Spotlight on Service: Painting Brake Calipers at RNR

Dear Bree,

I just got some great new wheels for my car a few weeks ago, but now that they’re on, the things around them don’t shine so bright anymore.  I never paid any attention to brake calipers before, but now that my wheels are super-sharp looking, my rust-spattered, matte-grey calipers are spoiling the look.  I was complaining about this to a co-worker who told me that they can actually be painted.  Who knew?!  Can you tell me a little more about this process?  Thanks, Bree!

Wheels Don’t Match the Brakes


m041Dear Wheels,

I completely understand the conundrum you find yourself in.  I thought my living room looked great until I redid my kitchen.  Since they connect, my shiny, new kitchen made my living room look dull in comparison.  Unfortunately for me, it’s going to take a lot more to redo my living room than it will for you to give your brake calipers a makeover.  In fact, fixing up those brake calipers is relatively easy–if you leave it to the experts.

If you’re comfortable taking your wheels off your vehicle and painting the calipers yourself (they stay on the car), then by all means, go right ahead.  You’ll need to do some research on the right kind of paint (brake calipers get really hot), and you’ll need to prepare the area (around the caliper and the vehicle) so that you don’t end up painting things you’d rather not.  There will be several coats of paint required too.  It can get a little complicated.

We paint brake calipers all the time.  Since we’re in the wheel business, we’re devoted to getting just the look each customer is looking for on his/her vehicle, and brake calipers can certainly impact the look of your car or truck.  Alloy wheels with open spokes are especially impacted by the state of one’s brake calipers, and just as there are a multitude of wheels to choose from at RNR, there are also a lot of color choices for your brake calipers.  What if you’re looking to make a statement?  You could consider adding a shock of color like red against metallic or black wheels.  Or you could play it safe and match the color of calipers to the color of the wheels or an accent color on the wheels.  There are so many ideas to consider!

Typically, an RNR associate will discuss this option with any customer looking to purchase wheels at one of our locations, and the painting would be done during installation.  It doesn’t take long–an hour to a hour and a half–so you’ll be good to go and rolling out of our garage in less than a day, whereas if you choose to go the DIY route, your completion time will increase considerably.  The upside of having these things done by professionals are many, including, a quality finish with no unfortunate paint splashes showing up anywhere but on the calipers, reduced wait time, and the lack of hassle for you in set-up and clean-up.  We recommend having brake calipers painted professionally and leaving nothing to chance.  We do this every day, and we’re awfully good at it.;)

If painting your brake calipers is something you decided against in the installation process or just didn’t consider, we can take care of it for you after the fact and get you back on the road fast.  Take a look at our website to find the RNR location nearest you, and give them a call to set up an appointment.  They can go through all of your options and give you choices that you may not have even thought of yet.

I’d love to see the finished product; how about you snap a pic and send it to me when you’ve got it all done?  Thanks, Wheels, and good luck!

Stay safe!


Dont for get to check out our large selection of Custom Wheels and Brand Name Tires

Beware of Deflate-gate (in Your Tires)

TPMSPretty sure you’ve all heard a good bit about Deflate-gate by now.  You know, those 11 footballs that were somewhat deflated in the Patriots win over the Colts.  We’ve watched the physicists, players, coaches and analysts debate, and we still have no idea what actually happened to those footballs, but we do know that you should keep an eye on the deflate-gate going on in your driveway this winter.

Did you know that tire pressure changes with the temperature?  For every 10 degree Fahrenheit change in air temperature, the air pressure in your tires will change by about 2% or 1 pound/square inch (it will rise in heat and lower in cold).  It’s gotten pretty cold out there, especially for our friends in the northern states, and we bet they’ve seen some deflation happening in their own tires.

It’s not unusual to go get in your car on a very cold morning and see that flashy tire pressure light on your dash.  Tire pressure monitoring systems are great things, and no one can deny their usefulness in keeping us safer on the road and helping to prolong the life of our tires; but no one wants to see that light on first thing on a 10 degree morning.  No one.  Ever.  That’s science, though.  The air you generally fill your tires with is about 78% nitrogen, 21% oxygen and the rest is water vapor, CO2 and other gases.  Gases tend to expand and contract with temperature changes (increase in temp means expansion, and a decrease causes contraction); water vapor also has this tendency.  One way to combat that pressure change is to have your tires filled with pure nitrogen.  Pure nitrogen lacks water vapor and tends not to expand and contract as easily as oxygen with temperature changes; couple that with the fact that oxygen is more likely to migrate through the rubber of your tires than nitrogen, and nitrogen fill seems like a no-brainer.  We fill tires with nitrogen more and more here at RNR because keeping tire pressure at the correct level and as constant as possible will help to extend the life of your tires (and you’ll have to check the pressure less often–one more thing off your to-do list!).  If you live in a city where an RNR store is located, you can get nitrogen replacement for just $20–not bad for achieving 25% longer tire wear.  Tires are a big investment, and nitrogen fill can go a long way in prolonging the life of your tires (and keeping you out of the freezing cold on those early mornings).

Just a little warning, if you don’t want to get out of your car in an arctic burst of air, and you decide you’d rather drive around on low tires, you should know that your TPMS (Tire Pressure Monitoring System) doesn’t alert you to a pressure problem until your tires are 25% lower than they should be.  Driving on under-inflated tires can cause uneven wear and can cause your tires to overheat (because of the extra friction created when more rubber meets the road).  Overheating can cause tires to separate or blow (though, arguably, this is a more common occurrence in summer temperatures).  If you’re considering nitrogen fill, you should know that nitrogen runs cooler than “regular” air, as well.

We can’t answer the many questions surrounding those deflated footballs, but we can tell you that deflation happens.  It’s not all road hazards and blow outs, either.  Temperature change is definitely something to keep your eye on, especially if you’ve chosen not to switch to nitrogen-filled tires.  So, stay safe on the roads this winter–check your tire pressure!


RNR Translates Your Tires

mountain snow symbolDear Bree,

Taking a closer look at my tires the other day, I noticed that there are a lot of numbers and letters and symbols printed on them.  Some of them, I’m familiar with, but I have no idea what the others mean.  Can you translate?

Mandi in Arkansas


Hi Mandi!

I can absolutely help you translate those letters, numbers and symbols!  I’m going to pick a fairly common tire size and explain, then we’ll hit on some common symbols.

Tire sizes are written like this: P265/70R17  121R.  The numbers before the slash are a measurement (in millimeters) of the distance across the widest part of the tire, called the section width.  The letter that comes before the numbers usually signifies the type of vehicle the tire is for; for example, P stands for passenger car, LT stands for light truck and T stands for temporary (spare).

The numbers after the slash (in this case, 70), is the aspect ratio, or profile, of the sidewall.  It indicates that the height of the sidewall is 70% of the tire’s width.  Lower numbers = shorter sidewalls.

That R you see after the 70 means that this tire has a radial construction.  Other letters you might see there would be B (belted) and D for bias-ply tires.

The 17 tells you the width of the wheel on which the tire should be mounted.  This could be a whole number (like 17) or it could be in half-inch increments, like 16.5.  Generally, the number is given in inches, but in some cases, you might see measurements in millimeters.

Now, for the service description.  The 121R sequence tells us the tire’s maximum load rating or the amount of weight the tire can bear (in kilograms; in this case 121), and the R gives us the speed rating, or how fast the tire can safely rotate.  The lowest rating (speed) that you’d usually see on a passenger car is Q, which is equivalent to 99 mph.  Y is the highest rating at 186 mph, but if you see it enclosed in parenthesis ((121Y), for example), that means that tire can go over 186 mph.

If you keep looking around your tire, you’ll see the letters DOT with a series of numbers and letters after it.  Every tire has a Dept. of Transportation (DOT) label that can tell you the factory of the manufacturer (the first two letters).  The next six characters are manufacturer specific code to track the tire (in case of a recall, for example), and the last four digits give the date of production (weeks out of 52 first, then the year).

You can also learn the treadwear, traction, and temperature ratings.

Other letters and symbols can indicate if a tire has a specific weather rating.  M+S, for example, means that the tire’s tread has been designed in a way to better handle in the mud and snow.  A snowflake and mountain symbol means that a tire has met the minimum performance requirements for driving in snow.

Hope this answers some of your questions, Mandi. All of the information given right on a tire can help you choose the best tires for your specific vehicle and driving habits.  If you’re not sure exactly what you need, or you think you want something different than what you’ve got, come in and see us at one of our RNR locations!  We can answer all of your questions!  We can even set you up on a payment plan to fit your budget and get you back on the road quickly!  Hope to see you soon!

Stay safe!


RNR Custom Wheels and Tire Express’s Annual Franchisee Conference Celebrates a Banner Year

RNR Awards 2015RNR’s Annual Franchisee Conference was the place to be in Tampa, FL, January 5th through the 7th, 2015.  From presentations on digital marketing, to a formal introduction of our new and improved website, to round-table discussions about best practices, to keynote speaker Bryan Dodge–the conference had something for everyone.  This year’s conference ended on an amazing high with our awards ceremony, which celebrated a year of unprecedented success for RNR.  We’re looking forward to putting all of the new ideas generated into meaningful experiences for our customers and breaking all records again in 2015!  Click here to learn more about this year’s conference.

What’s Winter Doing to Your Wheels and Tires? RNR Explains.

Protect your wheels from salt and brake dust!

Protect your wheels from salt and brake dust!

Winter is officially here, and your wheels and tires are feeling it.  With winter, at least in our mid-Atlantic, western and northern states, comes snow and ice–as well as salt on the roads, potholes, and drastic temperature changes.  Combined, these new road conditions and hazards can wreak havoc on your wheels and tires unless you’re vigilant.

What to Watch for on Your Wheels and Tires

Wheels and tires can take a beating during the winter months.  Salt on your car, if left there to do its corrosive work, can eat away at the finish on your custom wheels, leaving them scratched, chipped, and dull.  And you don’t want that.  Our suggestion: First, wax your wheels regularly.  Wheel wax works just like the wax on your car–it makes the wheels shinier and makes it harder for brake dust, dirt and salt to adhere to the wheels’ surface.  If you wax your wheels regularly, the only thing you should have to use to clean them is water.  Another option is a product like  Pinnacle Black Label Diamond Wheel Coating, which covers your wheels with a rock-hard, impenetrable, protective coating (and it lasts for up to 18 months!).  Road salt, brake dust, tar and oil worries are a thing of the past with this coating, so it’s a great way to protect your custom wheels if you live in the frozen North.

Cleaning your wheels and tires during the winter is important, as well.  Since moisture is the active ingredient in the whole corrosive process of salt, you may think that once the salt dries, it won’t hurt the finish of your wheels (or the paint on the rest of your vehicle), but you’re wrong.  Moisture (or humidity) in the air gives the salt all it needs to keep that process going, so wash it off.  Keep an eye on the weather forecast and pick warm days to clean your car.  We suggest, if you want or need to use a car wash, that you frequent a do-it-yourself wash with high-pressure hoses so you can blast away the salt on the undercarriage of your car, as well as the backs of your wheels and under-wheel wells.  Being thorough is the best bet when it comes to protecting your wheels.

Out of Whack Alignment

Winter’s camouflaging effects on potholes and other hazards can scuff up wheels and muck up alignments.  Maybe you can’t tell just how close that curb is because of the snow piled on it, or maybe that puddle is deeper than it looks because it filled in a brand-new pothole (hitting potholes can also weaken the sidewalls of your tires, so beware!).  Any of these things and more are enough to knock your alignment out of whack (and scuff your wheels!).  Something to remember: You may not always feel that tell-tale pulling that comes with an uneven alignment, so keep an eye to your tires for uneven wear.  One more thing–build up of salt and other debris on brakes can cause them to bind; you’ll see this on your tires as well, in premature and uneven wear.

Temperatures Drop and So Does Tire Pressure

Cold temperatures can cause your tires to lose pressure, sometimes in a big way.  Over the long-term, low tire pressure can cause uneven wear on tires and a shorter life span, but in the immediate, it can also cause handling problems.  Your TPMS (Tire Pressure Monitoring System) will let you know when your tires get too low, but they won’t alert you until your tire is 25% lower than it should be.  We suggest vigilance; take a minute to check your tire pressure every now and then–don’t wait for your TPMS.  Better yet, we suggest nitrogen fill for your tires.  Nitrogen keeps tire pressure more constant and keeps pressure fluctuations due to temperature changes to a minimum.  To learn more about nitrogen fill for tires, click here.

Tires tell the story, whether it’s low pressure, brake problems or alignment issues, and during the winter months, they can develop quite a story to tell.  Keep an eye on them and listen to their stories.  And since we know you’ve put a lot of time, energy and cash into the custom wheels on your car or truck, be forward thinking.  Wax them or coat them before the season starts and maintain them during the winter months.  With some TLC, your wheels can stay looking brand new for a very long time.  If you’re looking for some maintenance tips or recommendations for wheel and tire protectants, come see us at RNR.  We’ve got lots of ideas and know the best products on the market–we can help!


RNR Custom Wheels and Tire Express Unleashes a New Website!

RNR_round_150We’re excited to announce that RNR has a new and improved website just waiting for you!  Browse photos of cars and trucks outfitted in a variety of wheels to get ideas for the look you want on your vehicle; or hop over to our Wheel Studio to actually see what the wheels you’re considering would look like on your specific car or truck.  Just by entering a little information about your vehicle, you can get a preview of the final product immediately.  Looking for your nearest RNR location or need to pay a bill?  You can do that as well!  Read more about the website changes here or click on over and take a look at our exciting new features yourself.

Low-Rolling Resistance Tires: Pros and Cons with RNR Custom Wheels and Tire Express

RNR_round_150Dear Bree,

What’s the difference between a regular tire and a tire with low-rolling resistance?  I’m told it will improve my gas mileage, but I don’t understand how or how much.  Are there negatives to low-rolling resistance tires?  I mean, are they too good to be true?  It seems like if they were so great, everyone would be clamoring for them, so what gives?

Confused in Clearwater


Dear Confused,

Great question!  Low-rolling resistance tires have become very popular with car companies looking to improve the fuel economy on their new line of vehicles.  Per EPA regulations, fuel economy standards are on the rise, and car companies have mandates to improve fuel economy to 54.5 mpg by 2025.  That means that they’re looking for more and more ways to make their numbers rise, and low-rolling resistance tires are one of the things they’re pushing for.  The difference between regular tires and low-rolling resistance tires is created by tread patterns and harder sidewalls (material cmposition).  To lower roll resistance, basically tire makers need less of the tire to meet the road.  As you probably know, when rubber meets pavement, friction is created, and thus heat.  The more rubber on road, the more rolling resistance and the more energy expended by the vehicle to go (and more fuel consumed).   Low-rolling resistance tires can add a mile or two to those fuel economy numbers that car manufacturers are chasing.

The downside: Less rubber on the road means less grip, which could affect stopping (especially on wet roads) and taking off.  Some consumers complain of handling and performance issues; others say that these tires wear out faster and don’t improve their mpg enough to make up for the handling issues and reduced life of tires.  Part of the problem is this: Consumers’ expectations are high.  If they’re getting tires that are supposed to improve their mpg, they want to see improvement of 5 to 10 mpg, and that’s just not realistic–at least for now.  Research shows that for a 10% reduction in rolling resistance, you get about a 1% gain in fuel economy.  Another issue is that when customers come in for new tires and choose low-rolling resistance tires, they want to drive away and see results immediately, but the bald tires they replaced had an even lower rolling resistance (considering their lack of tread), so no matter what new tire is put on, the rolling resistance is bound to increase.  Make sense?  You’ll really see the difference in fuel economy over the life of the tire, rather than right away.

Technology keeps improving and these tires do, too.  Tire manufacturers continue to work on material composition and tread patterns to improve the fuel economy and other issues consumers are concerned with.  Low-rolling resistance tires are here to stay, and engineers keep working to make them better and better.  Keep your eye on them.

Come into any RNR store and talk to one of our associates about these tires for more info and to see the differences in tread pattern, etc. for yourself.  Things are always changing, my friend, and that goes for tires, too; and we think change can be good.  If you’re looking to get new tires, come see us.  We can definitely make some recommendations for you, and get you back on the road fast (with a payment plan you can afford!)!  Stay safe!


“Stuff the Bus” Overflows in 2014!

Stuff the Bus 4Our Norfolk, Virginia-area RNR stores have been busy this holiday season.  In addition to sponsoring a hugely successful live concert to benefit the Peninsula SPCA, they’ve been hard at work helping Z104 and DJ Shaggy collect toys for “Stuff the Bus,” the largest toy drive on the East Coast.  RNR was thrilled to be the title sponsor for this year’s event, and in addition to helping collect over 115,000 toys, a new event record, they’re still collecting money in stores in “Jingle Jars” at each register to add more toys to that number.  They’re collecting until December 18th, so stop in and help them continue to bring magic to the kids of Norfolk.  For more info about this event, click here!

Going Bald?  Not with RNR!

RNR InteriorChristmas is coming, the goose is getting fat, and your tires are getting bald.  Yep, we said it.  We get it that you want to squeeze as many miles as possible out of your tires, but take our advice and don’t let those extra miles stand between you and your safety–especially this time of the year.  Nearly 40 million people hit the road over the Thanksgiving holiday this year, and we’d like for you to take note of the weather: a massive snowstorm in Buffalo and snow accumulations all over the East Coast.  Is this the kind of weather you want to drive through on bald tires?

According to the RMA (Rubber Manufacturer’s Association), nearly 12 percent of drivers in the U.S. drive on at least one bald tire.  Say what?  That’s a scary statistic!  In case you’re in the dark about why bald tires are so dangerous to drive on, we’ll tell you.  Bald tires seriously diminish your car’s ability to grip the road, and  they lengthen stopping distances.  Imagine all of these bald tires on the road during the busy holiday season when it rains or snows or there’s an ice storm.  The results would not be pretty.

The RMA surveyed more than 3400 drivers in the U.S. about the tread depth of their tires, and they found them lacking (again).  Maybe we should be happy that they numbers are about the same as when they surveyed drivers in 2012, but it’s hard to take joy in bald tires.  So, instead of putting on our Eeyore face and moping, we have some tips for you!  Take a peek and then go check your tires before you hit the highway this holiday season!

  1. Check your tire pressure. If you’re not sure what your tire pressure should be, consult the panel on the inside of the driver’s-side door of your vehicle or your owner’s manual.  Do not be fooled by the numbers on your tires!  The information on your tires will give you the MAXIMUM tire pressure, but that is not the pressure at which you want to run your tires–you want the recommended pressure.
  1. Give your tires the Abe Lincoln test. Get a penny and put it head down between the treads on your tires.  If you can see all of Abe’s head, you definitely need new tires!

Some things to remember when you’re packing the car up to go to grandma’s this year: Check the pressure on your spare tire and make sure it’s in good shape and don’t over load the car.  Every vehicle has a maximum combined weight of passengers and cargo; it’s called a payload.  When you exceed your payload, your tires, shocks and leaf springs, as well as the general handling of your car, will be affected negatively–and even 100 extra pounds of weight can reduce your gas mileage by 2%.

If you find yourself in that 12 percent of  Americans rolling around on bald tires, come see us before you make tracks this holiday season.  There’s no good reason to put your safety, or the safety of your family and fellow travelers, in jeopardy.  Tires are an expense that we can help you deal with.  RNR can set you up on a payment plan that will fit your budget, and get you back on the road in time to finish your Christmas shopping.:)  Feel free to check out our website and take a look at some tires, if you’d like, before you come in.  You’ll be able to find the RNR location nearest you, and search for the perfect tires for your car or truck by typing in some simple info about your vehicle.  See you soon!

Stay safe!


RNR of Hampton, Virginia, Supports the SPCA with a Live Concert

RNR PBR 3The RNR stores in the Hampton, Virginia, area are always busy, but they’ve been even busier lately with giving back.  In addition to an event that’s just kicking off called “Stuff the Bus,” which collects toys for kids in need this holiday season , they sponsored a live concert on November 15th, 2014, to support the Peninsula SPCA. The event, featuring DJ Bobby Bones of Nashville, and his band The Raging Idiots, played to a sold out crowd and raised $7,000 to help homeless animals in their community.  To read more about this night of live music, dancing and bull-riding fun, click here!