2008 Dodge Challenger SRT8

Feet First: The Basics of Buying Tires (Speed Rating)

October 24, 2012 – The day that speed demons everywhere cried with joy.  The day that Chrysler Inc. decided to pursue the concept of the powerful Hellcat (that may not be true). The day that Texas announced their 85-mph speed limit on Hwy 130.

Possibly the day that hundreds of car-enthusiasts decided to upgrade their tires.

“Tires?? Why would they buy new tires??”, you ask.

Good question.  The answer? The tire’s speed rating.

140725_tires_1063_codes graphic
On the far right, in pink and purple, is the tire’s “service description,” consisting of load rate, and speed rating.

Speed rating is what kind of miles per hour a tire is capable of withstanding.  Think of it in the sense of the term, “burning rubber.”  When a tire meets the road, it does so continuously, over and over again as it carries your vehicle across a stretch of distance.  This creates friction, thus heat.  The faster you go, the more the tire meets the road, the more friction, the more heat. Alas, the term “burning rubber.”

Found in the alphanumeric “service description” next to a tire’s size on the sidewall, speed rating is assessed from a lab test by the manufacturer where the tire is applied to a large metal drum at the pressure that equates to the load rating.  The tire is spun against the drum at increasing speeds in ten minute intervals until the necessary speed limit is met.  That number is represented by a letter.

It should be noted that these gradings assume the tire has not been damaged, is within tread life, is properly inflated, and that routine maintenance (ie: rotation) has been kept up.

Tire Speed Rating Infographic. By Heather Cortright.

Now before you start hyperventilating that you need a “Z”-rated tire on your minivan, keep in mind that most cars have a “top” speed they can reach before they max out.  It would be kind of worthless to equip your Sienna with Z(Y) tires when the fastest it can reach is 120 mph.  (Which makes it the perfect vehicle for your driver-in-training teenager, right?)  Save your money for that freedom cruise when the kid finally turns 18 – for you, not them.  Conversely, it’s not a good idea to put a lower-rated tire on a higher-rated vehicle.  This is why it’s suggested you only ride on the spare tire for a day or two at lower speeds – it really can’t handle much more than that.


Of course, if you are, hypothetically, one of these mythical speed demons (because no one ever really tests out the reaches of their muscle engine, surely), then some crazies in the tire industry brought us the “Z-series.”  As you can see in the infographic, Z-rated tires are then expanded into three levels.  These tires have the best grip and stopping power, but when (hypothetically) used to their purpose, have a very weak tread life.  Yes, these are the tires the Nascar drivers have to change every twelve left turns – because they’ve quite literally burned off the tread. (Whoa.)

Ever seen those shredded tires on the interstate left in the wake of an 18-wheeler? That’s the fate of a tire not properly rated to the weight and speed of it’s automobile.  For a semi, it has a multitude of back-ups.  For you, the results could be fatal.  A safe rule of thumb is to stay with the speed rating chosen by your vehicle’s manufacturer, or, as always, consult an expert.


There you have it.  The last of our four primary components that define the perfect tire for your ride.  We’ve smoothed out the points of ride quality, lengthened the life of your tire, bundled you up for inclement weather tires, and, finally, given you a quick recap of speed rating.  Hopefully these basics will help you in your next tire-search.  Of course, these are still only a small slice of the pie that is complicated tire formulas, but maybe now the words our tire experts are saying will make a little more sense – saving you time in your next visit.

To stay in loop on our “How To” and tutorial blogs, follow us on Facebook and Twitter!

This post, including graphics, was created by Milton Ruben Social Media Specialist, Heather Cortright.


2014 Chevrolet Performance Vehicles – Power with an Ego

Our very own John Nash introduced us to the 2014 Corvette Stingray:



And Bryant Couch gave us the privilege of a peek at the 2014 Camaro RS Convertible:

To stay up to date on overview and walk around videos, follow us on Facebook and Twitter!

Videos and post by Milton Ruben Superstore Social Media Specialist Heather Cortright.

Basics of Buying Tires: Weather Conditions

Feet First: The Basics of Buying Tires (Weather Conditions)

Late evening, in the mountains of no where, North Carolina – My sister and father were driving home from a day of snow ski racing.  Seeing as it had been sleeting and snowing all day long (a rarity even in those parts), everyone and their grandmother were holed up with their white bread and whole milk.  No one had the insanity to venture out on the slick, frozen roads.  No one but my dad, anyway.

As they coasted down a hill toward an intersection, the light flipped a haunting green, and my dad flipped on a haunting light bulb.  My sister had just started studying for her driver’s test, and Dad thought “What better way to teach about the dangers of inclement weather driving…?”  He spun the wheel, popped the brakes, and their four door four wheel drive sedan fishtailed through the intersection like a Disney on Ice.  My sister completely  missed the “Don’t tell your mother about this,” while she tried to reign in her attack of terror, but she didn’t start to grasp the severity of driving in ice.

Basics of Buying Tires: Weather Conditions

There are a lot of tips and tricks on how to master winter conditions.  Almost half of them are probably true – but this one we can vouch for – buying the right tires.

Since the early 1900’s, engineers and other braniacs have spent a lot of time designing tires to fit every last possible need of the driver.  Certain tires built to withstand certain seasons may have been the most important.

There are four main types of tires, each with a variety of subsections.  But we’re focusing on the basics here, so let’s get to it.

Tire Treads for Weather Conditions

1. Winter Tires: We don’t tend to have too much need for these down here.  Built to maintain traction in light snow and ice, these tires are specifically built with a certain rubber compound to remain soft in freezing temperatures so they can grip in the winter elements generally so rare to us here in Augusta, GA.  It’s not recommended for us here because of how poorly they perform in rain.

2. All-Weather Tires: After this year, these tires might become a little more marketable across the SouthEast.  These tires are built to reflect their name – withstand all four seasons and whatever nature throws at them. The rubber compound remains soft and effective in both freezing and warm temperatures. These tires tend to have a slightly aggressive tread on one side for light snow and ice, but still have the channels to repel water on rainy days. The tread can also help in  maintain traction on wet leaves in the fall. An easy tell on the difference between All-Weather Tires and All-Season tires is the Mud and Snow capability.  Slightly elevated grip and traction make these tires good for almost anything.

All Weather Tires M+S

3. All-Season Tires: The most common type of tire found in the Southeast, all-season tires are built with multiple channels to repel water and maintain grip through rain puddles (not flooding).  The rubber compounds can remain soft in warm temperatures, but will harden below freezing, compromising traction (ie: turning and braking is riskier).  The sidewalls on All-Season tires are built stronger and thicker – making them ideal for smooth ride quality.  Because they are such a popular tire, the tread is constructed for longevity.

4. Summer and Performance Tires:  These tires are built to withstand the fires of Dante’s Inferno (I’m exaggerating a little – please don’t try to set your tires on fire).  We’ll revisit the construction of Performance tires when we talk about Speed Rating, but the basis is that these tires are built for high speeds, high friction, and thus, high temperatures.  Thinner and shorter sidewall enhance grip and handling for quick turns, but this also keeps the tire from being able to absorb impact of road imperfections – throwing a bump or two in your ride quality.  Because these tires are meant for heat and intensity, they tend not to last as long as All-Season tires.  They equipped with some channels to control grip in water, but they most definitely cannot perform in snow.

Nine times out of ten, an All-Season tire will meet the needs of the people in Augusta, GA.  Of course there are also tires built for off-roading, big trucks, etc.  But these are just the basics – feel free to enlist the help of our tire experts if you are interested in an all-terrain or light truck tire.

Don’t forget to make sure you’re getting the appropriate size, that you’re considering tread life, and that you’ll be happy with the smoothness of your next road trip.

Stay up to date on our Basics of Buying Tires blog series by liking us on Facebook, and following us on Twitter!

This post and all graphics was created by Milton Ruben Social Media Specialist Heather Cortright.


Feet First: The Basics of Buying Tires (Tread Life)

“You get what you paid for.”  College, weddings, dating someone new, buying new tires – there are some things in life that make your eyes glaze over with dollar signs and a thinning wallet.  Sticker shock frequently makes it difficult to wave off those dollar signs floating in your periphery and focus on the long-term benefit, particularly for the first three points on that list (because it usually doesn’t exist). The last one, though, might warrant some explanation.

If we dove straight into how the prices of tires are assessed, it would be a lot of mumbo-jumbo, calculations and figures and images of crazy-haired Einstein sticking his tongue out at you as though he knows its all going straight over your head.  What we can do, though, is focus on one of the 19-25 components tire manufacturers say make up a quality tire – and it happens to be the biggest defining factor in price. (See the introduction to Feet First: The Basics of Buying Tires for more components.)


Tread Life is the longevity of the tire before it starts to crack or “bald.”  If you haven’t been living under a rock, you’ve heard about the Lincoln’s head trick – the one where you apologetically shove the top of a penny into the tread of your tire and if you can see the top of Lincoln’s head, you need new tires.  You have heard of that right?  How about the George Washington trick? Or the Lincoln Memorial trick? No, this isn’t a history of coins lesson, put away your notebook and get out your coin purse (or raid your kid’s piggy bank).

"The Penny Trick" works in more than one way: If you're testing for snow ready tires, you shouldn't be able to see the bottom of the Lincoln Memorial on the tail-side of the penny.
“The Penny Trick” works in more than one way: If you’re testing for snow ready tires, you shouldn’t be able to see the bottom of the Lincoln Memorial on the tail-side of the penny.

Flip that penny over and look at the tail’s side.  When the penny is turned upright, take a peek at the bottom of Lincoln’s Memorial.  If your tread is just grazing it, your tread is at 6/32″, which is a reasonably safe tire under most circumstances in the southeast.  But if you’re planning on trekking to the Great White North anytime soon (or Jay Jeffries is calling for another Icemaggedonwe miss you, Jay!), it might be time to consider some new tires.  This is the bare minimum tread your tire can grip snow. (Read about the right tires for inclement weather in the next Feet First Post!)

Use a quarter to test for wet-weather ready tires. Since it pretty much rains everywhere, this is also a good way of preparing for an impending tire purchase.

Now it’s time to whip out good ole Georgey.  Slap that quarter upside down into the tread and squint at Washington’s crown.  If your tread is at the top of his head, it’s brushing 4/32″ – respectable, but not great.  Wet weather conditions become tricky at this much tread.  You have a little time left before it becomes downright dangerous, but not long.

These tires are in (goat-like voice) baaaaaaaad shape. No, they won’t grip anything. They basically make your brakes into “more of a guideline than actual rule.” Time to break down and buy new tires!

Then there’s the one everyone knows: If you can see the top of Lincoln’s head on a penny, that means your tires are at less than 2/32″ – and they’re downright dangerous.  The tread has worn so thin, it has virtually no traction in any variety of wet weather.  Your risk of hydroplaning and losing control of your vehicle go up exponentially.  It’s time to go tire shopping.

Well, if it’s that time – how do you pick a tire that will last longer next go round?

Uniform Tire Quality Grading (or UTQG) is the trusted resource for how quickly a tire’s tread will bald. The grades are based on percentage to wear to bald compared to a control tire in experimentation.  So if it wears 50% faster than the control tire, it would have a 150 pt rating. These tests, however, are conducted in a lab, so other factors like weather, road conditions, and temperature could also contribute to tread life, and they should be considered when you’re looking at tires with no mile warranty.

You can find UTQG on the sidewall of any tire, broken down into how quickly the tread wears down, the quality of grip on the tread, and how well the tire can withstand extreme temperatures.

Still, having a warranty isn’t a completely care-free world. Tire manufacturer’s warranties come with caveats.  For example, warranties don’t carry from owner to owner, nor do they carry from vehicle to vehicle (this is why it’s important to hold on to those pesty papers documenting tire’s being installed on your automobile).  Warranties will also void if you didn’t pencil in some regular maintenance (checking tire pressure and ensuring proper inflation, regular rotation and alignment, replacing suspension if it wears, etc.)

Yep, you’re seeing dollar signs again, aren’t you? Perhaps a little perspective will rest that panic.

Although we keep inexpensive lines to fit any budget, most of the time, the tires that seem to be the easiest on your wallet come without a mileage warranty.  Those tires don’t always last very long, making the mid-shelf and upper-shelf tires more of a long-term investment – not to mention safer.  (Cue E-Trade baby talking about easy investing!)

Milton Ruben’s parts departments carry a variety of tires to meet your needs and budget.

We aren’t discouraging you from purchasing those lower-end tires.  (After all, they can be practical on an older vehicle that’s just a temporary fix.)  We just want you to be prepared with the necessary pros and cons to make an informed decision.

Of course, our parts departments are all trained on this information – they could save you some hassle and help you pick out the tires that will meet your needs – and your budget.

As always, if you’d like to stay informed on future posts about tire buying, or anything else vehicle-related, Like us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter, or take a peek at our Instagram.

This post, including graphics, was created by Milton Ruben Social Media Specialist Heather Cortright.


The 2014 Chevrolet Spark Overview

We’ve been hard at work at Milton Ruben Chevrolet shooting overview videos to make your shopping experience that much easier!  Here’s the 2014 Chevrolet Spark with Michael Johnston:

Professional Sales Consultant Michael Johnston explains a variety of options available with each trim level in engine and horsepower before pointing out some updated exterior features such as the body color mirror, 17″ wheel well, and power locks and windows.  There’s plenty of storage space with alternative storage options like the 60/40 split rear seat, a roomy trunk with a cover to offer shelving, as well as a convenient jack and inflator tucked out of the way.  You don’t have to compromise in style with the Chevy Spark just because of it’s superior fuel economy – a motorcycle instrument cluster clears the dash and keeps information near, and steering wheel controls allow you a safe driving experience without reaching.  The Chevrolet MyLink Digital Information Center also offers you a myriad of technology features, including streaming music!  It doesn’t end there – just come in or call to learn more!

That’s not all Milton Ruben Chevrolet has in stock.  Check out other Chevy vehicles presented by Milton Ruben Sales Consultants!

Want to see what else we’ve got at Milton Ruben Superstore? We have more overviews, tutorials, and walk arounds on our YouTube Channel.


And, as always, stay up to date on what’s going on at Milton Ruben Chevrolet by liking us on Facebook, following us on Twitter, and taking a peak at us on Instagram.


Video and blog post by Milton Ruben Social Media Specialist Heather Cortright.

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