Spending money on good tires is never a priority for most of us. Like the bottom shelf of a supermarket aisle, they just don’t fall in our line of sight. We’d rather spend money on things like aftermarket rims and polishes. Additionally, many of us feel that more expensive tires are merely a cash grab.
Honestly though, tires have a dramatic influence on pretty much every aspect of the car. The profile of the tire determines the ride quality, noise, handling characteristics, grip, mileage, tendency to aquaplane and even the look of the car. They also help in effectively using the power that the engine generates and restricts how fast we can drive. A large amount of torque is useless, if the tires cannot grip the road.
Tires connect the car to the ground. Additionally they are required to perform in harsh environments. Naturally they are the most abused part of the car. Winter tires need to hold onto slippery icy roads, even as the ice melts at the contact patch. They regularly cushion the driver and the passengers from crater sized potholes. Still most people are reluctant to spend money on good tires.
Most of us are satisfied with tires that can just stay inflated. Tread wear does not become an issue till the tires have gone completely bald. Mismatched tire sizes are routinely ignored, as are tire pressure warning lights. Drivers become too lazy to change their tires with the change in the weather. Inferior quality tires are used for saving as little as 100 dollars. It isn’t difficult to find tires of different makes or different speed ratings on different wheels of the same car. Clear signs of bad tires like periodic noises and vibrations are ignored without a thought. “It still runs” is our favorite defense.
Many of us will still argue that this tire related paranoia is not justified. People living in cities with smooth roads consider good quality tires to be unnecessary. Most of them only use their vehicles for commuting and don’t indulge in off roading or racing of any kind. However, there is one aspect where good quality tires can make a world of difference – the difference between life and death.
That aspect would be braking. Tires have a tremendous impact on a car’s braking performance. A YouTube video recently explored actual brake performance by comparing braking distances, stopping times and G-forces. This test was conducted between an old Fuzion HRI/VRI all weather tire setup against a new Bridgestone RE-71 R summer tire setup, on a Honda S2000 stopping from 60 mph. Both the tests were conducted at nearly the same temperature, same location and similar tire pressure. Although the test was not the most scientifically accurate, its results are still eye opening. The best results that could be achieved for the first setup were 136.15 feet, 3.41 seconds and -0.999G. The worst however were 143.9 feet, 3.58 seconds and -0.926G. For the second setup, the best results were 107.93 feet, 2.63 seconds and -1.193 G. The worst were 112.3 feet, 2.84 seconds and -1.165G.
These results are astonishing. The first setup’s braking performance is not just bad, it’s also inconsistent. The stopping distance itself, shows a variation of over 8 ft. This variation gets
bigger on successive tests, while the second setup actually improved braking distance in successive trials. The biggest difference can be seen between the best timings for the second setup versus
the worst timings for the first setup. A difference of 36 feet and a whole extra second to react could be lifesaving in an emergency. If this still doesn’t seem that big a deal then here’s another
perspective. The difference between the two performances, is the same between that of a Cadillac Escalade and an Alfa Romeo 4C or between a two ton SUV and a lightweight sports car.
As for price, the difference comes down to 215 dollars. Is this cost worth it? Considering the benefits, it would surely seem so. But if you’re still not convinced, then just take this one lesson from this article. Don’t buy tires based solely on price. At the same time, the most expensive tires aren’t necessarily the best for your car either. Consult customer reviews, independent tests conducted by auto magazines and consumer reports. Buy the correct tires for your car according to conditions and requirements. Make an informed decision.
If you are looking for top quality tires, contact Spencer Auto Repair in Mesa Az at (480) 500-1143. We can help you find and install the safest tires available for your vehicle.