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Motormouth: Don’t worry about the tires

Q: I bought a 2020 Subaru Forester about three months ago. Falken tires came standard. Not knowing anything about this brand (I’m not sure if I had ever heard of this brand before), I stopped at an independent tire shop that sells Falken among other brands. When I asked about Falken, the immediate answer was “they’re not very good.” He also said they should be good for 40,000 miles. I found out later that there is no mileage warranty. For the last three months I have been worrying about having “not very good” tires. I haven’t lost any sleep, but I still worry. Should I be worrying?

W.N., Richfield, Minnesota

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A: To the best of my knowledge, Falken tires are fine. They come as original equipment on several brands of vehicles. They are popular in motorsports, especially for drifting and endurance races. The tires are not included in the new car warranty, but separately by the tire maker. The company says on its website that “Falken tires that are originally equipped on this vehicle are warranted against any defects in the materials and workmanship for the usable life of the original tread.”

Q: I have always maintained my cars and have taught my two daughters the importance of vehicle maintenance. One question they asked is how far can tire pressures be off from the recommended pressures and not affect safety or handling. If the recommended PSI is 35, is anywhere from 32-38 psi safe? Also, which type of tire gauge is the most reliable?

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S.S., Chicago

A: Since 2008, all passenger vehicles are required by law to have a tire pressure monitoring system. It will trigger a warning light whenever a tire is 25% below its recommended correct pressure. See your tire information sticker on the driver’s door post. Low pressure not only affects handling, but braking distance and wear. Unless they are old or mistreated, most gauges are reliable.

Q: What is the correct tire PSI that should be used: the one on the car door frame, which is 32 PSI, or the one on the sidewall of the tire, which says up to 44 PSI.

T.B., Cortland, Illinois

A: Always go by the sticker on the car. The figure on the tire is the maximum safe inflation pressure, not the correct inflation pressure.

Q: My last flat tire set a record for size at my tire dealer. I had been driving in farm country on a dirt road and acquired the piston rod from a tractor engine. The tractor must have thrown the rod and it somehow worked its way entirely into my rear left tire.

J.G., Bloomington, Illinois

A: We thought the flat tire issue had gone a bit flat. But we couldn’t pass up sharing your story. Now, we will really put this issue to bed.

Q: What is the best way to discourage mice from getting into cars stored for the winter? My stored car is clean, garaged and covered. I add some peppermint or Irish Spring soap in the engine compartment, yet some years I’ve seen evidence that I’ve had visitors although thankfully no damage.

P.C., Elmhurst, Illinois

A: Curiously, laundry dryer sheets reportedly keep critters away. Stuff some steel wool in the engine’s intake and the tailpipe, too, to prevent them from setting up house inside.

(c)2020 Chicago Tribune

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