Monday, January 14, 2008

Tires

So I am sitting here with the cats this AM. We are all looking out the window. I am sure they are doing what I am doing. Wishing they were out there and not in here, But it's snowing a couple of inches an hour out there right now. Periods of horizontal snow cause me to reflect on the wonders of oil heat and waterproof steel roofing, while just for a moment forgetting the expense.

Okay, I am safe and dry, mostly warm and out of the elements. Any thought of a normal Monday routine shot in the butt. My day was supposed to exist out there and not in here. Guess I should actually pay more attention to Kevin Mannix at 6:30AM instead of hurrying to pump that first cup of coffee into my system. Oh well. Shift gears. Find other things to do.

Instead of watching all the closings at the bottom of the TV screen which is my habit on days such as this, I continue to stare out the window. Hoping for some clue about what to do. What to put my idle hands to and keep my sorry ass out of trouble. Sure, there are serious projects gathering dust. There is always something to clean, straighten, or move up to the attic or out of it. But I see no reason to refrain from my years long policy of walking around the hum drum chores that are always there and give me comfort as I ignore their presence.

So staring at the snow I search for inspiration. But nothing is forthcoming. Suddenly, the word "tire" comes into focus. Why I would think of tires while watching snow at first puzzles me. Then I remember that trip to the Manchester Airport to drop Lis for her flight back to college and I know what this Monday is all about.

My wife's new Ford "Focus" came with tires meant for the drier and hotter climes of the South. They proved on that drive through blinding snow at dark thirty in the morning they were not up the task of handling snow covered roadways. I felt as if I was driving on ball bearings. It was a white knuckle trip both ways.

And what did I do this morning? Sent my sweetie on her way to a client on those same damn tires in the same damn conditions. A quick phone call determined she had indeed not ended up in some ditch with airbag deployed. Those damn things are expensive.She was fine but not particularily happy about her drive on unplowed roads. She quickly agreed that today, I should focus on her "Focus". Find her some tires that had a snowball's chance of making it through the rest of this winter's Hell.

Intermission - While I research what tires she actually has on the Focus

A couple of hours surfing the World Wide Web, 2 or 3 phone calls to local tire guys and I am now brought to speed anyway. Seems the Ford "Focus" offers 2 different sized rims depending on which Focus you have. Naturally our SES uses the more expensive and less supported 16" rim. Combine the tighter wheel well requirements because of the larger rim and we are reduced to but one size tire. A 205/50R - 16. Great. Not much to pick from. Making matters worse is the OEM tires are supposed to be the cat's meow for all season tires. I guess if they have an Eye-Talion name, the price goes up and the wow factor kicks up a notch. Pirelli tires that should have stayed in Italy. Southern Italy.

I found some Dis Slavic winter sneakers. A smidgeon taller but I have been assured by the experts they will work. Problem is dealing with swapping them out each season. Maybe buy some new rims and mount em up. Then just swap complete wheels twice a year. All I know is today is a day I longed for the good ole days when the tire world was a much simpler and straightforward world to navigate. Radial or bias. New or retread. Easy Peasy.

Today the retrogrouch that lurks just below my surface came up for air and I vented my spleen. All this new high falutin tech we have to keep up with is way more complicated than it needs to be. I spent a good 20 minutes bending some tire guy's ear about how stupid it was to design a car that placed such tight limits on what tires were usuable. I imagine he was glad to hear me say good bye. Today I would have gladly taken simple over hip, that's for sure.

3 comments:

PresterJohn said...

Life is not round ... but you and I already know that. We just pretend we don't.

Noah said...

You may or may not know this, and I probably come off like a know-it-all quite often, but I pretty much am THE Ford Focus guru. www.focushacks.com is me. And I'll tell you I'll choose my $100 used MTB with $30 worth of knobby tires over a Focus any day of the week when there's so much as a few flakes on the ground, and that's coming from someone that loves the Focus.

Here's a hint - Your Focus will work with 15" Steel wheels -- at a bargain basement price of likely $20 each or so, I'd imagine. Make sure they're 4x108 bolt pattern and you'll be fine. Then you can throw some cheaper, more common-sized 15" tires on it and probably save some cash just on rolling stock alone, much less the $$$ of a semiannual tire re-mount-and-balance.

The only Focus that the 15" wheels won't fit on are the SVT and ZX4 ST models, which have some seriously gigantic brakes that will get in the way.

MRMacrum said...

Noah - Yeah, I went through the 15" option with one tire place, but the cost of the rims scared me. I like the idea of tires mounted up and ready to rock. Steel ones for the winter sneakers make sense anyway. A tad more weight would would not hurt traction.

Thanks for the heads up.