A Tyre Trap

Posted on October 9th, 2007 in Driving Emotion,Tyres by Julian Edgar

michelin_pilot_sport.gifIt’s an obvious thing, but not so obvious that I haven’t been caught twice in the last month. When buying a secondhand car, or just the secondhand tyres off a car, check every tyre!

To the latter first. Recently someone in the small town in which I live advertised the tyres from an EF Falcon. ‘Near new’ said the ad. Since at that time I still owned an EF Falcon, I rang up. The seller didn’t know the tyre size but dutifully went away and checked. The size was right, so I went off to inspect the tyres.

Much to my surprise, I found that the tyres – and wheels – were still on the car! A wagon, it had spun and hit a tree. The car was a write-off, but the owner was trying to recoup more than she’d have got from a wrecker. So, the tyres (and wheels) were for sale, as was the engine. Trouble is, she didn’t tell anyone that you’d have to get them off (the wheels) or out (the engine) on your own!

This flummoxed me a little, especially when I pointed out that if I took the wheels and tyres off the car, it’d be awfully hard to move around her steep, grassy backyard – that’s where the car was. So, I suggested, perhaps she should place the car where it would be easy to winch, wheel-less, onto a truck when it was time for the car to finally go. I looked at a couple of the tyres, saw the brand-new tread, and made an offer. She accepted, so I went off for my trolley jack.

It was only when I was taking off the wheels that I noticed that in fact only two tyres were near-new. The other pair was probably half worn. But it was too late to complain… I should have checked the tyres more carefully before making my offer…

And blow me down if the same thing didn’t nearly happen again! This time I was buying a complete car. With the incident of the Falcon tyres still very clear in my mind, I checked with more than usual care the tyres on the car I was buying – a Peugeot 405 SRDT. And, again, there was a surprise in store.

Incredibly, the sizes front and back didn’t match. Now that might not be a shock on a Porsche 911 but it certainly is on a Peugeot 405! The correct standard tyre size for the Pug is 185/65 14. But lo and behold, on the back were 185/70 tyres! I quizzed the owner and he waved away the problem with a sweep of his hand. But why were they different? Oh, he said indifferently, perhaps his son had been responsible for getting those put on the car…

So, as I said, always check all four tyres….

3 Responses to 'A Tyre Trap'

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  1. Marty said,

    on October 9th, 2007 at 4:32 pm

    I didn’t notice this either when buying my latest shopping trolley car. The rear tyres were 175’s and the fronts 185s!

    Within a week i had purchased 2nd hand 15″ wheels and tyres for a bargain, probaly a quarter of what they were worth. I put the wheels on, and everything looked good but by morning one of the tyres was flat, it had a tiny nail puncture right on the sidewall so was useless. Spending another $500 on good grippy tyres was still a good deal but sounds like this is a common theme!

  2. Blair said,

    on October 9th, 2007 at 7:57 pm

    Ahh Julian, So now you have given your new purchase away, We knew it was Diesel because you said it didn’t run on petrol, but it is the Peugeot. I guess it ( a Peugeot) is a logical choice, but the 405 is a (relatively) old tech diesel, I thought you would go for something common rail.
    I am sure there are lots of us who look forward to the developments.

  3. Julian Edgar said,

    on October 9th, 2007 at 8:00 pm

    All is revealed tomorrow! Common rail diesels hold their value very well – too well for me to buy one at the moment. However, the results from modifying the mechanical injection system will surpise a lot of people I think. And all you need is a spanner…

  4. Ben said,

    on October 10th, 2007 at 12:34 pm

    What’s that? Adjusting the maximum fuel amount and wastegate rod? Massive effect for zero cost, especially if someone has fiddled not knowing what they are doing. Did you adjust the timing of the pump too?

  5. Richard said,

    on October 10th, 2007 at 1:22 pm

    Would be interesting to see if those tyres that are marked as being “eco” – “green” etc actually make a difference. An idea for the 405 perhaps? Economy differences of the old versus new tyres.

  6. Andrew said,

    on October 10th, 2007 at 9:20 pm

    All five tyres?

  7. Julian Edgar said,

    on October 11th, 2007 at 7:53 am

    There’s a lot more to adjusting the fuel pump that just maximum fuel. Part 1 of the modification series – the exhaust – appears in about 4 weeks.

  8. Blake Parry said,

    on October 14th, 2007 at 3:45 am

    Its something that is often overlooked.
    One of my old cars managed to have 4 different branded tyres…. it certainly made for an “interesting” driving experience.

    A thing to note for performance car owners is to also check the full width of the tyre. Older commodores, and cars with large amounts of negative camber have a tendency to burn the inside of the tyre, whilst the outside looks fine. Potential for things to go nasty very fast.

  9. OttoAu said,

    on October 15th, 2007 at 12:03 pm

    I dont know why your getting so anal about tyres.
    You can buy the popular size 15/16″ tyres $100 NEW
    When i buy a car, job #1 is mechanical condition, ie engine, gearbox, diff, then body and interior, tyres are way down on the list, so cheap should not even enter the equation

  10. Blake Parry said,

    on October 16th, 2007 at 10:46 pm

    Tyres are the only part of your car in contact with the road….
    in an emergency stop (or even normal driving condtions), the rest of the cars systems are completely reliant on the contact patch on the road.
    Cheap tyres are also such a potential risk to road users, the introduction of cheap “wan-li/sava/etc” tyres is not a good thing in my opinion.

  11. Richard said,

    on November 8th, 2007 at 1:32 pm

    I am aware of a new service for both tyre consumers and tyre dealers, see http://www.carbonblack.com.au that provides consumers with the ability to seek out the right tyres for their cars as well as receive bids from dealers. This provides the consumer with a balanced view, market related pricing and knowledge to ensure that you are getting the right tyres for your car.