Have you ever thought about the quality of your worn tires? It’s time to start.
Recently, my friend Jaime Damak of Je Suis Une Maman flew to Greenville, South Carolina to spend a day at Michelin Laurens Proving Grounds. There, she had a chance to test drive cars that were equipped with different tires, and learn more about worn tire performance. Here’s what she had to say about the experience!
In the interest of full disclosure, I’m not the one who buys or takes care of tires in my household. Normally, I would just tell my husband to find the best deal! Sigh. But after spending the day with Michelin Canada, driving and testing different tires in both new and worn conditions, I’ve done a complete 180.
Here’s what I learned.
Note: I took part in two driving sessions. For each of them, I drove four cars (same car in each session and each one had a different set of tires: brand A new, brand A worn, brand B new and brand B worn).
1. All new tires are not equal. A new tire is a new tire, right? Well, yes and no. When you look at two different sets of new tires, it’s fairly easy to detect that they are both new. You can tell by the look and smell – they haven’t yet seen the curves of the road.
I really thought that there wasn’t much of a difference between tire brands but boy, was I wrong. For instance, when I was driving Car #1 (brand A new) on the track, I was a bit nervous about stepping on the gas while doing sharp turns, but the car followed and I felt secure. On the same course in Car #2 (brand B new), after my first turn, I knew I had to slow down because the car kept sliding and could feel it wasn’t as steady. How could this be? I had just tested two sets of new tires. It’s in that moment that I realized that all new tires are not equal.2. Worn tires can actually perform better than new tires. After testing the new tires on the first course, it was time to test the same brands (A & B) but this time, with worn tires. I was shocked by the outcome! Brand A worn performed better than Brand B new! I couldn’t believe it.
When talking with my driver (because there was no way I was driving that course alone – we all had experts with us), he explained that even though tires do look the same, they are not all made the same, hence the difference when testing them on the track.
3. We need to be better informed. During the second test, we drove a different car but used the same tires as the first test. This time, we had to accelerate to 70 km/h and then hit the brakes to see the distance it took to come to a complete stop. Again, the results took me by surprise. More than 40 feet separated Brand A new from Brand B worn – 40 feet! That’s a lot of distance when you need to brake fast or if something jumps out in front of you while you’re driving.
I asked my driver if there was any information on the market on worn tire performance… and there isn’t. Brands do provide information on new tires but not on worn. Since tires can be used for several seasons, consumers should have this information when purchasing so they can make an even better decision – wouldn’t you agree?
It’s been a few weeks since the event and I still can’t believe the unbelievably huge difference in the quality of tires I tested. It was a real eye-opener! Hopefully this is just the beginning of the conversation – one that needs to be had.
This post is sponsored by Michelin Canada. The content and opinions expressed here are that of Jaime Damak, as published on Listen to Lena.