of magnesium wheel care and maintenance, custom wheels engineered for the general public are usually made of more easily cared for chrome plated steel, polished aluminum, or painted aluminum. 

Chrome or Aluminum?

Largely it’s a matter of taste, but there are a few things to consider. First, are these wheels primarily for occasional racing where weight might be an issue?  Or is it for a sometimes off-road or rally application, in which case, durability is an issue. Or is it simply for street cruising or touring where looks are the main issue? 

Painted Steel and Chrome plated steel wheels are heaviest of the three, but also are the most durable and forgiving of damage.  Good chrome plating not only looks great, but also resists corrosion. Painted aluminum is lighter, and virtually maintenance-free but cannot match the sheen of chrome or polished aluminum – which for many customizers is just the look they’re going for. Polished aluminum is light, looks great, but requires just a little more diligence to protect the finish from oxidization or pitting.  

Larger Tire Retail chains have installed thousands of wheel and tire combinations on vehicles over the years and can suggest several options that will work best with your particular vehicle and the look you are trying to achieve. Often they can even show you pictures of previous installations.

A Word On Wheel and Tire Fitment
 
One of the trends in custom wheels today is to install oversize wheels, up to 22” or more.  Keep in mind that any time you install rims that are taller than the tallest wheel that came standard on your vehicle, it requires careful planning. The larger diameter rim, with accompanying tire, must not only fit in the wheel well, but also have enough extra room for full travel of the suspension. Failure to do this properly will result in, at best, an annoying thud when hitting large bumps or, at worst, shredding and blowing out of the tire after just a few miles. The simplest way to accommodate a taller wheel is to switch to a lower profile tire so that the overall height of the wheel and tire package remains the same as before. The penalty for increasingly lower profile tires is increasingly stiffer handling and harsher ride. 

For performance customizers who have installed aftermarket brakes on their vehicles, separate calculations have to be made for backspace and offset, the measurements for how much space there is between the wheel centerline and the body of the car and how offset the centerline of the wheel is from the mounting plate.  Done correctly. This will ensure that the wheel not only has enough space to accommodate for the oversized brakes, but that the entire wheel and tire package will have enough room side-to-side in the wheel well.

Consult a Professional

Trying to buy custom wheels online should only be attempted by those who have had some real experience in this area. For most of us, the best option is a large local tire retailer that stocks a big selection of chrome, painted or polished custom wheels.  Not only can you see and compare actual wheels side-by-side, but you are also assured that the great –looking tire and wheel package you end up with is one that will work properly (read safely) with your vehicle. This is not a time for trial and error!

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Tire Rotation Encourages Even Tread Wear

There are many difficult maintenance and repair chores associated with your automobile, but tire rotation isn’t one of them … and it’s a service that clearly adds to your bottom line. If you know how to change a flat tire, then you have all the necessary skills to perform your own tire rotation.

The concept of tire rotation is simple- you swap the front tires of your car or truck with the back tires at regular intervals. By rotating your tires you increase the life of the entire set of tires. If your tires were never rotated it’s likely you would experience irregular wear in one or two tires, but by rotating at regular intervals you allow all four tires to wear out at about the same time so they can be replaced with a matching set.

Naturally, if you brought tire professionals from ten reputable tire discounters into a room and asked their opinion, you’d get ten different ideas on tire rotation. There is the opinion one should never rotate your rear tires with your front tires. Or that you should swap the front and rear left-side together, or the crossover opinion of left front to right rear and right front to left rear. Each of these opinions has its pros and cons.

There is one concept that all can agree upon. If you own a front-wheel drive vehicle the tires on the front wear twice as fast as the tires on the rear. There are several reasons for this: the drive train’s power goes though the front tires, the front tires shoulder the brunt of the cornering, and the front tires do the lion’s share of the braking.

All of this friction results in the gradual loss of tread, at a greater rate of wear on the front tires than the rear ones. For this reason, if you never rotated your tires your rear tires would only be about half worn when your front tires needed replacing. This plays into the opinion that you should never swap your front and rear tires when rotating … simply replace the front tires. However, this plan has its drawbacks. You might not be able to match to your rear tires, which will introduce different handling and traction characteristics.

Most experts agree that rotating all four tires together makes the most sense. Tire manufacturers, vehicle manufacturers and mechanics all recommend one of several rotation patterns, but the truth is it makes virtually no difference which way you rotate your tires as long as each tire divides its time equally on the front and rear of the car. The goal is to have all the tires wear equally so that all four are ready for replacement at the same time.

How often you rotate your tires is another area of wide ranging opinion, but the general consensus is to schedule a tire rotation somewhere in the range of every 5,000 to 7,500 miles. If you’re getting your brakes serviced it’s always a good idea to ask the mechanic to rotate the tires since they’re already off the car. And don’t forget to check your service contract because some tire stores include basic tire rotation as one of their benefits.

By regularly rotating your tires you promote even tread wear and reduce the chances of uneven wear and bald spots. A recent survey of 7,000 vehicles conducted by the Rubber Manufacturers Association (RMA) uncovered the disturbing statistic that more than 11% of vehicles were riding on at least one bald tire, a dangerous driving situation for both the vehicle’s owner and the others sharing that road. Scheduled tire rotation will lessen the chance of this situation occurring on your vehicle, and at the very least provides you, or a trained technician from a reputable tire discounter, an opportunity to get a close visual inspection of your tires and identify a potential hazardous situation before it becomes a road hazard.

Michael Trudel is a freelance writer for local and national marketing companies. Belle Tire is working even harder to bring you the best tire price, period! Learn how you can get Out-The-Door with More…more value, services and protection! http://www.BelleTire.com

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Sidewall Numbers and Letters Tell a Tale about Your Tires

Taking a close look at your tire’s sidewall can provide you with just about everything you really need to know about your tires. But, before diving into the language of tires, let’s consider what type of tires you have. Automobile tires generally fall into the following major categories:

P-Metric – P-metric sized tires are the ones with the “P” at the beginning of the tire size, such as P206/60R15. Their load capacity is based on an engineering formula which takes into account their physical size and the amount of air pressure.

European Metric- Euro-metric and P-metric tires in the same size, such as P206/60R15 and 206/60R15, are equivalent in their dimensions with only slight differences in their load capacity and inflation pressure. They are interchangeable if used in axle pairs or sets of four.

LT-Metric– LT-metric tires are equivalent to P-Metric tires, but have slight changes load abilities. Many 1/4-ton and 1/2-ton vehicles use Euro-metric and P-metric sized tires, while 3/4-ton and 1-ton vehicles use LT-metric sized tires.

Light Truck High Flotation – This designates tires with lower aspect ratio and higher flotation characteristics, which provide improved traction off-road. Information on these tires is always stated in inches.

T – Temporary Spare – If the lettering on a tire’s sidewall begins with a “T,” it signifies that it’s a Temporary Spare designed to be used only a limited time until a flat tire can be repaired or replaced.

The set of numbers and letters on your tire’s sidewall, 206/60R15 for example, can provide you a wealth of information. The first number represents the Section Width or the width of the tire. This is the distance between the outsides of the sidewalls of the tire, measured in millimeters or in inches on a high flotation tire.

The next number is the Aspect Ratio. This is the ratio between the tires Section Height, which is the distance from the rim seat to the outside of the tread, and the Section Width. The Aspect Ratio is typically expressed in increments of 5, such as 60, 70, and 75.  So, on a 206/60/15 tire, the Aspect Ratio is 60% of the section width.

Another piece of information is the tire type.  There are two basic types of tires:
* R –Radial: A radial tire is one with supporting belts, usually made of steel, running radially around the tire.
* B – Bias: A bias tire (or cross-ply tire) is one with plies that run diagonally from one bead to the other. One ply is set on a bias in one direction, and then succeeding plies are set alternately in opposing directions and cross each other.

The final number in the size of a tire is the Rim Diameter. Tires that have a rim diameter expressed in inches are the most common type used. Tires and wheels that have a rim diameter expressed in half inches (14.5, 15.5, 17.5 and 19.5) are used on some heavy-duty trailers, trucks and box vans.

You can also find important information about your tires by looking at the Unified Tire Quality Grading (UTQG) UTQG lettering. The (UTQG) system measures three things:

Treadwear (520)
This rating indicates a tire’s relative durability, based on government standard testing after about 7k miles of driving on a controlled test course. The rule of thumb is that you can add two zero’s to the number to estimate the average service life you can expect to get from the tire under normal driving conditions.

Traction (A)
This rating is based on government tests to measure a tire’s ability to stop a car moving straight ahead, on both concrete and asphalt surfaces. Tires are assigned traction grades of AA, A, B or C, with AA being the highest.

Temperature (A)
The temperature rating indicates a tire’s relative ability to withstand high operating conditions. Tires are assigned temperature grades of A, B or C based upon testing with A being the highest.

The DOT Number on your tire’s side wall also includes important information.
* The first two characters designate the tire manufacturer and plant code.
* Characters three and four denote the tire size.
* The fifth, sixth, seventh, and eighth (optional) characters identify the brand as well as other characteristics important to the manufacturer.
* The final four numbers denote the date the tire was produced.

Information contained in the tire’s Service Description is the tire’s load index and speed rating. The Load Index is an important number regarding towing or hauling. Load index numbers range from 75 (load carrying capacity of 852 pounds per tire) to 125 (3638 pounds per tire).  The Speed Rating indicates how the tire is rated for its capacity to perform at high speeds as tested by the U.S. Government and is represented by letters Q through Z. In general, a higher speed rating will result in better overall handling.

Remember, your tires are your only connection between you and the road. Now that you know the language of tires, remember to treat them well.

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