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you & your car

A mechanic attaches a winter tire at a car in a Munich garage on October 24, 2012.MICHAELA REHLE/Reuters

I am the original owner of a 2003 Mazda Protege 5. Two springs ago, after using my first set of winter tires and switching back to my all-seasons, I noticed louder-than-normal road noise coming from the front when the car is in motion. My mechanic replaced the front wheel bearing (front driver side) and afterward, the noise was gone. This spring, after replacing my winter tires back to my all-seasons again, the noise has returned. My all-season tires are 195/50/16 and they are mounted on the stock 16-inch rims. My winter tires are 185/60R15s mounted on 15-inch aluminum wheels. I change the tires myself manually (using socket and tire wrenches) and hand-torque the lug nuts. Could my winter tires be the source of my problem? – Steve

The alternate tire has the proper diameter, so it may be that the wheel it is mounted on has the wrong offset – the distance from the surface of the hub to the centre-line of the wheel. This is a common cause of bearing stress and subsequent failure. Lay a flat object across the rear of the factory tire/wheel and measure the distance from where it touches the tire/wheel to the hub or point where it mounts on the hub. Do the same with your winter tire/wheel. If there is a big difference, that is probably your problem.

Tire storage

Is it safe to store tires on rims, in bags, standing upright down the side of our house (shaded)? – Rick

Note sure what you mean by safe. The proper way to store tires is laying flat, in airtight bags in a dark, cool area. At least put them on the shady side of the house.

Alignment issue

My 2000 Honda Odyssey is pulling to the right. I have tried everything: alignment, balancing, swapping the front tire, swapping the rear tire, swapping front to rear tire. None make any difference. What do I need to check next? – Albert

If a proper four-wheel alignment has been conducted, the air pressures checked, and the tires match – same size, manufacturer and model – I am stumped. If the van pulls on one direction when driving on a straight flat road, that would indicate a difference in tire size, commonly caused by a difference in pressure causing one tire to be bigger than the other. It could also be a sticking brake on one wheel causing pull in that direction. If it pulls when the brakes are applied, that would indicate a brake issue.

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