Hey Sparks, are your tires worn out? What is the standard for our Nevada streets? How can you tell on your sedan?
While there may be legal requirements for the Sparks area, there are safety concerns that go beyond meeting minimum replacement mandates.
2/32 is the depth of the tire tread wear indicator bars that US law has required to be molded across all tires since August 1, 1968. When tires are worn so that this bar is visible, there’s just 2/32 of an inch – 1.6 millimeters – of tread left. It’s that level of wear that’s been called into question recently.
We’re referring to the Consumer Reports call to consider replacing tires when tread reaches 4/32 of an inch, or 3.2 millimeters. And the recommendation is backed by some very compelling studies.
The issue is braking on wet surfaces in and around Sparks. Most of us think of our brakes doing most of the work, but if you don’t have enough tread on your tires, the brakes can’t do their job. When it’s wet or snowy, the tread of the tire is even more critical to stopping power.
Picture this: you’re driving over a water covered stretch of road near Sparks, Nevada. Your tires must be in contact with the road in order to stop. That means that the tire has to move the water away from the tire so that the tire is actually contacting the road and not floating on a thin film of water.
Floating on the surface of water is called hydroplaning. So if there’s not enough tread depth on a tire, it can’t move the water out of the way and you start to hydroplane.
In the study a section of a test track was flooded with a thin layer of water. If you laid a dime 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 were brought up to 70 miles per hour, or 112 kilometers an hour and then made a hard stop in the wet test area. Stopping distance and time were measured for three different tire depths:
New tire tread depth
4/32 of an inch
2/32 of an inch
So what happened with the 2/32 tires on the car? Get this – when the car had traveled the distance required to stop with new tires, it was still going 55 miles an hour. Stopping distance was nearly doubled to 379 feet and it took 5.9 seconds.
Wow! That means if you barely have room to stop with new tires, you would hit the car in front of you at 55 miles an hour with the worn tires.
Now, with the partially worn tires – at 4/32 of an inch – the car was still going at 45 miles an hour at the point where new tires brought the car to a halt. It took nearly 100 feet more room to stop and 1.2 seconds longer. That’s a big improvement. We can see why Consumer Reports and others are calling for a new standard.
Of course, stopping distances were greater for the heavier pick-up truck.
How do you know when your tires are at 4/32 of an inch? 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.
You may remember doing that with pennies. A penny gives you 2/32 to Abraham Lincoln’s head. The quarter is the new recommendation – 4/32.
How do people feel about replacing their tires earlier? Well, tires are a big ticket item and most people 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”.
Automotion 225 Telegraph Street Reno, Nevada 89502 (775) 624-5152
When it comes to preventive maintenance on our vehicles, most of us Reno drivers remember to get our oil changed. But Automotion services that occur at longer intervals — like transmission service — sometimes get overlooked. Yet transmission service is a key part of car care for Reno drivers. A poorly maintained transmission will lessen MPG and lead to pricey repairs.
The transmission transfers power from the engine to the drive wheels. When it’s clean and well – lubricated, it gives maximum fuel efficiency. But when it gets dirty or worn down, your fuel efficiency will suffer. Your transmission relies on transmission fluid to keep everything running well.
Transmission fluid has two jobs: to cool and lubricate the transmission. The transmission operates at high temperatures. It can get 100-150°F degrees hotter inside your transmission than inside your engine. Transmission fluid transfers some of the heat away from the transmission. Transmissions work hard. Their parts need constant lubrication to prevent excessive wear and keep them running smoothly for Reno drivers.
The constant shifting and movement of gears inside the transmission cause bits of the gears and clutch material to wear off. These bits of detrimental grit get into the transmission fluid. This grit increases friction inside the transmission and causes even more wear – it’s like liquid sandpaper. Also, the high temperatures inside the transmission cause the transmission fluid to break down over time, making it a less effective lubricant. The fluid can actually become sludgy, which can gradually plug up the maze of passages inside the transmission. Gradually, the transmission loses efficiency and stops operating smoothly. Eventually, the transmission will be damaged or fail altogether.
This is why the transmission fluid must be changed periodically. Your owner’s manual will give you a recommended time schedule for this essential service. Or, you can communicate with your friendly Automotion service advisor. Generally, the interval is around 35,000 miles (55,000 km) or every two years. But the interval for your sedan may be shorter or longer.
Of course, if you give your transmission a real workout, you’re going to have to change the fluid more often than the auto maker recommends. If you drive in hot, dusty Nevada conditions, if you tow a trailer around Reno, if you haul heavy loads or if you do a lot of stop-and-go Sparks driving, then you need to change transmission fluid more often. Also, if you demand frequent bursts of speed from your engine — especially shooting away from stops — your transmission is working harder and will need more frequent care. Check your owner’s manual for the “severe conditions” service interval.
Transmission fluids vary from vehicle to vehicle, so you’ll also need to check your owner’s manual to know what kind your sedan needs, or speak with your friendly Automotion service specialist.
At Automotion in Reno, transmission fluid can usually be changed while you wait and is simple and not particularly costly. Compared to the cost of costly transmission repairs or a new transmission, it’s downright cheap! So take some good auto advice from the team at Automotion and take care of your transmission. It will pay you back in improved MPG and a longer, smoother ride.
When it comes to preventive maintenance and car care, most Reno motorists know how vital it is to check their brakes. But brakes are more than just brake pads and shoes. There are a lot of components in the brake system, and they all need to be in good working order.
The pads and shoes are known as the friction materials in the brake system. They push together, providing friction, which stops the vehicle. It’s no wonder they have to be checked regularly for wear, and that brake pads and shoes need to be replaced periodically.
Brake pads/shoes gradually wear out, but that doesn’t mean your braking gradually becomes less effective. The pads are engineered so that they maintain good braking until they wear too thin to provide adequate friction. At this point, they need to be replaced.
But your braking system also has mechanical parts. These pistons and springs can also gradually wear out or get gummed up by oil, dirt and other road spatter. A brake inspection in Reno at Automotion includes a check of these parts as well as the pads and shoes. Your friendly Automotion service advisor can then advise you of any parts that need cleaning or replacement.
The fluid component to the brake system needs a regular check-up at Automotion as well. The brake fluid cools and protects your brake system. Protective additives are gradually depleted by the operation of the brake system, and moisture build-up inside the fluid can diminish its effectiveness. When you have your brakes serviced at Automotion in Reno, the fluid should be checked and, if needed, replaced, which will clean out water, debris and dirt.
It is vital to remember that your brake system also includes your tires. No matter how well your brake system is performing, if your sedan tires are worn, you won’t get good stopping power. Traction is the gripping power of your tires to the roadway. Traction is always better on tires with a good tread. Good traction translates to good braking.
This is particularly essential on wet Hidden Valley roads. A good tire will give you good braking on either wet Nevada roads or dry. But stopping distance increases dramatically when worn tires meet wet roads. Tread on a tire acts to channel away water as the sedan passes over the wet road, thus maintaining contact between the tire’s surface and the road, which maintains traction. But the thinner the tread, the less effective the water channels become, and water can get between the tire and the roadway, reducing friction. A loss of friction means a longer stopping distance and possibly the loss of control.
Braking depends on two things: the weight of your sedan and the speed of the vehicle. The heavier the vehicle or the faster the vehicle, the more braking power it requires. Thus, brake systems vary from vehicle to vehicle. For example, a pickup that is designed for heavy loads has a more powerful braking system than a compact car. Sports cars also have higher-grade braking systems than minivans.
Regardless of what kind of car you drive in Reno, it is always good auto advice to keep your brake system in good repair, and that means ALL of your brake system. Just one more way to keep your travels accident and worry-free.
People from Reno Nevada love their cars. And nothing goes with cars better than a Nevada road trip. Freedom from daily schedules, new sights and the open road – it’s great! But there’s nothing like car trouble to bring the fun to a grinding halt.
Now you can’t always avoid problems, but you can take steps to reduce the probability of getting sidelined on your trip.
Heading out on a Nevada road trip? Stop by Automotion before you head out to make sure everything is in good repair. 225 Telegraph Street, Reno, Nevada 89502 Call us at (775) 624-5152
Let’s look at some of the auto maintenance related problems you might encounter on a road trip and what you might do to avoid them.
It all starts with a thorough trip inspection by your Reno Nevada service professionals at Automotion. Let’s talk about some of the items on the trip inspection checklist.
The most common vehicle component to fail is the tires. Of course, you can’t always avoid a road hazard that leads to a flat, but you may be able to head off some maintenance-connected tire problems.
A good tire inspection will start with looking over the condition of the tire itself. Are there signs of uneven tire wear? Are the tires properly inflated? Is the tread worn to the point that the tire should be replaced? The answers to these questions may lead to a recommendation to balance or rotate your tires. It may also be time to have an alignment service.
Your brakes should be inspected for function as well as to determine how much life is left in your brake pads. You’ll also want to know if it’s time to service your brake fluid. Over time water and contaminants make their way into your brake fluid and the system needs to be flushed, cleaned and filled with fresh fluid.
While looking under your car, your Reno auto technician should also inspect your suspension system for worn or damaged parts. If you need new shocks or struts, you’ll really notice the difference on your trip once you have them replaced.
Now the second most common vehicle failure is the cooling system. It may be time for a coolant exchange or flush. These services remove old fluid that has become corrosive and replaces it with fresh, clean fluid that restores the effectiveness of your cooling system.
The cooling system inspection will reveal leaks and weakened hoses. Replacing worn parts, like the radiator cap or water pump may be indicated. Even though cooling system failure is fairly common, it’s easy and relatively inexpensive to prevent with proper maintenance.
Another thing people often overlook their transmission service. This is very important before a road trip because transmission problems tend to take some time and money to get fixed. Not the way you want to spend your vacation.
Your technician will inspect your belts to see if they should be replaced. A failed belt is at best an inconvenience. He’ll also give your exhaust system the once over to make sure there aren’t any dangerous leaks that could harm you and your passengers.
Of course, there are the usual things as well. An oil change, engine air filter, fuel system cleaning, a tune up. If you need any of these things, get them done today at Automotion – the improved fuel economy will be appreciated on your road trip.
If your heater or air conditioning isn’t working as well as you’d like, let your Reno Nevada service consultant know at Automotion.
Some important items that are often overlooked are power steering service, differential service and timing belt replacement. If these things don’t ring a bell, have your service consultant check to see if they’re due.
Now while you’re out seeing the sights, you’ll want to make sure you can see the sights. Replace your windshield wipers if they aren’t working well. And don’t forget your headlamps. They gradually lose their brightness and you don’t even realize it. Many people replace their lamps once or twice a year.
All the items mentioned are part of any good vehicle maintenance plan. These are things that you want to take care of anyway, but they all come into focus as you plan for your trip. They’ll always save you money in the long run and may prevent inconvenient delays on your trip. After all, you wouldn’t want to miss the world’s largest ball of string, would you?