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Thread: What can you do to make the car you currently have a bit more comfortable?

  1. #1
    Vulture of The Western World Eric's Avatar
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    What can you do to make the car you currently have a bit more comfortable?



    * Tire swap

    If your car originally came equipped with high-speed/high-performance tires, switching over to less aggressive all-season tires can noticeably soften the ride - as well as reduce tire/road noise as you drive. Another upside to a swap of this kind is that, generally, standard all-season tires cost less than high-performance/high-speed tires - and last longer, too (due to the different tread designs and softer compounds used in high-performance tires, etc.). As far as downsides: You may notice the car's steering responsiveness is not as sharp as it was before - but the difference should be minimal. Under normal driving conditions, you probably won't even notice it. Absolute braking distances under emergency/panic braking may increase a bit, too. (Because all-season tires don't offer as much "at the limit" traction as performance tires, etc.)

    The other change will be that you car is no longer equipped to safely handle continuous driving at speeds in excess of 100 mph. But as you can probably see, this is not much of an issue for most of us. In Europe and other areas where it is legal to drive that fast, high-speed rated tires are a necessity. In the United States - where the maximum lawful highway speed (in Texas) is 80 mph - tires rated for safe use at continuous speeds well in excess of 100 mph are much less an issue.

    The key word here is "continuous." It's perfectly safe to briefly accelerate to 80, 90, even 100 mph with virtually any modern radial tire. Speed ratings come into play when the tire will be subjected to continuous driving at a given speed - for example, an H-rated tire is designed for safe travel at continuous speeds up to 130 mph.

    Also, you may be able to get a noticeable improvement in ride quality "on the cheap" by simply reducing the air pressure in the tires you currently have to the minimum recommended PSI. (See your owner's manual for information about this.) Don't go below the recommended lowest PSI, however. Under-inflated tires can be dangerous and will wear faster than they otherwise would. However, it's ok to run 32 PSI (as an example) in a tire with a maximum cold inflation pressure of 35 PSI.

    A good tire shop can give you specific advice about tires for your specific vehicle.

    * Shocks/struts.

    It is sometimes possible to install shocks/struts designed to optimize smoothness/ride quality as replacements for the shocks/struts that came with the vehicle originally. As with switching to a less aggressive, all-season tire, the downsides might include decreased "at the limit" cornering ability and a softening of the car's responsiveness to your steering inputs. But if your goal is a softer ride - and you don't drive the car hard - it's an exchange you may be more than willing to make. And you probably won't even notice the slight blunting of your car's reflexes, which won't be apparent under normal driving.

    Some late model cars also come with automatic suspension systems, or have "ride settings" that can be adjusted from "normal" to "firm" to "sport" simply by turning a knob on the dashboard. If your vehicle has such a system, keeping the selector on "normal" can often provide a dramatic improvement in ride quality while still leaving you with the ability to revert over to "firm" or "sport" whenever you'd like more aggressive suspension calibrations.

  2. #2
    Senior Member Mase's Avatar
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    Re: What can you do to make the car you currently have a bit more comfortable?

    The first time I read the owners manual for my 1990 Jaguar XJ6 Sovereign, I had to grin when it discussed tire pressure requirements for continuous use in excess of 100 mph. <G>
    A man's greatest mistake is to think he is working for somebody else.

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    Vulture of The Western World Eric's Avatar
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    Re: What can you do to make the car you currently have a bit more comfortable?

    Quote Originally Posted by Mase
    The first time I read the owners manual for my 1990 Jaguar XJ6 Sovereign, I had to grin when it discussed tire pressure requirements for continuous use in excess of 100 mph. <G>
    Indeed!

    With appropriate caveats, no doubt about "where permissible"!

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    Re: What can you do to make the car you currently have a bit more comfortable?

    I believe that some of these suggestions might have a negative impact on traffic safety, although I have considered switching to a less agressive tire for mileage reasons. Since the mileage may not be all that noticable, I will likely stay with H-rated tires. I think that these are the safest types of tires for any automobile. No moderncar should come with less than H rated rubber.

  5. #5
    Vulture of The Western World Eric's Avatar
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    Re: What can you do to make the car you currently have a bit more comfortable?

    Quote Originally Posted by swamprat
    I believe that some of these suggestions might have a negative impact on traffic safety, although I have considered switching to a less agressive tire for mileage reasons. Since the mileage may not be all that noticable, I will likely stay with H-rated tires. I think that these are the safest types of tires for any automobile. No moderncar should come with less than H rated rubber.
    Why?

    H rated means safe for sustained travel up to 130 mph. Who (honestly now) needs that - outside of the ranks of guys like us? The average driver rarely, if ever, exceeds 100 mph - and when he does, it's only for a few brief moments.

    The OEMs fit many new cars with lower-speed tires and there have been no problems that I'm aware of resulting from the absence of an H-speed rating...

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    Re: What can you do to make the car you currently have a bit more comfortable?

    Quote Originally Posted by Eric
    Quote Originally Posted by swamprat
    I believe that some of these suggestions might have a negative impact on traffic safety, although I have considered switching to a less agressive tire for mileage reasons. Since the mileage may not be all that noticable, I will likely stay with H-rated tires. I think that these are the safest types of tires for any automobile. No moderncar should come with less than H rated rubber.
    Why?

    H rated means safe for sustained travel up to 130 mph. Who (honestly now) needs that - outside of the ranks of guys like us? The average driver rarely, if ever, exceeds 100 mph - and when he does, it's only for a few brief moments.

    The OEMs fit many new cars with lower-speed tires and there have been no problems that I'm aware of resulting from the absence of an H-speed rating...
    That's true, but speed rating is indicative of handling qualities as you indirectly mentioned in your prior post. Steering response is one of those things that should never be compromised. Good steering response comes with a higher speed rated tire. H rated tires respond more consistently with driver input as well. That benefits all drivers. I have seen some crappy tires at those stores that I wouldn't put on a wheel barrow. Even if you don't go over 70 mph, you still benefit from the higher speed rated tires. I actually think it is a crime that GM and others have electronically limited their top end just to put cheap rubber on their cars.

  7. #7
    Senior Member misterdecibel's Avatar
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    Re: What can you do to make the car you currently have a bit more comfortable?

    Quote Originally Posted by swamprat
    [
    That's true, but speed rating is indicative of handling qualities as you indirectly mentioned in your prior post. Steering response is one of those things that should never be compromised. Good steering response comes with a higher speed rated tire. H rated tires respond more consistently with driver input as well. That benefits all drivers. I have seen some crappy tires at those stores that I wouldn't put on a wheel barrow. Even if you don't go over 70 mph, you still benefit from the higher speed rated tires. I actually think it is a crime that GM and others have electronically limited their top end just to put cheap rubber on their cars.
    I don't think the handling advantage is inherent in high speed ratings, it's just that that's how the engineering resources are allocated. Tires are made for a target application, and the tire companies assume that a driver who wants to go fast is going to be more concerned about handling than the average punter. Therefore the non-rated and low-rated tires are made for a soft ride, targeted at people who don't really care about cars other than as a transport appliance.


    I tend to think that this whole thread is addressed to people who made poor automotive purchasing decisions in the first place. I don't find the concept of advice on how to ruin the performance of a performance-oriented car to be useful at all.

  8. #8
    mrblanche
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    Re: What can you do to make the car you currently have a bit more comfortable?

    Actually, if I recall all the stuff I've read about tires correctly, H rating has more to do with heat resistance than handling. In fact, a lower-rated tire will almost certainly be softer and better-handling.

  9. #9
    Vulture of The Western World Eric's Avatar
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    Re: What can you do to make the car you currently have a bit more comfortable?


    "That's true, but speed rating is indicative of handling qualities as you indirectly mentioned in your prior post. Steering response is one of those things that should never be compromised. "

    But, again, is this an issue for the average car driven by the average driver? In terms of OE-type, non-speed-rated all-season tires? I don't believe so. What you are talking about is a tire designed to offer much higher levels of grip during aggressive cornering, braking, etc. than the average driver in the average car will ever experience - and thus, doesn't need. This is why most average cars come with non-speed-rated, all-season tires with speed ratings far below the "H" standard.

    Bear in mind, also, that today's "average" all-season, non-speed-rated tire is much better, in terms of construction/durability, resistance to heat fatigue, etc. than its equivalent of 20 years ago... so the bar has been raised across the board.

    I have BFG Radial T/A tires on my Trans-Am. These are rated for 112 mph, I think. Definitely not "H" rated. They are basically an all-season radial with white lettering. They're fine for the driving I do in this car. I once in a blue moon run the car past the century mark - but only very briefly. I do not push the car aggressively in corners - it's a 31-year-old antique.

    For this kind of normal driving, these tires are perfectly safe - and sufficient. H-rated, low-aspect ratio tires would be a waste of money - onthis car, given how I drive it.

    That would be true of the typical Camry driver, too - certainly the typical Corolla driver!



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    Re: What can you do to make the car you currently have a bit more comfortable?

    There is one cheap thing you can do as well. Vacuum the thing out. Clean the interior with "Tuff Stuff" and the windows with a streak proof window cleaner (I use Castle Products). Cleaning a car makes it ride better as well.

  11. #11
    Senior Member misterdecibel's Avatar
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    Re: What can you do to make the car you currently have a bit more comfortable?

    Quote Originally Posted by swamprat
    There is one cheap thing you can do as well. Vacuum the thing out. Clean the interior with "Tuff Stuff" and the windows with a streak proof window cleaner (I use Castle Products). Cleaning a car makes it ride better as well.
    And used newspapers to clean the windows.

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