Auto Repair & Tires Blog
Did you know that roughly 200 types of raw materials are used to make a single tire?
Many new tires must pass several months’ worth of testing and inspection before a vehicle maker will agree to use the tires as original equipment.
And all tires are put through a battery of quality and safety checks before they make it to market. They’re cut apart, x-rayed, road tested and run on test wheels, all to make sure they’re safe, provide a smooth ride and deliver a long service life.
Our thanks to the U.S. Tire Manufacturers Association for that information. They also provided the video on how tires are made. It’s an interesting process. Check it out.
There are lots of car parts that need to be replaced now and then: filters, belts, hoses and those little metal and ceramic things that play a key role in the ignition process: spark plugs.
“Spark plugs are one of the hardest working parts of a vehicle,” said Rich White, Executive Director of the Car Care Council. Each plug “can fire 400 times per minute per cylinder or 1,600 times a minute on a four-cylinder engine.”
But despite the constant strain spark plugs are under while a vehicle is running, White says many drivers don’t replace them as often as necessary, even after they’ve failed. “This is a mistake since fouled, damaged or worn out spark plugs can lead to engine damage, reduced fuel efficiency and poor performance.”
Plugs in older cars should be changed every 20,000 to 40,000 miles, while the spark plugs made for newer vehicles can last between 60,000 and 100,000 miles.
If you notice any of these problems, pull into your nearest Mountain View Tire and Auto Service location.
Stubborn starts - Engine not turning over as quickly as it should? The problem could be worn plugs.
Filling up too frequently - There can be many reasons for poor fuel economy, from under-inflated tires and a dirty air filter to speeding and jackrabbit starts, but old spark plugs also contribute to lower MPGs.
A sluggish feel - If your plugs aren’t firing as frequently as they should, you’ll know it when you try to accelerate. Your car may not respond as quickly as it normally would.
Too much noise - Those rattling, pinging or knocking sounds you’ve been hearing from under the hood lately? Yep - probably bad spark plugs.
The good news: replacing spark plugs is one of the more affordable types of maintenance you can have performed on your vehicle. And when you consider that new plugs can improve your gas mileage and prevent engine damage, it’s a type of service you shouldn’t put off.
Give us a call or stop in if we can help.
Dirty, weather-worn tires are to your car as a pair of beat-up old shoes is to your wardrobe.
So, if keeping your vehicle looking good is important to you, treat your tires to a little TLC now and then. It’s pretty easy.
1) Limit sun exposure - Sure, that big ball of gas we call the sun is 93 million miles away, but it’s close enough to beat the life out of your tires over time. Consider that when parking. Look for shady spots or, if you pull into the same lot every day, change the direction your car faces to limit your tires’ exposure.
2) Give your tires a bath - All it takes is water, a washcloth and some dish soap. You don’t need anything fancier than that. In fact, other cleaners may contain chemicals that can break down a tire’s compounds.
3) Make ‘em shine - There are plenty of products you can buy to give your tires that showroom appearance. Just check the label first to make sure they’re not petroleum-based. Those can damage the rubber and cause premature cracking.
4) Store them properly - If they’ll be off your vehicle for a while, store your tires in a cool, dry space out of direct sunlight. When possible, cover them to provide even more protection. Read our post “Tips on Storing Your Tires.”
5) Keep them properly inflated - Of course, if the tread on your tires is too low their appearance won’t matter at all. So, to extend their life, always keep your tires properly inflated and have them rotated every 6,000 miles to spread the wear evenly over all four tires. Pull into any Mountain View location for a free pressure check and find our coupon for a free rotation here.
So, you’re not a distracted driver? Great!
But even if you stay completely focused when behind the wheel, it’s a good idea to actively watch for other drivers who may be distracted. One of the reasons that’s important: distractions can take so many forms these days.
Of course, drivers using cell phones are a leading cause of accidents, but adjusting the radio or other dashboard gadgets can also pull a driver’s eyes from the road for too long a time.
Attending to young children while driving can lead to quick, unexpected lane changes. Even an intense conversation with a passenger can prove dangerously distracting.
There are the chemical distractions, too. AARP reports that half of older drivers take seven or more prescribed medications. A December 2018 article at AARP.org stated that “With so many [drivers] on regular medication, impairment while driving is a critical and significant issue.”
Add to that list people who’ve had too much to drink or those under the influence of marijuana or other types of street drugs, and you can see that it's crucial to stay aware of how other drivers behave on the road.
Watch for These Signs
1) Is the car coming toward you swerving or driving too close to the center line? Safely and quickly move as far to the right as you can.
2) When you’re close enough, look for the position of the other driver’s head. Is he focused on the road or is he looking down for too long? If he seems distracted, be prepared to swerve out of his way if he crosses the center line.
3) Is the other car loaded with people? The likelihood of a driver being distracted shoots up with each person added to a vehicle, especially when the passengers are younger.
4) Never assume that a driver who has pulled up to a two-way stop sign sees your crossing vehicle. Sometimes you can sense that she’s distracted by cars down the road and doesn’t see that you’re almost in front of her. Is she nudging too far into the intersection? Does she appear to be looking past your car? Don’t be afraid to draw her attention to your vehicle by flashing your headlights or blowing your horn.
With 30 locations across Southern California, we repair a lot of tires each year! There are some tires we can’t repair, though, but not for lack of knowledge or proper equipment.
To be repaired reliably, any puncture to the tread must be one-quarter inch in diameter or less. And tire damage outside of the tread area cannot be fixed in a way that assures safe operation. The reason: the sidewall area of the tire is subject to so much pressure and flexing during driving that current repair methods don’t provide a long-lasting solution.
These are standard tire repair guidelines that we always follow. They also happen to be recommendations of the U.S. Tire Manufacturers Association (USTMA).
• We use a rubber plug to fill the hole, then apply a patch on the inside of the tire to add additional strength to the plug and seal the inner liner. The USTMA says that using a plug without a patch is unacceptable.
• Before repairing a tire, we remove it from the rim. Even if the point of puncture is obvious, we inspect the whole tire for additional damage. We also need to access the inside of the tire to apply the patch.
• Once a tire has been repaired, the same area of the tire cannot be repaired again. Multiple repairs near each other can weaken the structural integrity of the tire.
• Tires with exposed metal belts cannot be repaired and should be removed from the vehicle as soon as possible.
• If you drive too long on an underinflated tire - even if it’s newer - the inside of the tire may start to grind away, leaving rubber particles or dust on the inside. That damage cannot be corrected, and the tire may need to be discarded.
If we can help you with tire repair, tire rotation, wheel balancing, wheel alignment, nitrogen tire inflation, free pressure checks, TPMS service or new tire sales, just pull into any Mountain View Tire and Auto Service location.
Americans get rid of a lot of tires each year - many tens of millions, in fact. The majority are recycled as fuel, retreads, roadway construction materials and for other purposes.
But with a little effort, you can re-purpose your old tires and put them to work in different ways around your home, yard or office.
There are many YouTube videos that provide inspiration for various projects or show you how to execute them. We pulled together a few of our favorites.
The first video shows 40 uses for old tires, including number 6 - a cool sink design that would be perfect for a man cave or car-themed restaurant.
In this second video, you’ll learn how to make an ottoman / stool from an old tire. You could also twist this idea a bit to make a coffee table from your passenger car tire or a larger dragster tire, which is called a racing slick. That might make a great gift for the NHRA drag racing fan in your life.
Finally, this video shows you how to convert an old tire into a planter that’s suitable for your deck or patio, as well as a dog bed that even the biggest puppy would have trouble chewing through. Take a look.
In late July 2019, the average price for a gallon of gas in Los Angeles was $3.68. And, of course, it may climb higher.
Gasoline prices fluctuate for many reasons: the cost of crude oil, bad weather that interrupts production, strife in oil-producing nations, etc.
And while there’s nothing you can do to lower the cost per gallon, you do have at least some say in how much gas your vehicle uses.
Your control begins with your tires. Underinflated tires require more energy to roll down the road, so they use more gas. Have the pressure checked at least once per month to make sure your tires are operating as efficiently - and affordably - as possible. We’ll be happy to help, free of charge. Just pull into one of our Southern California locations.
Point in the right direction. If your wheels are even slightly misaligned, they’re wasting gas. Imagine if all four of your tires were installed at a slightly different angle in relation to the road. They would literally be dragged across the road surface, instead of rolling smoothly. And when your tires don’t work together as efficiently as possible, your vehicle uses more gas than it should.
Find your balance. When your wheels aren’t balanced properly, they vibrate - sometimes violently. That vibration is energy that detracts from the forward momentum of your vehicle. Once again, it’s an inefficiency that wastes gasoline.
By the way, underinflation, misalignment and unbalanced wheels all lead to premature tire wear, too. So, the monthly pressure checks, along with balancing and wheel alignments when necessary, are investments that can extend the life of your tires and save you money in the long run.
When temperatures rise during the summer months, your vehicle - and even the passengers inside - can be susceptible to heat-related trouble, some of it potentially deadly.
Tire damage - Under-inflated tires are always dangerous, but especially in summer. Tires that aren't properly inflated tend to overheat easier, which can lead to unexpected failure. And the season's higher air temperatures and hotter roads don't help matters.
We always encourage you to pull into any Mountain View location once each month for a free pressure check, but that's even more important advice during the warmer times of the year.
An overheating engine - Whether it's caused by a low coolant level, a leaking radiator hose, or a faulty thermostat, an overheated engine will force you to shut down your vehicle. If your temperature gauge indicates high heat or if steam begins pouring from under the hood, pull off the road as safely and quickly as possible and turn off the engine.
Never try to open the cap of a steamy radiator, as it can release highly pressurized and dangerously hot fluid that can cause severe burns. Once the engine has cooled, you can add coolant, but only when the engine is running. If the hose is blown or the radiator is damaged enough that it won't hold coolant, have the vehicle towed to the nearest Mountain View location.
Cabin temperature - It happens dozens of times each year: drivers leave pets and even young children in hot cars with the windows rolled up, and as the temperature inside the vehicles rises to intolerable levels, tragic deaths occur.
It takes much less time than you may imagine for the interior of a car to become dangerously hot, so please - never leave any animal or person who is incapable of lowering the windows unattended in any type of vehicle. That includes even an older child or an elderly adult who may have fallen asleep in the car.
There are plenty of interesting numbers associated with cars. Here are just a few.
1) Los Angeles County is home to 10.16 million people and 7.76 million vehicles.
2) Of the 50 U.S. cities with the highest number of vehicles per household, 36 are in California. On average, there are 1.8 vehicles per American home. Murrieta, California tops the list of cities with 2.36 vehicles per address.
3) At any given time, the tires on a typical family car only contact about 100 square inches of the road. That space is about the same as your two feet placed side by side.
4) Did you know that electric cars are not a new idea? The electric motor dates to the 1820s and the first practical electric vehicles appeared in the late 1850s. The technology continued to develop through the early 1900s when cheap gas made vehicles with a combustion engine more appealing.
5) The first parking lot in Los Angeles opened in 1917. Today, the area's nearly 19 million parking spaces take up 14% of Los Angeles County’s land.
6) You are 23 times more likely to be involved in a car crash if you text while driving. While looking at your phone for just five seconds, you can drive the distance of a football field.
7) More than 95.6 million vehicles were produced around the world in 2018. More than 25 million of those were commercial vehicles.
8) Think a gallon of gas is expensive? A Starbucks Venti Latte is $4.15. Based on that price, a gallon of the beverage would cost you $26.56.
If you’re like us, you need reminders now and then: smartphone alarms, a to-do list, an old-school string around the finger.
And that’s exactly what National Tire Safety Week is - a reminder of just how important it is to take care of the tires on all your vehicles. Or, you can let us do it for you.
“Spending just a few minutes each month on maintenance can make all the difference in your tires’ safety, [service] life and performance,” according to the U.S. Tire Manufacturers Association (USTMA), the organization behind Tire Safety Week. “You don’t need to be an expert mechanic. Just stick to the essentials.”
To remember those essentials, think of the acronym P.A.R.T. It stands for Pressure, Alignment, Rotation and Tread.
Alignment - When your tires are perfectly aligned, they roll down the road easier with less resistance and less wear. Learn more.
Rotation - Strategically changing the position of your tires on your vehicle every 6,000 to 8,000 miles helps them wear evenly, which allows them to last longer. Learn more.
Tread - So much of caring for your tires is about extending tread life. When the tread is just 1/16th of an inch deep, the tire needs to be replaced.
National Tire Safety Week 2019 only runs from May 20th through May 27th, but we’ll be glad to check your pressure, tread depth and tire condition free of charge any time you visit one of our Southern California locations.
© 2019 Mountain View Tire & Auto Service