1. For performance and handling, the trend has long been toward fatter tires with a bigger footprint. That’s starting to change, though. Skinnier tires mean lower rolling resistance and better fuel economy, as well as a smaller aerodynamic profile. While fatter tires do handle better, tire engineers are making up the difference by designing skinny tires with a stickier tread formulation for traction and cornering ability.
2. Static electricity used to be a real concern for vehicles; if you’re old enough, you may remember seeing station wagons with a “ground strap” dragging along the pavement. It’s become a concern again, with newer tread compounds cutting back on the amount of carbon black in newer tires. The solution? Many tires are now designed with an “antenna strip” ...[more]
It can be a lot of work and attention to detail to get your car really clean…especially if it’s pretty dirty to start with…but here are some ideas for truly thorough cleaning that you may not have thought of!
--A cheap foam paintbrush can get into crevices (like A/C vents) that might be impossible otherwise. As you loosen up dust from these spots, keep a vacuum cleaner nozzle at work in your other hand to suck up the dust and prevent it from settling other places.
--A soft-bristled brush is perfect for cleaning around radio knobs and other buttons.
--While you’re cleaning, don’t forget to locate your cabin air filter and replace it. A dirty cabin air filter can lead to a lot of odd smells and stinks. Check your owner’s manual; cabin a ...[more]
We know that a lot of drivers are working pretty hard to make a dollar go farther and that the outlay for a full set of four tires – even inexpensive tires – can be considerable. That’s why we run across drivers pretty often who ask if it’s okay to just replace a pair of tires, then buy the other pair when they can afford them.
The answer is…yes, but…
You’ll really need to pay attention to the size of the set of tires that you’ve already got and go with that exact same size of tires for your new pair. Having mismatched sizes of tires on your vehicle can result in squirrelly and unpredictable handling and ride quality. If your existing tires are all-season, go with all-season tires. If they’re winter tires, go with winter tires. Ideal ...[more]
Yeah, yeah…your vehicle’s fairly new and you take care of it, and you’ve even got a membership in AAA. That doesn’t mean that your chances of ending up in a tight spot are zero. It’s just common sense to be prepared with a trouble bag in your car. Here’s a pretty good rundown of things you should keep in a car emergency kit:
Fully charged cell phone: You may want to consider a cheap prepaid “burner phone” with a long battery life and keep it strictly in the car. If nothing else, at least keep a charged-up power bank on hand.
First-aid kit: At a bare minimum, a first-aid kit should include gauze pads and bandage tape, aspirins, antiseptic wipes, scissors, antiseptic cream or ointment, Band-Aids, rub ...[more]
So your vehicle’s been sitting for a while…you get in it, start the engine and pull out of the driveway when you notice a hard, rough (but very regular) vibration that only gets worse with speed. It doesn’t feel like it’s coming from the driveline or suspension – so what is it?
It could be that the tires have developed flat spots.
With the weight of the vehicle pressing down on the tires for long periods, a section of the rubber and belts can become softer (or harder) than the rest of the tire. This can be exacerbated by cold weather, or just by parking on a cold concrete floor.
Low-profile tires with short sidewalls can be more prone to flat-spotting, as can tires with an H or higher speed rating. In most cases, you can j ...[more]
You know that winter and bad weather are coming. Is your car ready? Here’s a quick checklist of things to get up to speed on:
Motor oil: Motor oil has a tendency to thicken in cold weather, making it harder to circulate to upper engine parts at startup. If you haven’t ever used synthetic oil before, this might be a good time to start. The flow properties of synthetic oil are a lot more consistent, meaning it doesn’t thicken in sub-freezing temperatures or thin out when it’s hot outside.
Wipers: Even the best windshield wipers only last about a year. If your wipers are showing cracks or chips or losing strips of rubber, go ahead and replace them. Don’t forget to refill your washer fluid reservoir…you’ ...[more]
At one time, there were only a couple of choices for motor oil. Today, that is no longer the case, and hasn't been for quite some time. Here's a quick breakdown of what you need to consider when it's time for an oil change:
- Viscosity: Viscosity is how thick your oil is, and how it retains its pour properties at various temperatures. In this respect, synthetic oil is far superior. Conventional oils will thicken in cold weather and thin out when very hot, while the viscosity of synthetic is much more uniform. Check your owner's manual -- many newer models require a thinner, lower-viscosity oil, which also helps the engine run more efficiently. Viscosity is expressed as a numerical value -- the lower the number, the thinner the oil. Many are designed to work a ...[more]
When it comes to your car, oil isn't the only thing there's a finite supply of. Rubber has its limits too, and it's estimated by 2020, the supply of natural rubber in the world may be outstripped by demand. And of course, tires require a great deal of oil to produce as well. Tire manufacturers are constantly looking for ways to innovate and conserve resources in tire production. Here are some recent advances:
- Dandelions: Yes, those humble yellow flowers you try to eliminate from your yard. Dandelions actually contain a minute amount of latex in their milky oil, and research shows they can actually produce about as much latex, pound-for-pound, as rubber plants. German scientists have cultivated 1-foot-tall dandelions for just this purpose. This isn't a new development, either -- in WWII, Amer ...[more]
Tires all look sort of the same…round and black…and people tend to think tires don’t change much over the years. That’s really not true, though – engineers and designers are constantly working on advances in tire designs for more miles, better fuel economy and better performance.
Here’s a rundown of current trends in tire technology you may not have been aware of:
- Tall, skinny tires are coming back. If you’ve ever ridden a beach cruiser bike vs. a racing bike, you know that skinny tires have lower rolling resistance. Carmakers are going in that direction, too – the BMW i3 electric/plug-in hybrid uses Bridgestone Ecopia tires, with higher inflation pressure and a taller, skinnier profile. Tall, skinny tires also redu ...[more]
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