Q: I was installing new mud flaps on my Ford 500 today and noticed my 4-year-old Michelin tires are showing signs of cracking. These tires only have about 30,000 miles on them and have plenty of tread life remaining. That said, how concerned should I be about these cracks? I do not see any deep cracks or cracks near the rim of the tire, only surface cracks at the corners or edge of the tire. The car is serviced at the dealer, and they have not mentioned anything to me when doing oil and rotation service. We do a lot of highway driving with this car in the summer, and we will be going to Philadelphia with it when my son starts school in the fall.
A: I would be very concerned. When you see tire cracking, this is a result of a tire ingredient such as oil or glue breaking down. Tires, like a loaf of bread, have a shelf life. The average tire expires at around 6 years. Factor in the average driver that does between 10 and 12,000 miles a year. So, after five years, the tire has between 50,000 and 60,000 miles. That is usually right around the end of the wear expectancy of the tire. So, in those cases, the wear and the cracking are happening simultaneously, and there is no need to get warranty service on those tires. A consumer must be very careful when purchasing tires concerning the date code stamped on the side of the tire. I would never purchase a tire new that is past one year of the manufacturer’s date of manufacture. If you purchased the Michelins, then you may want to go back to the selling facility and see if they will give you a partial refund toward a new set of tires.
Q: I have a 2004 GMC Envoy SLT, and a month ago, following an oil change at the dealership, the oil gauge indicator did not work. Three to five days later, the speedometer stopped working. At the same time, three buttons on my Bose radio did not light up. I brought the car into a local automotive shop; he didn’t have time to diagnose and told me he thinks GM has had problems with the “cluster.” I am a 63-year-old single woman and would like some advice on where the best place is to have this fixed. Dealership? Or find a reputable auto service shop? I have had men in the family say it may be electrical, or something else. I would very much appreciate your response.