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Feet First: The Basics of Buying Tires (Ride Quality)

Flipping through the ads that dominate the Sunday paper last weekend was a myriad of brightly colored keds, flip flops, and heels for back to school shoe sales (since when do kids wear heels to school??).  The fashionistas of late don’t seem to put much thought into things like arch support or tread traction for the longevity of your kid’s knees.

But we do. Well, for your car baby anyway.  If you’ve been considering a purchase of new tires for your vehicle, there are a number of elements to consider.  Tire manufacturers say there are 19-25 varying components that measure in to what frequently seems to simply be circles of rubber.  When it really comes down to it, according to our tire experts, there are four key components you really need to consider: ride quality, tread life, weather conditions, and speed rating.  We address the basics of sizes and a brief overview of those four key components in a past blog, Feet First: The Basics of Buying Tires.  But now we would like to dive a little deeper into ride quality and discuss how you can decrease the richter scale you may be experiencing on your commute.

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1. Ride Quality is how minimized the road irregularities are to the vehicle’s passengers.

“Ride Quality is usually the number one concern for our customers,” says Lisa Randall, one of our Toyota Parts tire experts. 

Owners of family vehicles tend to prefer a smoother ride to not jostle the little ones, so they would require a larger, thicker tire to absorb any bumps in the road.  Those who drive performance vehicles, however, may like a tire with a lower profile.  The latter have thicker sidewalls and improved handling, but are more susceptible to taking the hit each time they roll over road damage.  Unfortunately, this component relates to that old children’s song: “The toe bone is connected to the foot bone,” ankle bone, leg bone, etc.  If the comfort of the ride feels like an old wooden roller coaster with questionable safety inspection certifications, the under belly of your beloved carriage might be taking a beating.  Each vehicle has tire size suggestions based on the needs of the alignment and suspension of the car.  Wandering outside of that suggestion could result in harm to your car – and could void your warranty.

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A small sedan wouldn’t need low-profile performance tires or high-series off-road tires. With 55 series rating, this tire is more mid-series than high or low.

In this infographic of size markings on the sidewall of a tire, you can see where I’ve marked the ratio between sidewall thickness (or height) and width in green.  It’s a percentage of the relationship (ie: the sidewall height is 55 percent of the tire’s width), and is called the tire’s “series” or “profile.” A sporty tire with shorter sidewalls would be considered a lower-series tire. Off-road tires tend to be higher-series tires, designed to absorb the impact of a rough road or track.

If you’re hoping to get the best ride quality possible, there are other parts of the car that can help.  Read about those relationships here.

Since a lot of these factors are difficult to measure, consulting an expert is really the best bet here.

To stay updated as more portions of our Feet First series is published, Like us on Facebook and Follow us on Twitter!

 

This post was written by Milton Ruben Social Media Specialist Heather Cortright.

 

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The Basics of Buying Tires: Feet First (Intro)

Have you ever had those terrible aches and pains in your knees and back that seem to have no cause whatsoever? (Stop it, you are not getting old!) Then you go to the doctor and he tells you to take better care of your feet.  What? My feet?

Congrats! We just found yet another way that your car directly reflects you – its “feet” impacts an enormous amount of its performance.  Tires are the root of safety in your vehicle, the hidden crutch for your failing fuel economy, the terror behind your testy alignment.  Any automotive technician will tell you – having tires that fit your car, life, and environment is vital to keep your vehicle healthy and you safe.

This is the part where I remind you of that documentary that popped up after Top Gear – that one with diagrams floating across the screen and some deep, throaty James Earl Jones wannabe saying words that sounded like English but had far too many syllables.  The components that go into the quality of tires are extensive, confusing, and far more complicated than we’d like.  This is why we hired professionals in our parts departments to help you.  And right now, we’re going to lay out the basics so it’s not all mumbo-jumbo the next time you purchase new “shoes” for your ride.

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Every brand likes to decorate their handiwork – and tires are no different.  On the side of your tires, manufacturers stamp their brand, the model of tire, and the specs of the tire in an alphanumerical code.  Here’s the breakdown of that code:

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Here’s an example of reading a portion of the metric sizing on your sidewall. This tire is fitted on a large truck.
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Another example of metic sizing code on the sidewall of a tire. This one also includes the Load Rate and Speed Rating. It’s fitted on a luxury sedan.

 

Each portion of the code points to a different component of the tire that defines its size, performance, rating, etc.

Tire manufacturers say there are 19-25 varying components that measure in to what frequently seems to simply be circles of rubber.  According to our tire experts, there are four components that really top the charts when you’re considering purchase: ride quality, tread life, weather conditions, and speed rating.

1. Ride Quality is how much of the bumps and divets of the road gets absorbed into the tires, providing you with a smoother ride

2. Tread Life is the longevity of the tire before it starts to crack or “bald.” See more about tread life gradings here.

3. Weather conditions define what kind of environment tires have to survive and perform in.

4. Speed Rating defines the amount of heat or friction a tire can endure. See a chart explaining speed rating here.

Each of these factors impact the life, safety, and performance of how a tire interacts with your car, and breaking down the formula isn’t always easy.  This is why we are breaking it down for you in a series of posts – stay tuned for more of Feet First: The Basics of Buying Tires!

Of course, if you’re not a math person, our Parts experts are always happy to crunch the numbers!

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McAvenger: The McDonald’s Augusta Co-Op Incentive

Golden arches, value menu, late night snack in college, a clown you thought was funny when you were a kid, but now kind of seems a little on the creepy side – the thoughts that come to mind when you hear “McDonald’s.”  How about free 2014 Avenger?

McDonald’s Restaurant store owner Andy Harrelson, of Aiken, SC, visited us last week and selected a sleek, red, brend-spankin-new Avenger to give away to a manager in the Co-Op of Augusta.  At a breakfast hosted in downtown Augusta at the Kroc Center, Mr. Harrelson joined other owners in announcing how each store in the Co-Op performed in reaching their goals over the past year.  Each manager earned tickets for their respective compliments, and the tickets were deposited into a Happy Meal box.  Five tickets were selected for a chance at owning the red beauty in the parking lot outside, as well as a hefty check to distribute as bonuses among their department.  Selected managers reached into the box and pulled out the key to a 2014 Dodge Avenger, and streamed outside to test out which key would be “the one.”

One by one, each manager tapped the panic button on the key, the crowd tensed in suspense for who would be the new owner… and none triggered a response.  Perplexed, each manager tested out the button again – Finally, Latoria Bussey burst into a shriek and smile as her key triggered the panic alarm in her brand new 2014 Dodge Avenger!

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Restaurant Manager Latoria Bussey celebrates winning a new 2014 Dodge Avenger as Restaurant Owner Jennifer Bonness rushes to congratulate her.

 

A big congratulations to Ms. Bussey!  That car looks great with you in it!

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To stay in the loop on other community events, like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter and Instagram!

 Like the look of that Avenger?  See what we have in stock on our online inventory!

Photos by Milton Ruben Social Media Specialist Heather Cortright

Admittedly, one of the reasons I chose to write this blog was so I could find a ton of adorable puppies in cars.

Protect Your Pooch: Car Pet Safety

It takes twenty minutes for you to realize anything else exists when you get home from work every evening because you are too busy being worshipped by that whole body wiggling and spinning in awkward momentum with it’s tail – also known as the tornado.  PetsMart cashiers know you by name when they ask how little Roscoe liked that Hide-A-Treat ball you picked up for him on his birthday last month, and they laugh knowingly as you explain the adorable demon destroyed that “indestructible” toy like it was a cotton swab.  That little fuzz ball just might be the love of your life (sorry, honey).  So these canine-friendly car safety concerns spamming your news feed lately might be making you lose a little sleep (amidst those soft puppy snores coming from the corner of the bed – again, sorry, honey).

 

Admittedly, one of the reasons I chose to write this blog was so I could find a ton of adorable puppies in cars.
Admittedly, one of the reasons I chose to write this blog was so I could find a ton of adorable puppies in cars.

Allow us to help!  Pick up several canine-friendly safety tips for the road from our own list:

 

1.  No Shot Gun for Shotsie! – Vehicle airbag safety systems were created to keep humans safe, not dogs.  When they deploy, it could be at speeds high enough to literally end your pooch.  It’s hard to make road trips without him happily hanging his head out the window and lapping up the passing air, but it’s for the best that they be enjoying the view in the back seat.

 

Pet seat belts are available to secure your pet in the back seat, where they are safe from the force deploying air bags in the case of an accident.
Pet seat belts are available to secure your pet in the back seat, where they are safe from the force deploying air bags in the case of an accident.

2.  Secure Sable – Familiar with the chaotic traffic of Atlanta? All of that speed-up, quickly slow-down, swerve to avoid that lovely gentleman that just cut you off from three lanes over?  That kind of motion can do some severe damage to anything that isn’t tied down – especially a small body that isn’t sure whether they should sit, stand, or run around the car in circles barking at every passing pick-up.  Investing in a pet carrier, pet seat belt, or car barrier is worth the life of your lab, and will help prevent you from being distracted. (Check out how to use a harness with a seat belt.)

 

Pet car barriers can help keep your pets safe from getting tossed around in the car.
Pet car barriers can help keep your pets safe from getting tossed around in the car.

3.  Distract Doby – Everyone is a safer driver when their patience hasn’t been thinned by a very vocal dog warning other cars in traffic that these four wheels are his territory. Bringing long-lasting chew toys are a great way to calm down your canine and distract them from passing prey.  A lot of experts specifically recommend a hollowed-rubber toy stuffed with cheese, peanut butter, or other treats your pet enjoys.  Put that persistence to work elsewhere!

 

This method of securing your puppy doesn't look according to American Humane Society's suggestion...
This method of securing your puppy doesn’t look according to American Humane Society’s suggestion…

4.  Drug Dottie – My poor Shadow, a beagle-aussie mix, was a terrible road trip buddy.  The little thing got so car sick and anxious he would shriek, whine, and well – it was rarely a pleasant trip.  Our veterinarian recommended children’s motion sickness meds, hidden in a teaspoon of peanut butter.  Shadow was a little groggy, but he kept a little more hair, and we kept a little more sanity.  Check with your vet to get suggestions on what to use for your pup’s car sickness or anxiety, especially on long trips.

 

Some vendors sell water bottles that can be attached to a door handle and used like a hamster or guinea pig would.
Some vendors sell water bottles that can be attached to a door handle and used like a hamster or guinea pig would.

5.  Gear Up for … What’s a dog name that starts with G? … Some amenities are a necessary evil.  You may feel comfortable with the 82-degree AC, but it’s likely Rover is already a little anxious, shedding, panting, and sweating.  Pets frequently overheat themselves under stress, so it’s an absolute necessity that they have water available.  Smaller pets can be trained to drink water from larger bottles similar to those used for hamsters and guinea pigs (in my experience, the cheaper they are, they more they leak).  Some genius extraordinaire out there also figured out how to develop a spill-proof water bowl, so there are definitely options available.

 

It took far too long to come up with the concept of a multi-layered spill-proof bowl.  Do they have these for kids too?
It took far too long to come up with the concept of a multi-layered spill-proof bowl. Do they have these for kids too?

6. Never, Ever, under ANY circumstance, leave your pet in the car alone.  On a hot day in Georgia, it takes less than ten minutes for a vehicle to reach 120F with the windows partially open (ask our sales people).  That’s a death sentence to your beloved.  It’s also a felony.  Obviously you wouldn’t want to leave your car running without you in it either, so finding another solution is truly a necessity. If you need to run in somewhere and there’s no one to keep the pup company, you could simply explain the situation to the patron.  Since the passing of the animal cruelty act, a lot of businesses (ours, for example) are understanding and will find some way to help you get what you need without abandoning your animal.

 

In Georgia, when heat rarely ventilates due to the humidity, even leaving windows open partially could still endanger the life of your dog.
In Georgia, when heat rarely ventilates due to the humidity, even leaving windows open partially could still endanger the life of your dog.

Summer road trips don’t have to mean a kennel for your canine – you can easily find ways to safely travel with your best friend!  Please remember to keep them hydrated, and as always, enjoy it!

 

To keep getting Car Safety Tips, like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter!

 

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