Thursday, April 30, 2015

Tire Basics 101

Most folks don't know much about tires. Most people seem to think that they are round, black, rubber things that the car/truck has to have that costs too much. What you may or may not realize is how very different and very important tires are. They are the single points on your vehicle that must maintain contact and traction on the road.

If your engine is running well, transmission works as it should, the vehicle won't handle  as well as it should if the tires are not the right type for that vehicle. There can be too much flex in the sidewall during “spirited acceleration, braking, or cornering”. The tire may not have the capacity to handle and hold the weight on heavier vehicles.

One of the first things a tire salesperson should ask you is what are your driving habits. Next, do you put snow tires on in the Winter? Snow traction tires have very different features than Summer or all season tires. What did you like about your current tires? What didn't you like? This will help the salesperson narrow down the best options for your driving habits.

Tires have different tread patterns for different uses. The basic design will consist of  several things: water channels (to help displace water), varying tread block types and sizes (to help suppress noise and improve traction), and siping (for additional traction).

Tires have different sidewall construction and can offer a number of benefits. Some are: less flex on turns, more stability when loaded, comfortable ride and styling.

The heart of any tire is the inner liner. Its job is to give the tire shape and hold in the air. Wrapped around the inner liner are fabric belts. Fastened to the bottom of the fabric belts is the bead, which holds the tire to the wheel.

Let's talk about tire size. Most tire sizes start with either a 'P' or an 'LT'. This tells us if it is a passenger or light truck rated tire. The light truck tires have a higher load capacity.

The next number is the approximate width of the tire, then is the aspect ratio or the height of the tire. Lastly is the rim or wheel size. The best part of the whole tire is the next number and letter combination. Usually a number which indicates the tires load capacity, and then the letter that tells the speed capacity of the tire. I like to call it the performance rating since most cars are not even capable of handling the speed that the tire can handle.

A few years ago there was a pretty well known case of tires that failed and there were several deaths associated with it. My perspective on the case was this: The tires were underinflated based on what they were designed to be run at. Most of the rollovers occurred in hot climates. The resulting failure was due to heat build-up in the sidewalls due to road conditions, under inflation (based on design) and outside temperatures.

Tires should be rotated at various intervals, depending on manufacturer recommendations. A good general guide would be about every 6,000 miles. This is very important on all wheel and 4 wheel drive vehicles.

Proper tire inflation is very important for handling, load carrying ability, and fuel economy. Tire pressure should be checked at least 1 time each month. 

Andy Cotey is the manager of Hockett & Olsen Automotive on Bainbridge Island. He has been in the automotive industry for over 20 years. He can be reached via email at-

It's Spring! That means: longer periods of sunlight, warmer weather, yard work, painting projects, and POLLEN.

Many of us suffer from allergies. The dust and pollen can be quite a nuisance. Ever notice that the runny nose gets better when you are in the car? Many newer cars and light trucks (less than 10 years old) have a fresh air intake or cabin filter. When you set the air in your car to come in from outside, these filters help reduce dust and pollen in the passenger cabin area. Some even use carbon technology to help with odors.

If you have one of these filters, it should be inspected and in most cases replaced at least 1 time per year or every 12-15,000 miles.

Have odors in your car when you turn the fan on? This filter could be restricted like the attached picture shows above. It could even be worse, mice and rodents will commonly get into the filter box and make a nest. Sometimes (this part is just gross, sorry about that) the rodent will die. I wont go into any more detail, but you get the picture. Once the nest (and bodies) are removed, there are vent sanitizers that can help remove the odor and clean out the duct works.  Then the filter will need to be replaced.

These rodents can do damage to electrical wiring and hoses by chewing on them. It happens a lot.
Those repairs can be expensive, depending on the amount of damage to the car. It can cause your check engine light to come on. It can cause your car to run poorly or even stall. The external signs are visible when you look under the hood. Sometimes the damage is hidden under the engine cover. If you see signs of rodents, it should go to your mechanic for an inspection.

If you see signs of rodents, give us a call to schedule an inspection and possibly replace the cabin air filter. Mention this blog post and receive $5.00 off of any rodent preventative service or cabin air filter replacement.

This blog post is brought to you by Andy from Hockett & Olsen Automotive & Tire. He can be reached via email at or by phone 206-842-2484

Have a general automotive question that you would like to see on this blog? Send us an email with your suggestions. We want to cover things that you want us to cover

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

A new automotive blog for the average consumer

My intent is not to help you fix or repair your car. If you are looking for that, you will need to keep on looking.

I will be trying to help educate you about car care to make you a better consumer. If I can help teach you some of the basics about cars, suvs and light trucks,  then I will have reached my goal. We will be looking to have a hands on clinic in October 2015 to help tech the basics like: checking your oil, checking tire pressure, adding fluids, explaining the amber warning lights on the dash and even how to change a flat tire! Watch for more details.

This industry is changing rapidly and with it, the technology.

Soon, the old jokes about putting the car on cruise control and reading the paper will be reality, not a punchline.

If you have some questions about car repair or maintenance please contact me via email me at