According to the guy at the tire store, Hyundai and other car manufacturers have set alignment specs on their vehicles to maximize handling and cornering qualities. One result is really nice handling and cornering. Another result is significantly shortened tread life. Angling the tires to improve grip and tracking means much faster wear on the inside of the tires, especially those on the front of the vehicle. The effect is greatly exacerbated by not having the tires rotated and balanced every five thousand miles.
If you’re beginning to suspect that my writings are more the result of experience than reading and conversation, you are on the right track. It’s been over a year since I first learned this during the aftermath of a shop visit to figure out the loud and irritating tire noise we were experiencing. When the technician showed me the tires, I could see the dips/scallops ringing the inside of each tire. “Your tires are chopped, dude.”
No amount of balancing can correct chopped tires, whether you’re a dude or a dudette. Since the tires still had 20,000 miles of tread wear left on them, I decided to endure the noise for a while longer. It’s been a while longer. I managed to postpone spending several hundred dollars. Randa and I, along with every passenger we’ve had for the past two years has paid the price of my frugality. Conversation between front and rear seat passengers became a near impossibility. We practically had to shout over the noise of the tires to talk to one another while sitting together in the front.
In exchange for saving a hundred dollars worth of tear tread, we endured affliction that sometimes verged on the threshold of pain every mile and minute we were in that car.
I finally surrendered last Saturday, drove to Firestone and exchanged half of my rainy day fund for a new set of tires and four-wheel alignment. I guess I’ve gained a new perspective on that old “silence is golden” adage. On the way back home, I turned off the radio just so I could more completely appreciate the quiet ride. “Hmmm…” I thought to myself, “this is why we liked this car so much when we first bought it.”
I suspect there are a number of ways in this world that we pay more than we realize for the sake of saving a few dollars. And often as not, punish ourselves and those around us for the choices we make. True economy does not diminish the quality of life any more than genuine spirituality robs us of true happiness. Sometimes it’s not frugality so much as it is pride and reluctance to admit we’ve made a mistake.