New Tires feels like I'm sliding and swaying

Hello all-I own a 2010 Ford Focus (compact sedan) and had to purchase a set of new tires. I went to a retail chain store that I’ve never been to before. The salesman suggests a set of 195/60R15 Trazanos for $304.68. I drive home on a side street about 5 minutes away. Seems fine. The next morning I enter the expressway and there is a slight curve to right when entering, the car begins to feel like it’s sliding almost like on ice (yet it’s 75 degrees out). I begin to accelerate, my car begins to sway and slide. It felt like I was fishtailing all over the place. It scared me enough to pull of the expressway. I immediately go to the place that I purchased them. They look at them and tell me that I should have had “H” rated tires put on it. He says my previous tires had a thicker side wall. So, they put a different set of “higher end” tires (195/60R15 Toyo Extensas) for the same price. I make the guy go out on the expressway with me to test it and it seems ok, but I didn’t get to try it on a curve at that point. On my way home, I still feel a slight slide on curves, but not like before. It’s windy today, so I will take it back out on the expressway tomorrow. Does this sound correct to anyone. I know nothing about tires, so they could be feeding me a line of b.s. Can it really take up to 500 miles for the tires to be “broken in”? My car drove perfectly fine before I had these tires put on. Any information would be highly appreciated :slight_smile:

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Have you considered the possibility that the lug nuts were not tightened properly when the first set of tires was installed, and that on the second attempt, they finally tightened them properly? Loose lug nuts and/or improper inflation pressures can lead to strange and dangerous handling conditions.

I am going to begin with the assumption that you did not check the tightness of the lug nuts, and that you did not verify that the tires were inflated properly. If my assumption is wrong, please feel free to correct me.

In any event, before you set off on your next drive, I strongly suggest that you check the lug nuts and the inflation pressure of your tires, and compare the pressure that you find to the pressures listed on the placard on the driver’s door jamb. They must be inflated to at least the same pressure that is listed on the placard, or…perhaps…to 3 or 4 lbs more than the listed pressure. They should never be at a lower pressure than is listed, nor should they ever be inflated to the pressure shown on the tire’s sidewall.

Also, we need to know if these new tires are the same size as the original ones. You can check the Owner’s Manual for this specification if you don’t recall the size of the original tires.

Please check all of these things, and then report back with your findings.

If the tires were grossly overinflated, especially with the rears more than the fronts, I could see this effect happening.

For what it’s worth, if I’m happy with the OEM tires, I usually try to stick with them instead of switching to different tires and hoping I like them as much.

Perhaps CapriRacer, a member here who knows a lot about tires, will be along to make some comments.

The description is quite dramatic and it is impossible to interpret just how bizarre the vehicle handled but if it was truly difficult to control I would also guess that the lug nuts were likely loose. It is very unlikely that tires with a lesser speed rating would have any noticeable affect in “normal” driving conditions.

Can it really take up to 500 miles for the tires to be "broken in"?

WHAT?? No.
You may need a bit of time to get used to them as they may feel a bit different than what you had but no new tire on this planet should do what you describe.
They screwed up, as the other guys here already mentioned. Get a pressure gauge and check them.

I’m glad to see that there is essentially universal agreement with my earlier post.
As Remco stated, “Get a pressure gauge and check them”, but I want to add that you can only do an accurate pressure check on your tires when they are “cold”, which means…before you have driven more than 3 miles. So, for most people, this means checking your tire pressure before you leave your driveway.

Buy a good-quality dial-type tire pressure gauge (whatever you do, DO NOT buy one with the Slime brand name, as they are typical junk merchandise from China), check them when they are cold, and then report back to us with the pressure specs from the car’s manufacturer, as well as the pressures that you found when you checked your tires.

Has anyone experienced extreme handling problems caused by improper inflation that was not visually obvious?

I wonder if the retail chain store inflated the tires to the maximum pressure on the sidewall of the tire instead of the proper pressure noted on the door pillar for the car. This would explain the behavior of the new tires. I would recommend you buy the gauge and be certain that the tires are inflated to what the manufacturer of your car recommends and not what the tire manufacturer states for the maximum pressure of the tire.

This is off of the TireRack website.

Breaking In Your Tires

Tires are comprised of many layers of rubber, steel and fabric. Due to these different components, your new tires require a break-in period to ensure that they deliver their normal ride quality and maximum performance. As tires are cured, a release lubricant is applied to prevent them from sticking in their mold. Some of the lubricant stays on the surface of your tires, reducing traction until it is worn away. Five hundred miles of easy acceleration, cornering and braking will allow the mold release lubricant to wear off, allowing the other tire components to begin working together. It is also important to note that your old tires probably had very little tread depth remaining when you felt it was time to replace them. As any autocrosser or racer who has tread rubber shaved off of his tires will tell you, low tread depth tires respond more quickly. Don’t be surprised if your new tires are a little slower to respond (even if you use the exact same tire as before). Their new, full depth brings with it a little more tread squirm until they wear down.

NOTE: Be careful whenever you explore the capabilities of your new tires. Remember that every tire requires a break-in period of 500 miles for optimum performance.

I’m having a hard time seeing any mold lubricant being the cause of the problem and tend to agree with VDCdriver that someone dropped the ball on inflation pressures and/or lug nuts.

A quick look shows that the gentleman in charge of the race tire division at Pirelli states that mold lube is not used much anymore and that when it is used it’s for one area and one purpose.
It’s used on the sidewall area of the mold, not the tread area, and it’s done to preserve the integrity of the mold serial, size, and type of tire, etc. because those numbers should remain clear and the sidewall should remain as smooth as possible for sales appearance sake.
This mold lube is also apparently water based so it should not be an issue.

If mold lube was a problem then it would seem to me in a litigation heavy society that every tire vendor would have a large warning sign posted, there would be a warning notation on every receipt, and the tire makers themselves would be all over this issue. Otherwise, countless thousands of cars with new tires would be careeing out of control all over the place and lawsuits would be stacked to the ceiling.
Just my 2 cents anyway.

While I usually agree with tirerack, I have NEVER had to ‘break in’ any tires. Ever. So

  1. Make sure lug nuts are properly tightened
  2. Make sure tires are properly inflated
  3. Next time, don’t buy off-brand tires. I’d much rather buy Michelins at Sam’s Club.

When you suddenly go from near bald tires to tires with a thick tread, there will be quite a difference in the way the car handles…The thick tread flexes and squirms a little so the “on rails” driving feel is lost…You will quickly get used to it. I suspect you drive aggressively if you noticed a pronounced difference…As for mold release agent, that will wear off during the first 5 minutes of driving…

The “Turanza’s” the tire shop put on ONLY come in an H speed rating and cost about $100 apiece, unmounted, at the discounters so your $302 for 4 was a very low price. The “Toyo Extensa” tires are NOT H rated for speed. They are T speed rated and sell for $64 each. $302 installed would be a good deal but not the very low price on the Turanzas. My conclusion from this is the tire store dumped some very old, age-hardened tires they had laying around onto your car. When you complained, they replaced them with newer tires that they sold you at a reasonable price. They took a risk and were forced to eat the labor to mount and balance a new set for the 2nd time. Don’t go back to this store.

The OP stated that he was sold “Trazanos”, not Turanzas.
Believe it or not, there is a tire brand by the name of Trazano, and it appears that they are manufactured in Belgium.

I have never seen any tests of this brand of tire, so I have no idea of how they would compare with better-known brands. Perhaps in the future we will know more about this brand. In the meantime, take a look at:

I don’t see where an H rated tire would be necessary on a Focus. It is just a speed rating, and it is beyond any speed you’re gonna hit in a Focus. T rated tires would do just as well and wouldn’t affect the handling. I’m with those who say the lug nuts were loose and/or the inflation pressure was wrong.

There are 10,000 “brands” of tires. Most of them are made by 20 huge multinational tire companies…It’s all shelf-space and shelf-life…

VDCDriver- Thanks for the catch. I’ve never heard of this brand, I assumed the OP misspelled Turanza. Even so, the Trazano tires also don’t come in anything but an H rated tire in the OP’s size. At least the price, $55 each, moves the dealer away from dumping old stock on the OP. The tire dealer still lied to the OP about the speed rating. You don’t need H rated tires on the car but Ford put them on for liability reasons. The lesson here is to learn to check 3 things, 1) the tire pressure, 2) the lug nut tightness and 3) read the date code on the tire sidewall. Tires harden with age even if they aren’t mounted on a car. The harder they are, the less traction they will give, especially in the wet whether there’s plenty of tread or not.

Here’s the real reason for what you’re feeling. It’s called ‘Tramlining’ and I think you’ll find it only happens on concrete roads with grooves in the road surface which are in the direction of travel. It’s more pronounced with high performance tires, and will increase if your tires are over-inflated. You’ll find a lot more info at Tire Rack:
Hope this helps - main thing to note is that it’s caused by interaction between a grooved road surface and your stiffer tires, which feels strange but is nothing to worry about. When it occurs, always drive with 2 hands for best control! You can resolve it by selecting an all-season tire with lower cornering performance.

It seems that Trazano is actually headquarterd in Los Angeles. It looks like they don’t even manufacture tires. From their web site:

“We searched the world over and selected factories that produce the highest quality at the lowest prices FOR YOU.”

From this quote, I suspect that they have tires manufactured to their specifications and sell them in the USA, and apparently Europe, too. They don’t have any resellers near Baltimore, but there are a lot of them in SoCal. BTW, I don’t think this business model is necessarily bad. Visio specifies televisions and has them built overseas, and they are a well-respected brand. Apple has all their hardware built in Asia. IBM PCs were built in China until they stopped importing them. But Lenovo started exporting what were IBM PCs, and their Think Pad line is still top flight.

Wow I’m glad to see I’m not the only one I have a Ford F250 7.3 power stroke. I really wanna take good care of this truck so I went out about new tires 1st time in my life I’ve ever bought brand new tires. All terrain 10 ply Michelin tires. I also had the brakes done and the bearings repacked. Now it feels like my truck is slipping or going to slide off the road. It’s not even wet or icy. It’s summer time. Did you ever figure out what the issue was with your vehicle?