Archive for the ‘Tires and Wheels’ Category

So, everyone in the Grand Rapids Michigan area knows how great helium is – you know, party balloons, squeaky voices. But a lot of people around Grand Rapids still haven’t heard about the benefits of nitrogen in your tires, and how it can help your tires. Here’s some great advice from AutoNetTV, brought to you by Ervine’s Auto Repair.

Nitrogen has actually been around for a long time in the Grand Rapids Michigan commercial sector, but it’s just starting to catch on for private vehicles in the 49548 zip code area.

Why nitrogen in your tires? Air is air, right? Actually, it turns out there is a difference.

Contact Ervine’s Auto Repair to learn more about nitrogen in your tires
You can find us at:
4311 Stafford SW
Grand Rapids, Michigan 49548
Or call us at (616) 532-6600

The heart of the matter is maintaining proper tire inflation. When your tires are properly inflated, they last longer, handle better and more safely, and save you money at the gas pump.

The problem is that tires filled in Grand Rapids with regular air can lose a pound and a half of air pressure every month. This just happens as the oxygen in the tire seeps out. So if you don’t check your pressure for a month or two, well, you can be significantly low – low enough to actually affect your handling, shorten tire life and waste money at the fuel pump.

How does nitrogen help? Regular air contains about 78% nitrogen. Nitrogen is the largest molecule in air. It’s dry and non-flammable. Air also contains 21% oxygen, which is smaller and seeps out of the tire three to four times faster than nitrogen.

So, a tire filled with nitrogen at Ervine’s Auto Repair will take about six months to lose as much pressure as regular air does in just one month. So it’s more forgiving for those who don’t check their pressure every week.

Also, when oxygen is at higher temperatures – like those inside your tire when you’ve been driving for awhile – it oxidizes the inside of your tire. Getting the oxygen out of your tire means that it’ll last longer.

Who’s using nitrogen? Well, let’s start with NASCAR and Indy. These racers like nitrogen’s ability to maintain consistent tire pressure and reduce tire temperatures under very demanding conditions. The US government requires all commercial aircraft to have nitrogen in their tires. NASA and the US Military use nitrogen. The mining industry has been filling those “humongous” tires with nitrogen for years. And semi trucks and trailers are starting to use nitrogen extensively.

You may have heard some detractors of nitrogen. But the studies and white papers from tire and vehicle manufacturers demonstrate that the technology really works.

In fact, a prominent consumer research group did a study where they filled some tires with air and some with nitrogen and stacked them outside for a year. They observed that the nitrogen filled tires did hold their pressure better, but they couldn’t see the economic benefit. But that particular test has very little to do with the real world. Most tires are actually holding up cars and they also get driven around and do a lot of work. So if nitrogen helps them last longer, saves gas and gives safer handling, it’s worth considering.

Learn more about nitrogen in your tires by watching our attached auto tips video from AutoNetTV.

0 commentsMarch 12, 2013

So you love our job, and your family life is great: You have achieved balance. But can you the same for your wheels? You can tell if your tires are out of balance by vibrations at higher speeds. If one of the front tires is out, you feel the vibration in the steering wheel. If it’s a back tire, you’ll feel the vibration in your seat.

Tires and wheels are pretty heavy. When a tire is mounted on a wheel, it is usually not perfectly balanced. So the tire technician will spin the tire on a machine to determine where it’s too heavy. He will then place weights on the wheels in strategic locations to balance it out. When a tire is out of balance, it actually bounces down the road instead of rolling smoothly. Since the average size tire rotates at about 850 revolutions per minute at 60 MPH, it is actually slamming into the pavement 14 times a second. That’s where you get your vibration.

Most people are surprised at how smoothly their car rides after balancing all four wheels.

Most high-quality tires hold their balance pretty well. They just get out of balance gradually with normal wear and tear. If you suddenly feel a vibration, it is probably because you lost a wheel balancing weight along the way. Definitely get a balance if you feel a vibration, change your rims or have a flat repaired. Putting off a needed balance job leads to excessive tire wear, wear to your shocks, struts, steering and suspension parts. wheel balancing not only improves your ride and handling, but also can save you some big repair bills and possibly an accident. Additionally, you will get better gas mileage.

Some people have their tires balanced at every rotation. Others do it every other time. Check your owners’ manual for your requirements, or ask your technician. Doing thus will put you on the path to mechanical wheel balance


All new passenger vehicles on our Grand Rapids Michigan roads now have tire pressure monitoring systemsTPMS for short. They are designed to alert you if your tires are under inflated. Since they are fairly new, a lot of people have questions about TPMS.

First off, the most important thing is that you still need to check your tire pressure every week – or at least every time you gas up. The TPMS system alert comes in when your tire is twenty percent below the factory recommendation. So if the recommended pressure is thirty five pounds per square inch, the TPMS warning won’t come on until the pressure is at twenty eight pounds. That’s significantly under-inflated. Enough to raise safety concerns.

The worst is tire failure. A severely under inflated tire can overheat and fail. Also, handling degrades to the point that you may not be able to steer out of trouble. Also under-inflated tires wear out faster and they waste fuel. So it’s costly to not stay on top of proper inflation.

What’s the practical value of the TPMS system? Well, it’s twofold. First, it can alert you when your tire is losing pressure due to a puncture or a bent rim. That’s an important warning that you might not have gotten until next time you gassed up.

The second is that we all occasionally forget to check our tire pressure. So it’s a failsafe system to let you know there’s a problem brewing.

Other things can cause your TPMS system to go off. The system also monitors itself. The sensors that are mounted in the wheels have little batteries that send a signal to the monitor. The batteries go dead over time and the TPMS system will let you know. And the sensors could break. Also road salt from our Grand Rapids Michigan roads can ruin them.

There’s also a hassle factor that your Grand Rapids Michigan tire center has to contend with. For example, when you have your tires rotated in Grand Rapids, the TPMS system has to be re-calibrated so that it knows which tire is on which corner of the car. Same is true for when you have new tires or winter tires installed. Flat repairs, as well.

That takes extra time. And it requires the right equipment and training. Special – and expensive – tire change machines need to be used with some sensors. It’s all complicated by the fact that there are a number of different TPMS systems in use so the tire professionals at Ervine’s Auto Repair need equipment and training for each kind. Tire centers have had to raise the price of some of these basic services to offset their increased costs.

Also if you add custom wheels on your sedan, you need to put in new TPMS sensors if your originals won’t work on the new rims. If you don’t your TPMS light will be on constantly and you won’t have the benefit of the warning system.

All in all, the mandated TPMS systems will save lives, so they’re worth the added hassle and expense.

Everyone in the Grand Rapids area wants our tires to last as long as possible. Two ways to maximize tire life are wheel balancing and tire rotation.

When wheels are out of balance, they wobble a bit. That makes the tires wear in a cupping pattern. And they vibrate. To fix this, your service technician at Ervine’s Auto Repair puts weights on your wheels to balance them out. If a front wheel is out of balance you’ll feel it in the steering wheel. If it’s a rear wheel you’ll feel it through your seat.

That brings us to tire rotation. The front tires on a car wear out more quickly than the rear tires. As they push through turns from Grand Rapids to Byron Center, the shoulders of the front tires wear down. So rotating front and rear tires allows them to all wear at about the same rate over the life of the tire.

Proper tire inflation will also help your tires last longer. Under-inflated tires wear excessively on the shoulder and may even overheat. This could cause tire damage or a blow out. Over-inflated tires wear to fast in the middle.

Four wheel drive trucks and SUV’s tend to wear their tires more unevenly so rotation is even more important with them. Give us a call to get our recommendation on your sedan.

See your owner’s manual or ask your service technician at Ervine’s Auto Repair for your recommended tire rotation schedule. It’s usually every 5,000 to 8,000 miles.

Tires cost a lot and they are one of the most critical safety components on your vehicle. Take care of them and they’ll take care of you.

Ervine’s Auto Repair
4311 Stafford SW
Grand Rapids, Michigan 49548
(616) 532-6600

We all know that under inflated tires wear out more quickly. Under-inflation is also a major cause of tire failure. More flats, blow outs, skids and longer stopping distances are all results of under-inflated tires.

It’s hard to tell when a radial tire is under-inflated. If your manufacturer recommends 35 pounds of pressure, your tire is considered significantly under inflated at 26 pounds. The tire may not look low until it gets below 20 pounds.

Uncle Sam to the rescue! A new federal law requires manufacturers to include a Tire Pressure Monitoring System – or TPMS system – in all vehicles by the 2008 model year.

Some 2006 and 2007 models already have TPMS. The system is a dashboard mounted warning light that goes off if one or more of the tires falls 25 % below the manufacturer’s pressure recommendations.

The law covers all passenger cars, SUVs, mini vans and pick up trucks. The system must also indicate if it has a malfunction. This technology has been used by race cars for years. They are able to head off problems from under inflation by closely monitoring tire pressure on the track. It’s up to your car’s manufacturer to determine which of many TPMS systems available they’ll use to comply with the law.

Obviously, all of this doesn’t come free. Government studies have estimated the net costs. Of course, the TPMS system itself will cost something. Maintaining the system will have a cost, replacement of worn or broken parts and tire repair cost increases. The net cost is estimated to be between $27 and $100.

The costs are partially offset by savings in fuel and tread wear. There is also a saving in property damage and travel delay. Also, the government predicts fewer fatal accidents. They estimate there will be between $3,000,000 to $9,000,000 for every life saved.

Your safety has always been a concern of your service center. They want you on the road and accident free. They’ve traditionally provided things like tire rotations, snow tire mounting and flat fixes at a very low cost. They’ve been able to quickly and cheaply provide the service, and they pass the low cost on to you as an expression of their good will. That’s why they’re concerned about how you’ll perceive the changes that this new law will force.

Every time a tire is changed: taken off to fix a flat, a new tire installed, or a snow tire mounted, the service technician is now going to have to deal with the TPMS system. Sensors will need to be removed and reinstalled. The sensors will have to be re-activated after the change. And, unfortunately, the very act of changing the tire will damage some sensor parts from time to time – it’s inevitable and can’t be avoided.

Even a simple tire rotation will require that the monitor be reprogrammed to the new location of each tire. When a car battery is disconnected, the TPMS system will need to be reprogrammed. TPMS sensor batteries will need to be changed and failed parts replaced.

And the service centers themselves will need to purchase new scanning equipment to work with the TPMS sensors and to update expensive tire change equipment to better service wheels equipped with the new monitoring systems.

Service technicians will have to be trained on many systems and new tire-changing techniques. All of this adds up to significantly increased cost to the service center to perform what was once a very inexpensive service for you. So when you start so see the cost of tire changes, flat repairs and rotations going up, please keep in mind that it’s because of government mandated safety equipment. Your service center just wants to keep you safely on the road – and it’s committed to do so at a fair price. The effects of the new law will take some time to sort out, but it will help you avoid the most common vehicle failure, and possibly a catastrophic accident.

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Ervine's, a Grand Rapids auto repair shop, provides a wide-range of car repair services from ASE Certified Master Technicians. In addition, we also offer free loaner cars, 24-hour automotive assistance, free Wi-Fi and Starbucks coffee while you wait in our comfortable lobby!

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    Awesome service!! They were extremely helpful and friendly! I loved how they were accommodating to the customers and being very organized with after hours drop-offs and pick-ups. They were also very quick with fixing my car which was great.

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    Ervine's has provided great service for me throughout my college years! They do their best to make time for customers and understand the importance and value in quality service. Would definitely recommend!

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    My car needed a lot of work and being relatively new to the area, I had to rely on online reviews. Ervine's got great feedback, so I made an appointment through their website. I was contacted almost immediately and scheduled very quickly. The repairs took a few days, but with the free loaner it was no big deal. They explained everything to me, helped me prioritize which repairs to do first, and Jamie even entertained my 5-year-old while I spent 10 minutes on the phone with my bank to get my payment to go through. I may have been able to find someplace a little cheaper, but you can't pay for the excellent customer service at Ervine's. The lobby is clean, has fresh coffee, and is very professional. As a woman I've been intimidated going into car shops but I never felt that way at Ervine's. I'll definitely be returning.

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    I had a great experience at Ervine's. I know very little about my car beyond turning it on, so I was relieved when the staff were willing to spend extra time explaining to me exactly what is going on and helping me to be an informed consumer. I also appreciated that they are not trying to sell something-- I did not actually need the repair that the dealership had told me to IMMEDIATELY deal with, and the folks at Ervine's were willing to tell me that when they could have made a buck doing the repair. The visit was so painless I even got to run errands while I was waiting using one of their fabulous loaner cars. Thank you so much!

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