Category: Technical Tips

Fall Tire Tips: What to Look For When Swapping to Winter Tires

It’s fall and for many motorists that means it’s time to get the all-season tires off and install the winter tires on for some harrowing icy road trips. For those of you who install your own tires at home here are a few tips/tricks to consider while doing the tire swap.

Inspect the tread on your tires. If you don’t have a tread depth gauge you can always judge by eye. Modern tires include a bar/stack of rubber across the tread pattern referred to as “the wear indicator” and you can compare the height of your tread to this bar. Once the tread hits the same height as the indicators you know its time to replace your tires. This is good to inspect in the fall because, as you know, tires aren’t cheap. If you catch in October that you need tires you can start setting aside your pennies to buy a new set of rubber for next summer. In addition you can observe if there are any unusual wear patterns on your winter tires, suggesting an alignment issue. Remember that pothole? Curb you bumped at the mall? These could have thrown off the alignment enough to unevenly wear your tires. Good to catch this before installing your all winter tires and wearing them out as well.
Observe. Once you’ve got the wheel nuts loosened and the car raised on jack stands here are a couple of things to consider. Did your tires come off easily? Or did you have to hit them with a hammer/object to get them off the hub? If they were difficult to remove have a look at the hub/surface of the brake device. Clean with a wire brush and apply a small ring of anti-seize to the hub. They’ll come off easy next season!
Take a look at the brakes. Once you’ve got the wheels off you’ve got an unobstructed view of the braking components and suspension. If you know what you’re doing you can open up the callipers or brake drums and clean and service the front and rear brakes in addition to measuring how much pad material you have remaining. Ontario provincial safety standards recommend that below 1 millimetre of pad material remaining has become ‘unsafe’. However, in my experience, if you find approximately 4mm or less you will require brake work at or before your next tire changeover. If you’re not so comfortable with these types of things you can look for a few key things: Are the rotors rusted on the surface? Can you see a lot/little amount of brake pad left? Notice any unusual grooves/lines?
Have a look at your steering and suspension joints. Look for things like grease leaks, broken/loose components, and if you can see the side of the motor look for other fluid leaks. Any thing that looks concerning should be noted and taken to your local Mechanic (or give it a shot if you’re comfortable with repairs).
Proper torque. Once you’ve put your all season tires on you should tighten the lug nuts in the air as best you can and once its on the ground make sure to torque the wheel nuts correctly. You can purchase a Torque wrench fairly inexpensively at your local auto parts store. A good generic guide for torque: Passenger Car (Including cuv and small suv) = 90-100 lb-ft. Light Truck (Including Minivan and Large SUV) = 115 lb-ft +. Heavy Truck = 125 lb-ft +.

Once your tires have been torqued we need to remember the most key step – Those tires have been stored all summer. Remember to check your tire pressures! Either at home in the driveway or (if they aren’t flat) at your nearest public inflation station. Typically found at gas stations and car washes. If you don’t know how much to inflate your tires to just check the sticker on your drivers door jamb. This will give you the recommended inflation pressures for the front and rear tires (see photo for reference).
As always – If you have any concerns with the job or anything you’ve seen you should consult your local mechanic or automotive shop and get an expert opinion!

Who competed in this year’s Challenge? See all the scores!

The 12th annual Canadian Truck King Challenge took place in the cold and rain of early October. Frankly, that’s the norm for our event. And while it makes for nasty driving I always remind our judges that we are simply testing in the same conditions that Canadian truck owners encounter every day.  Dealing with our climate is just one reason that we pride ourselves on doing “real-world testing”.  The other truth is that our judges are life-long truck owners who come from all parts of the country where their regional experiences add to the depth of their opinions on the new iron we have a chance to test.
This year five AJAC judges drove the new 1500-series pickup trucks around our Head River loop empty and then all over again with 1,000 lb of payload loaded in the beds. Finally, each truck towed a flatbed trailer, complete with concrete weights giving each a total tare weight of 7,000 lb.
This ritual of back-to-back driving over the same 20-km test loop is what makes the Truck King Challenge unique. This routine gives each judge a chance to “feel” the differences in each truck as they drive over the same course – again and again.  Over two very long days we managed to drive over 2,000 km on this course.
The trucks we had a chance to test this year were substantially new – with the exception of the Toyota and Nissan.  However the 2019 Chevy Silverado and the 2019 GMC Sierra both brought generational updates to our event, as did the 2019 Ram 1500.  The Ford F-150 was unique in that it was the only diesel powered truck to compete – and the fact that this was the first time we had a chance to test this newest member of the Power Stroke family – the 3.0L V6 turbo-diesel.   
Below are the trucks that attended our IronWood test facility in the Kawartha Lakes this year.
2019 Toyota Tundra
Body: CrewMax
Trim: SR5 TRD PRO 4×4
Engine: 5.7L i-Force V8 gas
Transmission: Six-speed automatic
2018 Ford F:150
Body: Supercrew
Trim: Lariat FX4 4×4
Engine: 3.0L Power Stroke V6 diesel
Transmission: electronic 10-speed automatic
2019 RAM 1500
Body: Crew Cab
Trim: Limited 4×4
Engine: 5.7L Hemi V8 w/FuelSaver MDS
Transmission: eight-speed automatic
2019 GMC Sierra 1500
Body: Crewcab
Trim: Denali Ultimate PKG 4×4
Engine: 6.2L EcoTec3 V8 gas w/Dynamic Fuel Management
Transmission: electronic 10-speed automatic
2019 Chevrolet Silverado 1500
Body: Crewcab
Trim: LTZ 4×4
Engine: 6.2L EcoTec3 V8 gas w/Dynamic Fuel Management
Transmission: electronic 10-speed automatic
2018 Nissan Titan 1500
Body: Crew
Trim: PRO-4X 4×4
Engine: 5.6L V8 gas
Transmission: seven-speed automatic
So, what are the judges looking for while driving these loops over and over again?   As you’ll see below it’s an extensive list that takes all the build, tech, handling and comfort aspects of each truck into consideration.
Each judge awards a score using a “ten-scale” for each category. These are then averaged over the completed score sheets – one from each judge on each truck.  It’s these averaged scores that are then converted to a percentage so we can assign an “out of one hundred score”.  See the example below.   Also note that these scores are subjective. Each judge is familiar with the trucks they are driving in addition to having gone through the technical data and background that each manufacturer provides as part of its entry package. Still, what results is opinion. That’s why each of our judges is a member of the Automobile Journalists Association of Canada (AJAC). They make a living writing about trucks, most of them for decades. In fact this year our five judges, combined, can boost of over 110 years of experience in the field of automotive evaluation – and trucks in particular.
Here is the form our judges complete for each entry.
FOR EXAMPLE ONLY:  Score from 0 to 10


Styling/ Appearance
Exterior                              7.5

Interior                               5

Quality                                7

Occupant Environment
Driver Position/Ergo       6

Visibility                              7

Room/Comfort/Access    5

Con/Entment Features    4.5


Throttle Response            7.5

Engine                                8

Transmission                    6

Vehicle Dynamics
Ride                                     7.5

Steering                              7.5

Handling                            4

Braking Feel                      5

Personal Subjective Value                                                               6

Main test Values:

Payload –                           5

Towing –                            5.5

Empty                                6

Off-Road                           8.5

Here are the final adjusted scores as compiled by the Judges out of 100.

2019 GMC Sierra 1500                   Score – 80.0
2019 RAM 1500                                 Score – 78.8
2019 Chevrolet Silverado 1500   Score – 77.3
2018 Ford F:150                                Score – 73.3
2018 Nissan Titan 1500                  Score – 71.3
2019 Toyota Tundra                        Score – 71.0


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