Wednesday, July 06, 2005


Originally uploaded by cafn8.
I had been putting off buying tires for quite a while now. I first started looking at tires about a year and a half ago after going four or five different places trying to get a slow leak patched. Pretty annoying, but eventually somebody got it to hold air.

Recently, however, the tread on my tires had just been getting too thin, and I knew it was time. After all, nothing affects the way a car behaves more than tires. Your choice in tires can make the difference between a sloppy, cushy ride and a tight handling, tooth rattling ride. The tires even allow for a great deal of fine tuning by varying their pressure. Generally, I can tell a difference of only about two or three PSI in a car I'm familiar with. In addition to my handling enjoyment, proper tire pressures also greatly affect safety, tire life and even the longevity of drivetrain parts. For this reason, it amazes me how little attention auto repair shops, and even some tire centers pay to tire pressure.

A couple of weeks ago, as I said, I bought new tires. I bought them from my local warehouse mega store in nearby Clifton, thinking that there's not too much difference between installers. All was well until I picked up my keys and went to my car. I decided to check the pressure, as I've dealt with these mokes before (remember the tire I tried to have patched.) Everything was fine, except that the front and rear tires were switched on one side. That means the 29 PSI on the front and 32 PSI on the rear and the opposite arrangement on the other side of the car. This would not be kind to my differentials. I fixed it and was on my way.

Yesterday, I had my 30k mile service performed at ye olde Subaru dealer on Rt 46 in Parsippany. I was happy with the service (although $600 poorer) and enjoying my nice smooth running engine. Something was wrong, though. The handling was noticeably vague and sloppy. I knew right away what had happened, though. I had rolled in off I-80 with nice warm tires. Shortly after I dropped the car off, it was taken inside, tires still warm, where the tire pressure was "corrected". As anyone who drives a car should know, the listed inflation is for cold tires. All four tires were about four PSI low. A professional mechanic should (would) not make this mistake. It makes me wonder what kind of buffoonery takes place under the hood when I drop the car off. It's not the first time this happened, though, and it probably won't be the last.


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