Saturday, February 10, 2018

Wheels going 'round in my head

Now that the steering linkage is shipshape (vanshape?) and within specifications, it’s time the Rolling Steel Tent had new tires. But which ones? What kind? As with many of life’s questions, it depends. It boils down to what surfaces I’ll be driving on most often, and how much I’m willing to spend.

Rather than trying to give all the advice necessary for you to choose tires (I started to, but it was turning into a book) I’ll just give you my reasons for my choice. Maybe some of that will apply in your case.

I do at least eighty-five percent of my driving on pavement. And the unpaved places I drive aren’t very challenging. Hard packed dirt and gravel, maybe with shallow sand or dust on top, with occasional fist sized stones. All-season highway tires have done the job just fine for me. All-terrain tires would’ve made no difference getting where I wanted to go.

Compared to all-terrain tires, highway tires usually have lower rolling resistance, which leads to slightly higher fuel economy. Highway tires tend to be quieter, ride smoother, and have superior dry and wet traction on pavement. Some all-terrain tires (like the very popular BFGoodrich All-Terrain T/A KO2) have no tread mileage warranties. These are things I wouldn’t want to sacrifice in the name of being able to drive on worse surfaces.

Okay, so whose all-season highway tires? Well, in all the decades I’ve been a vehicle owner, I’ve always gone with well reviewed tires from the big brands. When I first got the Rolling Steel Tent I put highly praised Michelin LTX M/S2’s on it, and was very happy. But these days I don’t have that pile of cash from selling the house, so price plays a bigger part in my choices. Unfortunately, I went too cheap on the current tires—a store brand made in China. They wore quickly, and I don’t think they’re truly round. This time I’m shopping and comparing some of the smaller-but-reputable brands with excellent reviews

But where to buy? I lean toward stores that do only tires (and maybe brakes and shock absorbers) rather than a full service auto center or a big box store. Rightly or wrongly, I think they’re better at getting tires mounted and balanced right the first time. You’d think the fancy spin balancing machines would make it foolproof. But there must be higher levels of fools working at some of these places. Of course, if the store with the best price can’t balance my tires correctly, I could have them redone elsewhere. I’ve done that before.

The quest isn’t over yet. Someday soon I’ll find the perfect combination of compromises. Or close enough to perfect. Or at least the best I can do within my budgetary limitations.

Sometimes I think it would be nice to live in a country without and overabundance of choices. “You’re lucky. Today we offer two choices: this tire, or none.”


  1. On my 3/4 ton truck I had excellent service with the Goodyear brand. For your service I would think highway all season tires would be a very good choice. All season tires in case a surprise snow ice event happens before you can get farther south.

    1. Sometimes it's a matter of heading to lower elevations.

  2. I was in the same situation in Nov...Walmart gave me a good price, but my Chevy dealer said they would match and beat.
    So I took them up on it..I called and got the answer machine, I wanted to bring it in on a Monday, no return message..I was pissed, ready to drop 1K and you don't even return my call?..Cooled off as I was ready to give my Chelan Wally the business. I did need a front diff. service. On Tuesday I received a coupon in the mail from G.M. that the dealer didn't know about...This gave me up to $100. rebate on the tyres and $100. on any service..
    Service and new Michelins..with 50K warranty...$950...
    Check the net for Bridgestones that came on this truck and my previous new truck only last 30-40K..I figure since I am sorta old these will be the last I have to purchase.
    Just my $25.00 worth....:+)

  3. Looking at that meme is like looking in the mirror. I am also weighing tire choices. Timely post.