What a difference new sneakers and an alignment make! Several months ago, I noticed the camber on the left front tire of my truck was starting to look odd. While replacing the shocks recently, I checked to see that nothing was out of place or wearing prematurely (ball joints, control arm bushings, etc.). It seemed like a combination of northeast potholes, higher mileage and time had caused the alignment to go out of spec. The unfortunate byproduct of the positive camber was excess wear on tire. Excess wear is an understatement. It was a bologna skin with steel cords poking their ugly and unsafe heads through.

So after researching tires, I chose to upsize the tires from a 245/75/R16 to the 265/75/R16 to help fill in the wheel wells and 2” fender flares GM insisted on adding from the factory. Tread pattern decisions cause analysis paralysis since tires fascinate me. Do I want something more aggressive for optimal off-road traction and look like they belong on a truck? Something mild for highway driving and fuel efficiency? A combination of looks and performance? An all out grippy, aggressive, poor mileage (both life and fuel) tire with new spinning 24” rims? Well, yes to all of the above. But I finally settled on a mild, Dunlop Rover A/T with the stock rims. It has a nice tread pattern with some good ribbing for snow, dirt and off road, but also a wide center rib of solid rubber for great highway manners. Since the majority of my driving is highway, a quiet ride and comfort and fuel mileage are most important.

So my local tire dealer was able to install them and align the old truckster. Wow, what a difference new sneakers and an alignment make! The truck rides more confidently, quietly and is a joy to drive again. Not every single minute crack in the pavement is absorbed and sent slamming through the steering column into my hands and reverberated through my seat. Small transitional indentations between blacktop, concrete and poorly planned patch jobs on the road no longer cause me to grit my teeth or tense my shoulders in anticipation of the impact. In retrospect, the old tires were far more worn than the fading tread and alignment indicated.

My only two complaints with the new meats are minor, one very fixable, the other a consequence of my own doing. First, the speedometer is off a few MPH. No big deal, a handheld tuner can fix that quickly. State Troopers, however, don’t want to hear the excuse “well, my new tires are one size larger, causing the speedometer to read incorrectly.” Second, the high speed handling changed slightly. No longer can I enter and exit highway ramps with the fervor I once did, it’s back to slow and steady in the Grandpa Special.