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Honda Maintenance Information

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Your Honda dealership has the power to keep you going

Your Honda's battery is one of its most important auto parts. It stores and provides power to start its engine and to operate its many electrical and electronic systems.

With time and use, a battery's efficiency gradually deteriorates, affecting its ability to accept and hold its charge, and to start the engine. Avoid being inconvenienced unexpectedly by a weakened or exhausted battery by having Number 7 Honda in Woodbridge, ON test your battery's condition during required maintenance and replacing it if necessary. They can also test your Honda's charging system to make sure it is performing properly to replenish the battery's charge while driving.

Genuine Honda replacement batteries are manufactured to match your Honda's electrical system specifications, are competitively priced and are backed by a 60-month, unlimited-mileage warranty. During the first 24 months, the battery and labour are covered 100%. During months 25 through 60, the replacement cost of the battery is pro-rated.

As part of Honda's environmental initiatives, all replaced batteries are recovered and recycled.

Get a charge out of summer in the Woodbrige area

"When motorists think of dead batteries that cause starting failure, they think of severe winter weather, but summer is the real culprit."

Battery maintenance important in sweltering months

Many people realize the importance of a well-performing car battery in winter time, but then tend to forget about keeping up on battery issues the rest of the year.

The Car Care Council is advising vehicle owners to get batteries tested often and replaced, if necessary, as summer's extreme heat can wreak havoc with a battery in light of the higher loads being transported in summer time and the demand on the battery to perform.

"When motorists think of dead batteries that cause starting failure, they think of severe winter weather, but summer heat is the real culprit," said Rich White, executive director, Car Care Council. "Many battery problems start long before the temperatures drop. A few simple steps now can help you avoid the cost and inconvenience of a breakdown later."

Excessive heat causes battery fluid to evaporate, which can damage the internal structure of batteries. Further, a malfunctioning component in the charging system (usually a voltage regulator) can up the charging rate, which will eventually destroy the battery.

The Car Care Council suggests checking the electrical system is charging the battery at the correct rate, keeping the top of the battery clean and terminals corrosion-free (since dirt can become a conductor and drain battery power, and terminal corrosion can become an insulator that inhibits current flow) and topping off the battery (if it isn't one of today's sealed units) with distilled water.

And if replacement is required, remember to buy a battery that is rated at least as high as the one specified in your vehicle's owner's manual.

Genuine Honda drive belts and timing belts are designed to resist stretching and deterioration for maximum durability and performance

Drive Belt

Depending on the model, the drive belt operates the water pump, the alternator, and the power steering pump. It also drives the air conditioning compressor on A/C equipped vehicles. Belt replacement is necessary if the belt becomes worn, damaged, or as the rubber deteriorates due to age or contamination. Belt failure can result in engine overheating, loss of power steering, inoperative charging system, and A/C.

Timing Belt

The timing belt drives the engine's camshaft(s) to open and close the intake and exhaust valves at the proper time. On some Honda engines, the timing belt also drives the water pump to circulate the engine's coolant. Some engine models also have a second smaller timing belt that drives a balancer shaft system to cancel out engine vibrations.
Periodic timing belt replacement according to your Honda's maintenance schedule is critical to avoid belt failure and potential engine damage.

All Honda oils and fluids are specially formulated to meet the precise standards of quality established by Honda and are recommended to be used throughout the life of your Honda vehicle

Engine Oil

Engine oil lubricates the engine's moving internal parts to protect them against wear and reduce friction. It also creates a protective seal between the moving and stationary parts, all while helping to cool the engine. As engine oil deteriorates with time, it loses its ability to properly protect the engine. Follow the recommended oil changes intervals specified by your Honda's Owner's Manual or Maintenance Minder system (if equipped).

0W-20 Engine Oil ? Now and for the Future

Honda 0W-20 engine oil is a full synthetic formula that provides advanced protection against oil breakdown for a cleaner running engine. Oil naturally becomes thicker at lower temperatures and thinner at higher temperatures. Oil viscosity is how thick or thin an oil is, which affects how it flows in the engine. Thinner oil has a lower viscosity, and therefore flows faster. The thin properties of Honda 0W-20 engine oil allow the oil to circulate more quickly, reducing engine operating temperatures and increasing cold start protection when most engine wear takes place and reducing friction to promote lower fuel consumption.

Reduce engine wear and protect your investment by choosing Genuine Honda 0W-20 engine oil. Applicable to most model years ? consult with your Honda dealer for compatibility.

Engine Antifreeze/Coolant

Engine coolant acts to absorb and regulate the heat that is naturally generated by the engine to keep the engine running at an optimum temperature. It also contains anti-freeze to permit operation in very cold temperatures, while at the same time protecting the cooling system components with its anti-corrosion properties. As the coolant's properties deteriorate with time, it is necessary to replace the engine coolant at the recommended service intervals. It is also recommended to check the coolant level regularly. Coolant loss may indicate a cooling system problem or leakage that could lead to engine overheating and damage.

ATF DW-1

Automatic Transmission Fluid acts to cool and lubricate internal transmission components. Over time, the properties of the fluid diminish and replacement is necessary at the recommended service intervals for your Honda vehicle. An inspection of the transmission, fluid hoses, pipes, and cooler (if equipped) should be performed during recommended maintenance.

Brake Fluid

When the brake pedal is pressed, the brake fluid transfers hydraulic force to the brake calipers to slow or stop the vehicle. Brake fluid tends to absorb moisture from the air and as a result the performance of the fluid deteriorates over time. Brake fluid should be replaced every 3 years. The brake hydraulic component system should also be inspected for leaks or damage.
Brake fluid is also contained in the modulator that controls brake system pressure during ABS (anti-lock brake system) and VSA (vehicle stability assist) operation.

Hydraulic Clutch Fluid

Brake fluid is used in the hydraulic clutch system on vehicles equipped with a manual transmission. It requires replacement for the same reasons and at the same intervals as the fluid in the brake system.

Genuine Honda brake parts, designed by Honda engineers, specifically for your Honda's braking system

When you press your Honda's brake pedal, the friction material on the brake pads is pushed against the brake discs to create friction which resists the rotation of the discs. Braking torque is transferred to the wheels and tires to slow or stop the vehicle. The same occurs on rear drum brake equipped vehicles when the brake shoes are pushed outward against the inside of the brake drums.

Each time the brakes are used, a small amount of friction material, or "lining," is worn off. Eventually, the thickness of the lining will diminish to the point where replacement is necessary. When this occurs is directly related to your driving habits, operating conditions, vehicle usage and frequency of brake maintenance.

Regular inspection and servicing is required to maintain your Honda's braking system in top working order. Follow the maintenance requirements stated in your Honda's Owner's Manual.

When brake pads or shoes require replacement, insist on Genuine Honda Parts to maintain the original performance and reliability of your Honda's braking system.

Designed precisely for your Honda engine

The oil filter on your Honda's engine traps and retains fine particles that are generated during engine operation. Efficient filtration is essential to preventing engine wear and damage and to maintain proper oil flow for lubrication and cooling.

Genuine Honda oil filters are designed and manufactured to our original equipment specifications so your engine receives the same high standard of filtration protection when serviced at your Honda dealer as it did right from the factory.

The oil filter should be replaced with the engine oil when indicated by your Honda's maintenance schedule, or if equipped with the Maintenance Minder system, when it indicates to do so.

Factory Trained Technicians

Number 7 Honda utilizes state of the art facilities with the latest high tech equipment. This, combined with factory trained Honda technicians in our Woodbridge service center who know what's best for your vehicle, help to ensure your vehicle is fixed right the first time, for peace of mind motoring. Read on to find out how and why.
Technical Training

(A) Electronic

What makes Honda technical training unique? Honda technicians are kept abreast of the latest evolving technology through distance training programs available through e-Learning. E-Learning allows for timely and on-going training as soon as new models are introduced, and is customized for each associate, with interactive functionality.

(B) Classroom

Honda technicians also participate in special technical training courses where they are challenged to demonstrate both their knowledge and their tactile skills. "Hands on" training insures that Honda technicians are able to keep abreast of technological changes and service procedures.

At Honda "good-enough" is not good enough! Students cannot pass a technical training course by simply listening to a lecture and writing a paper test. A special form of training is used. It is referred to as IST (Individualized Skills Training). What makes IST training so special? Class size is restricted to no more than 8 students and students work at their own pace. Every student must actually demonstrate the skills required before they receive credit for the course. Lectures & tests (passive learning) have been replaced by skill acquisition and skills demonstration (active learning). In this manner we are able to guarantee that the students acquire the knowledge and demonstrate the skills to fix the vehicle right the first time.

Technical Support

Every Honda dealer is connected with on-line and on-call support from the Manufacturer with engineering specialists available to assist with answering questions or troubleshooting difficult problems.

Apprenticeship Training Program

At Honda we have entered into partnerships with several community colleges across Canada to sponsor Honda specific apprentice training programs. We donate vehicles, training components, tools, equipment, and expertise. Honda also works closely with the colleges to enrich and continually update our apprentice curriculum so that the students receive the best possible education. In this manner we are able to ensure that our dealers have the "pick of the crop" when it comes to hiring new professional service technicians.

HDS (Honda Diagnostic System) Tester

Only Honda dealers have the HDS tester, a sophisticated, portable computer designed and engineered by Honda to aid Honda technicians in diagnosing automotive electrical systems and electronic components. It tests the PGM-FI engine control module (ECM), and other control modules and their associated sensors, actuators and cable harnesses. The PGM tester has multiple capabilities including testing the transmission control module, anti-lock brake system, traction control system, supplemental restraint system and the active torque transfer system.

iDrive

Honda developed a new, innovative information center to increase Honda dealerships' ability to serve their customers more effectively. The i-Drive system allows dealership associates to instantly access specific information on vehicles as far back as 20 years, all at their fingertips. This includes all service manuals, service bulletins and product updates, which provides dealer service staff the latest information on all Honda vehicles. In addition to supplying technical information to service personnel, the i-Drive computer allows sales associates and customers to browse vehicle specifications and product comparisons and much more.

What Your Check Engine Light Is Telling You

When your car's "Check Engine" light comes on, it's usually accompanied by a sinking feeling in the pit of your stomach. The light could mean a costly problem, like a bad catalytic converter, or it could be something minor, like a loose gas cap. But in many cases, it means at minimum that you'll be visiting the car dealer to locate the malfunction and get the light turned off.

The Check Engine light ? more formally known as the Malfunction Indicator Lamp (MIL) ? is a signal from the car's engine computer that something is wrong. The car dealer's service department can diagnose the problem.

Prior to 1996, carmakers had their own engine diagnostic systems, primarily to ensure their cars were compliant with Environmental Protection Agency pollution-control requirements. Starting with model-year 1996, automakers standardized their systems under a protocol called OBD-II, which stipulated a standardized list of diagnostic trouble codes (DTC) and mandated that all cars provide a universal connector to access this information. It's usually located under the steering column and is easy to access.

Deciphering the Code

Experts say that many drivers confuse the "service required" light on the gauge cluster for the Check Engine light. These warning lights are unrelated. The service required light just means the car is due for an oil change or other routine maintenance. It is not the indicator of trouble that the Check Engine light is.
Check Engine lights come in orange, yellow or amber, depending on the manufacturer. If the light begins flashing, however, it indicates a more serious problem, such as a misfire that can quickly overheat the catalytic converter. These emissions devices operate at high temperatures to cut emissions, but can pose a fire hazard if faulty.

Don't Ignore That Light

So if the Check Engine light comes on and it's steady rather than flashing, what do you do? The most obvious answer, of course, is to get the engine checked. But many people do nothing, perhaps fearing an expensive repair bill. Some drivers with older cars want to squeeze out as many remaining miles as possible without visiting a service garage. But before they can pass their state's vehicle inspection, they have to get the light turned off. And a state inspection is a good motivator for dealing with the problem. If the light is lit, there's a good chance the car is releasing excess pollutants or consuming too much gas.
Ten percent of all cars on the road have a Check Engine light on, and the drivers of half of these cars have ignored the light for more than three months.

As Dan Edmunds, director of vehicle testing for Edmunds.com, points out, the system is primarily designed to continuously monitor a car's emissions system over the life of the car. However, he notes, "The engine and the emission control system are so interlinked that the health of the emission control system is a good indication of the general health of the car's engine."

Steve Mazor, the Auto Club of Southern California's chief automotive engineer, says that while some people freak out when they see the Check Engine light, "others just put a piece of black tape over it and keep driving." Mazor says it's important to promptly address problems indicated by the light. Ignoring them could lead to larger, more costly problems later.

If the light comes on, Mazor says the driver should first see if the gas cap is loose: That's a common cause. A loose cap sends an error message to the car's computer, reporting a leak in the vapor recovery system, which is one aspect of a car's emissions system. If the gas cap is loose, tighten it and continue driving. Even so, it will take some time for the light to go off, he says.

Mixed Signals

But even with the code and its meaning in hand, do-it-yourself interpretation can be a little tricky ? even if you are mechanically inclined, as Dan Edmunds explains.

"My wife's car started running poorly and there was a Check Engine light. My code reader detected a code for the Cam Angle Sensor. I thought about buying the sensor and installing it myself, but if I had, I would have wasted time and money because it turned out that the sensor was fine. Instead, mice had gotten under the hood and had chewed some of the wires leading to it."

Maintenance avoidance
November 29th, 2011 - AutoNews

Delaying service on critical items such as brakes, batteries or mechanical components can seriously affect a vehicle's safety.

According to the U.S.' National Car Care Council, roughly 70% of the nation's road vehicles are in need of repair.

Further, an unrelated report on StockMarketsReview.com says 40% or vehicle owners are putting off car maintenance or repair on their primary vehicles, including straying from manufacturer recommended maintenance schedules for brakes and tires.

"Delaying service on critical items such as brakes, batteries or mechanical components can seriously affect a vehicle's safety and performance," said AutoZone's Jimmie Swims, category manager for brakes. "Maintaining and replacing key components such as brakes and batteries at proper intervals can keep vehicles on the road and help prevent dangerous and costly breakdowns in the future. The key is to be proactive."

"A lot of conditions affect how well a car performs, from the driving conditions to how well the car is maintained," adds Bruce Bonebrake, certified Master Automotive Technician and host of Weekend Mechanic on the DIY network. "With that in mind, motorists should make time to show their cars some TLC before problems arise."

Among the tips Bonebrake offers are: Proactive checks and preventative maintenance of brakes and batteries can be the difference between staying on the road and being stranded on the roadside.
He says this is especially important if the vehicle is driven in hazardous road conditions (which leads to increased use of antilock braking ? ABS ? which can cause premature wear on all brake system components) or under duress, such as during towing or heavy duty applications, or in a sporting manner. He recommends brake components designed to withstand extreme heat (to insure quicker stops and recovery), which will lead to prolonged brake life, quieter ride and smoother stops.

Bonebrake says brakes should be checked every three months to more closely monitor performance and wear, because they are the most important safety system on a vehicle. He recommends checking discs and pads every time the wheels come off the car (such as during the switch to seasonal tires or a tire rotation). He also says they should be checked every time the vehicle is serviced, with brake fluid checked with every oil change.

For batteries, Bonebrake recommends they be tested if they are four years or older, although most will last at least five years. Factors on battery performance include extremes in temperature and the nature of vehicle usage.

He warns that batteries often do not give noticeable warning of their impending failure.

Today's vehicles may be "low maintenance," but they're not "no service."

One of the characteristics of being a tech is that you are always aware of the mechanical condition of the vehicles around you. I can't tell you how many times I have seen tires that need air, broken exhausts, tail lights burnt out, smoking engines, etc., and how many times I've informed folks about potential problems. It drives me nuts.

I'm not a perfectionist and I realize that some folks are oblivious to what's going on with their cars, but give me a break! Some of this stuff is downright dangerous! If you think you're saving money by not having your car serviced, you are sadly mistaken. Today's vehicles may be "low maintenance," but they're not "no service."

I have heard all the excuses ? I'm too busy; it's a lease car and I'm just handing it back but the best one has to be "I'm just keeping it until Christmas" ? that was two years ago!

So why service your car? Why go to the bother if it feels and drives ok? Because failures such as lack of braking happen slowly, usually without the driver even noticing ? as the braking efficiency diminishes, the driver automatically, and usually sub-consciously, adjusts simply by pushing harder on the pedal. The real problem is noticed when the brakes aren't there in an emergency situation. Had the vehicle been serviced on a regular basis, the brake efficiency would not be compromised.

Brakes should be serviced and cleaned at least twice a year ? going into the winter season and coming out of it. Enough said about brakes.

Another source of failure due to lack of service is corrosion. In Canada we use a lot of corrosive material to get rid of the ice and snow on our roads. This stuff attacks the metals that make up the chassis, brakes, wiring, exhaust, rads, etc. Servicing will lessen the damage and ultimately lower the total cost of ownership, so having the vehicle sprayed also helps.

We're all trying to save money in these difficult times, but don't take it out on your vehicle.

Yes, you really do need to change your filters. All of them
Published April 17, 2013 , Wheels.ca

Most motorists know that their car has an engine air filter and many of them wonder whether it really needs changing when a mechanic recommends it.

But few know that their car could have up to four filters and that yes, they need to be replaced from time to time.

One of the most obscure filters sits near the glove box of most cars. It's the in-cabin air filter and because most people don't know it's even there, it's not a maintenance item often discussed.

Jim Kreitzer, owner of Kreitzer's Automotive Service in Enola, Pa., routinely shows his customers evidence of clogged filters as he recommends replacement.

"A lot of people don't even know about this filter," Kreitzer said.
Upon seeing his dirty in-cabin filter, one customer a few weeks ago said, "I was breathing that air?" Kreitzer said. "I said, 'Yes, you were.' "

Even if you know how many filters your car has, it's not always easy to see their condition without having to dissemble a few things. But it's important to either check for yourself or have them checked for you, most notably the engine/oil filter and also the fuel and transmission filters.

Each filter is designed to keep particles from damaging important and expensive components of your car, including the engine and transmission. Clean filters mean smoother, more energy efficient operation of the vehicle, and one of them actually addresses air quality for you and your riders.

"Some cars are going to have a bunch of filters, some ? have only two," said Mark Schenberg, owner of St. Louis-based Car-Doc Automotive.

Here's a filter primer:

Engine air filter: Every engine has one, and you want to keep them clean. Dirt, debris and dust coming into the engine compartments can lead to sub-par performance. A qualified service technician should be able to look at the condition of your oil filter during a routine oil change.

"Having an old air filter can reduce engine power, increase engine wear and decrease throttle response when you push on the gas pedal," Kreitzer said. "You need fresh air to come in to get optimum combustion. That explosion is what makes the car go. Not changing it would be like trying to run with a clogged up nose and duct tape over your mouth."

Kreitzer recommends changing them about every 19,000 kilometres.

Cabin air filter: These are used to filter out dust and debris from coming into the passenger compartment to keep the air healthy. Most cars have at least one cabin air filter although there are some that don't. Kreitzer said several factors determine how often the filter needs to be replaced, such as driving conditions, dusty roads or road construction.

Fuel filter: It's located in the fuel line and prevents sediments such as dirt and rust particles from getting into the fuel tank. It should be replaced every 35,000 to 50,000 kilometres. Some newer cars have maintenance free fuel pumps because they are located in the tank.

"Having impurities could clog your fuel injector and fuel pump," Kreitzer said. It breaks the molecules in your gasoline down to very fine particles."

Transmission filter: Most cars don't have these anymore. If yours does, changing your transmission filter every 45,000 kilometres will greatly increase its performance and longevity and cut down on noise and shifting problems.

Reputable auto repair shops or service stations can advise you if one of your filters needs replacing. Many of these businesses check the filters during routine oil changes.

"(Car owners) need to check over their owner's manual and read what that calls for," Schenberg said. "As newer cars come around, things are going to change about them."

Schenberg said people can change the filters themselves, but advised them to be careful regarding how much they pay at auto part stores.

"People tend to go with inferior parts because of the price," Schenberg said. "They may not fit properly. If you bought one for $25, and you find one for $6, be careful."

BENEFITS OF WINTER TIRES

1. The right time to change to winter tires is when the ambient temperature reaches 7°C or below. All-season tires turn hard and lose their elasticity when temperatures are below 7°C. This causes reduced traction, resulting in longer stopping distances as well as reduced handling and cornering capability.

2. Winter tires will help reduce braking distances on cold, wet, ice and snow covered roads. The braking distance of a winter tire compared to an all-season tire, depending on speed and road conditions can be up to 25% shorter, or two vehicle lengths.

3. Winter tires contain silica which is a compound that keeps the tire flexible in cold temperatures and ensures excellent grip and braking on wet roads. Silica maintains its properties in low tem¬peratures which helps to maintain a firm grip on snow and ice packed roads.

4. Winter tires contain significantly more sipes then all season tires. Sipes are small narrow slots molded into the ribs of the tread. They are designed to increase the traction edges of the tire to improve the grip of the tire on wet pavement. Sipes are es¬pecially helpful on wet, icy or snow covered surfaces.

5. Winter tires provide higher void ratio which increases the tires ability to channel water and snow away from the footprint. Void ratio is defined as the amount of open space in the tread, calcu¬lated as a percentage of the entire tread area.

6. Winter tires should only be installed in sets of 4 tires. With only 2 winter tires, your vehicle's handling, stability, and braking are not fully optimized.

How Old ? and Dangerous ? Are Your Tires?

Determining the Age of a Tire

In February 2008, the owner of a 1998 Ford Explorer in Georgia needed a new tire for his SUV and ended up buying a used one. When he was driving two weeks later, the tread suddenly separated from the tire. The Explorer went out of control and hit a motorcycle, killing its rider. An analysis of the used tire revealed that it was nearly 10 years old.

The incident illustrates not only the potential danger of buying a used tire but also the perils of aging tires ? including those that have never spent a day on the road.

For years, people have relied on a tire's tread depth to determine its condition. But the rubber compounds in a tire deteriorate with time, regardless of the condition of the tread. An old tire poses a safety hazard.
For some people, old tires might never be an issue. If you drive a typical number of miles ? 12,000-15,000 miles annually ? a tire's tread will wear out in three to four years, long before the rubber compound does. But if you only drive 6,000 miles a year, or have a car that you only drive on weekends, aging tires could be an issue. The age warning also applies to spare tires and "new" tires that have never been used but are old.

What Happens to a Tire as It Ages?

Sean Kane, president of Safety Research & Strategies, Inc., compares an aging tire to an old rubber band. "If you take a rubber band that's been sitting around a long time and stretch it, you will start to see cracks in the rubber," says Kane, whose organization is involved in research, analysis and advocacy on safety matters for the public and clients including attorneys, engineering firms, supplier companies, media and government.

That's essentially what happens to a tire that's put on a vehicle and driven. Cracks in the rubber begin to develop over time. They may appear on the surface and inside the tire as well. This cracking can eventually cause the steel belts in the tread to separate from the rest of the tire. An animation on the Safety Research & Strategies shows how this happens. Improper maintenance and heat accelerate the process.

Every tire that's on the road long enough will succumb to age. Tires that are rated for higher mileage have "anti-ozinant" chemical compounds built into the rubber that will slow the aging process, but nothing stops the effects of time on rubber, says Doug Gervin, Michelin's director of product marketing for passenger cars and light trucks.

How Long Does a Tire Last?

Carmakers, tiremakers and rubber manufacturers differ in their opinions about the lifespan of a tire. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has no specific guidelines on tire aging and defers to the recommendations of carmakers and tire manufacturers. Carmakers such as Nissan and Mercedes-Benz tell consumers to replace tires six years after their production date, regardless of tread life. Tire manufacturers such as Continental and Michelin say a tire can last up to 10 years, provided you get annual tire inspections after the fifth year. The Rubber Manufacturers Association says there is no way to put a date on when a tire "expires," because such factors as heat, storage and conditions of use can dramatically reduce the life of a tire.

Heat: NHTSA research has found that tires age more quickly in warmer climates. NHTSA also found that environmental conditions like exposure to sunlight and coastal climates can hasten the aging process. People who live in warm weather and coastal states should keep this in mind when deciding whether they should retire a tire.

Storage:

This applies to spare tires and tires that are sitting in a garage or shop. Consider how a spare tire lives its life. If you own a truck, the spare may be mounted underneath the vehicle, exposed to the dirt and the elements.

If your spare is in the trunk, it's as if it is "baking in a miniature oven," says Dan Zielinski, senior vice president of Public Affairs for the Rubber Manufacturers Association. Most often, the spare never sees the light of day. But if the tire has been inflated and mounted on a wheel, it is technically "in service" ? even if it's never been used, Gervin says.

A tire that has not been mounted and is just sitting in a tire shop or your garage will age more slowly than one that has been put into service on a car. But it ages nonetheless.

Conditions of use: This refers to how the tire is treated. Is it properly inflated? Has it hit the curb too many times? Has it ever been repaired for a puncture? Tires on a car that's only driven on the weekends will have a different aging pattern than those on a car that's driven daily on the highway. All these factors contribute to how quickly or slowly a tire wears out. Proper maintenance is the best thing a person can do to ensure a long tire life. Gervin recommends that you maintain proper air pressure in tires, have them rotated regularly and have them routinely inspected.

How To Determine the Age of a Tire

The sidewall of a tire is littered with numbers and letters. They all mean something, but deciphering them can be a challenge. But for the purposes of determining the age of a tire, you'll just need to know its U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) number.

Tires made after 2000 have a four-digit DOT code. The first two numbers represent the week in which the tire was made. The second two represent the year. A tire with a DOT code of 1109 was made in the 11th week of 2009. Tires with a three-digit code were made prior to 2000 and are trickier to decode. The first two digits still tell you the week, but the third digit tells you the year in the decade that it was created. The hard part is knowing what decade that was. Some tires made in the 1990s ? but not all ? have a triangle after the DOT code, denoting that decade. But for tires without that, a code of "328" could be from the 32nd week of 1988 ? or 1978.

Clearly, these DOT numbers weren't designed with the consumer in mind. They were originally put on tires to make it easier for NHTSA to recall tires and keep track of their manufacturing date.

To make matters worse, you might not always find the DOT number on the outer side of the tire. Because of the way a tire is made, it is actually safer for the technician operating the mold to imprint information on the inner side of the tire, so some manufacturers will opt to put the number there. It is still possible to check the DOT code, but you might have to jack the car up to see it. Keep the visibility of the DOT number in mind the next time you are at a tire shop and the installer asks if you want the tires to be mounted with the raised lettering facing in.

That potential inconvenience is going away, however. NHTSA says that the sidewall information about the tire's date of manufacture, size and other pertinent data is now required to be on both sides of the tire for easier reading.

Don't Buy Used

Tires are expensive, especially when you factor in the price of mounting and balancing. That's why used tires become more attractive to consumers who are strapped for cash. But the purchase of used tires is very much a buyer-beware situation, Zielinski says. "Even a one-year-old tire can be dangerous if it was poorly maintained," he says.

When a consumer buys a used tire, he has no idea how well it was maintained or the conditions in which it has been used. The previous owner might have driven it with low pressure. It could have hit curbs repeatedly. It could have been patched for a nail. Further, it's a dated product.

"You wouldn't want a used tire for the same reason that you wouldn't buy a 10-year-old computer," Zielinski says. "You are denying yourself the advancements in tire technology over the past few years."
Make Sure You're Getting a "Fresh" Tire

Just because a tire is unused doesn't mean it's new. In a number of instances, consumers have purchased "new" tires at retail stores only to find out later that they were manufactured years earlier. In addition to having a shorter life on the road, a tire that's supposedly new but is actually old may be past its warranty period.

If you buy tires and soon after discover that they're actually a few years old, you have the right to request newer ones, Zielinski says. Any reputable store should be willing to make amends. "It is fair for a consumer to expect that 'new' is not several years old," he says.

Letting Go

Getting rid of an unused spare or a tire with good-looking tread may be the hardest thing for a thrifty consumer to do. "Nobody's going to take a tire that looks like it's never been used and throw it out," Kane says. But if it's old, that's exactly what the owner should do.

Although Kane has lobbied NHTSA to enact regulations on tire aging, nothing is currently on the books. A NHTSA spokesman says the organization is "continuing to conduct research into the effects of tire aging, and what actions consumers can do to safely monitor their tires when they are on their vehicles."

It's too bad that tires don't have a "sell by" date, like cartons of milk. Since there's no consensus from government or industry sources, we'll just say that if your tire has plenty of tread left but is nearing the five-year mark, it's time to get it inspected for signs of aging.

Of all your vehicle's components, tires have the greatest effect on the way it handles and brakes. So if the tire store recommends new tires at your five-year check-up, spend the money and don't put it off. Your life could depend on it.

The Mechanic: tires
May 15th, 2012 - AutoNews

Crunching the numbers on tire sizes

Q: I have to buy tires before summer driving season starts. I'm trying to price them but I don't understand the sizing. Could you give me a quick explanation as to the meaning? My car is equipped with 185/65R15 tires.

A: Tire sizing is easy once you understand the language. The number 15 represents the size of the wheel diameter in inches. When buying tires, this number has to be adhered to ? you can't mount a "16" tire on a 15-inch rim; it just won't work.

The 185 represents the width of the tire at the widest point in millimetres. So far it's straight forward.
The 65 part is the aspect ratio ? the height of the tire's sidewall to the width. In this case the tire is 65% as high as it is wide (doing the math ? 120.25 mm).

The aspect ratio and width are variable in that they allow the driver to tune the handling.

A rule of thumb is that wider and lower equals a tighter better handling car with a firmer ride, whereas a taller, narrower tire will give a softer ride and less accurate handling. In either case, don't vary more than 10% from factory specs or you'll upset the car's on board computer. But wait there's more.

If you intend to get larger wheels, because you have this need to look cool, you have to as closely as possible match the overall height of the wheel/tire package (unless you want to perform extensive body panel surgery); in this case that's 15 inches plus 120.25 mm (4.734 inches).

Also, make sure you purchase TPS monitors (the sensors that inform the computer as to the individual tire pressures) because moving the old ones usually results in their breaking.

Better still contact a pro you trust and listen to their advice.

All-season tires for all winters: Myth or reality?
Published May 9, 2012 Wheels.ca

The biggest difference between an all-season tire and a winter tire is not so much tread pattern, though that plays a part, but the rubber compound in the tire. Just like clothing can be made of a blend of fibres ? polyesters, cotton, nylon and so on ? a tire for all seasons or each season is likewise comprised of various rubber compounds. It's the type and blend that makes one tire better in summer than winter; an "all-season" tire is really just a compromise.

Truth is, winter tires are made of a denser rubber compound than all-season tires ? and more of it. More importantly, the compound is designed to stay malleable during colder temperatures, allowing them to provide the grip all tires are designed to deliver. An all-season tire, on the other hand, is made of less rubber that makes for a smoother and adequately grippy ride in the summer, but tends to harden up when there's a chill.

Technically, a moderate 7 degrees Celsius, or 45 degrees Fahrenheit, is roughly the threshold where non-winter rubber starts to harden. Generally speaking, once the temperature drops below -10 C / 14 F, almost every all-season tire behaves more like hardened plastic than flexible rubber on asphalt. It takes little imagination to figure out what that might do to your ability to stop or steer in a jam.

Then, of course, there's tread. All-season tires have a tread pattern meant to provide you with a comfortable, quiet, low rolling-resistance ride. But for all that, such a tranquil tread pattern is too tight to effectively grip snow (or mud, for that matter), much like wearing sneakers where you should be wearing hiking boots.

Winter tires have tread patterns spaced out to better allow them claw at snow rather than smush over it. These aggressive tread patterns are also what makes winter tires louder to drive on and often produce slight vibration when driving on dry roads.

So why does the "all-season tires for all winters" myth persist? Probably because it's true some of the time. Again, it's a regional thing. All-season radials usually perform just fine in rain and even the occasional dusting of snow, typical of southern states and on up the west coast.

By that same token, summer or all-season tires are the better bet when it's summer, obviously, or any season that doesn't involve cold and snow. They won't wear as quickly as a winter tire driven in summer months, and they provide a better grip on smooth surfaces. The low rolling-resistance also equates to better fuel economy.

Meanwhile, the last couple of decades have seen great strides in tire technology, making the difference between winter and all-season tires technically disparate yet hardly noticeable to the end users.

From a consumer standpoint, as with any product, you get what you pay for when picking tires. The quality of the tire compound (and the associated price tag of the tire) will determine things like how much cold weather your tires can endure before they start to act like plastic ? and how effective they'll be in the meantime.