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Old April 3rd, 2002, 09:46 AM   #1
Magic Mtn Dan
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Follow up on "Flipping Tires" - interesting stuff (long)...

Here's the question I originally posted:
I want to take my rear wheels/tires off, have the tires removed and then re-mounted on the opposite side's wheel (move the right rear tire to the left rear wheel and vice versa). The tires will still rotate in the same, "required" direction so I don't know why I can't/shoulnd't do this. If I do it I'll get more miles out of my tires.
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I got a lot of feedback - it's all interesting and I'd like to share it with you:
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This is from a Boxster owner who saw my post on the board:
Dan, if i were you i would not flip the tires. the steel belts in the radial tires tend to take a "set ". i would not feel safe trying to get the belts to take a new set. now if your miles are in town at safe speeds it may be ok. but if you take the car up to high speed when you can i would not take the chance.

Note: I asked where the information came from and here's his reply:
The info comes from my independent mechanic. I do however have a background in steel structural items. Think about it, the load is dynamic but the tire wears more on the inside due to the camber. The belts must have a "bias bulge" . In other words it keeps getting bent in the same manner. When you flip the tires you are working it in the opposite direction. It goes against "my grain" at least if i'm going to run up to triple digits.
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Here's some feedback from a BABBLER who is knowledgeable about technical stuff:
Dan, that was my first thought on this as well. Many years ago this was a significant "problem". Once a tire had run on a given side of the car it was not advised to swap them from side to side. I think technology has improved a little bit but I would guess that they still take a set. Basically, the belts get used to rotating a certain way.

The alternative view to this is that car makers still recommend rotating tires so long as it follows the prescribed pattern. The problem is that they never swap sides if they can avoid it. If it's not possible then the fronts usually go straight back while the rears go to the front and cross over. It all varies by maker.

What I'd suggest is you give Joe a call at CA to see what his take is on it. He's probably the most up to date on the subject.
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Here's some feedback from a BABBLER who has many hours of track time:
You're right. If you are careful to both "flip" (the tires on the rims) and "swap" (the wheels from one side to the other) the tires will still be rotating in the same direction. The only downside would be if the tires are not symmetrical, i.e. they have a tread pattern which is different on the inside versus the outside. In this case, you may slightly affect the ability of the tire to evacuate water.

But Custom Alignment also told me not to sweat changing the direction my race tires spin by swapping wheels from side to side. Just put the tires with more tread on the side which will get the most use (e.g. the right side when running at Thunderhill). The Kumho VictoRacers are certainly steel-belted radials, so I don't think that (the idea that the tires would "take a set") warning really applies to modern tires.
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This is some feedback from another BABBLER who also has LOTS of track time:
We track tire users "flip" our track tires constantly. No ill effects whatsoever there, and these are often worn all the way down on the outside with almost no tread wear on the inside, so it's a major flip, you might say. Track use generally puts tremendous wear on the outside, unless the car is lowered to dial in huge negative camber to even out the track wear.

Regarding street tires, my front S-02's are currently exhibiting what you have on the rears -- wear on the inside due to the negative camber. While I have never flipped street tires, I would think that if there is a negative consequence to flipping, it would be less important on street tires because they are not being pushed to the limits of adhesion. On the other hand, they are being driven more often and in bad weather, and have somewhat lower limits. But I don't grok this concept of the steel belts "taking a set" -- now that I think about it, it runs totally contrary to the idea of periodically rotating your tires, which is standard practice on 90% of the cars out there, unavailable to us only because we don't use same-size tires all around! It may be that "taking a set" is meaningful, or it may just be bogus folk wisdom.

In my own case, flipping the fronts might not be a good idea because the insides are really, really, worn out -- zero "depth" on the inside tread block or two -- and for all I know they can no longer be balanced (I already have a good bit of steering wheel shake at 70MPH), and I'm not sure if that worn edge would be real good to drive on if it were under cornering load on the outside. But it seems to me that if you catch the wear before it's too dramatic, then flipping ought to be just as valid as traditional rotating --
perhaps better because the direction of tire rotation doesn't even change! Certainly you'd find out soon if there was vibration due to balancing issues, and be able to undo it at little cost.
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And this is from someone in the tire industry, who works at a very well-known, huge tire company:
Dan, there should be nothing preventing you from rotating those tires to the other side of the vehicle. Increased negative camber can result in this uneven wear, and you may want to consider rotating them more often to keep the tires wearing more evenly if the alignment can't be corrected (or you don't want to correct it).


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Old April 3rd, 2002, 09:48 AM   #2
Magic Mtn Dan
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Based on that feedback, here's what I'm gonna do...

FLIP 'EM!

I'll get more miles out of my expensive tires that have plenty of tread left across most of the surface.


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Old April 3rd, 2002, 04:45 PM   #3
David in Belfast
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These tyres don't flip but may bite...

Taken from these weeks Auto Express (UK)
Wednesday 3rd April 2002

The Deadly Treat With Extra Bite

Part-worn tyres are a budget alternative for some motorists, but they could be harbouring a deadly secret killer mosquitoes.

This chilling warning comes from bug expert Prof Keith Snow of the University of East London. He said the insects, which spread deadly viruses, had been found in France and Belgium in tyres from Africa and the Far East.

A spokesman for the Tyre Industry Council told Auto Express: "The UK buys around four million part-worn tyres a year, mostly from Belgium and Germany, so it might be possible for some mosquitoes to find their way over here."

Tread carefully

Davd
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Old April 3rd, 2002, 05:09 PM   #4
John Brown of Northern Virginia
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Re: Follow up on "Flipping Tires" - interesting stuff (long)...

I've done this before & never experienced a problem, Dan. I'm talkin' street tires here. I haven't done it w/my Boxster, but I did it a couple of times on my old 944 while living in Germany & driving very fast for long periods of time on the Autobahns. No problems @ all.

John
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