CarTalk.com Best of Deals Car Reviews Repair Shops Cars A-Z Radio Show

Shuddering Honda Element on Wet Pavement

Whenever I am on wet pavement, and even on a slight incline, my Honda Element shudders a bit before grabbing the pavement. I have the original tires that came with the - used - car, which I bought three years ago. It’s not a big problem, but is a slight irritant. Is it a problem with the tires or something more serious?

It certainly sounds like the tires no longer have good traction, and it is possible that you are feeling the action of the electronic traction control system kicking in. However, electronic traction control is not an adequate substitute for tires with inherently good traction.

You didn’t reveal any of the pertinent details, such as…the age of those tires, how much tread remains on them (measured in 32nds of an inch), and the make and model of the tires, but you should be aware that tires lose their traction on a continuum as the tread wears, and it is not a case of traction remaining good until the tread is totally worn-away. Additionally, rubber hardens as it ages, so even when tire treads are not badly worn, it is possible to have a severe loss of traction as a result of hardened rubber on old tires.

Whenever there is a question about the safety of your tires, it behooves you to replace them. If you think about it, the relatively small area of roadway that is contacted by each tire is all that stands between you and a skid.

Thank you very much for your measured, considerate, and prompt response. So, it’s the tires, and not anything more serious? They’re Yokohama tires that were new (I presume) when I bought the used car three years ago. To whom would recommend I turn for replacing the tires? Needless to write, the less expensive, the better. I’m sorry I don’t have more information: I drive a Honda motor scooter most of the year, and this car merely gets me to work and home every day.

In order to find the best tires for your usage, you should use the Tire Selection Guide on the website of Tire Rack. Even if you don’t buy from them, the information on their site will help guide you to tires that meet all of your parameters. The tire ratings in Consumer Reports are also very helpful.

As to where you should buy your tires, you need to shop-around in your area–and your area is just as much of an unknown to us as is the amount of actual tread wear on your tires. When comparing prices, be sure to ask for the “out the door” total, including mounting, balancing, new valves, and re-setting of the TPMS.

I am an adherent of buying tires from Costco, as it is very difficult to beat their price for premium-quality tires. However, it seems that you want tires that are cheaper than those that are “premium” grade. Therefore, using the Tire Rack website for information and then doing a lot of comparison shopping in your area will likely yield the best value for you.

Edited to add:
By law, the country of manufacture must be listed on the sidewall of tires, so you really need to look for that detail on tires when you are shopping. The information may not be prominent, but it is there if you look carefully. If you value your safety, and the safety of your passengers, I urge you to NOT buy tires that were manufactured in China!

+1 to VDC’s comments. Tires are not something you want to cheap out on. www.tirerack.com is a good place to start comparing tires. The site includes consumer reviews and testing of tires.

A few weeks ago VDC started a thread about counterfeit tires.

http://community.cartalk.com/discussion/2301307/counterfeit-tires/p1

It would be best to avoid off-brand/no name tires and stick with the major brands.

Earlier this year my 2010 Cobalt had a rear tire blow out at 65 mph due to road debris while my daughter was driving to school. Fortunately she maintained control and the only damage was a shredded tire. I decided to replace all four OEM tires even though they only had 30k miles at the time. The tire performance started deteriorating at the 20-25k mark.

I replaced them with Goodyear Assurance Comfortred tires. After the double rebate ($160) for applying for and using a Goodyear credit to pay for the tires, the price was reasonable. In additional, the first year payments were interest free. I believe the offer is still current. The Goodyears are a big improvement over the OEM Continentals under all conditions.

Ed B.

Needless to write, the less expensive, the better.

It’s been my experience that in fact the opposite is true, that the less expensive the tire is the worse it is.

Also, I think the problem may be a bit more than a slight irritant. If you have trouble starting on wet pavement, you may also have trouble stopping. That will be more of an issue, if for example a kid runs out in front of you or traffic screeches to a halt.

Where do you live? What makes a tire good in Southern California is exactly what makes a tire bad in Northern Minnesota.

If the OP is uncertain about the tires on the 4 wheeler they should have the scooter tires looked at also. Talk about small surface contact.

A lot of good points in this thread. ASE made a particularly good point about considering your driving environment.

I like tirerack and 1010tires sites for their consumer feedback sections. I like too that I can sort by brand. type, etc.

I do have to say that I believe the relationship between cost and quality is overrated. In my experience, there are a number of brand-name tires that are as good as and even better than Michelins, and Pirellis are highly overrated for street use. IMHO Michelin is living largely off their reputation from many, many years ago when they were the first to successfully mass-market radials in the U.S. When I was young, if you wanted a radial ply tire, you pretty much had to get Michelins. In years past I’ve had a couple of vehicles on which I tried both Michelins and BF Goodrich, and the BF Goodys were better in all respects.

Take penny, and place it up-side-down in the tread of the tire. If you can see the top Lincolns’ head the tires are worn.

Tester

There’s a lot of good advice about tires above.

One other thing to check is lubrication in the differential(s) especially if your Element is AWD. AWD vehicles have very specific needs for timeliness and specifications for draining and refilling the diffs.