Tired eyes

Visualize whirled rubber:

205/55R16: sidewall height 112.75 mm, circumference 1985.17 mm, ride height radius 315.95 mm.

215/55R16: sidewall height 118.25 mm, circumference 2019.73 mm, ride height radius 321.45 mm.

(Dimensions courtesy of McGrefer UK.)

If you can distinguish the two at a glance, you have better sight than I do, Gunga Din.

Yesterday I was making the Long Trip (a bit over 10 miles) home, and noticed that Gwendolyn was favoring her right side just a little: nothing heinous, but nothing to be encouraged either. First stop was the Oklahoma Gazette office, to snag a copy of the alt-ish weekly, and as I returned to the car, I saw: whatever the heck that was, it was a long way from 33 psi.

Okay, fine. I’ve got just enough time, and probably just enough inflation, to make it to the tire shop. Let them worry about it. (Probably just random storm debris, of which we have an abundance of late.) The shop duly looked over the offending tire, and pronounced it fixable, maybe — but these things are five years old, and they won’t last much longer.

Still in “okay, fine” mode, I bade them replace the lot. Which they did, although they ran a bit past closing time. Handling seemed a little squirrely, but I attributed that to unfamiliarity with the new rubber.

But then I got home, and the shadow on the garage wall looked, well, wrong. Just a little too short. I fetched a light and inspected the sidewall. Yep: they’d put on 205s instead of 215s.

So the tail end of this afternoon was devoted to swapping them out yet again. (I’d run up just under 30 miles on the 205s.) No harm, no foul, but still plenty weird.

As for the tires themselves, they’re Cooper CS4s, which have the dual distinction of (1) being made in the States and (2) being offered by no automaker anywhere as OEMs. Compared to the old Dunlops, they’re one speed rating lower — H instead of V, though since the actual OEM specification is for H, this presented no issue — and a bit more relaxed on crummy pavement, of which we also have an abundance of late. I didn’t need a $700 hole in the pocketbook just now, but there’s no point in prolonging the inevitable.

Sort of aside: We are told that the treadwear ratings don’t necessarily imply anything, other than that a 200-rated tire will last twice as long as a 100. The OEM Bridgestones on my old Mazda, which bore a 500 rating, crapped out at 50,600 miles. The Dunlops being replaced were rated at 460; they made it to just over 43,000. I reserve the right to draw whatever conclusions I want from this. (CS4: 560.)


  1. jsallison »

    6 June 2013 · 6:08 pm

    Just about time for a new set of skins on the Accord here. I despise these low sidewall tires, they’re fragile, ride rough and are overpriced. But I don’t want to spring for a new set of wheels, either. Given my 186 mile round trip commute I suspect I go through them a bit more rapidly than the norm.

  2. CGHill »

    6 June 2013 · 6:56 pm

    They slap 50s and even 40s on econoboxes these days; I’m sort of grateful for still being able to get 55s.

  3. Jeff Brokaw »

    6 June 2013 · 7:10 pm

    Good catch Chaz – not sure I would have caught that just by looking at the car itself.

    But I would have caught it when I looked at the sizing info on the sidewalls. Trust but verify. :-)

  4. jimmy »

    7 June 2013 · 5:12 am

    I had a leak in a tire on my Tahoe so I pulled into a chain store and asked them to fix it. That’s when I found out the D.O.T. wouldn’t let them fix a tire over 5 years old. It still doesn’t make sense to me…arbitrary at best. Let the tire pros determine the death date.
    I went to my Bro-in-law’s house and we plugged the leak.
    Yes, I had put 76K miles on those B.F.Goodrich tires…not all on-road, I reckoned I could get another 10K out of ’em. I put on another 8K before I replaced them.

  5. Dick Stanley »

    7 June 2013 · 6:59 am

    This is one more thing I don’t worry about. I get the oil changed at the dealership every six months and let them pass judgement on things like tires. Worked so far.

  6. McGehee »

    7 June 2013 · 8:52 am

    That’s when I found out the D.O.T. wouldn’t let them fix a tire over 5 years old.

    My mother-in-law’s Grand Cherokee, the Polar Bear, had a wounded foot a few months back while she was here in town, so I volunteered to take it to our tire store to see if it could be repaired (the nail was in the tread).

    Turned out it was “too close to the shoulder” for repair, and she’d have to replace the tire. At the time I was suspicious that the store had adopted a “push replacement even when not warranted” policy in this crappy economy, but on further consideration I’m willing to blame excessive government meddling.

    If these idiotic regulations get deleted and they keep claiming they’re not allowed to repair, then I’ll look for another tire store.

  7. ms7168 »

    8 June 2013 · 6:52 am

    Did you get them at A to Z? You know that it was your recommendation that sent me there and I have been to nowhere else since. Sort of surprises me they installed the wrong size. Unless 205s are standard and you just run 215s of your own preference.

  8. CGHill »

    8 June 2013 · 12:23 pm

    I did in fact get them at A to Z. I think it was just an error by the guy picking from the shelf; the numbers are black-ish on black, after all, and not very large at that.

    (I just went out to look at the 215s. Larger typeface. Very strange.)

    And no, this is the standard size for the base I30. (The Touring version got some suspension tweaks and 225/50R17s.)

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