- The Washington Times - Friday, March 8, 2002

I cannot remember the last time I had to change a flat tire, let alone even have a tire problem.

Keep the inflation at its proper level and most tires remain obscure and are little trouble. This situation is getting better and better as high-tech innovations come to the tire manufacturing process.

It wasn't that long ago when tires just were fat round black things we had to deal with from time to time. In some cases they were quite unwelcome annoyances. Today, this is very different. Tires are lasting longer and in most cases lasting far longer than we keep our vehicles.

Many revolutionary techniques are incorporated into making our tires less burdensome. The Bridgestone/Firestone company is announcing the introduction of a couple new tires that are the result of development technology that gives their tires improved handling in both dry and wet conditions, even as the tire wears. These characteristics are contrary to outdated features used in other tires on the market.

By redesigning the composition, rethinking the manner with which they build tires, engineers have developed tires that perform nearly as well when they are worn to half the tread depth as they do when new. Shaving the tread of a tire down is an old racers' trick to improve handling on the racecourse. Even though it improved handling, this technique assured tires would wear out quickly, sometimes lasting no more than one race. Not something you want for your daily driving.

The Bridgestone Turanza LS tire, and to a lesser extent the Firestone Affinity, have been engineered to perform nearly as well in the rain as they do in dry conditions. Plus they also last longer than their previous adaptation.

The Firestone Affinity LH30 tire is the first mass-market H-rated (top speed rating) tire to be offered. As the company begins to rebuild itself, it introduces a speed-rated tire in an economical package. The Affinity LH30 will offer superior ride comfort from an affordable tire.

Bridgestone offers a wide array of tire sizes and performance ratings in the new Turanza LS tire, ranging to the highest-speed Z rating of over 149 miles per hour. This tire will most notably find its way onto cars that are either performance-oriented or aimed at the luxury market.

According to Phil Pasci, executive director of North American consumer tire brand marketing for Bridgestone, says Bridgestone has made a tire that offers a luxury ride that lasts. "This is a tire that also exhibits excellent wet and dry characteristics," he says.

Bridgestone accomplished this by developing a rubber compound that resists wear while retaining a soft resilience that holds the road and a tread pattern that routes water away from the tire, improving its wet-weather capabilities. This development also improves ride comfort by retaining the suppleness of a softer rubber compound without sacrificing that wear factor.

No matter what type or brand of tire you run on your vehicle, nothing can be more important than the three words of tire safety; inflate, rotate, evaluate. Check the inflation of all five of your tires, even the spare at least once a month. Rotate your tires during normal recommended maintenance schedules and evaluate the condition of your tire regularly. If you feel you do not have the time or if you feel you do not have the necessary expertise to do these checks, stop by your local tire dealer. Most are more than happy to help. This is also an excellent way to become acquainted with your tire dealer, in a nonselling situation.

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