Odd shoes

I have just had a couple of new tyres on the front of the 9-5.  I suspect for many folks, replacing tyres is merely an inconvenience but I find the whole process particularly frustrating and stressful. 

Let’s start with the planning.  It’s a balance of finding the right product at the right price to be delivered by a place you trust with your pride and joy.  Finding and researching the product is easy – there’s the internet.  For me though, it’s not just about determining a good brand with the correct ratings, it’s also making sure the new rubber will match what’s on the car already.  Obviously I fit identical tyres on each axle but aesthetically, front and rear have to look the same, too.

There was a mismatched clothes competition in the office this week.  A couple of people even wore a different colour and style of shoe on each foot.  Quite rightly, one of these individuals won the competition but there’s something very disconcerting about seeing someone wearing odd shoes.  And this is how I feel about odd tyres.

The prices also vary wildly, with the same outlets charging different prices for the same items depending on whether you order on line or over the ‘phone.  I did find that if you quote the internet price over the ‘phone though, many places will match it.  I also found that by presenting a screen print of competitor’s lower price, it could also be beaten.  This means that – certainly with the larger high street names – you can probably choose where you want to go and still obtain the best price.

So the tyres have been chosen, a price agreed and a time and place scheduled.  Now there’s the anticipation of a whole string of possible horrors: bodywork damage by trolley jack, loss of locking wheel nut key, damage to the alloy wheels, nuts not tightened properly (or over-tightned) and poor wheel balancing.  I am incapable of looking the other way while the work is done – which probably makes it worse.  These guys do the job every day, many are car enthusiasts and quite knowledgeable so perhaps the issue’s with me.  (Except last year when a trolley jack marked my car’s sill.)

Finally, after paying the bill (the easy part!) it’s time to drop on to the nearest motorway to ensure the wheel balancing isn’t too bad.  It never seems to be perfect after a car is past its first set of new tyres but accuracy does vary considerably.

This time?  Matching Continental Sport Contact 3s, no damage and pretty good balancing.  Just a valve dust cap flying off en route home.

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