Should I be freezing my ass off in June?

Just curious. It was 91 degrees yesterday and today I have a coat on. I need to move to a place that doesn't have 4 seasons a week. I feel like I should be making an appointment to get my snow tires put on soon.

Speaking of tires, has anyone ever ordered from Tirerack.com? I used them a few times, and so far I like them. You can have your new tires shipped to a installation center near you, and then just drive there and they slap them on. You can also order wheel and tire combinations, and that's what I did. I finally got tired of paying $72 bucks every time I needed to switch from my regular tires to my snows and another $72 to switch them back. I figured if I purchased some cheap wheels, I could just leave the tires mounted, change them over myself and in two seasons I'd have made my money back.

Things never work out the way you'd like them to with automobiles, at least in my experience.

I went to their website and punched in my make and model, and then picked a good performance summer tire and the cheapest wheel they said would fit. They also told me I needed four tire pressure sensors, and that I would have to have my dealer activate them for me to make the big orange TPMS light on the dashboard go out. So I pulled the trigger on those as well, for another $138 bucks.

When the tires showed up, they looked pretty good. I jacked up the car, stuck them on and everything was great. They were quiet, the car handled much better and I was happy -- until I got another person in the car and happened to drive over a railroad track. The first time the tires were forced up inside the wheel-well, I thought I ran over a cat. There was a huge screeching-scraping noise as the tires and the outside edge of the wheel-well fought it out. The metal wheel-wells won handily, and the tires got pretty scraped up.

I also managed to find time to stop by the dealer and they told me it would cost $95 to switch over the new sensors, and that the computer could only store one set of numbers at a time. That meant I had traded a (2 x $72) expense a year for a (2 x $95) expense. So far so good. This idea was really starting to pan out for me.

I started researching that little issue, because that was bullshit right there. I found a little device that cost $150 and would allow me to program my own car computer, and switch between two sets of TPMS sensors. So for those of you keeping score at home, I would now break even in three years instead of two.

When I received the device, it was supposed to first suck the codes out from my winter tires, and store those in a "winter" setting, then allow me to input my "summer" values. I followed the directions, and the device wiped out my existing codes just like it was not supposed to do, and so now I have no way of knowing what codes are assigned to my winter tires without having someone take them off the rim and write the numbers down. There's an additional fifty bucks come November. Oh, and add another six months to my break-even. I'm clearly doing this wrong.

I called up Tire Rack, and told them that the tires were committing suicide on my wheel-wells, and they went away for a while and consulted their computer, then came back and said "Oh yeah, there should have been a warning on those wheels. They don't really work with your car. If you have an alignment done, they can add some camber to them so they might not rub. Or I can get you into a wheel with the right offset." I figured an alignment would cost me another 70 bucks, and I didn't want to go down the road with my tires looking like / \ because it would affect my mileage, and they'd obviously wear out faster, so I asked him what other wheels they had.

The only ones they had with the right offset (a) looked like rice-boy wheels, and (b) were twice the price of the ones I had originally purchased. I bent over and placed my order even though the wheels were butt-ugly. I didn't care anymore. I just wanted something that I could take on the highway without having to worry about the tires turning into grated cheese at 75 mph.

They did agree to refund my entire purchase price, including shipping both ways, so I can't fault them for their customer service, even though it was a huge pain in the ass and completely their fault.

So now I figure with the price of the new fancy rice-boy wheels, I'm up to about 4.5 years before I break even, which is probably about a year longer than I'll actually own the stupid car. To add insult to injury, the new wheels are much closer to the body of the car, which means it doesn't handle nearly as well as it did with the first set I bought. I was thinking of tinting the windows and adding a spoiler and one of those really loud exhaust systems that sounds like a swarm of bees, but then I'd have to buy a shitload of polo shirts so I could pop the collars, and really, who needs that added expense?


  1. Damn dude.

    The only thing you didn't buy that you should have was vaseline.

  2. I can't help you in the 4 seasons/1 week thing, but I can guaran-damn-tee that if you lived here you wouldn't need snow tires, thus saving you this entire headache. File this under "It seemed like a really good idea at the time."

  3. Why didn't you just get a set of good all weather radials from Michelin or somebody? I lived my whole life in Michigan until a few years ago and never switched from summer to winter tires after about 1978.

  4. Yeah, I'm from NC, and the first thing I thought was, "You need different tires for different times of the year?"

    Unrelated note: your book is now on my Kindle.

  5. It is cold here too and I am pissed!


  6. Ed, I did at least get a courtesy reach-around because he gave me a $60 rebate on my tires that had already expired..

    KC - you're where again?

    ITNE, it has more to do the geography of where I live -- in the boonies, in a very hilly area. I have two choices - either 4 wheel drive, or studded snow tires on all four wheels. If I didn't do that, I wouldn't make it up the hill to my house.

    Oh crap, I have an english major reading my book? I am so screwed.

  7. The same thing is happening here. We had SNOW on sunday!! Really?!?! Isn't this supposed to be spring?

  8. Texas. Also, don't rag on English majors - there's a reason we read your blog.

  9. Anonymous9:38 PM

    OK, just sign me up for the second book: The Tirerack, Johnny and a Car.

    I'll take another signed copy!


    Peace <3

  10. I feel your pain about the weather - I live in Cleveland (insert joke here). We had record breaking temps last weekend, and then a day later I had to put the furnace on in the morning. Super.

  11. Count me just plain happy that I got the A/C fixed Thursday at 6:00 PM, because about 30 seconds later is when the heat and humidity started climbing... 96, feels like 99 right now. In the house basking in coolth, thank God! (Not to mention the damn cicadas - we have some extra-large swarm this year, and you need earplugs outside this time of day.)

    Reading this entertaining post from you re: tires and wheels has been educational. I've also learned a lot about rice- boys and rice-rockets, thanks to the link. I always thought those souped-up Civics and Neons looked pathetic; now I know they are! Sorry, JV, we'll be waiting for the photo of your new and improved ride, and I'd better see "FIT" in 12" letters across the windshield...

  12. I purchased winter tires/rims for my car in December from tirerack. I thought it was pretty neat to get mounted tires shipped to my house. Way better than sitting in a town fair tire or what have you for three hours inhaling rubber fumes.
    But i didn't pay for the air pressure sensor. I can live with the light on my dash for the money i saved.

  13. Anonymous11:33 AM

    Things i've learned with cars. never do anything without originally researching the information yourself. (I.E. appropriate, size, offset and obviously bolt-pattern and tire size) Those tire sensors are BS in my opinion BTW. I order from Tire Rack all the time. They even went as far to call me when i ordered tires that we're standard for my car at the time to make sure i hadn't made a mistake.

  14. Anonymous3:24 PM

    sorry to hear about your bad luck w/ Tire Rack, Johnny - I've had good luck with them for many years now.

    I think the key is, and this goes for *any* car-related vendor, online or otherwise, that you have to know exactly what you want to buy BEFORE consulting with them. Even if you've got a plain-jane, stock, another-in-a-million econobox, and want to just keep it that way, those folks will find some way to mess you up, offering something that -seems- right but isn't.

    Also re. TR shopping: Their comments/ratings sections can be pretty valuable, if you sift & compare what people in there say. You'll get a wide range of reviews & ratings on each product, largely due to the many different cars people are buying them for. But oftentimes a common pattern of comments will emerge on your item of interest, helping you make a judgment.

    And I hate to say this as it does as much good after the fact as the above, but, your car's Owner's Manual - still in the glove box, am I right? - will have a listing of (ranges of) tire/wheel sizes acceptable for use on your car.

    Also(2), if your car's ~10 years old or newer there will likely be a sticker listing tire sizes & min/max press's vs. vehicle load or speed limits, on the inside of your gas filler door. Or maybe on the inside of your glovebox door.

    BTW what the heck car do you have anyway? Even the make if you don't want to say what model - am really curious now.

    And speaking of sh!t weather, we just had heavy rain last weekend, here in sunny temperate (*COUGH*) SF Bay Area - where we normally stop seeing any rain after mid or late march. We've had similar warm/cold/wet swings on about a 1-2 week cycle ever since winter (or what passes for it here) "ended" in early April.. sheesh.

    Anyway GL w/ the car & keep up the great blogging!

    -Mike from CA
    (I refuse to sign up for a Google acct..)

  15. Mike, I was lazy in this case. I know they guarantee their tire-wheel combos so I figured they'd be right on the money like they were every other time I've purchased wheels and tires from them. I have used their model calculator many times in the past and never had an issue, so I didn't even bother to check the owner's manual. I have an 08 Honda FIT and a 94 miata. I bought tires for both, but the wheels were for the Honda.

  16. I think it's the ground effect lights that help the handling. As a fellow IT worker, I'm always slightly ashamed for my colleagues that write software that allows people to sell crap that doesn't fit.