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you & your car

2012 Audi A6

My service guy told me it is not necessary to rotate the tires on my Audi A6 because it has the Quattro all-wheel-drive system, which ensures the tires wear evenly. Sounds a bit suspicious to me. What do you think? – Howard

I agree with you and disagree with the "service" guy.

All-wheel-drive is a wonderful thing, but tire wear is not a related benefit. The front tires of any vehicle will wear more quickly than the rear for one simple reason – they work harder.

The front wheels have to provide the grip necessary for turning, they have to carry more than half of the weight of the vehicle and do up to 80 per cent of the braking as the weight of the vehicle transfers forward while stopping.

Rotate the tires to allow them to share the workload and even the wear. The one simple rule when rotating tires is to never change the direction of rotation. That means swapping front/rear tires on the same side.

You can change them from side to side if you dismount them from the wheel and turn them "inside out" for use on the other side. Many tires today are unidirectional, so be sure to watch for that.

Replacing seats

I just bought a used truck – a 1990 Ford F250. I hate the bench seat. I am used to buckets and want to replace the bench in the truck with a pair of buckets and maybe a centre console. Can you recommend a source?

Be careful here. You can not simply bolt in a different seat.

Seats are an integral part of a car's crash system. They have been developed in conjunction with testing to ensure occupant safety in the event of a crash – not only frontal, but involving side impact.

The forces generated by a crash are astronomical. For example, in a 50 km/h crash, a belted 160-pound occupant is thrown forward into the belts and subjected to between 20 and 30 g (force of gravity) depending on the amount of stretch built into the belts. That translates into 1.6 to 2.4 tonnes of weight! Imagine the forces acting on the seat mounting.

Depending on the age and equipment of your truck, the factory seats might also have sensors built into them that report whether the seat is occupied, how much the occupant weighs, where he or she is positioned relative to the belts and might even include portions of the belt system. These sensors work with the various belt and bag systems.

Even if you had the expertise to weld in different anchor points and the attendant set of tracks and mounts, you would have to deal with the belts and how they relate to the seat – critical in a crash.

If you still wish to pursue this, I suggest you contact reputable places like Recaro or Sparco, who manufacture seats for aftermarket use, principally in race cars. They are aware of crash forces and can provide seats and the related mounting systems and hardware. But be aware prices start at about $500 per seat, with mounts, and that does not include installation and the critical welding or bolting necessary to provide a method of securing the mount to the vehicle.

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