10 years over­due for new tires

Antelope Valley Press (Sunday) - - Classified­s - BY RAY MAGLIOZZI

Dear Car Talk: I have a 1995 Honda Ac­cord wagon with 128,000 miles and 16-year-old tires. Do

I have to worry that my tires are go­ing to split apart?

The car is in ex­cel­lent con­di­tion oth­er­wise. — Ronda

If you never drive more than 6 mph, Ronda, you’ll prob­a­bly be fine with those 16-year-old tires.

But if you ever drive at high speeds, like 8 or 10 mph, I’d strongly sug­gest you pony up for a new set of tires.

Tires wear out in two ways. One way is through use: The rub­ber cre­ates fric­tion with the road sur­face. That fric­tion is what al­lows you to do things like turn and stop. As the rub­ber cre­ates that fric­tion, it lit­er­ally gets scrubbed off the tire. So, ev­ery time you drive, your tires give up a tiny bit of their sur­face. Even­tu­ally, they wear down to the point that there’s not enough tread left to pro­vide suf­fi­cient fric­tion or chan­nel away wa­ter. And at that point, it’s time for a new set.

But tires also de­grade due to ex­po­sure to the ozone in the air. If you left a brand-new tire out­side, even if you never put it on a car, the rub­ber would even­tu­ally de­grade, dry out and crack. And once it dries out and loses its pli­a­bil­ity, the tire be­comes dan­ger­ous.

I don’t know how many miles you have on your tires, but with 16 years of ex­po­sure to the at­mos­phere, I’m pretty sure they’re cooked. If you look at the side walls, you’ll al­most cer­tainly see hun­dreds of lit­tle cracks.

Tire man­u­fac­tur­ers rec­om­mend you buy new tires ev­ery six years, whether you’ve worn them out or not, due to the degra­da­tion of the rub­ber. Even as­sum­ing they’re overea­ger to sell new tires, you’re still well out­side any rea­son­able life ex­pectancy for tires, Ronda.

So, take the car to your reg­u­lar me­chanic and ask them to rec­om­mend some new tires for you. Based on how long you’ve waited to buy tires, ask him to do a com­plete safety check on this 25-yearold car to make sure there’s noth­ing else that’s a good 10 years over­due for re­place­ment.

***

Dear Car Talk: Even in new cars th­ese days, I can feel ev­ery bump on the road. The type of car doesn’t mat­ter.

Re­mem­ber cars from the ’70s and ’80s? Not only could you not hear the en­gine or the road, but the ride was comfy, quiet and nice. Are there any cars like that made in the U.S. to­day? The last cushy ride I had was in my 1999 Dodge Grand Car­a­van mini­van.

But now you spend $20,000 and the ride is worse than in my 1985 Chevy. What a car! Even with­out a muf­fler, the 6-cylin­der en­gine was quiet. And the ride! It was a plea­sure to drive.

What car would you rec­om­mend so the ride will not shake my brains out and make me lose my hear­ing af­ter a few hours on the high­way? — Andy

I think you’ve got a bad case of se­lec­tive, nos­tal­gic mem­ory. Or a se­ri­ous ear in­fec­tion. Over­all, car­mak­ers have made great progress with re­duc­ing noise and vi­bra­tion.

I had a 1990s Dodge Grand Car­a­van. And while the ride wasn’t bad, the rat­tles and squeaks alone in that thing nearly drove me off the deep end.

It’s true that a lot of cars from the 1970s had very cushy rides. And that’s true of cars that were de­signed in the ’60s and ’70s and sol­diered on for decades, largely un­changed.

To­day, sev­eral fac­tors can make some in­ex­pen­sive cars nois­ier. We have smaller, more fu­el­ef­fi­cient en­gines that rev higher. And as Amer­i­cans de­manded bet­ter han­dling, we got tires with shorter side­walls that cre­ate more road noise. When you pay more for a car, those things can be mit­i­gated.

And there are plenty of cars now that do a great job with ride com­fort and noise sup­pres­sion. Lots of cars now have much bet­ter cabin in­su­la­tion, in­su­lated glass, fewer squeaks, and elec­tronic noise can­cel­ing sys­tems.

And there are some buy­ers who — like you, Andy — still want a liv­ing room on wheels. In our ex­pe­ri­ence, the man­u­fac­tur­ers that seem to prize iso­la­tion and quiet the most are Lexus, Buick and Lin­coln.

So, go visit a few deal­ers and tell them your pri­or­i­ties are a soft, iso­lat­ing ride and a quiet cabin. And avoid any­thing with the word “sport.” You might drive a Lexus ES350, a Buick LaCrosse or En­clave, or a Lin­coln MKZ or Avi­a­tor, and see what you think.

Then tell the dealer you’re look­ing to spend $20,000 and watch them frog-march you out to the far end of the used car lot.

For real lux­ury cars that pri­or­i­tize a truly iso­lated cabin, you’ll prob­a­bly end up spend­ing twice that.

Got a ques­tion about cars? Write to Ray in care of King Fea­tures, 628 Vir­ginia Drive, Or­lando, FL 32803, or email by vis­it­ing the Car Talk web­site at www.cartalk.com.

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