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Corvette - An American Dream: Sep 14, 2008

Sunday, September 14, 2008


I mentioned yesterday that I wanted to tell you a little of what I learned about tires recently. I actually learned this on one of my favorite websites related to Corvettes (other than this one, of course).

Before buying my Corvette I spent a lot of time on a website called the Corvette Forum. If you have an interest in Vettes, this site is fabulous. You can find someone on there who can answer any question you can come up with. The address is It's free, and it's one of the most valuable resources related to Corvettes that I've found.

One of the things I learned was that all C5 Corvettes came from the factory wearing Goodyear Eagle F1 Run Flat tires. Now, if you're not familiar with run flat tires, here is a little info. These tires are designed to maintain their profile even with zero air pressure. They have a stiff sidewall with a steel reinforcement that helps maintain the shape. Goodyear rates them as capable of being driven 200 miles at speeds below 50 mph — with no pressure. Hence the name. And it's actually a good thing they developed them because C5 Corvettes have no jack and no spare, and no place to store either one.

These are actually excellent tires. However, as they age, the rubber becomes harder, more brittle, and more likely to fail. In addition, the older they get, the noisier they become on the highway. Most Corvette owners who are running these tires will tell you they are very noisy and hard-riding. That's the price you have to pay if you want to run the Goodyears. There is an additional price of about $400 each that you'll have to pay if you want to buy them.

Three of my tires were original. The left rear had been replaced. How do I know? By the date code that's stamped on them. But we'll get back to that in a little bit. With only 23,000 miles of use, my Goodyears still had about half the original tread left. So, from a tread standpoint, the tires were fine. However, I learned something else from the experts at Corvette Forum. From an age perspective, at eight years old they were overdue to be replaced. The DOT recommends replacing tires at six years, regardless of tread. So, it was time.

With the decision made to replace the tires, the next question was what tires to buy. Back to the Corvette Forum I went to pick the brains of the experts. There seemed to be a majority of Vette owners that preferred the Michelin Pilot Sports over the Goodyear Eagles. To make a long story shorter, I ended up with Michelin Pilot Sport Run Flat tires. I'm very happy with them so far. They are much quieter than the Goodyears and the ride is softer. I can actually hear the deep sound of my Corsa exhaust. Plus, the set of four ran about $500 less than the Goodyears.

Bottom line: Four new tires, mounting, balancing, alignment of all four wheels totaled $1,112. Plus I have a $60 rebate coming from Michelin.

Now, I mentioned earlier that my left rear tire had been replaced. No one told me this, but after learning how to tell the age of a tire, it was a fairly easy deduction. If you look at the sidewall of your tires you will see a lot of writing. What you're looking for are the letters "DOT" It will be in type that's about a quarter inch in height. When you find the DOT letters you will find several letters and numbers following them. The last four numbers in that string will provide the info you need to determine the age of your tires. But it's in code, sort of. The first two numbers are the week of the year, and the last two numbers are the year.

Let me explain it using my tires as an example. Three of my tires had 3200 stamped on them. The left rear had 1202. That means three of the tires were manufactured the 32nd week of 2000. This would be accurate for original equipment because my car was assembled on August 28th of 2000. However, the left rear tire was manufactured the 12th week of 2002, which means that tire wasn't even existing when my car was built. Here's a website with a nice photo to show you what I'm talking about.

Finally, when I purchased my Michelins I was armed with this information and instructed the dealer not to bring me any tires that had been sitting around for a year or more. I was pleased when they arrived and I checked the date code. They were a week old, and they all had the same date code on them.

And that's pretty much all I can tell you about tires. Other than the fact that I took my car to McCarthy Chevrolet in Olathe, Kansas. They've been in business a long time, and they've learned how particular Vette owners are. They did a great job.

That's it for today. Tomorrow we'll talk about the heads up display. If you're not familiar with it, it's something you might want to hear about. And if I feel talkative, we'll go back in time a little and cover "the wave," which is something you have to know if own a Corvette, or if you plan on owning on in the future.