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Category Archives: Tires & Wheels

Upsizing Wheels and Tires With Birmingham BDG

At AutoNetTV we love doughnuts. So let’s pretend you have three doughnuts right in front of you for today’s discussion about upsizing wheels and tires. Hey, don’t eat them now – your going to need them later.

Many Birmingham BDG car owners want to accessorize their car – you know, make it theirs. One of the easiest ways to get a custom look is to get some new wheels. There are thousands of wheel designs at Clay area tire shops to get you the look you want. And for many Kimberly drivers, that look includes bigger wheels. It used to be that cars came from the factory with 15 or 16 inch wheels. Now 16, 17 and even 18 inchers are standard. And the factories are offering optional wheel packages up to 20 inches or more.

So let’s talk about what to consider when you want to upsize your wheels. It’s not exactly a DIY project, so you need to know a thing or two before you get started. The most important term to know is rolling diameter. The rolling diameter is simply the overall height of your tire. Unless you want to modify your sedan suspension, you’ll want to keep your rolling diameter the same when you upsize your wheels.

Let’s think about those three golden doughnuts in front of you. They’re all about the same size. So if we pretend they’re tires, they would have the same rolling diameter. The doughnut hole is the size of the wheel. Now pretend we’ve made the hole bigger on some. That’s like having a bigger wheel – but the rolling diameter is the same.

It’s important to keep the rolling diameter the same for several reasons. First of all, if the tire is bigger, it might not fit in the sedan wheel well. Next the speedometer, odometer and anti-lock brake system are all calibrated for the factory rolling diameter. In order for your anti-lock brakes to work properly, the rolling diameter must stay within 3% of the factory recommendation. If you ignore that, you run the risk that your anti-lock brakes won’t work properly.

Some car owners have cars with electronically controlled suspension that will be negatively affected by changing the rolling diameter. Let’s think about the doughnuts again. You see, as the size of the wheel gets bigger, the sidewall gets shorter. The tire holds less air, so the sidewalls are made stiffer to compensate.

Low profile tires from top auto manufacturers use special compounds that give the sidewall the strength it needs without compromising ride quality. As you increase your wheel size, you’ll typically get a slightly wider tire. This means that you have a larger contact patch. The contact patch is part of the tire that contacts the road. Because there’s more rubber on the road, the vehicle will handle better. And braking distances will be shorter. A lot of Birmingham BDG folks with trucks or SUVs love the extra control.

AL motorists need to watch out that the contact patch isn’t so big that the tires rub in turns or over bumps. What we’re talking about here is fitment. Your tire professional at Birmingham BDG can help you get this right. He’ll install your new wheels, add spacers if needed to make sure your brakes fit inside your new wheels, and get you rolling.

Also, if you drive off-road in AL a lot, you may need a higher profile tire to protect your new rims. And make sure your new tires have the load rating you need if you tow a trailer or haul heavy loads. Again, your tire professional at Birmingham BDG knows how to help.

And don’t forget about tire pressure. If you have larger rims, your new tires will hold less air and they’ll need to run a slightly higher pressure. Forget that and you’ll wear your tires out fast. Finally, get an alignment at Birmingham BDG after you get your new shoes. AutoNetTV wants you to safely have the look you want.

Stop by Birmingham BDG to learn more about how you might upsize your wheels or tires.
You’ll find us at 5720 Old Springville Road in Birmingham BDG, AL 35126.

Posted in   Tires & Wheels

Clay Safety Systems: Tire Pressure Monitoring System

Flats, blow outs, skids and longer stopping distances can all be the result of Clay drivers driving around on under-inflated tires. Admittedly, it’s hard to tell when a radial tire is under-inflated. If your manufacturer recommends 35 pounds of pressure, your sedan tire’s considered significantly under inflated at 26 pounds. The tire may not look low until it gets below 20 pounds.

New laws required vehicle manufacturers to include a Tire Pressure Monitoring System – or TPMS system – in all cars and light trucks by the 2008 model year. The system has a dashboard mounted warning light that goes off if one or more of the tires falls 25% below manufacturer’s pressure recommendations.

Clay Safety Systems: Tire Pressure Monitoring SystemThis technology has been used by Clay race car drivers for years. They are able to head off problems from under inflation by closely monitoring tire pressure on the track. It’s up to your sedan’s manufacturer to determine which of many TPMS systems available they’ll use to comply with the law.

Obviously, all of this doesn’t come free for Clay drivers. U.S. government studies have estimated the net costs. Of course, the TPMS system itself will cost something. Maintaining the system will have a cost, replacement of worn or broken parts and tire repair cost increases.

The costs are partially offset by improved gas mileage and longer tire life. There’s also a potential savings in property damage avoided and fewer travel delays. The net cost is estimated to be between $27 and $100. The government predicts fewer fatal accidents. They estimate that it will cost between three and nine million dollars for every life saved.

Your safety has always been a priority at Birmingham BDG. We want you on the road and accident free. We’ve traditionally provided things like tire rotations, snow tire mounting and flat fixes at a very low cost. We’ve been able to quickly and cheaply provide the service, and pass the low cost on to you as an expression of our good will.

That’s why we’re concerned about how you’ll perceive the changes that this new law requires. Every time a tire is changed: taken off to fix a flat, a new tire installed, a snow tire mounted; the Birmingham BDG service technician is now going to have to deal with the TPMS system.

Even a simple tire rotation will require that the monitor be reprogrammed to the new location of each tire. When a car battery is disconnected, the TPMS system will need to be reprogrammed. TPMS sensor batteries will need to be changed and failed parts replaced.

Like all other Birmingham BDG service centers, here at Birmingham BDG we’ve had to purchase new scanning equipment to work with the TPMS sensors and to update expensive tire change equipment to better service wheels equipped with the new monitoring systems. Our Birmingham BDG service technicians have been thoroughly trained on many systems and new tire-changing techniques. All of this adds up to significantly increased cost to perform what was once a very inexpensive service for you.

So when you start so see the cost of tire changes, flat repairs and rotations going up at Birmingham BDG, please keep in mind that it’s because of government mandated safety equipment. We want to keep you safely on the road – and we’re committed to doing it at a fair price. This new safety equipment will help you avoid the most common types of vehicle failure in Clay, and possibly a catastrophic accident.

Posted in   Tires & Wheels

Getting New Tires In Birmingham BDG?

best tire shops in Birmingham BDG

There are so many tire choices in the Birmingham BDG, Morris, and New Castle area, selecting the right one can be a bit overwhelming for Clay drivers. And even though it’s kind of fun to have new tires on your sedan, they’re a significant investment for most Clay folks so you want do it right.

Tip: talk with your courteous Birmingham BDG tire professional. He’ll help you sort through the choices.

Here are some of the issues you’ll talk about: One is size – you know, all those numbers on the side of the tire. The right size is key. All new vehicles are required to have stability control which, along with other important safety systems, is calibrated to work with specific tire sizes. Your Birmingham BDG tire professional can help stay within car makers’ specifications or program a different tire size into your sedan’s computer.

And you’ll want to discuss how and where you drive in Clay to determine the type of tire you need: summer, winter, all-season tires or all-terrain. There are tires for every Clay auto owner’s needs.

Like we said, tires are a big investment, so you want to get a good value on tires. Now that doesn’t always mean the cheapest tire. A top tier tire from Birmingham BDG will last a long time and give Clay auto owners good performance throughout its life. Tires sold in Birmingham BDG bargain tire shops may not live up to that promise. Again, your courteous Birmingham BDG tire professional can give you options that offer the best long-term value within your immediate budget.

Last, with a 2-wheel drive vehicle you should always replace both tires on an axle. Modern sensors and computer safety systems for sedan brakes, stability and traction control need both tires to have the same amount of wear to work properly. And always put the new tires on the rear so you don’t fishtail in a turn. With all-wheel drive you should replace all four tires at the same time.

Schedule a tire inspection at Birmingham BDG to see how much life is left in your sedan tires and seek the help of a professional when choosing new shoes for your vehicle.

Give us a call

Birmingham BDG
1.800.LET.NAPA
5720 Old Springville Road
Birmingham BDG, AL 35126

Posted in   Tires & Wheels

Buying the Right Tires and Wheels In Birmingham BDG

Everyone in Birmingham AL eventually replaces their tires, whether it’s because they’re worn out or they’re just looking for something different. There are so many great tire choices in Birmingham AL, it can be difficult to sort them out. Let’s group the broad spectrum into several categories that will help in the selection process.

One category is often referred to as “summer tires”. Summer tires are designed to be driven on the road when temperatures are generally above 45 degrees. Their tread design is optimized for traction on dry roads in Birmingham AL and they’re also able to effectively displace water on rainy roads.

Pinson Selecting Tires and Wheels Now the rubber compound gets a little hard and stiff as temperatures drop below 45 degrees as it occasionally does here in Birmingham AL. And the tread which handles dry roads so well, can get packed with snow or mud – which provides very little traction in those conditions.

So if you live where its summer all year round, these tires will work well for you. If you like maximum performance in warm weather, but still live where it gets cold and snowy, you’ll want to change your summer tires for winter tires as the weather starts to change.

Summer tires can be purchased with an emphasis on handling performance, smooth ride or long life. Your Birmingham AL tire professional at Birmingham BDG can help you find the right tire for the way you drive.

As you can imagine, winter tires are designed to work very well in snow and ice. Their tread is designed with many channels and grooves that throw the snow out of the tread as the wheel turns. This means the tire is always be able to bite into the snow.

The rubber compound used in winter tires is specially formulated to be flexible at temperatures below 45 degrees. This maximizes cold weather traction. When it gets warmer, the softer rubber will wear faster on warm dry pavement than summer tires, so change them out once the weather has turned.

There’s a range of tires within the winter tire category. If you live where there’s a lot of snow and ice, look for the mountain and snowflake icon that signifies a severe snow rating. If you have milder winters and still want a performance component, they make a winter tire for you as well.

For many people, an all-season tire is the answer. You will give up some of the performance at the extreme ends of the summer tire/ winter tire spectrum, but you will find a long wearing tire that gives both good highway performance and winter traction on our Birmingham AL roads.

Within the all-season category, there are many choices that you tire advisor can help you evaluate.

Birmingham BDG
5720 Old Springville Road
Pinson, AL 35126
1.800.LET.NAPA

Outside of these three main categories, some people in Birmingham with trucks and SUVs like a tire that is designed for both on-highway and off-highway use. They can handle the rocks and bumps off-road, but still work well on the street. Again, many options depending on the relative emphasis on on-road verses off-road.

You may want new wheels to go with your new tires – well, there are hundreds and hundreds of styles to choose from. That’s a matter of personal taste. If you want to change the size of your wheels and tires, do get some professional help.

The computers on your vehicle are programmed to the size of wheel and tire combination that comes from the factory. Tire size affects various computer controlled functions like anti-lock brakes, traction and stability controls, speedometer and odometer. Of course, you want these systems to work properly. The computers can be re-programmed for different tire sizes.

And if you want to increase the size of your wheels and tires, you’ll want so help to make sure they’ll fit in the wheel wells of your vehicle without rubbing during turns or over bumps.

Posted in   Tires & Wheels

Wheel Bearings

Let me start by saying that your wheel bearings keep the wheels on your vehicle. Did that get your attention? In this article we’ll discuss more about wheel bearings and how you can keep them doing their very important job while you drive around Kimberly AL.

Come see us at: 5720 Old Springville Road Pinson, AL 35126

Wheel bearings are pretty simple parts. They’re made of high quality steel and are engineered to last 100,000 miles or more if properly cared for. The bearings do two very important jobs: First they allow the wheel to freely rotate with as little friction as possible. Second, they support the weight of the vehicle. For example, if your car weighs 3,600 pounds, each wheel has to support approximately 900 pounds. That’s a lot of heavy lifting over many, many thousands of miles.

Even though wheel bearings are relatively simple, they need to be in near perfect condition to do their job. The bearings are packed with heavy grease to lubricate and protect them. A seal keeps the grease in and water and dirt out. It’s when the seal starts to leak that problems begin. The grease can become contaminated; causing the wheel bearings to overheat and ultimately fail.

The first sign that your wheel bearings are in trouble is an unusual noise coming from a wheel. It could be a chirping, growling, rumbling or a cyclic sound. The noise could get louder or even disappear at certain speeds. Your technician at Birmingham BDG can inspect for bearing wear by lifting the vehicle and checking for play in the wheel.

Now some wheel bearing assemblies are factory sealed. That means that they cannot be serviced – they can only be replaced. Those that aren’t sealed can be serviced on schedule. The bearings are removed, cleaned and inspected. If the bearings are still good, they’re re-installed – if not, they’re replaced. They are then packed in grease and a new seal is installed.

If your vehicle has a factory sealed wheel bearing assembly, the entire assembly needs to be replaced when trouble arises. Unfortunately, the parts are pretty pricy – but they usually last about 150,000 miles as long as the seals hold up.

Now, even a good seal cannot keep out water that’s exerting pressure on the seal. So if you’ve driven through hub deep water your bearings should be cleaned and repacked if they’re serviceable. If you have factory sealed bearings, you just need to watch for signs of premature failure.

If your wheel bearings can be serviced, your owner’s manual will recommend an interval, usually around 30,000 miles.

Now, if you have any sort of trailer, don’t forget its wheel bearings. They probably need to be serviced even more frequently. This is especially true for boat trailers that are used to launch the boat by backing it into the water. These should be serviced every year, usually at the end of the season so that the bearings don’t have the opportunity to sit and rust all winter.

So what happens if wheel bearings fail? Well, the wheel can literally fall off the vehicle. I don’t need to tell you how bad that could be. So check with your service advisor at Birmingham BDG and see if your vehicle’s wheel bearings can be serviced and when it’s recommended. Listen for warning signs. If you’ve been fording streams or puddle surfing after rainstorms, be especially vigilant.

Come by Birmingham BDG for a wheel bearing inspection, or for fuel filter. Call for an appointment at 1.800.LET.NAPA

Posted in   Tires & Wheels