Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Unwelcome Hitchiker

What a fine way to start the day!

I must have picked up that nail late yesterday, because this tire was flat as can be when I rolled out this morning. I noticed the extra drag right away, and feared that the parking brake was dragging. But when I pulled into a parking lot a block later, wondering how the heck I could fix a stuck parking break, I noticed the right rear tire.

On the plus side, this little incident forced me to have a good look at the tread wear. On this tire it's pretty far down. The wear bars (those nubbins that bridge the tread groove) aren't quite even with the tread yet, so theoretically I've got some life left. But I can see all of Lincoln's hair, and combine that with this massive puncture, extensive cracking, 5 years and 50,000 miles of use, and I'd say this guy is near replacement.

UPDATE 2011-07-07: Interesting addendum to the above story. When I got the tires replaced last night, they told me it'd be best to put them in the rear. This went against what I thought was the conventional wisdom of placing the best tires in the front for a front-wheel-drive car, since that's where the steering, power, and majority of braking occurs. However, after some research, I found a compelling reason to put them in the back. Under normal conditions, so long as there is decent tread in both the front and rear, it doesn't make much difference. In adverse conditions, however, like making a turn on a wet road, having the less-worn tires in the back tends to help. Like a drogue chute, they keep the car from spinning around. If the "grippier" tires were in the front, the car has a tendency to pirouette around the front end, swinging the back end around. This is a condition called oversteer that, while plenty fun on a racetrack, is harder to control than the reverse condition of understeer. Plus, in an understeer condition, the nose of the car tends to be out in front, which is the preferred orientation if you're going to hit something.

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