Many car enthusiasts who decide to take the plunge into collecting, customizing, rebuilding and restoring, tend to start their mechanical journey by focusing on the engine and power train before moving on to the chassis, interior, electrical systems, etc.
Almost invariably, tires are the last to be considered in a customization or restoration project, and this is quite unfortunate given the fact that tires make up the only element of the vehicle that actually comes in contact with the road.
Choosing Your Tires
When sitting down to plan a new project, be sure to dedicate about 30 minutes to tire research. At the very minimum, you should first learn about the recommendation of the manufacturer insofar as standard or stock tires. When doing this basic research, you will run into recommendations that mention specific tread patterns, sizes and tire codes.
Tread patterns serve performance and safety purposes; for example, the tires on a tuner car used for street racing in a dry region of Southern California may feature shallow unidirectional and asymmetrical patterns for speed. Deep and broad tread patterns are often found on jeeps and other cars.
Interpreting Tire Codes
When it comes to choosing the size of the tires, manufacturers often recommend a range as well as a number of codes. Technical books and manuals are likely to suggest an even wider range of codes and sizes. These codes, also known as markings, are prominently imprinted on the rubber, and they indicate dimensions, load and speed rating. The leading letter indicates the use; for example, “P” is for passenger. The next numerical section is the tire width in millimeters, followed by the aspect ratio, the build and the diameter.
Budgeting for Tires
Scrimping on tires is one of the most common and costliest mistakes made by car owners. Cheap tires do not make sense in a customization or restoration project unless they are initially used for road testing and not for completing the project. To this effect, it is recommended to include four new tires in the budget of the project. If the car is going to be driven daily or at least a couple of times each week, the tires can be rotated and replaced two at a time unless you are planning on drifting or burning rubber.
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