Trade Group Announces Tire Care Unnecessary
Dateline: July 24th, 2009, Akron, OH
Concluding three years of painstaking experimentation, the ARTWTG (Amalgamated Rubber,Tire, Wheel and Tread Group), an industry coalition, today released a technical report on all aspects of consumer tire durability.
Press Manager and Associate Scientist, Dr. David H. Veracif, presented the paper, titled “The Lifespan of the Pneumatic Tire in Its Natural Environment”, which contains several conclusions that industry technicians have long doubted, but that consumers in the field, it seems, have understood for years.
In a summary of the findings at the press conference, Dr. Veracif discussed the study’s method and it’s surprising conclusions.
“We selected 600 drivers in the United States across all demographic groups, driving cars and light trucks with model years ranging from 1977 through 2005; the first year of the study”, he explained. “As outlined in the study documentation provided, each participant followed a rigorous procedure of neglect for any and all instances of tire care for the vehicles under study”, he said.
To the surprise of the scientists, the procedures outlined in the study manual, while complex, required little training on the part of the study members. “It’s uncanny how quickly most of the participants were able to acquire and implement the skills required to execute the study methods”, Dr. Veracif noted.
While the study was designed specifically to determine the effects of a carefree and thoughtless technique regarding only tire care, many participants had no difficulty in completely ignoring other maintenance aspects, such as oil level and engine temperature.
Several study members were able to drive cars with howling engine belts, thick blue smoke, and in some instances, visible flame, for distances that allowed them to get home from work on time.
Naturally, such dedication to the aims of the study resulted in a portion of the participating vehicles expiring before the completion of the study period. At the end of the 36 month trial period only 422 of 600 cars were still on the road.
Stoicly, Dr. Veracif noted “trials like these often have high vehicle mortality rates”, but he was pleased the kill-rate “remained under 50%, unlike the air filter study of 1996-2001″.
Dr. Veracif presented a Powerpoint slideshow featuring the salient conclusions of the study, namely: Regular tire rotation isn’t attractive to the majority of car owners. “Doubling the life of the tires (At an average cost of $600 – Ed.) wasn’t really worth the 30-60 minutes it takes every 6-9 months,” cited many study members.
Front-end alignment and tire balancing were both widely regarded as “kind of a pain.” 92% of study members agreed that the noise and vibration of an unbalanced tire “wasn’t so bad once you got used to it”, and several participants noted how it is “pretty cool when the steering wheel whips back and forth when you let go” in those vehicles where an alignment was long overdue.
Tire pressure was considered self-regulating by 75% of the study group. One tester noted that “the pressure was pretty low that one morning I checked it, but by the time I got to work it was up 3 pounds so I knew I didn’t have a nail in it.” After the under-inflated front tire “let go real sudden there on the freeway” due to overheating, this tester pointed out how the temporary spare “handled OK ’til it went, too”, having lasted 1500 miles further than rated by the manufacturer. (The resulting crash resulted in only one fatality – Ed.)
In contrast, a control group of thirty drivers were instructed to follow all industry recommendations for tire care. While many balked at occasionally having to spend 50 cents for use of the air compressor at services stations, or in extreme cases, up to one hundred dollars for a wheel alignment, many observed that they “didn’t know you could really get 50,000 miles out of a set” of tires, or that sudden tire ruptures (“blow outs”) rarely happened when properly inflated. One tester in this group noted that she “never had her car drive so well for so long” when her vehicle received the maintenance as encouraged by the car and tire makers. “I don’t think I’ll have to trade in every three years like I used to,” she remarked.
Still, Dr. Veracif noted that such experiences “are freakishly rare” and “shouldn’t affect the study conclusions” that were borne out by the larger test group, concluding that “buying a new car is a fun experience” and that the industry would dislike seeing “extended ownership periods getting in the way of that new car smell”.
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