Make Your Automotive Dollar Go Farther!

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There’s not much we can do about the cost of buying a new car, but I can give you some advice that may help you reduce the cost of owning (and driving) it.service advisor pic

* Be wary of “service advisors” –

Often, these are in fact salesmen (and women). That is, they earn a commission on the sale of whatever repair they get you to authorize. While it might be true that the repair urged on you by the service advisor is needed, it is also true he has a financial interest in selling you the service. This strikes me as sketchy. Like a doctor who “suggests” a pill or device (or even surgery) that will earn him a check if you buy in.

How to avoid getting ripped off for repairs your car may not have needed? Like a complete transmission rebuild – when the “problem” was merely that the thing was low a quart of fluid (or there was a loose wire somewhere)? Get a second – and even a third – opinion from another shop. Especially if the suggested repair is a big ticket repair. Never accept at face value what you’re told by a service advisor unless you trust the guy completely.

And even then, caveat emptor.

* New cars don’t need much service at all –

At least, not for a long time.

The ’70s are history – and so are seasonal ignition and fuel system adjustments. Spark plugs are good for 50,000-100,000 miles; the electronics are solid state. Fuel injection needs fresh fuel – and not much else. Even the clutch in a manual-transmission-equipped vehicle no longer needs regular adjusting because modern clutches are self-adjusting.inspection pic

If you buy a new car today, you shouldn’t have to worry about more than occasional fluid/filter changes, tire rotations and basic brake work (i.e., replacing pads/shoes) for the first 50,000-75,000 miles. And – despite all the stuff that’s been added to new cars over the past 20 or 30 years – basic maintenance such as oil and filter changes, changing brake pads and tire rotations are still jobs you can do yourself and thereby, save money.

Your car’s owner’s manual will tell you exactly what regular service your vehicle needs – and when. Follow its recommendations and you – and your car – will be fine. (As well as covered by the vehicle’s warranty, in the event a problem occurs.) Don’t get tricked into premature maintenance that will do nothing for your car but which will deplete your wallet.

Example: A number of new cars only require an oil change when the car’s computer senses it’s time for an oil change. I’m not referring to the crude mileage-based “change oil” lights that cars used to have. Many new cars have a sophisticated sampling system that monitors the oil’s condition in real time, as you drive – and will only indicate the need to change the oil when it is necessary to change the oil. This can be 10,000 or even 15,000 miles or more – rather than the 3,000 or 6,000 miles that was common in the past. Given that good quality oil sells for $6 a quart these days – and synthetics for more than $10 a quart (and most cars take about 5 quarts, plus the filter) it pays to not change oil before you need to change the oil.sport tires pic

* Re-shoe your car with all-season/general purpose tires –

Instead of the “sport” tires that are now very common as factory equipment on even bread-and-butter family sedans. Sport tires tend to wear faster (they rarely make it to 30,000 miles while a good-all season tire can and often will last 50,000 miles or even more).

It’s true they – the sport tires – offer better high-speed cornering grip, sharper steering response and so on. But be honest with yourself about the way you actually drive and ask yourself whether the theoretical increase in high-speed cornering capability is worth the everyday reality of more frequent tire replacement (and more expensive tires, as sport-compound tires tend to cost more than general/all-season tires).

You should also know that everything’s relative – meaning, that the typical all-season “generic” tire of today is superior to the run-of-the-mill tire of 20 or 30 years ago, in terms of such things as traction, ability to dissipate heat and help your car stop as quickly as possible in an emergency. Unless you do weekend track days, going from a sport to a standard/all-season tire is not going to degrade your car’s capability or safety in any meaningful way on the street, within the bounds of normal street-driving speeds.

But it could save you a great deal of money. 

* Keep your headlights clear –headlights pic

Most cars built within the past 10-15 years do not have glass headlights. Instead, they have plastic-covered headlight assemblies. Unlike glass, the plastic yellows and becomes increasingly opaque over time as the surface layer of the plastic – exposed directly to UV light – degrades. If the headlights “yellow” too much, they not only look sad, they may cause your vehicle to fail state safety inspection. And replacing these headlamp assemblies can be very pricey.  

To avoid this – both the hassle at state inspection time and the potential expense of having to buy a new headlamp assembly – use commonly available (and very inexpensive) cleaner wax to lightly polish the plastic once every year or so. The cleaner wax contains very mild abrasive compounds that will gently remove the yellowed material and maintain the as-new translucent appearance. There are also complete kits that contain buffer/rubbing compound cleaner to deal with already yellowed headlight plastic. Neither ought to cost you more than $20 or so and some elbow grease – vs. $120 (or more) for a new headlight assembly.

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60 COMMENTS

  1. So I took my old Camry to Midas for an oil change: a $20 special to get you in the door.

    Among all the other things they found that I should fix was the cabin air filter @$20 plus $37 labor.

    Alternately you could pick a filter up from Amazon for less than $10 and follow the instructions in this Youtube video and change it yourself in less than three minutes.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i1HieBUTVYk

  2. I used regular Meguiars polish on my plastic headlights to remove the yellow stain. It took a lot of effort to polish them clear but cheaper than replacing the units.

  3. The first and most basic precaution to never getting ripped-off is: NEVER take your vehicle to a chain/franchise place (ESPECIALLY not a tire franchise place, like Firestone!)

    Such places usually hire the worst/incompetent mechanics (The only kind who will work in such places) and they exist just to sell you as much as possible.

    Finding a good competent and conscientious mechanic can be hard…but a good independent shop, once found, is worth it’s weight in gold.

    A lot of places, even if they don’t intentionally mean to cheat you, will often do so just out of laziness or not being conscientious.

    When I had my Town Car, it developed a slight miss once. I hooked up a scanner and it said “mass air flow sensor”. Most shops would have just changed the sensor. Here’s where the conscientiousness comes in: Rather than just unthinkingly replacing the MAF, I first started inspecting the wiring harness to it…and quickly discovered that the connector wasn’t making good contact. A little cleaning of the connector and some tape, and the problem was solved. Had I taken the car to a shop, I can guarantee you that even a good, trusted shop would have just replaced the sensor, and charged somewhere in the neighborhood of $200 to do so.

    Too many techs today are just blindly doing whatever a computer tells them to do. I had a van on which the horn didn’t work; and I couldn’t find the problem- so I took it to a good mechanic who I know to be honest and quite good (and expensive)- He went through the steps his computer program outlined for diagnosing the problem- and thought that we had a major problem- suspecting a bad wire somewhere in a deep dark place, or the clockspring, etc.

    That didn’t sit well with me, so I took the van to a more old-school guy i had heard of, who is known for being good with electrical. He just had to eyeball it under the steering column, to see that this van which had once had strobes and various things hooked up for some kind of emergency service duty, had had the horn disconnected when it was wired into the emergency lighting circuits, and then left that way when the rest of the stuff had been ripped out.

    $50 to straighten out the jumble of unnecessary wires under the column and hook the horn back up properly. vs. the other guy, who was going to do major surgery just to find the problem, and was quoting a few hunnert bucks- and likely would never have found the real problem, because there was no provision in his computer program for after-market hacked-up wiring done by a previous owner.

    A loose/broken/grounded wire or simply a bad connection can wreak a lot of havoc- especially on today’s complicated computerized vehicles- and no scanner or computer diagnostic program can alert one to such- it’s purely a matter of thoroughness and conscientiousness on the part of the tech to look for such things- but most don’t, until they’ve already fixed a few things and had the problem still persist- which means that the customer pays hundreds or even thousands of dollars unnecessarily.

  4. Headlight cleaning? I just read over at Ecomodder.com about a guy who cleans and polishes his plastic headlight lenses with Deep Woods Off, followed quickly with window cleaner used thoroughly, to remove all of the bug repellant residue. He had before and after photos, and it worked as well as any $20 or $30 dollar kit has ever worked for me.

      • You know what else works on faded headlights? Toothpaste. No lie. Toothpaste on a rag, with some scrubbing, then wash it off with Windex…. Not only does it clean the headlights, it leaves then minty fresh too!

        • Toothpaste is probably too abrasive, it will still work, just removes more than needed. I use what I have on hand for the paint. Usually ‘show car glaze’ or swirl remover, stuff like that. It’s more gentle that the other options given here other than the bug spray. My guess the bug spray is leaving some sort of chemical residue behind that fills in the haze.

    • I was just told the same thing – bug spray with DEET. Makes more sense using it on the car headlight than on someone’s skin.

      • Probably the safest use of DEET products out there. I have had some abandoned after trips to the woods, etc, and rather than throwing it in the woods, I left it in the van and now don’t know what to do with it (I will NOT spread it on MY skin….). So, the derelict Caravan, when resucsicated, shall get the DEET treatment. We shall see. I’ll be certain to wear latex gloves to protect my skin from the stuff……

    • Don, ran out of time this morning but I was gonna say I had two friends trying to clean headlights late in the shop and didn’t have any paint compound or other stuff. One tried the Deep Woods Off and it really worked. They both said the plastic looked like new. I don’t recall them saying they cleaned it off to any extent than more than wiping. Since reading this, I’ll ask again just what they did. I can’t tolerate spray bug repellent, worse than being sprayed with gasoline for me so I can see the stuff “removing” nearly anything.

      • Hi Eight,

        I wonder if using Off is a temporary fix? Whether the chemicals in the stuff replenish the “dry” surface of the plastic…. ?

  5. The great thing about older cars is just letting some repairs go. My 2000 BMW 528i has an oil leak deed down in the engine block (but not in the pan, of course…). The honest guys at the local oil change place estimated it would cost $1,000 to fix, mostly labor time. So they suggested just keeping a few quarts at home and topping it off between oil changes. When I get gas (infrequently since I moved to a small town) I just check the dipstick and add oil as needed. Big deal.

    • I remember a college dorm mate who had a ’56 Chevy (this was 1970). He carried a large jug of Sears reprocessed oil in the trunk. He never even bothered to check the dip stick. He just looked in the mirror, and if he could see behind him, it was time to add.

      • (couldn’t resist the name game….)

        sounds like an old Mercedes diesel I had…… fill the tank add quart. Then I redid the bearing/seal assembly in the turbo and cured that. That plan did not work on an earlier Mercedes diesel, though… no turbo. THAT cure was a new owner.

    • If you got a leak like that, you don’t need oil changes, you are functionally changing it on the go.
      I’d do the filter once in a while…..

  6. I have a 2012 Wrangler, purchased brand new. The oil sensor now comes on saying “change oil” even though I have barely put 3000 miles between oil changes, and the dealership oil sticker says my car is good for another 2500+ miles. When I call the dealer, they are unclear as to whether the oil needs to be changed or not. Any suggestions?

    • The change oil system is just math. It measures time since it was last reset and driving habits then it goes through a formula someone at the manufacturer came up with and says ‘time to change the oil’.

      So if it has been about a year since the last oil change it will time out and tell you to change it.

  7. Last year a friend of my boss took her daughters car (late model Lexus/Camry clone) to the stealership for a missfire, the service writer gave her a $2400 estimate.
    Not wanting to spend that much they brought it to me and I fixed it for $150 (all it needed was a new ignition coil).
    I do almost all the work on my parents/my own/ and employers vehicles. Undoubtedly saved thousands vs. using repair shops, though sometimes shops get a bad rap. For example they have a markup on parts which some people think is solely to drive up the price but it actually covers labor on re-work if the parts are defective. Also love it when folks gripe about labor expense, bet they wouldn’t gripe so much if they did the labor themselves and saw what a PITA some of those jobs can be. Just sayin…

    • Can’t argue with that. Some parts are a bitch to refurb and often need special tools, so it’s no wonder they can be a bit pricey compared with what some might think. When in doubt, buy new and pay more again.. 😉

    • Another reason to get work done at a GOOD dealer. Our warranty is 2 years\ unlimited miles on CP service work. We’ve warrantied some stuff that really shouldn’t have been just to try to help customer. They usually remember it. Some stuff the factory is a dick about. Like mirrors, lights, stuff that could be easily damaged physically. Alot of used car dept’s would heve service do it so they wouldnt have to pay. But Ford caught wind and now all that stuff needs approval before we can replace. But I can replace a transmisison without it cause I usually fix them and they know that so they don’t think we’re changing them when they could be fixed cheaper.

      As far as maintenence, The manafacturer advertises “cost of ownership”. There is a good story told be one of the teachers at the Ford school. For a couple years they used a CVT trans. Supposedly the engineers said the fluid should be changed every 30k. But the bean counters didn’t like having 3 expensive services in 100k. So they went round and around and the engineers said it could be streached to 50k. But that was still 2 time. So they decided 60 for the hell of it. I told a couple people that story, they change theirs at 30k and have no treouble to 200k, when most of them are luckey to get 120k without issues, and they’re very expensive to fix (if you can get parts) or replace,again a reman is also hard to come by. I think they want less maintenence so when it’s out of warranty and it cost 6k to fix they just buy a new one.

    • back when I used to do repair work for paying customers regularly, I always marked up the parts I bought…. some balked at my parts prices “I can get it cheaper at _________”, Fine. But if YOU get the bits and I install them, my warranty covers ONLY my labour, if I installed it correctly and it fails that is YOUR part’s fault, not my installantion’s. When I procure the bits, I guarantee the WHOLE JOB. A guy needed a water pump, I had a high quality source for rebuilt, and put one on. A week later “its leaking, can you come see?” Sure.. it WAS the pump, First failure on that line I’d had in years of using them, He said “put a new one on, not reman”.. OK. I did.. I would ONLY let him pay the difference between the Reman and New prices…. he expected me to charge for the second installation. Nope.. I guarantee my work. He referred at least half a dozen new customers over the next few months. Another guy insisted he’d get the bits… I said fine, but when it fails, its YOUR problem. He did, I did, and it did. Oh was HE upset when he had to pay the labour a second time. I’d laid it out fair and square.

  8. Ditto on the second or third opinion.
    I took my Chevy 3/4 ton HD2500 4X4 to a “national chain” tire store for a laser alignment. They put it on the rack then told me no alignment could be done until almost $900.00 worth of ball joints and other assorted parts were replaced first.

    Second opinion shop said the $50.00 pitman arm should be replaced. No other parts were installed and alignment came out perfect.

    • Here is the best way to avoid getting ripped off at a garage. When you walk in the door, ask to speak to the shop owner or manager. Tell them you’ve never been there before, but a friend of yours recommended this shop as one of the fairest, and best he has ever dealt with. I will almost guarantee that you won’t get ripped off.
      I deal with a ton of mechanics in my line of work, and believe me, the vast majority of them are hard working men who are honest and fair. Even at the dealerships. By appealing to their good side, you will get a good deal almost every time.
      It’s the guys who walk into a shop with a chip on their shoulder, who assume they are going to get ripped off, and are just plain jerks who usually get ripped off. It is much easier to take advantage of an asshole than it is of someone you like and who likes you.

      • That’s sound policy, Paul!

        My take on this is as follows: There’s probably less overt ripping off than simple “I’m out of my depth.” By which I mean, modern cars are so complex, have so many inter-related systems, that diagnosing and repairing a problem – especially the “ghost in the machine” electrical glitch sort of problem – can be a real challenge for even an engineer, let alone a mechanic.

        Consider: How many things could go wrong with a carburetor – or even a simple TBI system? One by one, you eliminate the possibilities – and, problem found (and fixed). But how about drive-by-wire direct port injection, working with variable valve/cam timing, cylinder deactivation and auto-stop?

        You see what I mean!

        • I know exactly what you mean. We run nothing but Lincoln Town Cars/ Ford Crown Vics and ford Expeditions on our fleet. My mech has had every system apart on those vehicles at one time or another. Yet, every once in a while, some stupid thing goes wrong, and it is just about impossible to figure out…. And we are running older rigs from the late 90s early 00s…. I can just imagine the problems some of these new fangled things are going to present….

          • Paul the cabbie:

            One thing I worked out after some years fixing forklifts is that when wire connectors have been attached to each other for a long time, an almost invisible layer of corrosion can build up on the metal, similar to a copper coin. This introduces minor resistances that can confuse sensors and their interconnected logic circuits for ignition and mixture for example.

            Unclip and reclip all connectors, fuses etc. New metal will make contact. It’s saved me a bunch of headaches in the field, although your mech probably knows of this already 🙂

            • All mechanical and electrical systems are often fixed by disassembly and reassembly with no problem found.

              As to the build up of corrosion on connectors… sometimes I find myself sanding it off if the connector isn’t well sealed or has a failed seal.

              • Exactly Brent. Checking all the connectors is a good way to find faults, even if it appears none were found.

                A few times now I found a few OEM connectors in my car where the seals have let moisture in and all manner of green/blue oxides managed to grow.

                Although this is a visible form of corrosion, the invisible kind can leave many stumped.

                Many of the forks I worked on are near 40 years old and have been through all kinds of conditions, from 20C below zero to above 40 in humid conditions. It’s no wonder switches and connectors fail. Even the non-computerised speed controllers glitch out when fed the wrong signal from a sensor that’s not powered properly through corrosion on the connector.

        • Working at a stealership, I attest to the fact that there are always software revisions coming out for all manner of modules for different concerns. Alot of the problem is the lack of training. Most dealers don’t want to pay for training or experence. That and there are a lot of idiots that couldn’t fix a sandwich. They like to throw parts at stuff. The place I’m at goes above and beyond making sure I’m taken care of for everything I need.

          With the flatrate system speed is encouraged. They used to get 50 percent of the door rate now you’re lucky if it’s 25 and having to spend upward of 50k on tools sucks too. Nobody wants to do it anymore. I think a good way to tell a good shop is to see how busy they are. We are usually at least a week and a half out. A lot of the other dealers in the area are dead and have been for a while. to me dealer should go above and beyond, that to me is why we charge a little more. But, for example the dealer in the town over screwed up and injector oring job in a diesel and cracked a cup. They then wanted to charge 2800 dollars to fix their fuck-up. They towed it to us and the job only came to 1700. Normally I don’t like to throw anyone under the bus, but I had to. I had the customer come in showed him what I found. Now he’ll trust us foreever. We have fleets that just let us keep a their credit card!

          • If Microsoft, with a penchant for hiring people three standard deviations above the IQ norm, can’t put reliable software together, what makes you think General Motors can?

            • We here always say they are MARGINALLY more intellegent than a govt employee. Ford is so screwed up how it’s run. One problem is that most people who work there only do the same job for a couple years max then are transferred. Policies are always being changed, mostly for no good reason. I got the top level certification from Ford and when they came out and bought lunch fro the dealer I bashed them to their faces during my acceptence speech. I was tempted to pour a toast out on the ground for them. Mgmt would’ve shit themselves. I don’t care, my job is secure. They like to hold over our heads that we don’t work for them and have no influence how we get paid, but they set the labor times so they do. F’em.

        • the cure: drive an old Mercedes diesel with mechanical fuel injection,. Not much CAN go wrong, and rarely does, but when it does, there are only a small hanful of possible causes, easy to wander down the “trouble shoot tree” and find it. Most cures are easy.

  9. Beware tyres that the shop puts on that are 4 or more years old. The rubber hardens and grip is reduced. The manufacture year/month is stamped on the sidewall. Just say you won’t have anything that’s more than 2 years old. They have to comply or go somewhere else.

    I prefer to do oil changes every 5-10k, simply because I hammer my engines after they warm up. Filter changes every 2nd oil change. If your engine ever overheats badly, it’s a good idea to change the oil as its lubrication properties can break down.

    I once had probs with my starter motor and my car being lowered and an east-west engine makes it very difficult to fix myself. So from the verbiage of an ex-GF I took it to this shop which were supposed to be good guys.

    When it came time to pick it up they did all kinds of extra “work” on it, such as air filter replacement (I had a K&N fer fuck sake!!) and a bottle of some injector cleaner in the tank, which nobody could prove actually went in there, because the cable/latch mechanism beside the seat no longer works and requires safecracker/contortionist moves to open it from inside the bodywork by manipulating the latch. I asked the guy how he opened the cap and he said by using the lever beside the seat. Liar!

    I refused to pay for anything besides the starter because that’s all I asked them to do. They refused to give my (spare) key back. Short of calling the cops myself, I rummaged through their bin for my K&N filter, had my main keys (containing house keys on it), left $80 cash on the counter for the starter replacement (refurb), took the “service” report and drove off.

    Guess what? No cops were called by either them or myself. Arseholes. They got a bad rap from me whoever I talked to since.

    • They threw away your K&N ? Jeez what idiots… that alone would have done them in for me and I would’ve dug in the the trash to rescue it too because I only want to pay $60 for an air filter once 🙂
      but it was a good investment for my old 96 Fleetwood Cadi.

    • I changed a friends Tahoe to Amsoil oil, all filters, transmission fluid etc. He decides it’s time for an oil change so takes it to a quick change bunch. They stole an $80(my cost)dual density, cleanable, reuseable, foam air cleaner(I know damned well someone else it still using it), dumped the oil and installed a shitty AC oil filter since Amsoil has the results of countless comparison tests of oil filters(it’s something anyone should want to do when they know it exists as there are big differences in oil and air filters these tests identify and there are huge differences in quality of filters, just go to their site). I told him he deserved it.

      OTOH, I am driving a Volvo now with a 3 head Cummins that pulls really good and gets great fuel mileage but gobbled 3.5 gallons of oil day before last. A $50 gallon of magic Lucas oil(not my friggin idea)reduced it to a couple gallons today but that was because it came out of the jug slower than 90 GL. Shades of STP oil additive(used to heat that stuff on the stove and pour it in with the help of a welding glove). I do hope the shop can stop that leak next week or we’ll be back to the same old, same old since the C 12 Cat in the KW had a blown head gasket(probably by the amount of pressure being shown at the radiator) or cracked head). I work for people who don’t have a tenth as much of savvy about big trucks that I do. If they’d only let me pick them out and not buy from auctions.

      I do like both Volvo’s though, quiet and things work although a push button air horn that sounds like sitting on a nearly dead duck sucks and engines pushed way back into the cab aren’t my thing. They do have good suspension but questionable cooler arrangements for anything but solely asphalt use. A mechanic I know said “yeah, we had a Volvo and it rode really good but working on it was a bitch……sorta like having sex with a (deleted expletive), rode real well but you hate to be seen with one”. That about sums it up unfortunately.

      I like the width of the cab. You could put a couple chairs in one and take the whole family(and the Great Dane…..we have). But you’ll never hear anyone say “Wow, did you see that Volvo? That’s a righteous ride.”

      • Sounds like an expensive problem no matter what it is Eight. Well, if it’s perished or hardened valve stem seals it would be cheaper but I can’t see how they could suck in 3 gallons of oil a day unless they’re missing entirely. Next would be oil control rings and then maybe a cracked head or knackered gasket but you should really be seeing some smoke in regard to that.

        They should allow the actual driver to have input into the purchase.

        • Rev, it leaks like a sieve. Somewhere near the back of the engine. It might be the rear main seal. I tried to get under it last week-end but had a huge overload on and the airbags were down. I didn’t want to fire it up and get it hot to inflate the suspension but I did and then this thing on some cracked ribs caught me halfway back there and I thought I might stay the day there since the wife checks on me weekly or when she wants something. Without a load and on concrete I’ll do the creeper thing but when the engine’s hot and on grass in the yard I lose patience more quickly since my wages are nowhere near the $90/hr shoptime. Still having hell with C4 and C5 from that wreck 3 months ago so somebody else can figure it out.

          You’re right about one thing though, it can’t be valves…..and the exhaust shows very little oil usage. Now if I could only disable that damned speed limiter…….10-4 on the driver input….thanks for the thought.

        • few big diesels use valve stem seals, nor will they commonly get hardened if they are there. Most likely a seal leak (rear main?) or turbo oil seals. They can pump a lot, and if its on the intake side will usually supply the oil on the intake side, burning it up along with the fuel, little smoke to show for it. On the exhaust side, oil will gather in the snail when its on the tickover, then get blown out and make quite the smokescreen when pulling away.

  10. I don’t put too much mileage on my 04 Acura TL. So I’d rather get 30,000 miles out of tires that are fun to drive. There is a large selection in between basic “general purpose” rubber and ultimate high performance street shoes.

    My 235/45R17 Michelins Pilot Sports are definitely stock size. But they make a big difference in steering feel, and grip any time I’m driving over 5/10ths of capacity.

    So for any car above a mere transportation appliance, I think the extra investment in performance tires pays big dividends.

  11. Another benefit of normal grade tires is that they tend to be much quieter. I noticed this right away on the TDI when I put the winter tires on last fall. Of couse, the winter tires are much softer than even regular tires, but the difference is noticeable.

    • Definitely!

      I should also have mentioned the increased rolling resistance (and lower fuel economy) that comes with larger footprint “sport” tires. Example: an 18 inch whee;/tire vs. a 16-inch wheel/tire.

      Is there anything sillier than a minivan riding on 18 inch “sport” tires?

      • I drive on oil lease roads nearly every day. I often sweat what my 11R 24.5’s have suffered out there when I’m doing 80 down the interstate with 90,000 lbs like yesterday. I loaded my own trailer and wasn’t familiar with the machine or the material. I got it a bit heavy and a fellow drivers truck with a gauge showed I got his into the near 100,000 lbs range. I didn’t do this on purpose but shit happens. I hit a little bump and nearly turned over a loader that holds 12-13 tons per bucket too. I sure didn’t mean to do that. But tires are meant to do basically one purpose and I see those new pickups with 20″ or larger really low profile, often load rated E run those lease roads and have blowouts constantly since those tires don’t have the same deflection the larger, uncool(to idiots)higher sidewall and better tires do. More and more I see big light trucks with blown tires mainly because of this lower profile bs. Hey, it’s a truck, says so right on the side. It may not be an 18 wheeler but then again, I see and use one ton trucks with dual tandem axle gooseneck trailers with 30,000 lbs on them. it may not be legal but it’s so common you’d have to have an army of DOT to make an impact.

        While people think tires are much better these days, and they are in some respects, those low-profile things like 22’s on a Escalade are not only dangerous, they ruin the suspension geometry and soon that Escalade will be steering like a Conestoga wagon. Go to the suspension shop and the entire front end will be toast. Whatever floats your boat though. I live it, see it and avoid hell out of it on my own vehicles. I probably ruin more tires than most anyone on this site and every day I pray it won’t be that steering tire.

        BTW, if you’re young and want to make good money and own your own business, get into tire repair for road repair. You can just about name your price for a tire and if you’re decent, you’ll have plenty of work, even more than you can handle with one truck very quickly. Most guys who do this are limited by lack of qualified help. It’s good money so spread it around and pay those guys well and you’ll be running a fleet of repair trucks in a short time.

        And I see small cars on the side of the road every day with ruined tires. I think changing a tire is rapidly becoming something most people simply won’t take the time to do or learn how. Hey, I’ve got AAA. Good for you. Like sitting around with finger inserted or would you just rather changed the tire and go on. Believe it or not, your lilly white(or black)nasty hands will wash and be good as new. I look at people’s fingernails. Those that are perfectly clean I know are probably fairly incompetent except to dial a number. Sorry, didn’t mean to mention the “work” word.

          • scawarren, yeah, it’s always fun to come off really sharp rock and hellacious twists, turns, grades and pulls plus running over everything you can think of(was that a pile of sucker rod or upset tubing under all those weeds that I just ran over?”)and then hitting the highway and doing big numbers with even bigger loads.

            We’re back to the way I grew up. I once asked my uncles(truckers) how to load a truck properly, what was a “load”? We were hauling grain at the time. They said “Only pull forward when it runs off the top”. Ok then. If you can get more on, you ain’t loaded. Hey, that sorta sounds like a 60’s mantra don’t it?

            About the only difference now is the scale house won’t give you a dummy ticket and some of the DOT guys know you can’t(legally) haul 90 joints of 2 3/8″ tubing.

            Yep, I spent the last several months destroying those stupid recaps(ignorant friggin company people) on 150 degree pavement with overloads. Hey clover, go ahead, hang out right beside me as long as you can, never know when an 11 R 24.5 is going to blow. I had an astute BMW driver recently slam on his brakes and do a hard turn away from one. Good man and thanks for not doing that slower passing is better bs. It saved you and me both.

            Phillip, you got it. It always seemed like more work to shy away from it for me. I’ve seen people nearly have a stroke trying so hard to not work. Some races are more scared of it than the snakes they fear. Luckily, this doesn’t account for all people of ANY race.

        • Tyres are the first suspension components in line with the rest, so it makes sense to choose wisely. Anything smaller than a 50 profile is pointless IMO unless you run the thing on the track.

          Using low profile with standard suspension can cause the tyres to bounce, unless the pressure is reduced accordingly. Often factory tyre pressures are way too soft even with standard tyres and the thing wallows around corners and can’t brake safely either.

          On any average to large passenger car with standard tyres I tend to inflate the fronts a bit more, to say 34 PSI for sharper handling and safer stopping, and the rears down to 28 to 30, depending on load, reducing rear bounce.

          When it comes to sport suspension and low profile tyres, it requires a bit of experimentation, which also incorporates the type of car and the front/rear balance it has.

          My front wheel drive NX Pulsar is very front heavy, so with my tyre and suspension setup it requires 36 PSI front and 27 rear.

          • Rev, total agreement on tires and inflation values. My wife’s car has 205/60-16’s. The tires of this ilk are mainly 44 pound maximum. Her’s does really well with 42 front and 37 rear, near perfect wear and handles much better than lower pressures.

            • Sounds like a heavy car Eight. It’s a matter of inflating/deflating the tyre and getting your head down low to see the optimal contact patch and experiment by feel from there.

              After some mileage has been reached, it’s easy to see the wear pattern across the tread however, changing to a different brand/type of tyre will require more experimentation again.

              • Rev, I can recall back in the 70’s and esp. 80’s when radials were common, almost every car you bought, sedan or pure sports car, had too little tire pressure. Testers would sometimes double air pressure and achieve huge handling gains. It’s still a game most play, even tire companies so you will like the “ride” of their tire. I’ve found most tires can be inflated to nearly maximum for best handling and best wear.

                I spend a lot of time varying pressures on big pickups though since 65 lbs in a one ton on the front and 55 lbs in the back may work well but once fully loaded, at least the maximum 80 lbs in the rears and depending on the load, maybe that much up front too. I used to have a source of free nitrogen and that was really the nads for tires with pressures not increasing nearly as much when ambient air temps/ loads are increased.

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