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Since the outer tread on my right front tire is almost bald, I reckon it is time for a WHEEL ALIGNMENT (KUMHO tires suck, but that's another story).
My question: When I visit my mechanic, should I discuss CAMBER, CASTER, TOE and THRUST ANGLE angles? I am an aggressive driver who happens to run a paper route every morning with dozens of tight right (and left) hand turns. Is there a PERFORMANCE ALIGNMENT that would improve handling and tire life? My last 2 sets of KUMHO lasted less than 2 years and 18,000 miles.
After the alignment is corrected, I am thinking about buying a set of FALKEN ZIEX ZE-512 tires from DISCOUNT TIRE. Any thoughts on this brand?
Thanks for any guidance y'all can provide on both alignments and rubber!
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I got over 100,000 miles and 9 years out of the original factory tires on my 2002 Sebring Sedan. If you are getting lousy mileage out of your tires you probably need look no further than your confession about being an aggressive driver blasting your way through your paper route every morning.
You want to get the job done in a minimum amount of time. There's a price to be paid.
Ya, I am a tire squealer who fishtails around most corners on dry pavement. I tried a bicycle to preserve the Sebring but it irritated my hemorrhoids. Hey, Mr. Cotter ... what about the WHEEL ALIGNMENT? Is there a "factory setting" or can the camber, caster, toe etc. be adjusted to accommodate my Steve McQueen/Bullitt driving habits? Tire Rack's website mentioned a "performance alignment"? Thanks!
There's a factory setting. You didn't specify whether yours was a coupe, convertible or sedan. I could give you the settings for a sedan or convertible from the shop manual, but your mechanic at the alignment shop has access to those. It's pretty doubtful that you will get better tire wear by deviating from the factory settings. Most of the time the car is going straight down the road, and deviating from the factory settings will most likely increase wear for that situation, resulting in even worse performance.
If you trust Tire Rack's "Performance alignment", by all means go for it. My personal bet would be that it may result in better lap times at the track rather than increased tire mileage. Keep in mind that Tire Rack's priorities here are to sell tires and make their racing customers winners.
"If you are an assertive driver who enjoys driving hard through the corners and expressway ramps, a performance alignment is appropriate for your car. A performance alignment consists of using the vehicle manufacturer's range of alignment specifications to maximize the tires' performance. A performance alignment calls for the manufacturer's maximum negative camber, maximum positive caster, and preferred toe settings. While remaining within the vehicle manufacturer's recommendations, these alignment settings will maximize tire performance."
Notice that they refer to maximizing tire "performance". That's a fairly broad term that may include "wear" but can also include cornering power and other things. On the Sebring sedan, the preferred Camber angle is +0.1º. The acceptable range is from -0.5º to +0.7º. Setting your car to the maximim negative camber will gain you 0.6º from the preferred setting. What you might find is that the tires wear a little bit more evenly, but your tire squealing habits will still chew through the tires about as fast. There's little financial incentive on the part of the Tire Rack people to induce you to change your habits. It's up to you. If you like the sounds of squealing tires, go for it. Just realize that there's a price to be paid.