Seasonal Tires Tips

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Do I really need to replace all four tires at once?

All-Wheel Drive and Four-Wheel Drive Tire Replacement

A mechanic is likely to advise you to replace your snow tires, all-weather tires or winter tires all at once if you are a four-wheel drive owner. Four and all-wheel drive vehicles can "pull" sideways in wet conditions if there is uneven traction. Your tires should be evenly matched to prevent this kind of uneven traction. Sudden stops in wintertime are often unavoidable, and you don't want to wind up in a ditch somewhere because of imbalanced tire traction ratios due to mismatched winter tires.

What is a 'footprint'?

What is a Footprint?

A "footprint" refers to the tread pattern of an all-terrain tire. Offroading lovers debate the importance of the footprint based on the on or off-road performance. When it comes to traction in tricky situations, some drivers want that extra advantage, saying bigger is better. Other drivers hate the louder highway noise generated by big-footprint all terrain tires. They don't mind the trade off of a smaller footprint and a smoother and quieter ride on the way to the trail. Better street handling means reduced performance off-road, but these tires also have an appeal to those who only rarely drive off the street. The diehard dirt devil may sacrifice a bit of comfort on the way to the trail-once there, the real fun begins.

How should I clean my winter tires and custom wheels?

Cleaning Snow Tires and Custom Wheels

Drivers who fuss over the appearance of their vehicles take great care with the tire wheels, just as much as the tires themselves. Whether you are cleaning snow tires, that replacement all terrain tire, or any other kind of wheel/tire combo, there are a few pointers that can help. Tires and wheels have different cleaning needs, so it's not a good idea to use the same brushes for both snow tires and tire wheels. Some cleaning compounds made for tires can damage custom wheels-don't clean your chrome with rubber cleaning compounds! Many custom car lovers would cringe at the idea of using a conventional car wash to properly clean a vehicle. The soaps used are often less than adequate. For wheels, there is an acid-free cleaning compound that takes more time, but the results are wonderful. Those who don't have the time to invest in an acid-free cleaner should not let an acid-based cleaning compound dry on the wheels as it can damage the finish. Always give a good rinsing to the wheels after the cleaning is done.

What are some facts about mud terrain tires?

Mud Tread Tire Trivia Part 1

Putting larger mud-terrain or all-terrain tires on an off-road vehicle often means you have to 'lift' it to accommodate the larger size. Laws controlling lifts vary from state to state-know the rules beforehand and avoid tickets!
When a truck is lifted to accommodate the larger size all-terrain tires, the center of gravity is affected. It is important to get the hang of your vehicle's new handling limitations after the lift is finished.
In spite of the warnings, many off roaders drop the pressure in their mud-terrain tires. When you lower the pressure, you also reduce your speed performance. Proper inflation lets you drive faster off road!

How do all terrain tires work?

How Do All-Terrain Tires Work?

What makes an all-terrain tire different from a cheap tire, snow tire or expensive ultra-high performance tire? Part of the answer lies in what industry folks like to call "tire geometry". Irregularly shaped patterns and deep grooves combine to whip snow, mud, and sand away as the tire rotates on the turf. This lets the tire grab the most terrain possible-the good traction you expect from an all-terrain tire. Cheap tires are built to simply hug the road. The grooves aren't designed to toss mud and debris, and aren't meant to do so. The all-terrain design is built to withstand conditions that would send normal cars spinning out of control, or grinding to a dead stop in mud or snow. It's also the reason why running all-terrain tires on pavement isn't such a good idea over the long term--they wear down faster on the hard surfaces and the heat generated by driving on them.

What should I keep in mind about vehicle clearances?

Mud Tread Tire Trivia Part 2

Many people want bigger mud terrain tires for those "gumbo" situations off road. The first thing you will need to learn before getting larger all terrain tires or mud terrain tires is your fender clearance. This measurement covers both the parked clearance between tire and fender, but also the vertical play when the vehicle is in motion.

Undercarriage clearance is important-know how your mud terrain tires or all terrain tires affect that clearance! You don't want a hole in the oil pan caused by a rock that was a bit too tall.

Taller tires give additional space beneath the vehicle. How stable was that log you just drove over? Did it slip at the last moment and scrape the undercarriage? Taller tires can help to avoid contact with some objects. Wider tires may give less room underneath, but they offer better traction. If you ride on sand and mud instead of logs and boulders, better traction may be your preferred feature. The choice is a personal one, but knowing your favorite terrain can go a long way towards picking the right type of tire.

How long do tires last?

All-Terrain Tires-The Age Factor

The amount of mileage on your all-terrain tires may be low, but do you know their lifespan in terms of calendar years? Occasional or seasonal use of all-terrain, mud tires, snow tires and the like may result in low mileage, but those in the know understand that tires are still affected by time, regardless of miles driven. Many experts say the average lifespan of a tire is six years, but hot weather will speed up the aging process. Tires become stiffer with age, which reduces traction and handling ability. You may not notice this until you hit a patch of water and need that missing traction, but then it is too late.

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Phyllis Serbes