Santa Barbara Tire Experts Common Questions

Common Tire Questions

When is it time to replace tires?

It is a good idea to periodically check the condition of your tires. When doing so, make sure to look at the entire surface area of the tire, especially the inside which is not easily checked from casually walking around the vehicle. Often a tire can have fifty percent tread left on the outside of the tire and can be showing steel on the inside. When that happens, it is typically indicative of an alignment issue. Seeing that ahead of time can prevent a costly and potentially dangerous blowout.

An old rule that has been used to determine when your tires need replacement is to take a penny and insert it between the grooves of the tire with Lincoln’s head facing downward. If you are able to see the area above Lincoln’s head, it is time to replace your tire. That distance on the penny above Lincoln’s head equates to 2/32”. However, during winter months or any other time when you may be driving on wet roads, we recommend replacing tires at 4/32”. The reason is that tires need to have adequate grooves and sipes (slits in the rubber to improve wet traction) in the tread to disperse water and keep the tire in contact with the road.

Another way to determine if your tires are worn is to look for the tire wear bar indicator. These bars are molded into the tire and are located every ten inches or so across the tire. When that bar becomes flush with the tire, it should be replaced.

How do I know if my tire is repairable?

Determining if a tire can be repaired depends on where the puncture is, how large the puncture is and whether or not the tire has become structurally damaged. If there is a nail or screw in the sidewall of the tire, it cannot be safely repaired. Punctures larger than 1/4” in diameter are also not able to be safely repaired. In addition, tires can become damaged when a vehicle is driven with a tire that has little or no air. These tires are said to be “ran flat” and cannot be repaired.

When should tires be balanced?

The primary symptom of unbalanced tires is a vehicle vibration at freeway speeds. Besides being an annoyance for the driver, unbalanced tires also cause bad tire wear and only make the problem worse. Using our Road Force balancer, we are able to fix most all balancing issues.

When should new brakes be installed?

Brakes in working condition are vital to the safety of any car or truck. A key warning that your brakes are almost worn out is hearing a high pitched metallic scraping noise while driving. If that noise goes away when the brakes are applied, it could very well be the brake sensor indicating the brakes should be replaced. Some cars also have electronic brake sensors and there will be a brake light on the dashboard that will notify the driver of brake replacement.

What types of batteries do we carry?

We carry Interstate batteries, a proven reliable battery with an excellent warranty. We either stock or can quickly order most batteries for any vehicle. We also sell deep cycle marine batteries.

My car will not start. Does that mean it needs a new battery?

The battery may well be bad if the vehicle does not start. However, it could be the alternator is bad and is not charging the battery. The starter could be bad as well. The best way to tell is to stop in for a charging system check. If any one of these aspects of the charging system have failed, our technicians can safely repair it for you.

At what intervals should an oil change be done?

We recommend changing the engine oil every 3,000 miles. Synthetic oil can be replaced at longer intervals and we recommend that at every 5,000-7,000 miles.

What is an alignment?

An alignment adjusts the way a wheel is positioned on the car. If the wheel is not positioned correctly, the tire can wear out prematurely. The front end parts are inspected and must be in proper shape in order for the alignment to be done right. Having a vehicle that is properly aligned improves the life of the tires as well as the comfort and safety of the vehicle.

What is a cabin filter?

Just as the engine filter removes debris going to the engine, a cabin filter removes debris from the air that flows into a vehicle through its vents. Many cars and trucks today come equipped with a cabin filter. Different manufacturers recommend replacement at different intervals. Maintaining a clean cabin filter in your vehicle helps you to breathe clean air in your vehicle. Cabin filters prevent harmful spores, dust, and pollen from entering the interior of your vehicle.

Is nitrogen helpful to have in tires?

There are many benefits of using nitrogen in your tires. Some of these include…

  • Increased fuel efficiency – tires with nitrogen lose inflation pressure 3 to 4 times slower than with standard air. If your tires become low in pressure, the gas mileage decreases.
  • Longer tire life – the moisture in the air is more harmful to the tires construction than if filled with nitrogen. Also, when a tire loses air it begins to wear on the edges. Nitrogen offers more consistent pressure in tires which leads to longer tread life.
  • Ease of use – Nitrogen can be mixed with regular air when you need to inflate your tire and do not have access to nitrogen. When you come back to our shop, we will take out the air and refill it with nitrogen for you, free of charge.

What are tire speed ratings?

Tire speeds ratings are designated by the government to specify what speeds a tire is safely capable of attaining. The higher the speed rated a tire is, the better it also handles. It is important to make sure that the speed rating is ideal for your particular car as well as the tire size being correct. These are the most common speed ratings for the majority of passenger vehicles. A few of the less common ratings are not noted here.

  • S – Up to 112 mph
  • T – Up to 118 mph
  • H – Up to 130 mph
  • V – Up to 149 mph
  • W – Up to 168 mph
  • Y – Up to 186 mph