Tire technology changes at an amazing rate. One of the things that engineers figured out is if you make the sidewall of the tire shorter, it gives better traction, goes around corners better, because it’s stiffer. Well, fifteen years ago this was a high performance tire (right). Today we can see that the side wall on this one (left) is very short, works extremely well, handling is amazing and they wear better than older designs as well, but there are some problems when it comes time to have those tires mounted onto your wheels.

You have to look for some special equipment. One of the first things to look for is a tire machine that has rubber pads like this Hunter unit has. These rubber pads actually extend out into the wheel, like that, they clamp the wheel from the inside, and they don’t damage the wheel. Now, a lot of machines out there, they have little metal points on them, they leave marks in your expensive wheels. Look for the rubber units!

Now here’s something that’s relatively new, something you should be looking for, this is nitrogen and nitrogen in tires has a number of advantages, but one of its biggest advantages is that it’s dry.  Whenever you fill a tire off of a regular air supply there will be moisture in that air.  Moisture can corrode the wheels, it can damage the sensors if you happen to have a tire pressure monitoring system on your car, all of these things.  Nitrogen is completely dry!

But, a couple of things: number one, if you have nitrogen in the tires, you should have valve stem caps, or something that identifies it, like green markings on the caps, so that anybody knows that there is nitrogen in the tires.  Also make sure that the repair shop has a nitrogen tester.  This will tell if the nitrogen they’re putting into your tires is a proper concentration, without that you might get air.

And finally, no matter what you have in your tires, the most important single thing that you can do is routinely monitor air pressure. Use a high quality gauge and do it at least once a month, it makes all the difference in how long your tires wear. 

If you have a question or comment, write to me.
The address is MotorWeek, Owings Mills, MD, 21117.