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