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Choosing the Right Tire New or Used

There are almost as many ways to consider tires for your car as there are cars.

Some people look strictly at initial purchase cost. Others look at the performance characteristics like traction, temperature and tread wear ratings. And still others look at things like how long it will last.

All of these are acceptable ways to look at tires, but even with this you need to consider more closely what you expect from the tire. The tire manufacturers’ reputation, ease of warranty adjustments and how the manufacturer can assist you when manufacturing defects are uncovered. Let’s not fail to mention the defect notification process that many manufacturers simply fail at.

There has now become another way of looking at tires. This of course is due to the banking fiasco of 2008 that has devastated the civilized world and the economies of many countries. In many cases this last one has created both a blessing and a curse.

The blessing of course is that many previously usable tires were recycled into other things like pavement are now being placed into further service. This has brought many new businesses that sell used tires.

Unfortunately, the curse is many used tire dealers do not take the time to thoroughly inspect the tires they are selling. In fact the inspection performed is usually one of looking at the tread depth, and size. It is left to you, the customer to properly check them.

This previously mentioned banking fiasco caused the values of most currencies to fall, which resulted in higher prices for many goods. It also caused huge increases in the unemployed numbers.

One of the goods in particular is crude oil, or the gasoline or diesel fuel that most use in their vehicles. This coupled with the low or no employment has forced many people to drive less. Some leave their vehicles parked for excessive periods, even a couple weeks without moving it.

This parking of the vehicles excessively takes its toll on the tires. How you ask?

All tires today are manufactured with a ‘sunscreen additive’ built into the tire. But for this additive to make it to the surface of the tire to protect it from the sun, requires the car to be driven. See the problem?

If the car sits in the parking lot at home like so many do, then obviously it is not driven much, thus the additive does not migrate to the surface. And the tire has no protection from the sun. This simple situation causes the tire to literally bake and very quickly it starts a journey to dry rotting and ply separation.

There are some tire manufacturers that do a better job of manufacturing tires, not only how they are designed, but how they protect them selves. Michelin is by far the best tire manufacturer for most people when it comes these things. When looking at price only, with Michelin being higher priced usually, you think you are getting a better value with other brands. But not so!

Michelin has a reputation of extreme quality control. Take for instance the amount of product in each tire. Michelin tires of the same brand and size weigh within a couple ounces of each other. Conversely tires like Cooper, Dunlop, and Goodyear can vary in weight as much as a pound from one tire to another.

The rubber compounds used in Michelin tires allow the tire footprint (the part on the road surface) to remain stable at all speeds up to the tires limits. However tires like Dunlop can make all sorts of noise driving down the road. This is because the footprint is ‘Squirming’ as it contacts the road, and this is dangerous and not safe.

When you pick up a Michelin tire by hand, you get the feeling that some oil is on it and transferring to your hand. This of course is not true. What you are experiencing is the ‘Sun Screen’ additive. They have more of it in their tires and it seems to work its way to the surface easier, thus protecting the tire. Not so with brands like Goodyear, theirs require more driving thus are more prone to dry rot from excessive sitting as well as ply separation.

Many tire manufacturers have arrangement with carmakers to supply tires to them for their new cars. However some carmakers like Infiniti demand a softer specified tire so that the vehicle ride is good. This was what happened a few years ago with Toyo tires. The Toyo tires Infiniti installed on their new cars would barely last 1 year of driving.

There has been lots of consolidation in the tire industry. Michelin purchased B. F. Goodrich and Uniroyal. We don’t know if Michelin will transfer some or any of their expertise to these new acquisitions, but keep your eyes open when buying tires, whether that is new or used.

There are sub brand tires being manufactured by well known names, such as the MasterCraft sub brand of the Cooper / Dunlop company.

Remember the older Dodge Minivan that we keep around primarily to test scan tools like our 2X80S using different scan tool software packages?

Well we decided to try a pair of these MasterCraft tires on the front and a pair of Michelin on the rear. The previous tires had worn out to safe limits without any abnormal wear characteristics like, inner or outer edge wear, feathering, cupping, air pressure, or poor balance.

This van of course uses the very popular 205*70x15 size tires.  The tires were mounted and balanced properly and driven for about 10k miles locally. One of the staff decided to take a small road trip of about 600 miles one way. Halfway through the trip, a vibration started occurring on the front. Immediately they exited the highway and sought help.

The tire dealer inspected the tires and found that both of the MasterCraft tires were ply separating. The tires were replaced with new Uniroyal on the rear and the Michelins moved forward. The staff member upon returning presented the MasterCraft tires. They had almost 7/32nds of an inch of tread left. But BOTH had ply separated.

The Michelins which were moved forward as well as the new Uniroyals performed flawlessly and are still.

The Mastercraft division was contacted about the obvious defective tires. Their customer service basically said “tough”. Since this is a very serious problem of safety, a note was sent to the U.S. DoT, but nothing has been heard for over a year. Should you trust this MasterCraft sub brand?

In this article I have shared many facets of tires, especially some of the terms relating to conditions of tires and it does not matter whether you are buying new or used tires, you should consider not only what the tire initially cost, but how it performs in real world situations. If you are buying used tires, I personally would rather buy matching Michelin tires even when they are more worn than another brand with more tread as Michelin typically is a better tire.

Make sure that your replacement tires are within 3% of the size the vehicle is supposed to wear. You can use a tool like Plus It from Autoware Technology to fit the right size, even if you are changing the wheel diameter. If you do not maintain within this maximum limit, this could cause serious damage to the converters on your car, or it could harm Traction computers as well as cost more in fuel.

Also remember that some tires are directional and must be installed on the correct side of the car. All Wheel Drive and 4 wheel drive vehicles must have the same size tires front and rear or mechanical component damage is likely to occur.

Many times, the initially cheaper tire is NOT the cheapest tire it is the highest priced one. This comes from defects the tire maker refuses to take care of like the Mastercraft experience related above and from damages caused by poor manufacturing, or just plain ole premature wear out.


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Comparing our 2X80S with competitors

Controls Data Corruption
Improved Data Speed
Enhanced Software Included
Phone Tablet PDA Capable
Multiple PC Applications
Multiple Phone Tablet PDA Applications
2 Wheel Vehicle Applications
Component Specs
OBD Training
Legacy OS Support
  Yes or Included           No or not included              Some or limited
All above information is based on published information as of 01/2015 or products purchsed to confirm

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