Tires for drought conditions? Choose those that are best for wet roads
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SOURCE InsideOut: Cars & Trucks
AUSTIN, Texas, March 8, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- While there are recommendations for tires that excel in bad weather conditions, there seems to be little information – if any – for tires that excel in the drought conditions currently bedeviling a large part of the country, including Texas, according to Linda Water Nelson, sports vehicle editor of Texas Fish & Game Magazine and editor of INSIDEout: Cars & Trucks.
"Most people think of drought driving as motoring on dry roads, but long periods without precipitation cause a buildup of dust, oil and other things. The winds that often accompany drought can spread stuff that becomes nearly invisible," she says.
These conditions can be of particular concern when towing, off-roading or when traveling on seldom used roads, so when Nelson had a chance to visit Cooper Tire's test center in Pearsall, TX, about 40 miles from San Antonio, she not only drove most of the site, but asked Mike Stoltz, Cooper product segment manager for his take on drought driving.
While it would seem that the 1.3-mile dry handling circuit with its low and high speed capabilities, dry circle for measuring dry lateral grip, 1,200-foot straightaway and three double change lanes, Stoltz suggests that – although counter intuitive -- the wet testing facility offers the best assessment for drought-driving performance.
"Drought conditions affect wet traction by changing the micro-texture of the road surface and through the accumulation of oil. The micro-texture of the road surface is polished by normal vehicle traffic, and rain helps to restore the micro-texture by etching the surface of the asphalt…and also helps to wash away the accumulation of oil and dirt," Stoltz told Nelson.
Speaking of the Cooper wet track, a 16-acre by 16-acre area where the water levels can be monitored continuously for many conditions, he adds, noting that tire testing is done daily on the wet track and the surface must be kept as consistent as possible for repeatability.
The segment manager says that the closest they can come to simulating drought and rain aftermath is by testing tires on tracks with different coefficients of friction. There are some subtle differences the ordinary consumer would have a difficult time noticing, so Stoltz says to go for replacement tires with great wet traction and the drought will take care of itself.
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