We have a 2017 Ford Escape Titanium with the 19-inch wheel option, shod with factory Continentals. In winter, we run the Hakkapeliitta 9 studded on the base model Escape 17-inch factory wheels. The stock 19′s make turn-in and holding your line sketchy, and crossing pavement seams with super elevation changes kind of scary. I thought I was imagining it until my wife commented she sure liked how the car handled around town on the Hakkapeliitta’s. So it’s definitely not my imagination. Should I be selling the nice 19-inch wheels and buying some 17-inchers? I can’t believe buying the Escape Titanium 19-inch wheels would have an owner sacrifice handling for big-wheel glam. Has to be poor stock tires, right?
Susan and Grainger W., Revelstoke, B.C.
I believe most factory-installed tires are similar to the ink cartridges installed in your brand new $99 inkjet printer. They are only half full and not meant to go the distance. During pre-production vehicle-design periods, the manufacturer identifies all the parts of the vehicle that will be outsourced. Tires are one of those items. The tire-load and speed requirements for the vehicle in question are specified, and tire manufacturers bid for the contracts. You know the way it goes – it’s not about what’s best for the consumer, it’s about keeping production costs down, and tires are not exempt. Don’t sell your factory 19-inch wheels; research and replace the rubber with a better-quality tire.
I have a great little 2015 Toyota Corolla that I use as my winter car and a pristine 2007 Lexus SC 430 as my summer car. I find dealer prices for servicing very high and have had a local car clinic recommended by a friend. Given both cars are past warranty, what are the downsides of the local car clinic being used instead of the dealer?
Having been both a dealer technician and the local guy, I can understand the difficulty consumers experience. I don’t think it needs to be a difficult process, but for some, it is. Dealers are assumed to know everything, but they don’t hold a captive market in the tech skill-level department.
That being said, sometimes when a newer car has a complex problem and requires use of the latest factory scan tools for software updates, it just makes sense to return to the dealer. I know there are independent specialists for every brand, but it takes a couple of years for manufacturer information, tools and procedures to flow into the aftermarket world.
Both of your vehicles are older now, so I see no downside in looking for service outside of the dealer. Word of mouth is still my own preferred way of sourcing new clients, and you have done right in getting a referral from a friend. Test the water by starting with small repairs and building a relationship with the new shop. Most people are a better judge of character than they realize. Trust your instincts. If something doesn’t feel right, there is usually a reason. Fine choice in the Lexus by the way, Geoff.
Lou Trottier is owner-operator of All About Imports in Mississauga. Have a question about maintenance and repair? E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org, placing “Lou’s Garage” in the subject line.
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