Christmas came early for my car when I gave it a new set of boots last weekend. About time too since most of the thread were barely visible anymore.
My stock tyres were in 185/65R/15, but I decided to improve it a bit by going for Michelin XM1 in the size of 195/60R/15. For those interested to know how to read the sidewall of the tire, I extracted this informative graphic from Wikipedia:
So in my case, the height of the sidewall for the standard tyre (185/65R/15) is 65% of 185mm = 120mm. The new tyres I changed (195/60R/15) would give me 60% of 195mm = 117mm, which is slightly smaller than the original.
So whilst I get a wider (195 vs 185) and a shorter tyre, the pros would be that I will now get a better grip on the road in rainy conditions and while taking corners. A smaller wheel would also give me better pick-up. On the cons, a smaller wheel will need to make more cycles per km, ie revolutions per km, which could mean more petrol usage.
Well, so far the new boots have been doing their jobs pretty well. My ride is now considerably quieter and traction seems tighter during corners and on wet roads. I have yet to determine the mileage factor but I don’t think it would be that significant.
However, the thing that bugged me during my purchase of the new boots was the way the shop fella tried to seemingly make a quick buck out of me by telling me my camber nuts/screw is not aligned properly and I need to add in a camber screw to fix this. Luckily, I sorta remembered this was really one of the oldest tricks in tyre business so I just declined. Typically cars only need to change or adjust their camber screws if they get into an accident or went into a big pothole. If I’m not wrong a lot of newer cars may not even need camber adjustments.
But because of this incident, I plan to have my car tyres go through another round of alignment and balancing during my next car service in my authorised service centre – just to double confirm there’s nothing doing with my cambers.
So just some tips if you want to buy new tyres:
1. Don’t fall for the camber screw trick.
2. Better to have tyres aligned and balanced AGAIN at your authorised service center because a lot of tyre shops will give you free balancing/alignment/etc. but could be slipshod work.
3. Try to google or ask around for recommended tyre shops or even tyre shops with bad reputation (so that you can stay away)
4. Know some general price listing of tyres so that you are prepared.