So, when are your tires actually worn out? This is a question a lot of us in Kissimmee Florida ask ourselves. For many, the answer is 'when they no longer pass a safety inspection'. But waiting that long can have a serious impact on your safety.
The U.S. Federal government doesn’t have any laws for tread depth, but 42 of the states, and all of Canada, do have regulations. They consider two-thirty-seconds of an inch to be the minimum legal tread depth. Two other states, including California, consider one-thirty-second to be the minimum and six states have no standards at all. Call us at Don's Complete Auto Service (just call 407-847-3427) to find out what your requirements are in the Kissimmee Florida area.
Since 1968, U.S. law has required that a raised bar be molded across all tires. When tires are worn enough that this bar becomes visible, there’s just 2/32” of tread left. But does that older standard give you enough safety?
Well, Consumer Reports issued a call to consider replacing tires when tread reaches 4/32”. And the recommendation is backed by some very compelling studies. Now before we go into the studies, you need to know that the big issue is braking on wet surfaces.
We tend to think of the brakes doing all the stopping, but you also need to have effective tires to actually stop the car. When it’s wet or snowy in Kissimmee Florida, the tread of the tire is critical to stopping power.
Picture this: you’re driving over a water-covered stretch of road. Your tires actually need to be in contact with the road in order to stop. That means the tire has to channel the water away so the tire is actually contacting the road and not floating on a thin film of water – a condition known as hydroplaning. When there’s not enough tread depth on a tire, it can’t move the water out of the way and you start to hydroplane.
This is where the studies come in. We think you’ll be surprised. A section of a test track was flooded with a thin layer of water. If you laid a dime flat on the track, the water would be deep enough to surround the coin, but not enough to cover it.
A car and a full-sized pick-up truck were brought up to 70 mph and then made a hard stop in the wet test area. Stopping distance and time were measured for three different tire depths. First, they tested new tires. Then tires worn to legal limits. And finally, tires with 4/32” of tread were tested – this is the depth suggested by Consumer Reports
When the car with the legally worn tires had braked for the distance required to stop the car with new tires, it was still going 55 mph. The stopping distance was nearly doubled. That means if you barely have room to stop with new tires, then you would hit the car in front of you at 55 mph with the worn tires.
Now with the partially worn tires – at the depth recommended by Consumer Reports – the car was still going at 45 mph at the point where new tires brought the car to a halt. That’s a big improvement – you can see why Consumer Reports and others are calling for a new standard.
Now without going into all the details, let us tell you that stopping the truck with worn tires needed almost 1/10 of a mile of clear road ahead to come to a safe stop. Obviously this is really a big safety issue.
The tests were conducted with the same vehicles, but with different sets of tires. The brakes were the same, so the only variable, was the tires.
So, how do you know when your tires are at 4/32”? Well, it’s pretty easy. Just insert a quarter into the tread. Put it in upside down. If the tread doesn’t cover George Washington’s hairline, it’s time to replace your tires. With a Canadian quarter, the tread should cover the numbers in the year stamp.
Now you may remember doing that with pennies. But a penny gives you 2/32” of an inch to Abraham Lincoln’s head. The quarter is the new standard – 4/32”.
Tires are a big ticket item and most people in Kissimmee Florida want to get the most wear out of them that they can. But do you want that much more risk just to run your tires until they are legally worn out? For us, and we would guess for many, the answer is “no”.
Well, Mr. Washington, let’s go out and look at my tires.
A question for our Kissimmee Florida motorists: How long have you been enjoying the romantic glow of your check engine light?
Hey, it's not there to create ambiance; it's a warning that something's wrong. When your check engine light comes on get it checked at a capable Kissimmee Florida service station.
Many conditions that cause the check engine light to come on affect fuel economy. Some very dramatically.
Always make sure you tighten your gas cap until it clicks. A loose gas cap can cause a false sensor reading that'll make the check engine light come on.
If your date's eyes are smoldering in the reflected glow of the check engine light, try to think of all the gas money you'll save by getting it fixed. Give us a call when you are ready: 407-847-3427
Posted in the Fuel System category
Kissimmee Customer Detective Work
Posted February 14, 2012 12:02 PM
One might say the most challenging part of being an automotive service technician at Don's Complete Auto Service in Kissimmee Florida is diagnosing a problem before it can be fixed.
Cars are made up of a bunch of complex systems. There usually could be a number of reasons for any given symptom. So it's challenging to track down the actual cause of the problem. And it can be frustrating for the vehicle owner because it can take time and money to get to the bottom of a problem. If it's not something obvious, it's easy for the customer to focus on the fixing and not the diagnosing.
Let us introduce you to something we'll call Customer Detective Work – that is helping your Kissimmee Florida technician find clues to what's wrong.
We start with the detective basics: What, Where and When. Play along with me. You come in to Don's Complete Auto Service and your car is making a funny sound.
Q: Where's the sound?
A: Around the right front wheel.
Q: What kind of sound?
A: Kind of a clunk, clunk sound.
Q: When do you hear the sound?
A: When I turn and accelerate.
Q: Right and left? Forwards and back?…
Do you see where we're going? You're gathering additional information to help your Kissimmee Florida technician know where to start. Based on your car and the tech's experience, he'll know where to look and can start with the obvious suspects.
You can see how that would be more helpful than dropping the car off with a note that says "making a funny noise".
When you think you need to bring a vehicle in, make some notes about the problem. Rather than just saying "it's leaking", tell the tech the color of the fluid, and approximately where under the car you see the puddle.
Things like 'the car is stalling or sputtering' are often very hard to diagnose because they're intermittent. They may not happen every time you drive and usually aren't happening when you actually bring the car in. So, it is a big help for you to describe what's happening in as much detail as possible.
Your Kissimmee Florida technician at Don's Complete Auto Service will need to be able to duplicate the problem if possible so he needs to know details, like 'it stalls after it's been driven for about 20 minutes and I go over 50 miles an hour'.
If the tech can experience the problem personally, he's better able to make a diagnosis and repair. And, then test to see if the repair solved the problem.
Posted in the Service Standards category
Check Your Shocks and Struts at Don's Complete Auto Service
Posted February 7, 2012 9:24 AM
Today we're talking about shocks and struts. They're so easy to forget about because they last so long and wear out so slowly. But your shocks are really responsible for keeping your tires on the road – so they're very important.
Without shocks, your wheels would be bouncing over bumps and lifting in corners. The shocks push the tire down to the road to maximize traction. Good shocks equal good ride quality and safe handling.
Visit Don's Complete Auto Service to have your shocks and struts inspected by a professional. You can find us at 508 E. Vine Street , Kissimmee, Florida 34744 Or give us a call at 407-847-3427 to make an appointment.
There's a difference between shocks and springs. Springs support the weight of the vehicle, keeping it suspended up off the axles. The shocks moderate the rebound motion as wheels hit bumps. Now a strut combines a shock and a coil spring in one compact unit.
When your shocks are worn out you may notice degraded handling as you drive around our Kissimmee streets. Your vehicle feels squirmy around corners and floaty over bumps.
You may notice the rear end squatting when you accelerate or the front end diving when you brake. Your car might even be sagging at one corner.
Uneven tire wear can also be a sign of worn shocks. Of course, if your shocks are leaking or have a big dent, they need to be replaced.
Your owner's manual will have a recommendation for when to replace the shocks and struts on your vehicle. It's usually between thirty and fifty thousand miles. Of course, if you tow a lot, regularly carry heavy loads or do a lot of driving on poor roads, your shocks might wear out faster.
If those driving conditions apply to you, you can get special shocks that are better suited to your driving.
The shocks that come from the factory are designed for the way most consumers are expected to drive that particular vehicle. If you have different needs for your driving around Kissimmee Florida, you can get premium shocks that improve performance handling, off-road abilities or towing comfort. Your Kissimmee Florida service consultant at Don's Complete Auto Service can help you determine your needs and then give you some options.
It's best to replace all four shocks at the same time. That way you'll have even, predictable handling at all four corners. Anything less could be dangerous.