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!

Bree

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

Scalloping is Not Just for Potatoes; It’s for Tires, Too

Dear Bree,

Riddle me this: What do you call it when your tire has a funky-looking, scalloped pattern on it?  While I almost admire the decorative look to my tires (it’s even symmetrical!), I know it’s only there because something is wrong.  I think even wear on the middle of the tire or on the sides is about inflation, but what is this all about?  Am I going to have to buy new tires?

Clueless in Clearwater

Dear Clueless,

You’ve described the pattern very well as being “scalloped,” but we also call this particular wear pattern “cupping.”  There are a couple of things that can cause cupping, and a few things you should look for to try to determine the cause.

First, where is the cupping located on the tire?  Down the middle, inner or outer edge?  The location of the wear is important in diagnosing the problem.

Second, how does the car (or truck) drive?  Is there a lot of vibration, especially as you increase speed?

Cupping happens when a vehicle is bouncing and the tires get scuffed every time they come down; if you’re bouncing, eventually, cupping happens.  The problem you have to solve first is the bouncing.  If your tires are cupping, it’s probably because you have a suspension problem.  Maybe your shocks are worn out or you’re having a problem with wheel bearings or bushings, or a bent control arm.  If the scallops are down the center and large and broad, it’s probably your shock absorbers.  Underinflation can cause lots of small scallops, but if the scallops are deeper, sharper and less tapered, then you’re probably looking at unbalanced wheels or bad wheel bearings.

If the scalloping on your tires is happening along the edge, it could be indicative of a problem located more deeply in your suspension system, so get ready to brush out some cobwebs and really get in there.  Cupping on the edges could mean bad wheel bearings, but it may also mean bad ball joints, bad steering or sway-bar end links, problems with the steering linkage or control arm, and/or really messed up bushings.  This usually happens when the wheel is compressed during cornering from some element in the suspension vibrating or bouncing.  This is not a problem you want to let slide or put off. At RNR TIRE EXPRESS, we offer free tire inspections, so stop by any RNR and they can steer you in the right direction.

The other reason you may see cupping: You’ve got low-quality tires.  Would these happen to be the tires that your car came with?  Sometimes the tires your car comes equipped with at buying time aren’t the best tires you can get, so if you need to replace them, do some research, come in and talk to us at RNR for more info, and buy a good-quality tire that will really last for you.  The money you spend up front will be well worth it in the future, and at RNR you’ve always got options: easy payment plans, 120 days same as cash, and instant buyer rebates on all cash purchases.

As far as actually needing new tires, I can’t tell you because I haven’t seen the damage.  It’s possible you could rotate the tires after fixing the problem, but recognize that the less rubber actually meets the road, the less traction you have and consider your safest option.  We know finances are always a consideration, but paying the price of unsafe tires can have consequences that go way beyond your wallet

My advice: See a mechanic, have the problem diagnosed and fixed, and let us take a look at the scalloping and give you our best advice.  If you need new tires, we can help you find a payment plan that works for you, and if you’re safe with a rotation, we can take care of that too.

Good luck, Clueless, and be safe!

Bree

Round and Round: RNR Says Rotate Your Tires!

RNR InteriorLast week, our first time car buyer, Leaving the Nest in Naples, asked why tire balancing and rotation are so important, and while we’ve already answered her question regarding balancing, we need to get back to tire rotation.  The wheels on the bus do, indeed, go round and round, but that’s not what we mean by rotating your tires; what we mean is moving them from one position on your car to another.  Most commonly, rotating means that the front tires move to the back, and the back tires move to the front; but they move left to right and vice versa, as well.  So, why do you need to rotate your tires?

We rotate tires because tires tend to wear unevenly, to some degree.  Did you know that 60% of your car’s weight rests on your front tires?   This means that your front wheels will generally wear down faster than your rear wheels.  Also, the tires on the front of the car tend to wear a bit more towards the outside edges because the tires lean when you turn a corner.  A little trivia for you: In this country, we tend to take left turns faster than right turns, so our right front tires wear more quickly than the left.  Since rear tires tend to just play “follow the leader” with your front tires, they tend to wear a bit more evenly (if your tires are in balance, have the proper pressure, your alignment is good, etc.), so rotating the position of your tires on your car occasionally will actually extend the life of your tires (which will save you time and money in the end) and, generally, make your ride smoother and life easier.  Rotating is the great equalizer when it comes to tires.  If you don’t rotate your tires, you may have to replace them thousands of miles earlier–not good.

Most people recommend rotating your tires every 5,000 miles, and you can do it yourself, but there are some things you need to know.  Do you have directional tires?  These tires are specifically made with a tread pattern that is one way only.  These tires are made specifically for either the left or right side, so when you rotate them, you do it front to back, and the tires stay on the same side of the car that they were on.  There should be little arrows or triangles on the sidewall of the tire to let you know which direction the tires go.

Non-directional tires have tread patterns that are designed to be used in any direction of rotation.  When you rotate these tires, you’ll use a cross-pattern.  The front tires will move to the back–left front to right back and right front to left back, but the back tires will move directly forward, if your car has rear-wheel drive.  If your car has front-wheel drive, the opposite applies.  Move the rear tires to the opposite sides on the front and move the front tires straight back.  Easy-peezy, right?

So, here’s the rub to the rotate-them-yourself crowd: Usually tires are rotated and balanced at the same time. If you read last week’s blog about balancing, then you know why.  So, you can still rotate the tires yourself, but you’ll probably need to take them somewhere to have them balanced; the other answer, of course, is to take them in to have the tires rotated and balanced together and save yourself the time and energy.  Any RNR store can take care of rotating and balancing, and certain locations (call ahead to find out if your local RNR is one of these locations) can also align your wheels.  And remember: When you buy  your new tires with RNR, FREE LIFETIME ROTATION AND BALANCE is included for as long as our tires are on your car.

When you take care of your tires, they’ll take care of you.  They’ll keep you safe on the road, make your ride smooth and comfortable, and they’ll last a lot longer and save you time and money.  That’s a good for everyone.

If you need some tire advice, a new set of tires or your tires need to be rotated and balanced, RNR can help you out.  Come see us at any of our locations, and we’ll get you back on the road safely and soon!

Stay safe!

Bree

1st Learn Balance: RNR’s Advice for Becoming a Maintenance Champ

Dear Bree,

I just bought my first car, and I find it amazing how making your own payments on something will make a girl take a bit more interest in upkeep!  I’m trying to learn a little more about how to take care of my car and my tires, and I’m a confused.  I read your blog about checking your tire pressure and how important it is to maintain the proper pressure–I even bought a tire pressure gauge and checked it myself!–but I don’t understand balancing and rotating.  How do you balance a tire and why?  Why do I need to rotate my tires and how often?

Help a sister out here, Bree; I’ve never really bothered with this stuff before because my dad took care of it for me, but now that I’m on my own, I’ve got a lot to learn.

Thanks!

Leaving the Nest in Naples

 

My dear little bird,

Congratulations on the purchase of your first car!  That’s a big milestone!  And kudos to you for figuring out quickly that basic maintenance is the best way to extend the life of your car (and tires), and the best way to avoid expensive repairs.  Glad to hear that you figured out how to check your tire pressure and you got yourself a gauge–good job!  Now, on to your question!

Having balanced tires is important to enjoying a smooth ride in your new car, and it’s also key in tire wear.  Unbalanced tires tend to make a car vibrate and wobble, and no one wants that.  It’s uncomfortable and it unnecessarily strains and wears the wheel bearings, your car’s suspension and your tires.  When you join your tire to the axle, you need to make sure that the weight is even around the axle.  Even a half-ounce difference in weight around the wheel can cause major vibrations.  It may not seem like much, but that tiny amount of weight is traveling really fast around the axle–hundreds of times per minute–and the momentum of it can cause a lot of vibration.  Multiply that vibration by four (for each of the four wheels on your car), and you’re looking at a significant amount of vibration and wobble.  Not good.  When tires are unbalanced, there is uneven pressure on the treads; the tires also get too hot and they wear unevenly, and that’s not good either.  Uneven wear on tires can mean that you have to buy new tires long before you would have had to if you’d just kept your tires balanced.

To balance a tire, technicians use small, off-setting weights at different points around the wheel.  It’s a precise process, and the machines that technicians use are very exact and accurate.  Unfortunately, this probably isn’t one of those things that you can learn to do yourself at home, but it is important to keep up with, so RNR includes FREE LIFETIME ROTATION AND BALANCE for as long as our tires are on your car.

Every time you drive away from the place where your tires were balanced, they begin to get out of balance again.  It’s more or less impossible to keep them perfectly balanced forever.  Curves, bumps and corners all contribute to your tires becoming unbalanced again.  We recommend having your tires balanced every 4,000 to 6,000 miles or anytime you have a tire replaced or patched.  Getting your tires balanced is like getting your oil changed–it needs to be done, so stay on schedule.

Hope this helps, little bird.  Next week, I’ll tell you why rotating your tires is also an important piece of maintenance to keep on your schedule!

Stay safe!

Bree

Middle of the Road: RNR Explains Tread Wear Patterns

Photo from http://info.autoworksmn.com/auto-repair-blog/?Tag=alignment

Photo from http://info.autoworksmn.com/auto-repair-blog/?Tag=alignment

Dear Bree,

What the heck is this?  The other day, I parked a little wonky with my front wheels turned, and when I happened to glance down, I saw this!  The middle of my tire is all worn out!  How did that happen?  And what’s more important, how can I keep it from happening again?  I’d blame it on my boyfriend who drives like a maniac, but I looked at his tires, and they look just fine.  So, what gives?

Worn Down in Texas

 

Dear Worn,

That, my dear, looks like a tire that’s been rolling around over inflated.  You can try to blame it on your boyfriend’s poor driving skills if you want, but you probably won’t get too far.  Your tires are wearing unevenly because there’s been a tire pressure problem going on for a while.

If the pressure is too high consistently, then the middle of the tire (the part of the tire that’s hitting the road the most) will wear down, and your tire will end up looking like the picture you sent us.  It could also mean that you have really wide tires on narrow rims, but I’m going to guess for you that’s not the problem.  What this means for you ultimately: You need new tires (or a new tire).  Have you checked the others for similar wear?

If your tires are under inflated, they’ll wear more on the outside edges of the tire.  Consistent under inflation means that the tire is riding more flat and those outer edges are taking the brunt of all that friction and being worn down.  If you notice that just one side or the other of the tire is wearing unevenly, you might have a problem with your alignment.  These are the most common factors in uneven tread wear.

What can you do (in addition to replacing those worn tires)?  Check your tire pressure every now and then.  If you’re not sure what the pressure should be, consult your owner’s manual or check the side panel of the driver’s side door for a sticker–you should find it there.  Once you know what the pressure should be, get a tire pressure gauge (at any automotive store or even Walmart), and check the pressure by pressing it into the tire valve stem (try to press it evenly) and holding for a second or two.  Always check your tire pressure when the car is cold (hasn’t been driven for 3 hours or more) to get the most accurate reading.  If you need to add air, do it slowly and check the pressure in between inflations until you get the pressure where it should be.  The pressure really shouldn’t be more than 5 PSI more or less than what’s recommended.  If you keep your air pressure where it’s supposed to be and your alignment is good, your tires should generally wear evenly–and last longer.

Sorry about your tires, Worn, but feel free to come see us at RNR for recommendations on new tires to fit your needs.  May we also suggest rotating your tires and having them balanced on a regular basis?  This will minimize uneven tread wear and extend the life of your tires; and if you buy your tires from RNR, you’ll get FREE tire rotation and balancing for the life of your tires!  If you need your alignment checked, some of our stores can do that as well, but call your local store to see if they offer that service first.  If you need some help paying for those new tires, we can set you up a payment plan that will fit your budget, too.  Hope to see you soon!  Stay safe on the road!

Bree

 

P.S. Give a thought to nitrogen inflation with your new tires, as well, Worn.  The pressure will stay more constant when your tires are filled with nitrogen vs. regular air.