Wednesday, June 26, 2019

C3 Corvette Tire Rotation

We usually don't think about our tires until we get a flat. And although it is impossible to completely avoid flat tires (it's not a matter of if, but when), we can certainly extend the useful life of our tires by performing periodic tire rotations.


Tires have improved tremendously over the years, but they do have a lifespan and they are also affected by air pressure, balancing, and alignment.

You could rotate them weekly, but driving on tires without proper inflation, unbalanced wheels, or an out-of-alignment vehicle, will shorten their useful life significantly.

Another factor affecting classic or older vehicles that are rarely driven are flat spots. In extreme cases, it will feel like you're driving over a washboard and in those cases, those tires are ready to be recycled.

Like most consumables, tires have a shelf life and should have a date of manufacture stamped on the sidewall. However, that's when the tire was made, NOT when it should be replaced.

To my surprise, I learned that the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has no specific guidelines about tire aging, and instead defers to recommendations of tire manufacturers, which can range from 5 to 10 years.

To add to the confusion, car manufacturers also offer recommendations as to when to replace tires. And the U.S. Tire Manufacturers Association says there is no way to put a date on when a tire "expires" because of such factors as heat, storage, under or over inflation, and conditions of use.

So we have to make our own determinations.


HOW OLD ARE MY TIRES?

Based on the information I found on the BFGoodrich website, my tires were made on the 49th week (December) of 2011. This means my tires are approximately 7 years and 20 weeks old (as I write this article in late April 2019), so they are within the 5- to 10-year "range."

But does that mean they are safe and roadworthy?

A proper tire inspection can answer that question.




TIRE INSPECTION

Any vehicle that shakes and/or pulls to one side or the other while driving on a good surface under normal driving conditions, should have its tires, suspension, and steering components checked.

In severe cases, doing the necessary repairs as well as replacing the tires may be the only course of action. Remember that the tires are the only part of your vehicle in direct contact with the road.

But even if there are no strange noises or vibrations, you still need to visually check your tires as part of a regular maintenance program.

Tread Depth: Forget the old Penny trick to check your tires. Instead, get a reliable tire tread depth gauge. They are available at most auto parts stores and usually cost under five dollars.

Proper Tire Pressure: This has to be the easiest way to maintain good gas mileage as well as extend the life of your tires. Get a decent tire pressure gauge.

Tread Wear: If you notice unusual tread wear around the edges or erratic wear patterns, also referred to as "cupping," have a professional determine the cause.

Cracked Tires: This is a byproduct of age, and visible cracks are a sign of dry rot. If this is the case, replace the tires!

HOW TO ROTATE YOUR TIRES

This is how I rotate the tires on my '76 Corvette. I do not throw the spare into the mix since it's a steel rim.

And I must add that having a QuickJack lift in addition to a Porter Cable impact wrench as part of my tool arsenal allows me to do this task in about 30 minutes, instead of an hour-plus when using a 4-way lug wrench, a jack, and jackstands.



The rotation pattern I've used for as long as I remember is what I believe everyone uses for rear-wheel-drive vehicles with non-directional tires mounted on identical rims, where the rear wheels are moved to the front in the same position and the front wheels are moved to the opposite side rear (in an "X" pattern).

There are lots of online tutorials, articles, and videos on the subject, so use the one you think is best for your vehicle.

What's crucial, I believe, is to get into the habit of doing this task on a consistent basis. Again, now that I have a portable lift at my disposal, I plan to rotate the tires every time I do an oil change or approximately every three thousand miles.

Another "maintenance" task I like to do while the wheels are off, is to clean them, especially the inside of the wheels. Brake dust looks horrible and builds up. And the longer you wait to remove it, the harder it becomes, and it can also stain the rims.

I spent time and money restoring a set of Kelsey-Hayes rims I found on CraigsList a few years ago, so keeping them as clean as possible makes good sense to me.


I also add a little bit of brake grease to the hub contact surface so the rims don't "weld" themselves to the rotors.

This project is finished by re-installing the wheels on the car and tightening the lug nuts correctly and then torquing them to 100 ft/lbs.

By correctly I mean that you want to tighten them in a five-point star pattern as shown in the photo below.


I like to keep my car as clean as possible, but now that I'm able to comfortably and safely crawl under it thanks to my QuickJack lift, I've come to realize that I have a LOT of suspension components to clean and detail.

The fun never ends!

Thanks for following my '76 Corvette Blog!


Product Links... (#sponsored)

Godeson Smart Color Coded Tire Tread Depth Gauge | Item #88702
• AstroAI Digital Tire Pressure Gauge
Porter-Cable PCE211 7.5 Amp 1/2" Impact Wrench
QuickJack BL-5000SLX Portable Car Lift 

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