Saturday, December 30, 2006

VW - How to NOT buy Tires


4 June 2003

I spent three hours today not buying tires.

The joke is that I really wanted to buy some. I had lotsa money, knew what I wanted and wasn't in a rush. But I couldn't find anyone who wanted to sell'um as much I wanted to buy'um.

1965 Volkswagen bus. 14" rims. LT 195-75's 4 ply (actual count) minimum. I was willing to pay a hundred bucks each. And I wanted two, please.

Even had it all wrote down on a 3 x 5 card. Didn't help at all.

First outfit, the guy read the card, fiddled with his keyboard, comes up with $295 for all four. That is, four P 185-75's. Two-ply passenger car tires. With the usual “Four Ply Rating” bullshit that is as useless as tits on a boar when you own a vehicle that requires tires having the stiffer four-ply sidewalls.

Just what part of LT 195-75 didn't he understand? "That's not the right tire for your vehicle, sir." Gee, I wish someone had told me that three hundred thousand miles ago. Since he didn't know the difference between two and four I thanked him and eased on out the door.

Next outfit wanted my name, didn't even look at the card I'd written out.

"I just want a price, not an appointment."

He sez, "I still need your name for our computer." His computer is still longing for my name.

Next place, the kid tells me they don't make LT 195's any more... but he's got something even better... I'm still laughing as I go out the door.

Finally found an outfit that seemed to know what they were doing. Quoted me a price... kinda high ... that included everything from 'Road Failure Insurance' to 'State Required Disposal Fee.' I told them I'd keep the old tires. They said they couldn't allow me to do that. They are required by law to see that all tires are properly disposed of. For a fee, of course. Which means people are not allowed to carry away their used tires.

"Lemme show you how it's done," I told him as I got back in my bus and drove away on my used tires.

(I'm still wondering about that 'Road Failure' business. You don't suppose they meant TIRE failure, do you? Hell of a thing, having a road fail on you.)

Having exhausted the local new-tire emporiums I tried a couple of llantaria's, used tire guys where it helps if you speak Spanish. No luck finding LT's of my required size. I bought a couple of new valve stems and puttered my way back home.

Dug through the mess out behind the shop, found two old tires that had a bit more tread than the ones presently mounted on the bus, spent the rest of the day dismounting the old ones, cleaning up the rims, remounting the 'new' old ones. Hell of a chore if you don't have a tire machine.

Since I had the nose of the bus jacked up I gave her a lube job, adjusted the link pins and brakes. Mounted my refurbished wheels and checked the toe-in, took off the front belly pan and lubed the accelerator, gear shift & e-brake. Cleaned things up a bit. Just frutzing around.

Not a bad way to spend a day but what I really wanted was some new tires.

Maybe in another life. Or another town.


15 June 2003

You don't need to be a rocket scientist to buy tires. The manufacturer tells you what kind of skins your ride should be wearing so there's really no mystery at all as to the size and load-rating.

Experience plays a role, as does where & how you drive, but mostly in the selection of a particular brand of tire. Having two new tires blow-out on their first trip to Baja is pretty good evidence that tires from some manufacturers are simply not suitable for my kind of traveling.

With all of that in your war-bag you should have no trouble buying tires. But about ten days ago I posted a little billy-dew to this Newsgroup describing how local tire dealers kept trying to sell me what they had instead of what I wanted. I finally found a shop that had the size & brand I wanted only to have them try to pad the bill with fallacious charges. So I patched up some old tires and drove on.

But I still needed some new rubber; in fact, I've been budgeting to replace all four tires in preparation for a trip I'm planning to make this fall.

I ordered a pair of Yokohama Y356 LT195/75-14's from the Tire Rack, over in Las Vegas. Shipped via UPS then mounted & balanced by a local shop that's set up for wide-fives, the cost came to a little over $80 per tire.

Did I save any money? I've no idea. I budgeted $200 for two new tires. I now have them. Come August, I'll get two more. No hassles, no valueless warranties, useless road-hazard policies and no lies from idiot salesmen. After a good bath the old tires will be donated to the anti-erosion program run by a local water conservation district.


June 2006

Someone wrote: > It has been three years since you installed a set of Yokohama Y356 LT195/75-14. > I wonder how they are holding up?


Dear Someone (and the Group)

(He's referring to my 'How Not To Buy Tires' posted back in 2003.)

Originally, it wasn't a full set, just a pair. I squeezed the piggy bank for the other pair that fall.

They appear to be holding up just fine, although I haven't put many miles on them (about 20k). I haven't had any flats nor blow-outs and they've seen a fair number of miles off-pavement. I made a couple of trips along old Highway 66 from Ludlow to Fenner, and down the road alongside the tracks between Cadiz and Goffs. I also did a trip up Milpitas Wash looking for an old mining site I'd seen from the air but got stuck and thought I'd have to homestead the place before I could dig myself out. Wasn't the tires fault; I went nosing up a dry wash toward the Chocolate Mountains and got into some fine sand. (Except for dunes or down in the washes, the desert is mostly gravel.) But I wasn't the only one :-) A bit farther north, up near the Mule Mountains, I found a Jeep buried to the axels. Been there a while and pretty well stripped. I can't figure out how he managed to get stuck like that -- the thing was really dug in.

-Bob Hoover

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I coudn't buy tires. C load range on front. They had D. you must buy 4 becaus it won't drive correctly.
I suppose they are right. But I have not the money. I hit the boneyard at my local vw shop and bought 2 of the same tires on rims cheap for cash.
dont bring a card or a check to a boneyard. Put them on and split for 2 months work in Las vegas.
Back in Seattle, bus is still rolling and so am I. Chris