Author - hessamaldin

The Tire Contact Patch

where the rubber meets the road

Just a few inches of your tires touch the road at any given time. It’s as if your car is up on its toes. Those few inches are called the “contact patch.”

You might be surprised to hear just how important those few inches are in determining how your car handles when driving. The contact patch is your car’s connection to the road.

High performance tires

The wider the contact patch, the better your car can grip the road. High performance tires are wide tires, and their contact patch looks like a wide horizontal strip on the highway. That wide strip holds your car on the road when cornering, and it adds stability when you drive at high speeds in dry weather. On wet roads, that same wide footprint could generate hydroplaning, which is why tire designers add special grooves to expel water out the sides of high performance tires.

Most tires are built for comfort

Most care tires are built to be thinner than the high performance tires, not nearly so wide. That gives them a long thin patch instead of one that is wide and short. Why are most tires built that way? A long thing contact patch provides a much smoother ride, even though handling won’t be as responsive. Noise reduction and improved wet weather performance features of a thin, long contact patch.

Tire traction and rolling resistance

The bigger and wider your contact patch, the more traction there is. Traction makes it that much harder to roll your car forward. Conversely, if your tires create just a tiny contact patch, there’s less traction and it is easier to roll your car forward. The lower the rolling resistance, the less fuel you will use to move your car. Low rolling resistance tires are designed to be rounder than other tires so the tread doesn’t flatten as much where it touches the road. Low rolling resistance tires increase your fuel mileage by keeping the contact patch small.

What to do about brake dust

Have you noticed black flecks on your wheels? You might have brake dust. The bad news is brake dust can make your wheels a little unsightly, but the good news is your brakes are probably just fine.

Over the last few years, more and more drivers have been complaining about brake dust. Drivers who aren’t familiar with brake dust worry that their brakes are wearing or, worse, not working. Drivers with shiny new wheels also don’t like how brake dust makes wheels look old and dirty.

Fortunately, brake dust is not a sign your brakes are failing. It’s simply the result of different materials being used on today’s brake pads and rotors.

WHAT CAUSES BRAKE DUST?

Over the years, the formulation of brake pads has changed as vehicles get lighter and environmental concerns grow. Getting the right formula to maximize brake pad life and brake performance as well as reduce brake noise is a challenge.

Unfortunately, brake pad wear is unavoidable, and brake dust is a by-product of brake wear. When your brake pads heat up, their metallic particles get a static charge as they wear off the surface of the pad. That’s how the dark, metallic dust sticks to the wheels, both steel and alloy, as well as other parts of your vehicle. Plus, those petroleum adhesives can turn into a film that hangs on to your wheels.

Brake dust is also caused by brake rotors containing cast iron. When your rotors wear down, the iron particles also get a static charge as they wear off the rotors and cling to surfaces like your wheels.

What can brake dust do to your vehicle?

For the most part, brake dust is really just annoying and unattractive. However, there is the possibility that brake dust can become corrosive. It’ll depend on which chemicals went into the make-up of your brake pads, but if the dust has a chance to corrode the aluminium in your wheels, the damage can be permanent.

What can you do about brake dust?

The best thing to do is clean your wheels regularly. Fortunately, brake dust can be wiped away.

DO I NEED TO CHANGE ALL FOUR WINTER TIRES

Believe it or not, it’ll soon be time to get into the winter driving mode. That means taking it easier on corners, slowing down sooner for stop signs and traffic lights, and of course, changing over to winter tires well before the snow starts to fly.

Many vehicle owners often ask the same question: “Do I really need to drive on four winter tires?” The answer to that is as slippery as the roads we’ll soon be encountering once the temperatures start to drop.

Winter tires may be mandatory on all vehicles registered in your province. Others may require drivers to have snow tires, and/or carry chains in certain mountainous regions.

Fortunately, most drivers realize the risk of driving in snowy conditions and opt to ride on either dedicated winter tires or all-weather tires.

A MATCHED SET IS BEST

Like any set of tires, winter tires perform best when they’re part of a matched set. This provides optimal handling, comfort and safety, even in challenging winter conditions.

Your owner’s manual will indicate the appropriate tires for your vehicle based on:

  • Size
  • Speed rating
  • Load capacity

If one or more of your tires are mismatched, it’ll affect your vehicle’s performance, and if the difference is significant enough, it could represent a real safety hazard. Examples of mismatched tires include ones with different:

  • Sizes
  • Tread patterns
  • Tread depths

It might not seem like much, but if the tread depth in your tires is off by more than 2/32’’, it can affect the way your vehicle handles and responds. This’ll be accentuated by adverse winter driving conditions.

TWO WINTER TIRES IS NO LONGER ENOUGH

It used to be common practice to exchange just two of your 3-season (all-season) tires for a pair of winters. This thinking was that if you placed the winters on the driving axle, you’d have the necessary traction to control your vehicle in winter conditions.

However, modern vehicle safety testing methods have proven this line of thinking to be false. The reason for this is that drops in temperature (below 7 degrees Celsius) reduce the elasticity of the rubber compounds used in all-season (3-season) tires. As a result, this reduces the tire’s grip while braking and steering.

TREAD DEPTH IS IMPORTANT

In most climates, drivers can usually get two to three seasons out of a pair of winter tires before they need replacing (depending on mileage, of course). However, if your tread depth is getting low, don’t make the assumption that they’ll perform like a brand-new set.

As tread depth diminishes, so will your traction and handling, which can affect the way your vehicle performs in winter conditions.

Nitrogen or Compressed Air – which ones is better for car and truck tires?

Both race car and airplane tires are inflated with nitrogen instead of regular compressed air, as well as some commercial truck tires. Now, many garages and tire shops are offering compressed nitrogen for your automobile and truck tires.

What are the benefits from inflating tires with nitrogen?

Nitrogen filled tires hold their pressure a little longer than tires filled with regular compressed air. That’s because nitrogen molecules are larger than oxygen molecules, so nitrogen doesn’t seep through tire walls as quickly. When tires are under inflated, they create extra heat, which causes tire damage, so it is beneficial to hold the correct tire inflation level a little bit longer. Using nitrogen in tires to keep proper tire pressure and reduce heat has been shown to be particularly effective for large commercial tires that carry heavy loads.

Nitrogen does not interact with water like oxygen does, so compressed nitrogen is dry. Since there is normally moisture in the air, regular compressed air contains water vapor, which over time might cause deterioration of the rubber inside the tire and might also add to deterioration of the wheels. However, tire deterioration by water vapor is very slow, so if you have a passenger car, you will most likely purchase new tires because of worn out tread long before your tire walls will show vapor damage.

Nitrogen, unlike oxygen, will not fuel a fire. Airplane and race cars use nitrogen-filled tires for safety by minimizing the chance of enhancing a fire after a crash.

What are the disadvantages from inflating my tires with nitrogen?

The only disadvantage might be the price. Some garages reportedly charge more per tire to fill them with nitrogen.

Should I fill my car or light truck tires with nitrogen despite the cost?

That’s up to you. However, it is general consensus that the benefits of nitrogen are much more important for large commercial tires and race car tires than for regular automobile tires That’s because commercial tires carry extremely heavy loads, which increases inflation seepage, and race car tires, which use nitrogen to prevent the fueling of fires.

Inflation seepage is much less important for non-commercial automobile vehicles. Again, if you fill your tires with compressed air, you will probably have to replace your tires for worn tire tread long before there is any notable interior moisture damage.

Don’t forget that tire manufacturers design their tires to be filled with regular compressed air, and they do a very good job.

Automechanika Shanghai 2017

 Big plans are underway for the next Automechanika Shanghai, scheduled for 29 November – 2 December 2017. Each year, the show continues to expand with the scale, exhibitor and visitor figures increasing.

Held at the National Exhibition and Convention Center in Puxi, Shanghai, the exhibition space will climb to 330,000 sqm this year. Approximately 6,000 exhibitors from 42 countries and regions are expected to attend this year. The number of visitors attending the show is expected to see an increase, with 130,000 from 140 countries and regions. 

Facts & figures

Date 29 November – 2 December 2017
Venue National Exhibition and Convention Center (Shanghai)
Exhibition space (expected) 330,000 sqm 
No of visitors (expected) 130,000 from 140 countries and regions
No of exhibitors (expected) 6,000 from 42 countries and regions

2016 visitor figures:

89% of our visitors are involved in the purchasing decision

Signs of an unhealthy engine

Whenever you watch a movie about cars, the one vehicle with the busted engine is always the butt of the jokes. We like to laugh at the guy who has a car with an unhealthy engine, yet admire how long the car lasts. As everybody knows, Hollywood is often very different from real life. In the real world, it is important that you can identify the signs of an unhealthy engine so that you can get the problem fixed.

That “check engine” light beeping in your car should not be ignored, because it is an important sign that your engine needs a good look. Taking your car to a reliable automotive shop is key to identifying problems before they come up and making the necessary repairs. A good engine will keep your car’s fuel efficiency high without excessive emissions. You might even need to buy some parts to replace the engine and guarantee that your car will last you for a long time.

Consider this: You will pay a lot more money in the near future if you do not fix your engine problems now. Even if your modern car has a light that tells you when your engine needs to be fixed, you need to know about the signs of an unhealthy engine. Here they are:

LEAKING

If you see any fluids coming out of your engine, that is a sure sign that something is seriously wrong with your engine. Make sure you leave your car parked on a clean surface overnight to see if it’s a leak or something else. This is not a problem you should be trying to self-diagnose. Take your car to a trusted mechanic and let them fix your car for you.

You can also look at the fluid itself to see if the engine is running properly. The oil should be a somewhat transparent brown that flows. Any discoloration or clumps in the fluid tells you that your engine is not running the way it should.

EMISSION GAS

Here, you are looking for any oddities in the volume of gas emitted or the color of the gas. If your engine is running as it should, the emission gas should be clear, and there should not be any smoke coming out of the exhaust. If you see any coloration in the gas, see a mechanic about it right away.

“WEIRD SOUNDS”

Have you ever noticed your engine making weird sounds while you are driving or trying to start the car? If so, you’re probably on to something. A car with a well-functioning engine should not have any struggle to start, nor should there be any knocking sounds. “Knocking” is a common term heard among car repair specialists, because the engine will make a distinct knocking sound when it is not working well.

BELT DAMAGE

You should inspect your engine with your own eyes and ensure that the belts are working properly. If the belts are worn out, they will break, and this will cause damage to your engine. A monthly check of your belts should do the trick and prevent you from missing any signs of wear and tear.

DIRTY AIR FILTER

Your air filter is responsible for preventing any debris outside your car from contaminating your engine. If it is dirty, you are increasing the likelihood of your engine being damaged by outside debris. Make sure that you clean out your air filters regularly. If you ever see any of these signs and take your car to someone who can properly run performance diagnostics on your engine, make sure to tell them everything you can. With more information, they can do a better job of fixing your engine and finding any additional problems that you may have missed. Your engine should be checked at least once a year regardless of your “check engine” lights blinking or not.

Studded Tires & Tire Chains

Driving in snow and ice can be a challenge. However, there are a handful of ways to help make driving in winter conditions a safer, less stressful experience.

When to use studded tires

If you live in an area where you’re frequently forced to drive through severe winter and road conditions, studded tires might be for you. The metal or plastic tire studs help drivers maneuver in tough winter driving conditions, mountainous roads or areas, or roads that require sharp cornering with enhanced traction. Studded tires have studs built into the tread or installed by the dealer. Keep in mind that these studs are excellent for ice traction, but they are not meant for roads that aren’t covered in snow or ice. Before installing studded tires, check state regulations where you will be driving as some states specify dates when they can be used or prohibit them altogether.

Understanding & Installing tire chains

If you live in a place where you regularly drive in severe winter conditions, you may want to consider tire chains (also known as cables). Some mountain roads in the west require drivers to have chains in order to drive on the roads. Tire chains enhance traction on snowy and icy roads. In order to properly install tire chains, follow the manufacturer’s instructions. General steps in installation may include the following:

  • First, check for breaks in the chains. Unroll and lay the chains on a flat service in order to inspect them for any damage.
  • If you don’t find any breaks or damage, go ahead and place the chains flat near the tire you’re preparing to install them on.
  • Place the chains over the top of the tire. The side with the keyhole latch attachment should be on the outside of the tire (facing you).
  • Now make sure that the chains are placed straight across the tire’s tread.
  • You’ll need to bring the keyhole latch and lever lock to a height that’s comfortable to work in, and in order to do this, you should slowly roll the vehicle just about a foot forward.
  • When you do this, the chains will fall out of place. That’s normal. You can re-drape the chains over the tire after you have moved the vehicle forward.
  • The lever lock will now be in a place that makes it easier for you to attach it.
  • The chains should be secured on the inner side of the tire before you can continue. To do this, pull the end of the chains to meet the keyhole latch and secure the chains to the backside of the tire.
  • Now you can begin fastening the lever lock on the outer sidewall. Pull the chains so that the lever lock meets the knobs.
  • Remember to always make sure that the chains are centered over the tire’s tread.
  • Go ahead and attach the lever lock to the third knob in order to make sure that the chains are tight and secure over the tire.
  • To close the lever lock you can pull the lever toward the top of the tire at a 180 degrees angle.
  • Repeat this process for all tires and drive cautiously for about a half of a mile in order to ensure the tire chains were properly installed.

Please note that you should not use tire chains on snow tires or exceed 30 mph while the chains are installed.

How to check a vehicle’s coolant/antifreeze

The radiator in your vehicle cools your engine and needs water and coolant (antifreeze) to function. Keep the following points in mind as you check the level of the liquid in your cooling system and add more, if necessary:

  • Rather than open the cap on the radiator, just check to see whether the liquid reaches the “Full” line on the side of the coolant reservoir shown here. It’s part of the coolant recovery system. If the liquid doesn’t reach the “Full” line, open the bottle and add a 50/50 mix of water and coolant until it does. Some coolants are premixed, so check the bottle to see whether you need to add water or just use it as-is.

Only in an emergency should you add only water to the coolant system. Most modern engines have aluminum cylinder heads, which require the protective anticorrosive properties of antifreeze. A 50/50 mix of liquid or coolant is usually sufficient.

Some coolant recovery systems are pressurized and have a radiator pressure cap instead of a normal cap. Some older vehicles have no coolant reservoir, so to check and add coolant, you have to open the cap on the radiator.

Never add coolant to a hot engine! If you need to add more liquid, wait until the engine has cooled down to avoid the possibility of being burned or cracking your engine block. Don’t open the caps on either of these systems when the engine is hot; if you do, hot coolant may be ejected.

  • Coolant is usually red, green, blue, or yellow. If it looks colorless, looks rusty, or has things floating around in it, flush your cooling system and add new coolant.
  • If the coolant has a sludgy, oily surface, immediately take the vehicle to your mechanic to check for internal head gasket leakage. The service facility has special equipment for performing this check.
  • While you’re messing around with your cooling system, feel the radiator hoses, too. They’re the big hoses that go into the top and come out of the bottom of the radiator. If they’re leaking, cracked, bulgy, or squishy, they should be replaced.

How to reduce Tyre wear?

Tyres are one of the most important and the only part of a vehicle that makes contact with the road. So, it is essential for ever owner of a vehicle to take proper care and monitor them on a regular basis. These are the expensive and perishable components, which not only give an attractive look to your vehicle but also give you a comfort ride. Moreover, not just comfort, but aspects like handling, steering, as well as braking performance are also dependent on them. As a result, any damage to radials will show a direct effect on the ride quality and safety. Hence, it is mandatory for drivers to keep them in healthy state.

One of the major but most common problems observed in tyres is them being worn out. A vehicle runs on different types of roads and it is obvious that its tread wears out. On the other hand, bad road conditions are not the sole cause for this problem. There are quite a number of factors that contributes to it like over or under inflation, improper alignment of wheels and so on. No matter what the cause is, it is necessary for you to identify the problem and fix it immediately.

Methods to reduce tyre wear and increase tread life:

The following are some of the useful methods that not just help in reducing tyre wear but also aids in increasing the life of a tread. Some of the key steps are mentioned below.

  1. Proper inflation of radials

One of the finest ways that can help minimize wear is tyre inflation. Each and every radial comes with a recommended air pressure. If you have no idea about the right pressure level, you can check the manual or ask an experienced technician. Once you are aware of the correct pressure, it becomes easy for you to regularly monitor it. There are several factors that can cause the tyre pressure to change and hence, it is necessary that you check them more often.

  1. Tyre rotation

Rotating tyres is one of the methods that can help in minimizing wear to a great extent. It ensures uniform wear across all your vehicle’s radials including the spare tyre as well. Damage of tyres is very common but not all of them wear in the same place. So this method helps in normalizing the problem and further aids in increasing the tread life. Changing the front radials to the rear and vice versa promotes uniform wear and makes them last longer. Hence, these components should be rotated every 5000 to 8000 kilometers even if there is no irregular wear. To do so, each tyre needs to be removed and refitted at a different position. This helps to ensure that each tyre wears evenly and lasts longer. For each driving method, there is a correct way to rotate your tyres. You want to ensure that you rotate the tyres to the correct position for your vehicle.

  1. Balancing of tyres

Wheel or tyre balancing is achieved when the weight of a radial and wheel are even around the axle. This method lets the tyres spin smoothly without any vibration and helps in preventing it from uneven wear.

  1. Wheel alignment

Wheel alignment is one of the most common safety measures you need to take in order to take care of your tyres. It is basically the measurement of complex suspensions angles and the adjustment of the various suspensions parts. In this process, the various angles of the wheels are adjusted properly ensuring that they are parallel to each other and perpendicular to the ground surface. Alignment of wheels is another important step that guarantees safe handling besides safeguarding it from excessive wear. Misalignment of wheels not just causes uneven wear, but also affects the overall performance of a vehicle. Therefore, it is necessary that you have your wheels aligned especially when you replace the old radials with new ones. It is essential that you check your car’s wheels every few months so as to make sure they are properly aligned.

  1. Avoid driving at high speeds

Whenever you are driving your vehicle at a higher speed, the tyres tend to generate more heat and are more likely to be worn out. In order to protect your radials, you have to reduce the speed limit and this further helps in increasing the fuel efficiency.

  1. Good driving habits

Driving habits certainly show a great impact on the overall performance of a vehicle. It not just ensures safe driving but also helps in increasing the life of a tyre. One must try to avoid sudden or emergency braking as this would cause a tyre to wear out. In addition to this, hard cornering and driving on bad roads further contributes to the problem. Hence, by practicing effective driving, the damage to a radial can be reduced to a large extent.

  1. Replacing tyres

There comes a time when you actually need to replace the existing radials with new ones. In such a case, it is quite necessary that you opt for those tyres that matches with the present ones. Using the same kind of tyres will help in promoting uniform wear and performance as well.

Therefore, by following the above listed methods, you can certainly protect your vehicle’s tyres from irregular wear and can also increase their life span.

Dubai International Motor Show

14 – 18 November 2017
Dubai World Trade Centre

Now in its 14th year, The Dubai International Motor Show is the largest international automotive event across the Middle East and North Africa.

Over the years, the Dubai International Motor Show has brought together global manufacturers, distributors, industry specialists, key-buyers and an army of passionate motoring enthusiasts to enjoy exclusive car launches, interactive demonstrations and exciting features.

With the number of global and regional launches at this year’s show expected to beat the previous high of 157 achieved in 2015, Dubai International Motor Show 2017 will feature dedicated pavilions for very motoring passion, from super cars and custom bikes, as well specialist zones for tuning and customisation.

  • More than 600 cars on show
  • 18 Global Launches, 139 Regional launches of the most exciting cars, bikes and everything in between.
  • 108,000+ Visitors from more than 40 Countries
  • 1000+ Global media presence
  • Over 85,000m2 of exhibition space featuring 150 of the world’s best manufacturer

OPENING TIMES & TICKETS

Admission Ticket Onsite: AED 65 VALID FOR ONE DAY
Admission Ticket for accompanying children 12 – 18 years: AED 30 VALID FOR ONE DAY

Children under 12 will be admitted free-of-charge and must be accompanied by an adult at all times.

Tickets can also be purchased onsite at the event during show days. Show timings:

  • Tuesday, 14 November: 6.00pm – 10.00pm 
  • Wednesday, 15 November: 11.00am – 10.00pm
  • Thursday 16 & Friday 17 November: 11.00am – 11.00pm 
  • Saturday 18 November: 11.00am – 10.00pm