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Tire Guide

How to tell whether your tires are salvageable

Published August 21, 2013

We have a 2011 VW Touareg TDI. I noticed the rubber has ripped on the side wall. It seems that when we were parking next to a curb, the tire got caught between the rim and concrete curb. There is also damage on the lip of the rim.

I do not have a slow leak, and there is no bulging on the sidewalls, so I do not think the rip is that deep. Is this something I can live with for another two years, before I need to replace the tires?

It is difficult to say how bad the damage is without seeing it. But, in general, there are a few comments I can make.

If you are not losing air, that is good. A tire’s side wall has many layers. The outer layer that you can see and have ripped is largely cosmetic. Take a look closely at the rip and peel it back. If the rubber is all the same colour and texture, you are probably OK.

If the rubber is a different colour or consistency, you have gone into a second layer. That’s bad, and the tire is toast.

If you can see fine white fibres or bits of steel, you have gone even deeper and damaged the belts. That’s even worse, and the tire needs to be replaced immediately.

I would take a drive to a couple of tire dealers and get their opinions. They can best assess how deep your cut is.

I have a 1992 Mercedes 500SL, which I use only in the summer. I had the wheels changed to 18-inch with P245/40R18 Michelin Pilot Sport tires. They need to be replaced.

My tire dealer was unable to get Michelin Pilot Sport 2 tires but has recommended Michelin Pilot Sport AS, all-season tires. They have a much coarser tread than the original Pilot Sports. Is there any significant difference in performance/handling?

I’m having a hard time understanding why your dealer is recommending the Michelin Pilot Sport AS as a replacement if you wanted a summer high-performance tire. It’s a fine tire but it is getting long in the tooth. There are newer tires with better characteristics available in your size from Michelin.

The Pilot Sport was superseded by the Pilot Sport PS2. It has all of the great traits of the original but is quieter, smoother and has better grip. That PS2 was remodeled into the PS3, but to me it was not an improvement, so I’d go with the PS2, which is still available.

After the PS3, Michelin made a huge leap forward with the Pilot Super Sport. This is the tire to get if you want the ultimate in grip, wear and smoothness. I’m surprised your dealer didn’t just go straight there. The Super Sport has rave reviews from pro testers and consumers alike.

If you wanted an all-season tire, the newest version from Michelin is the Pilot Sport A/S 3. It is an offshoot of the Super Sport, with a more open tread pattern, a different rubber compound and a higher tread wear rating.

As the number 3 suggests, this is the third generation of Pilot (Michelin’s name for high-performance tires) all-season tires, so why consider the first generation at all? My choice, though, would be the Super Sport.

Send tire questions to: thetireguy_1@hotmail.com. Mail volume prevents personal replies

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