Category Archives: tire replacement

Beginner’s Guide to Tire Shopping

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20141102_094250It’s hard to be a beginner in the midst of the tire aisle trying to determine the right tire for your car, truck or van. There are so many different options and tire features, and all you want are tires that can make your vehicle go down our Wisconsin roads. However, don’t make a beginner’s mistake and believe that all tires are equal or that the cheapest option is the right tire for your vehicle. Instead do your research and use this beginner’s guide for tire shopping:

Select the Right Tire for Driving Condition

What do you need your tires for? A muscle car you only take out in the summer? A minivan that needs to get the kids back and forth to school? A comfortable and a great ride when you want to take a drive?

If you need cars for your muscle car, look for tires with a higher speed rating. For day-to-day use, you do not need tires with a higher speed rating, but you do need tires that can provide a nice, quiet ride and maintains safe tread depth. Do your research, and be honest with yourself—and the experts you consult—about your driving style. If you have to venture out in the worst winter conditions, select a tire with a proven record on winter roads.

Another strategy for tire selection is to stick with what works. If you are happy with the performance of the current tires on your vehicle, replace your old tires with the same tires that you had before.

How to Determine Tire Size

It’s easy to find the size of the tire you need for your vehicle. Tire sizes are found on the tire, in your user manual and often on the inside of the driver-side door. Look for three numbers, such as P255/55R17.

The P indicates that the tire is intended for passenger cars. You may also commonly see the letters LT, which is for a light truck. The first numbers are the width, in millimeters, between the two sidewalls. The second number, in this example 55 is the aspect ratio. The number is a percentage, and the higher the percentage, the larger the sidewall of the tire. The last number, 17 in this case, is the diameter of wheel that the tire fits on.

Question of Snow Tires

All-season tires, the most common tires on our cars, are designed for rain, heat, cold and snow. They give you a good all-around tire for those conditions, but the “take” is that they are not specially equipped for winter. Constructed with a softer compound and tread pattern designed specifically for getting through winter precipitation, snow tires can dig down and find traction on even the roughest roads. If you HAVE to venture out on winter roads because of work or school, snow tires get you there.

Once you’ve gone through these simple criteria, visit a tire shop and ask them what tires work best for you. They can make recommendations based on what they’ve seen work on other Wisconsin customers, and can handle the extreme heat and cold of our Wisconsin weather. A good tire shop can also assist with a full car alignment so your new tires wear evenly and you can get the most miles out of your tires.

When is it time to remove my snow tires?

michelin_tires_watertown_tire_shop“When is it time to remove my snow tires?” sounds like a question with a pretty clear answer, right? Unfortunately the answer is not always so clear with our unpredictable Wisconsin winters (remember that snow storm that hit in May years ago?). While the call to remove your snow tires is a judgment call based on our unpredictable Wisconsin winter, there are two general guidelines to remember when making your decision:

  • Wait until the threat of snow has passed. Yes, this is Wisconsin after all. We are aware that the threat of snow has not passed until June. When the temperatures start hitting the 40’s or 50’s on a regular basis, it’s time to take those snow tires off—but try not to make the switch too soon. You don’t want to get stuck in a spring snow storm on all-season tires when you bought a set of snow tires for safety and increased traction.
  • Don’t wait too long. The soft rubber compound that makes winter tires a reliable snow tire is the same compound that burns off on hot roads. With this in mind, make sure you remove (or have your mechanic remove) snow tires before the roads dry out and the temperatures heat up. If you leave your snow tires on too long, you won’t be able to use that same set of snow tires next year.

Consider buying a second set of rims for your snow tires to ease snow tire removal and remounting. One set of rims would be for your all-season tires, and the second set would hold your snow tires. This philosophy has two advantages:

  • You don’t have to go through the hassle of breaking the bead, removing and remounting tires during the fall and spring.
  • While the cost of a second set of rims can be costly, it can save the cost of a tire because you don’t have to worry about damaging your snow tire or all-season tire during the removal and mounting process.

If you have any questions about snow tires and removal, contact our trusted mechanics at Tire-rifik in Watertown. They can answer questions about snow tires, purchasing the right set of snow tires or a second set of rims for your snow tires or all-season tires—any questions you might have about tires and our unpredictable Wisconsin winters.

Regular Car Maintenance You Shouldn’t Ignore

engineIt’s easy to ignore regular car maintenance. When life gets busy, and schedules get hectic, finding the time for regular car maintenance gets tricky. When it seems like you don’t have time, factor in the inconvenience later when your car breaks down because you didn’t take the time for regular car maintenance. Regular car maintenance is essential to staying on the road, and staying out of the ditch. Regular car maintenance like:

  1. Oil changes. An engine without regular oil changes is an engine that costs their owner thousands of dollars over the life of the car. The cost of regular oil changes and time spent saves car owners money and inconvenience when your car breaks down. Ask your car mechanic how often you need an oil change, as the amount of miles can vary depending on the type of oil.
  2. Get your tires checked and rotated. Regular rotation of your tires ensures that tires wear evenly, and can even prevent surprise flat tires. An inspection of your tires can also find holes that allow air to leak slowly.
  3. Brake inspections. It’s normal for brakes to make occasional squeaking sounds when they get wet. If the squeak doesn’t go away, or if the noise is a grinding noise, your vehicle needs attention. If you don’t get your brakes looked it, and possibly replaced, brake failure is inevitable—leaving you in the midst of an accident you caused or in a ditch waiting for a tow truck.
  4. Replace your spark plugs. True story: a friend of ours delayed having the spark plugs replaced on her truck, leading to a $1,000 bill to replace the catalytic converter. The catalytic converter had plugged up because of faulty spark plugs. The moral of the story is to ask your mechanic when it’s time to replace those spark plugs, and follow through with the repair sooner than $1,000 later (or worse).
  5. Ditching that disgusting air filter. We won’t tell you how disgusting your air filter can get, but we can tell you that part of your regular car maintenance should include replacing or cleaning that gross air filter. A dirty air filter can choke your engine of air, causing performance issues and damage over the life of your car.

Don’t forget to regularly replace your windshield wipers and headlights—two parts of your car vital for proper vision when driving. The good news is that you don’t need to shoulder the task of regular car maintenance alone. Take your car to your trusted car mechanic or shop so they can keep records of your car’s regular car maintenance, and make recommendations based on those records. At the end of the day, don’t take the task of regular car maintenance lightly—so you don’t end up with heavy costs and inconvenient car repairs later.

When do I need new tires?

michelin_tires_watertown_tire_shopThe extreme cold or our Wisconsin winters, and 90 degree days of our summers are hard on our cars—especially our tires. Since your tires are one of the most important players in you staying on the road, and out of the ditch, a periodic inspection is essential to keeping away those painful flat tires and damage from going into a snowy ditch or sliding through a rainy intersection. So how do you know when it’s time to replace your tires? Just look for these signs of tire replacement (and use these easy tests!):

  • Hardness. Did you know that even if you don’t drive frequently or on long trips, you may still need new tires? Tires don’t always wear down to replacement; they often harden over time, making them a lot harder to drive in slick weather. Any mechanic can tell you if your tires are hard and ready for replacement.
  • Doesn’t hold air. If you have to add air to your tires regularly, or your tire sporadically goes flat, an alarm should be going off in your head. Adding air to your tires is not normal, and eventually you’re going to be stranded somewhere with a flat tire.
  • Very little tire tread left. Not sure if you have enough tread? Use the old coin trick. Put a penny into the tread of your tire. If you can completely see Abraham Lincoln’s head, you need new tires. Make sure you try this trick in a few different places on the tire. Tires can wear differently, leaving some tires with uneven tread depth.
  • Excessive cracking or blistering. If you have cracks or blisters on the sidewall of your tire, you need to get your tires checked as soon as possible. Excessive cracking or blisters are tire injuries that can lead to a blow out, leaving you stranded by the side of the road or at home not able to get to work or school.
  • Tread wear indicator bars show. You won’t see tread wear indicator bars when your tire is new. As the tread of your tire starts to wear down, you will notice bars in the bottom of the groove in several locations around your tire. Just as the name implies, tread wear indicator bars are a clear sign you need to get those tires to a repair shop for inspection, and possible replacement.

Still don’t know if you need tires? Schedule an appointment with a Tire-rifik technician in Watertown. They can check your tires over for signs of tire replacement, and can make recommendations for new, affordable tires if you need them. Don’t delay, get your car checked today so you can stay on the road and out of the ditch during one of our freezing cold Wisconsin days or on one of our steamy summer days.

How to Select the Right Tires for your Car (Simplified!)

michelin_tires_watertown_tire_shopOverwhelming. At least it feels like it when faced with all the different kinds of tires available for your car. Don’t panic. Selecting the right tires for your car is easier than you think. Just start with a few questions and research to find the tire that is a good fit, and a good value. You don’t have to blow your budget to get the right tires for your car, but you do have to know the answers to a few simple questions:

What do I want from my tires?

What do you need your tires for? A muscle car you only take out in the summer? A minivan that needs to get the kids back and forth to school? A comfortable and a great ride when you want to take a drive?

If you need cars for your muscle car, look for tires with a higher speed rating. For day-to-day use, you do not need tires with a higher speed rating, but you do need tires that can provide a nice, quiet ride and maintains safe tread depth. Do your research, and be honest with yourself—and the experts you consult—about your driving style. If you have to venture out in the worst winter conditions, select a tire with a proven record on winter roads.

Another strategy for tire selection is to stick with what works. If you are happy with the performance of the current tires on your car, replace your old tires with the same tires that you had before.

What size do I need?

It’s easy to find the size of the tire you need. Tire sizes are found on the tire, in your user manual and often on the inside of the driver-side door. Look for three numbers, such as P255/55R17.

The P indicates that the tire is intended for passenger cars. You may also commonly see the letters LT, which is for a light truck. The first numbers are the width, in millimeters, between the two sidewalls. The second number, in this example 55 is the aspect ratio.  The number is a percentage, and the higher the percentage, the larger the sidewall of the tire. The last number, 17 in this case, is the diameter of wheel that the tire fits on.

Do I need snow tires?

All-season tires, the most common tires on our cars, are designed for rain, heat, cold and snow. They give you a good all-around tire for those conditions, but the “take” is that they are not specially equipped for winter. Constructed with a softer compound and tread pattern designed specifically for getting through winter precipitation, snow tires can dig down and find traction on even the roughest roads. If you HAVE to venture out on winter roads because of work or school, snow tires get you there.

Ask your friends what has worked for them and read through online reviews for outside opinions. Remember to screen the reviews and look for others who drive in similar conditions. You’re not going to have the same experience as a driver in Florida—the driving conditions and weather is different in the Midwest. Also take into account their driving style. Some drivers are harder on tires than others, and their tires reflect that difference in wear.

When you’ve made your decision, or if you are trying to decide between just a few options, visit a local tire shop and ask what they’ve seen on cars that have come in. They can tell you what tires would be ideal for our Wisconsin weather and maintains adequate tread depth, giving you the maximum value for your investment, as well as traction and a good ride no matter what the weather and road throws at you.

5 Signs You Need New Tires

michelin_tires_watertown_tire_shopThere’s a huge hole in your tire. Obviously, that’s a sign that you need new tires. But did you know that there are smaller, more subtle signs you need new tires? Regular driving (even without squealing your tires) and cold Wisconsin conditions are hard on tires, wearing them down and compromising their performance during slick conditions. Tires with no tread, or very hard tires, do not perform as well, putting you, your passengers, and the cars around you at risk. If you want to catch your tires before you cause an accident, ask your technician to check the tires periodically when they change the oil. If you don’t take your car in, and you’re not a car geek, you can still spot the warning signs with regular tire inspections:

  • Hardness. Did you know that even if you don’t drive frequently or on long trips, you may still need new tires? Tires don’t always wear down to replacement; they often harden over time, making them a lot harder to drive in slick weather. Any mechanic can tell you if your tires are hard and ready for replacement.
  • Doesn’t hold air. If you have to add air to your tires regularly, or your tire sporadically goes flat, an alarm should be going off in your head. Adding air to your tires is not normal, and eventually you’re going to be stranded somewhere with a flat tire.
  • Very little tire tread left. Not sure if you have enough tread? Use the old coin trick. Put a penny into the tread of your tire. If you can completely see Abraham Lincoln’s head, you need new tires. Make sure you try this trick in a few different places on the tire. Tires can wear differently, leaving some tires with uneven tread depth.
  • Excessive cracking or blistering. If you have cracks or blisters on the sidewall of your tire, you need to get your tires checked as soon as possible. Excessive cracking or blisters are tire injuries that can lead to a blow out, leaving you stranded by the side of the road or at home not able to get to work or school.
  • Tread wear indicator bars show. You won’t see tread wear indicator bars when your tire is new. As the tread of your tire starts to wear down, you will notice bars in the bottom of the groove in several locations around your tire. Just as the name implies, tread wear indicator bars are a clear sign you need to get those tires to a repair shop for inspection, and possible replacement.

Replacing your tires doesn’t mean you have to take out a second mortgage; watch for specials and discounts at local repair shops to get the best deals on tires. Your investment in new tires has an extra advantage as well. Not only are you lessening your chance of an accident from bald tires, but your excellent driving record means lower insurance premiums. That means you won’t be stranded, or put yourself and everyone else at risk for accidents, plus you can save money in the long run—all while you enjoy the quiet, excellent performance of your new tires.