Tips to Choosing the Best Winter Tires

unduhan-2Winter tires have a different tread pattern and provide a better grip, which is essential when you’re driving over snowy and wet terrain. Many people just don’t switch to winter tires, but use all-season tires round the year. However, experts recommend otherwise, because not only do winter tires have a distinct tread pattern that prevents snow from getting stuck within the tread, but also differ from regular tires in their composition.

Does that mean you must immediately switch to winter tires as soon as the season sets in? Well, not quite, all-season tires do perform pretty well till the temperature drops to 44ºF or 7°C. So, before it becomes too cold and chilly, just go through this brief guide by Buzzle, and get a pair or two of winter tires for your vehicle.

How to Choose the Best Winter Tires
You’d be surprised to know that the choice of winter tires depends more on your driving style than the type of vehicle you use. Here, we focus on each factor that should be taken into consideration.

Look for the Right Size
The size of the tire is mentioned on the sidewall of the tire in the form of a series of alpha-numeric characters, which looks something like this – 230/40R15 95-U M+S. So, how do you decipher it? Let us look at it from left to right.
230/40R15 95-U M+S

The first three digits (230) represent the width of the tire measured in millimeters (mm), the next two digits (40) represent the height to width ratio known as the aspect ratio, the next alphabet denotes the type of tire (here R stands for radial tire), the next two digits (15) represent the rim diameter measured in inches. The next two digits (95) stand for the load rating that indicates how much load the tire is designed to carry, and the alphabet (U) denotes the speed rating of the tire. Note that the speed rating is represented by the alphabets A to Z, with Z denoting the highest and A denoting the lowest value. The last alphabet(s) (M+S) indicates the type of tire, which in this case is mud (M) and snow (S).

Before you set out to buy a new set of tires for your car, refer to the user manual to know which set of dimensions are recommended by the manufacturer, and you’re likely to find more than a single set of values. The one with the smallest rim diameter is the one you should settle for. Why? Well, it’s simply because a small rim size means more of tire wall, which means the vehicle move safely over thick layers of snow without causing any damage to the rim. Another factor to consider is the width of the tire, and this value should ideally be low for winter tires. This makes the tire more efficient in cutting across a snowy path. The method of choosing a tire in a smaller size is termed as minus sizing, and we can safely opt for a winter tire that minus two sizes than the summer or all-season tire we’re using. Get the picture?

Select the Right Rim

Driving at sub-zero temperatures can affect the rim of your tires, and the continuous exposure to snow can cause rust to develop. To prevent this, and to improve the performance of your wheels, choose a rim of durable material, such as galvanized steel. The other option is to go for rims made from aluminum alloy that have a coat of protective paint for protection from the harmful effects of the salt and chemicals that are present in the snow.

Check for the Silica Content

Silica is a compound that is added to rubber to improve its flexibility. The more flexible the tire, the more is the traction offered by it. Hence, it is important that you check this parameter carefully, to ensure that the tire offers the required amount of traction that you need. Most winter tires are designed to retain their flexibility up to a temperature of -40ºF or -40ºC.

Select the Correct Type

There are basically three types of winter tires―snow tires, ice tires, and studded tires.

► If you drive through the countryside more often, then you should opt for snow tires, because lanes in the countryside are not plowed on a regular basis, leading to the accumulation of a thick layer of snow. These tires are designed to offer traction on snowy and wet conditions.

► If the usual route you take is the freeway or roads within city limits, then you can safely opt for ice tires.

► If you have to drive on icy roads that can be dangerously slippery, it is recommended that you opt for studded tires. Studded tires are nothing but snow tires with metal studs embedded in the tread. This improves traction immensely, but these tires are entirely prohibited in certain states due to the potential to cause damage to the roads.

Set Up a Budget

The look of the tire can largely affect its cost, and hence, you should have your budget defined before you browse through the different types of tires available in the market. For starters, if you’re not willing to spend more, then you should go for a galvanized steel rim that is reasonably priced, instead of a fancy alloy rim.

Winter tires are available in a wide price range, and you should have your specific requirements in kind before you get one, to make the most of your money. While most budget tires cost not more than USD 100, some premium brands come for anything close to USD 150.

Look Out for Recommendations

Before you make a decision, make it point to ask around for recommendations, either your neighbors and friends who have used winter tires, or a neighborhood dealer you trust. You can also look up online for some authentic reviews of the brands you’ve zeroed in. This way you’ll learn about the experiences of real people who have used a certain product that can help you make a truly informed choice.

Before I sign off, I leave you with another important piece of information―whenever you decide to switch to winter tires, make sure you change all the four tires of your car, and not just use winter tires on the front axle. Mismatched tires can cause problems, such as fishtailing, and can be risky.

How to Automatic Transmission Motorcycles

Generally, you will observe that most people who want to learn how to ride a motorbike mainly worry about the gear changing task. If you are one of them, auto-transmission can solve your problem. As the name suggests, these are motorbikes that do not include the standard gear transmission setup that also involves a clutch. These non-geared motorbikes are the best choice for people who want to learn how to ride, or even for those who do not want to worry about changing gears while riding.

Honda DN-01
The Honda DN-01 is a cruiser manufactured by Honda that was made available for commercial use in 2009. This is one of the best auto-transmission motorbikes available in the market to be ridden on roads. It has a liquid-cooled 680 cc V-twin 8 valve engine, with a 43.3 bhp. It reaches a speed of 60 mph in 7.4 seconds and tops the speed at 113.1 mph. It is fitted with the revolutionary Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT) which is referred to by the manufacturers as “Human Friendly Transmission”. The latest price reported is around USD 15,600. With a total fuel capacity of 4.0 gallons, it gives about 42.3 mpg.

Aprilia Mana 850 GT ABS
The Aprilia Mana 850 GT ABS is a naked bike produced by Aprilia, an Italian motobike manufacturing giant. It is incorporated with a 839.3 cc V-twin 4T engine that generates 76 bhp. This bike has three riding settings, viz., sport, touring, and rain. When the motorbike is ridden in Sport mode, you get full power and torque available with the utmost engine braking. When on Touring mode, all high-powered settings are turned down to those that contribute to better fuel efficiency. When Rain mode is activated, the overall torque is decreased by 25%. The rider can also shift to manual transmission and change gears using the pedal or handlebar control. The fuel tank of the Aprilia Mana 850 has a capacity of 16 liters.

Honda VFR1200F DCT
This is a sports bike from Honda which can be used for touring purposes too. Its production started in October 2009. It comes with a 1,237 cc SOHC V4 engine which produces a substantial 170 bhp. It uses the automatic Dual Clutch Transmission (DCT) technology. There are three riding modes, viz., D, S, and Manual. The D mode runs the motorcycle in the maximum fuel efficiency setting, whereas the S mode automatically changes gears at higher engine speeds. When on the Manual mode, the rider can change gears using paddles located on the handlebars. Other impressive features include Anti-lock Braking System (ABS) and Combined Braking System (CBS), which activates both front and rear brakes simultaneously for efficient braking. Its mileage is believed to be around 44 mpg.

Ridley Motorcycle Company
Apart from these motorbikes from reputed brands, you can also find motorbikes from the not-so-well-known but good companies, such as Ridley Motorcycle. This is a private company that is into the production of auto-transmission motorbikes located in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. Models from this company are Speedster, Auto-Glide Chopper, Auto-Glide Sport, Auto-Glide Trike, and Auto-Glide TT.

The history of motorcycles proves that these two-wheeled beasts have come a long way from the last century, and auto-transmission motorbikes is something that has evolved over time. These machines are most appropriate for experiencing bike riding without the need for changing gears.

Ways to Plan a Trip to Sturgis for the Bike Week

The gorgeous Black Hills of South Dakota come alive each summer with the thunderous reverberations of close to 200,000 bikers. You’re right, they head to the Sturgis Bike Week, an annual biking extravaganza which takes place in Sturgis, South Dakota. Besides the obvious focus on motorbikes and everything to do with it, the event comprises races, bike shows, bikes-only streets, the 12th Annual Mayor’s Ride, Michael Lichter’s annual exhibit, the Sturgis Motorcycle Museum & Hall of Fame, organized rides, and some very awesome concerts as well.

This much-anticipated event has entered its 74th year, with the fest being conducted from August 4-10, 2014. So without a moment’s delay, here’s how to plan a trip to Sturgis for the motorcycle rally.

Getting here
Since you are headed to a bike rally, it does make sense to make a road trip of it. There are several scenic routes that will take you to Sturgis, making the journey as worthwhile as the destination. But if you’re not into long-distance biking yourself, you can always get here, by car, train, or by air.

The first step would be to map your route to Sturgis, and depending upon the distance and your comfort level, plan the journey by factoring the number of stops you’ll be taking. Next, you will have to book your accommodation at the scheduled stops, wherever you plan to spend the night. Be aware that you may not get a room along the way at the last minute―the event’s popularity ensures that a lot of people travel these roads in the days leading up to it. Therefore, check the availability of rooms beforehand on websites like Expedia or Tripadvisor, and seal the deal right away so that you’re assured of a place to bunk at.

Also remember that, impromptu bookings may mean that you’d have to shell out a hefty price; you can’t blame the local businesses for making some last-minute kills.

Staying here
Well, true-blue bikers always make reservations for the coming year at the culmination of the current event. But this does not mean that accommodation is out-of-bounds for those who came in late. There are a lot of options when it comes to staying in and around Sturgis, including hotels, motels, campgrounds, bed and breakfasts, etc. Those looking for a bit of peace and quiet after a noisy day may want to rent an apartment on the outskirts. All said and done, there are a lot of options when it comes to accommodation, to suit all tastes and budgets.

What to pack
Though the Bike Week is scheduled at the height of summer, the altitude in the Black Hills may make the area considerable cooler. Also, depending on where you’re coming from, you may encounter a few wet spells along the way. Therefore, carry some rain gear if you’re anticipating wet weather.

As far as possible, avoid carrying too many clothes, as you can always do your laundry at the destination. Pack light clothes, and throw in a few event-appropriate outfits as well.

If you plan to bunk in the outdoors, carry your camping gear along with some warm clothing, as the night may bring some chills in the mountains.

In case you are opting for a bike journey to Sturgis, here’s a reminder to pack the biking trip essentials like a Swiss knife, portable tool kit, batteries, matches or lighter, sunblock, first aid kit, wipes, and a tire repair kit. Ensure that you’re carrying a GPS-enabled device as well.

This and that
► The Sturgis Bike Week has a lot of events going on simultaneously, so you need to keep abreast of the itinerary, and head to the event of your choice in time.

► Certain events like concerts and stunt shows may have tickets (which can get sold off in no time), so if you happen to be interested, make sure that you book them beforehand.

► Bike rallies often require prior registration, so you know what to do if you’re planning to participate in one.

► Sturgis has a lot of biker-themed watering holes, but be aware that any DUI offenses can attract a strict penalty here. Misbehavior and rioting can lead to serious trouble, as the local police are on the constant lookout for the slightest sign on hooliganism.

Planning tips never really end, do they? But we’ll leave you at this―the rest is up to you to simply sit back and enjoy. Have a great time at the Bike Week!

Tips to Fix an Exhaust Leak

An exhaust leak will always need immediate attention, for two reasons – it will reduce the performance of your car for one and the gas mileage of you vehicle. The other reason is a serious health risk to all passengers in the car, as the exhaust fumes that leak will seep inside too. The easier way would be to hire a mechanic. But if you have the right tools and/or are maybe stuck somewhere on a road trip far off, here are the guidelines on how to find and then fix the leak.

Tips on Fixing an Exhaust Leak

Finding the Leak
Knowing how to fix an exhaust leak is pointless if you don’t know where it actually is, or how to find one. This will take time, depending on the size of the leak. One problem you should know is, if the leakage point is small, it will get shut off after using the car for some time, as the heat will make the metal around the hole to expand. So if you think there’s a small leak that you just can’t find, start your search after the car cools down to normal temperature. Now, there are two ways you can search for it:

  • The first one involves clogging your exhaust tail. Make sure you have your emergency brakes on. Then start your car up and gently accelerate. With the tail clogged, the fumes should try to escape from where the hole is. Ask someone to help you find out where the leak is as you accelerate. A larger hole should be found out soon enough.
  • Another way to do this is to simply go under your car and look for the leak. Prominent places where leaks will occur are the joints, welds, and rusted areas of the pipe. The points will certainly have telltale signs like small patches of burnt-out paint, or have a buildup of black carbon from the fumes on them, so keep an eye out for such patches.
  • Apart from these, always check your gasket and manifold. They are some of the first things to fault with age. Check for any cracks around them that happen with age or due to exposure to excessive heat.

Fixing the Exhaust Leak
Depending on the point of leak and the situation you repair the fault under, there can be several solutions on how to fix an exhaust leak. I have written what you can find helpful in your case.

  • In case of gasket fault, the best solution would be to replace the gasket. Make it a habit to sand down the ends of the pipe when you replace the gasket. You can also use fine silver spray-paint over the replaced gasket. This will seal off whatever minuscule air escape routes there are.
  • For faults in the pipe, there is a crude quick fix that will work for about 1 – 2 months, till you get your replacement done. Get a kit for fixing holes up. You’ll find a tube of high temperature-resistant putty or silicone in it. I would actually prefer JB weld, because silicone doesn’t seal as effectively as JB weld can. It can also create quite a stink if exposed to high temperatures for too long. If you have nothing else, slather the putty onto the hole to seal it up for a short time. If you can, get a tin sheet, curve it and add over the putty. Clamp the sheet to the pipe with the sealant in between, till the sealant dries up.
  • If you do not have the putty, you can saw off the part of the pipe that the leak in a V-shape. Get two tin sheets and roll them up, one slightly smaller and the other slightly larger than the pipe diameter. Place the smaller roll on the inside of the sawed off pipe. Make sure that it fits perfectly in. Place the smaller roll on the outside. You need to clamp the outer sheet using exhaust clamps. To be sure, use a high temperature-resistant tape or muffler tape, and tape the sheet to the pipe. Tape around it as many times to ensure that it remains air-tight.
  • For motorcycles, it is better to get new gaskets and clamps.

To be clear, all the mentioned solutions are only temporary. Most will last you for a maximum of 1 year or so, that too if you have done a good job in repairing it. Also know that while RTV silicone seems a good option, it lasts only till around 500 degrees, and will crack around the edges of the exhaust pipe after some time.