What do the sidewall markings on my tire mean?

English: tire identification diagram showing v...

English: tire identification diagram showing various labeling features, English terms. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

September 25 2012 • toyota.com frequently asked questions

The sidewall markings on a tire provide descriptive information about the tire’s design.

Step by step let’s interpret the sidewall markings on the tire image example below by reading clockwise from P215/65R16, which is located on the lower left-hand corner of the tire illustration:

  • P – Passenger vehicle tire
  • 215 – This number specifies the width in millimeters (i.e. 215 mm)
  • 65 – This number is the Aspect Ratio, the ratio of sidewall height to width
  • R – Radial
  • 16 – This number designates the tire’s diameter in inches (i.e. 16″)
  • 89 – This number indicates the tire’s load-carrying capacity, known as the Load Index; as the number for the load index increases so does the load-carrying capacity (All passenger car tires in the U.S. are also marked with their actual load limit in pounds)
  • H – This letter denotes the Speed Rating, the maximum tire speed under controlled test conditions (H” in this example is one of several types of speed ratings)
  • Treadwear – Wear rate of the tire determined by field testing following a government specified course
  • Traction – How well the tire stops on wet roads in government tests, graded using the letters AA, A, B, or C with AA being the highest in performance
  • Temperature – The tire’s resistance to the heat generated by running at a high speed in government tests, which is also graded using A, B, or C with A being the best
  • psi (pounds per square inch) – The maximum cold inflation rating for the tire
  • DOT (Department of Transportation) – This symbol indicates the tire meets or exceeds United States DOT safety standards; the letters and numbers following the DOT symbol provide information about the tire manufacturer, tire size, and the date it was manufactured

For information on tire size and pressure specific to your vehicle please refer to Tires in the index of your owner’s manual for the appropriate page numbers. Additional tire information is also available in the tire section of the DOT website.





5 car noises you should not ignore

It’s easy to say that you don’t have money to fix some of these small problems now, but wait a little while and these small problems turn into money hungry monsters. You’ll be paying a lot more later on down the road.

1. Increased thwacking sound as your vehicle accelerates.

Your tire is dying. The tread on the tire is departing and pieces of it are whipping the inside of the wheel well.  In some instances, large pieces can become dislodged and mangle the exterior or underside of your vehicle, causing more damage.

2. High-pitch screeching sound under hood

A high-pitched screeching sound that comes from under your hood and matches engine speed is often a serpentine belt in its last hours of life, but there are many other belts which may also be the culprit. Belts which power many other devices including water pump, power steering, air conditioning compressor, and alternator. A screeching belt will eventually break and leave you stranded. Fix this if you want to use your vehicle to get you from point A to point B.

3. Squeaky brakes

When your brakes are screaming at you every time you use them, the brake pads or shoes are at the expiration date. The screeching comes from a tab of metal built into the pad that becomes exposed as material wears away. If you do not replace the pads or shoes and this noise goes away, head to the service department today because a new noise will begin…

4. Grinding noise

Now the squeaky brakes have stopped, but you haven’t fixed them. The next sound will be a powerful grinding sound which means the last of the pad has ground away and the metal backing plate is now pressing directly onto the brake disc. Your safety has now been compromised because trying to slow down your car will be less effective. The repairs will now be more expensive now because the discs will have to be replaced as well as the pads and or shoes.

5. A loud sucking sound

When you’re at a gas station and begin filling up your gas tank, you may hear a sucking sound coming from your vehicle. This is due to a gas guzzling monster that is your vehicle, slowly sucking your bank account dry and replacing it with empty fumes. Do yourself a favor and visit us at toyotaoftheblackhills.com and find a gasoline sipper. It will definitely save you money down farther the road.

What is Traction Control?

ImageIf you were expecting a cloud of artificial smoke to conceal your vehicle from onlookers or nitro boosters to shoot your car up to unfathomable speeds after pressing this button, then you are wrong. What it does do is help your vehicle accelerate without spinning the wheels on slippery surfaces.

In the winter months when roads are covered with ice and snow or whenever tires find it hard to grip the surface on which they are traveling upon, this option applies a brake to the spinning wheel and allows the other wheel, which has traction, to proceed. This is similar to the anti-lock braking system, but in acceleration scenarios only. Special sensors determine if the speed of one tire is rotating faster than the other and apply brake to the proper wheel. Some vehicles reduce engine power to the wheels that are slipping.

Traction Control is a safety option and the only reason I believe the option should be turned off is if your vehicle is stuck it snow. If your vehicle loses engine power to the spinning wheels, that could make it harder to dig your way out. The same goes with braking spinning wheels, as the wheels may be able to dig down to the gravel or whatever is under the snow to gain traction. Check out some great vehicles with Traction Control here.

Toyota and BMW work together on a new sports car

Imagine a racing car with the capabilities no man has ever encountered. A racing car found only in a science fiction movie in which Anakin Skywalker may have won the Boonta Eve Classic in a galaxy far, far away. O.K., I’m a huge Star Wars fan, but a racing car like this may not be too far from existence.

In December of 2011, Toyota and BMW made a deal to work together on an array of new technologies for the near future. There has already been an existing partnership between the two major car companies, but this further ties them together for upcoming attractions. The four areas these two titans will be converging on are: fuel cell development, powertrain electrification, lightweight and carbon fiber technology and a sports car architecture.

I can imagine so many possibilities stemming from this partnership and I’m sure whatever happens, it will be incredible. Maybe I’ll be going to the moon sooner than expected.

What is the minimum octane rating gasoline that I should use in my vehicle?

Our “current model” year vehicles have the following unleaded fuel octane rating recommendations:

4Runner 87
Avalon 87
Camry 87
Corolla 87
FJ Cruiser 87
Highlander 87
Land Cruiser 87
Matrix 87
Prius 87
RAV4 87
Sequoia 87
Sienna 87
Tacoma 87
Tundra 87
Venza 87
Yaris 87

6 common tire myths debunked

By Mac Demere | Popular Mechanics – Mon, Jul 9, 2012 5:08 PM EDT

Here’s a very informative blog I thought I should share. For more information, contact our service department at http://toyotaoftheblackhills.com/ToyotaService

Tires are arguably the most important component on your vehicle. They are, however, among the least understood features. Allow me to list and pop a few common misconceptions about tires.

1. The tire-pressure monitoring system (TPMS) in my new car makes sure my tires are adequately inflated.

The truth: TPMS isn’t required to issue a warning until pressure is 25 percent below the vehicle manufacturer’s recommendation. That’s “well below the pressure required for safe driving,” according to AAA and “barely adequate to carry the vehicle’s maximum load,” says the Rubber Manufacturers’ Association. TPMS is intended as a last-minute warning before imminent tire failure, not as a monitor to make sure your tires are properly inflated.

Buy a quality tire gauge and set your tire pressure to at least the vehicle manufacturer’s recommendation, which is found on the driver’s door jamb. I’d rather you set your tires 3 or even 5 psi high rather than 1 low. Tire-pressure gauges can be inaccurate, and tires leak as much as 1 psi per month. Higher pressure improves hydroplaning resistance and, if you’re like many folks, you may not bother to check your tires again for six months.

2. When replacing only two tires, the new ones go on the front.

The truth: Rear tires provide stability, and without stability, steering or braking on a wet or even damp surface might cause a spin. If you have new tires up front, they will easily disperse water while the half-worn rears will go surfing: The water will literally lift the worn rear tires off the road. If you’re in a slight corner or on a crowned road, the car will spin out so fast you won’t be able to say, “Oh, fudge!”

There is no “even if” to this one. Whether you own a front-, rear- or all-wheel-drive car, truck, or SUV, the tires with the most tread go on the rear. Don’t believe it? Watch this.

3. A tire is in danger of bursting if pressure exceeds the “max press” number on the sidewall.

The truth: The “max press” number has nothing to do with a tire’s burst pressure. The “max press” and “max load” numbers indicate the pressure at which the tire will carry the maximum amount of weight. A new, quality tire will not pop at an even multiple of the “max press.” I’m sworn to secrecy about the exact burst pressure, but I wouldn’t hesitate to double the “max press” of any new passenger-vehicle tire on a new wheel. But hitting a big pothole at super-high pressures may cause a failure.

4. The “max press” is where the tire offers its maximum cornering grip.

The truth: If you didn’t read the previous point, do so now. Many law enforcement officers cling rigidly to the misconception that the “max press” is secret code for maximum at-the-limit traction. It’s a coincidence that many low-bidder tires offer increased grip at 40 or more psi. But that’s all it is: a coincidence. If I were going to race a stock ex-cop Ford Crown Victoria on street tires on a road-racing circuit, 45 psi front, 35 psi rear wouldn’t be a bad place to start. (The tail would be, in Nascar lingo, too loose for safe street driving.)

5. Low-profile tires fitted on large-diameter wheels improve handling.

The truth: The short sidewalls of low-profile tires enhance the tires’ response when the driver first turns the steering wheel. That gives the driver the (often false) feeling the tire has tons of grip. But after that initial movement, it’s the tread compound—the stickiness of the rubber—that determines how well the tire grips the road. Also, the combination of a large-diameter wheel and low-profile tire is usually heavier than the original equipment. This means the suspension may not be able to keep the tire in touch with the pavement.

6. All tires with the same designation are exactly the same size.

The truth: Think all 225/35R19s (or whatever tire size) are exactly 225 millimeters wide and their sidewalls are exactly 35 percent as tall as the tire is wide? Not exactly. And unlike what’s commonly believe, these designations are not about production tolerances.

All the tires of a specific part number or stock keeping unit (SKU) can be can be slightly wider or narrower than the nominal width and their profile can be slightly taller or shorter than the stated percentage. Why? A wider, taller tire puts more rubber on the ground, which is good for a performance tire. A shorter, narrower tire uses less material, thus reducing costs in a business where profit margins almost never break into double digits. So tiremakers might scrimp a bit here and there. It’s a bit like how a 2 x 4 is not, in fact, 2 by 4.

Air Conditioner Odor: Causes and Prevention

During air conditioner operation, cold refrigerant is pumped through the evaporator core by an engine-driven compressor. A fan then blows air through “fins” in the evaporator to cool the air. These fins also act as an air filter, trapping bacteria, spores, and dirt. These airborne particles are normally washed out a drain hole with condensation, but if they remain on a moist evaporator, they may collect and cause an unpleasant odor. This effect is more frequently found in humid climates where more condensate accumulates. This situation is not unique to Toyota; it is an industry-wide condition.

To prevent the odor, Toyota recommends the following:

  • Avoid parking under trees to reduce the possibility of leaves entering the air intake
  • Use the fresh air setting on your climate control rather than the recirculated air setting whenever possible to allow the evaporator to dry out
  • Drive on paved roads whenever feasible as dusty conditions may accelerate the condition

If the condition already exists, spraying a mixture of isopropyl alcohol and water (1 to 5 ratio/mixture) or a disinfectant in the outside air intake may help reduce the smell. If these steps do not alleviate the odor, we encourage you to contact your local dealer for a thorough evaluation of the condition.



By Jessica Anderson of Kiplinger

The 1980s classic film, Back to the Future, depicts a future with flying cars and “skyways.” The year: 2015. We don’t have a time machine, but we can guarantee that in four years we’ll still be using earthbound roads.

And we peered a little further into the future of automotive technology — to 2020, to be exact — to see what features are likely to be big sellers.

Safety will always be a top concern, and car companies will continue to develop technology to help reduce accidents. Government mandates to increase fuel economy and reduce pollution will lead to smaller, less thirsty vehicles, with a high percentage of electrified vehicles on the road. And you’ll likely be able to tell your car to check your Facebook page.

1. Warnings Galore

Your car won’t drive itself, but its technology will help make you a safer driver. For example, current collision-mitigation systems use radar to sense when you’re getting too close, going too fast, and give you a visual and auditory warning.

They then either “precharge” your brakes to give them more power when you step on the brake pedal or — like some systems from Hyundai, Lexus and Mercedes — tighten your seat belts and automatically apply the brakes. Prices run $1,200 to $1,500 now, but the systems may be included in more-expensive option packages.

2. Eyes All Around

Rearview cameras are likely to become standard equipment, thanks to a proposal by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration that would require all light passenger vehicles to have the technology by 2014.

The additional cost by the deadline will likely be $50 or less for vehicles equipped with displays (such as a navigation screen) and about $150 for those without one. By 2020, however, the cost will be negligible.

More technologically advanced cameras will be widely standard or inexpensive options (a few hundred dollars). Cross-path cameras, like those from Ford, Chrysler and BMW, show a 180-degree view from the back or front of your vehicle and alert you if another car is approaching as you back up or pull out of a blind drive.

3. Pedestrian Detection and Night Vision

A pedestrian-detection system, such as the one on Volvo’s S60, brings the car to a full stop if it detects a pedestrian in your path; if you’re going faster than 22 miles per hour, the vehicle won’t be able to stop fast enough to avoid hitting the pedestrian. (The automakers City Safety feature works the same way for a car that stops short in front of you.)

Night-vision systems, like the ones BMW and Mercedes are offering on their top-of-the-line vehicles, detect infrared light or amplify available light to help you see a person who wanders into your intended path but is out of range of your headlights.

Right now, both systems are pricey options. Volvo’s Technology Package, which includes pedestrian detection, lane-departure warning and collision warning with full automatic braking, is $2,100. BMW’s Night Vision with Pedestrian Detection is $2,600. But in the future, these systems will be standard on high-end vehicles and available on more-mainstream vehicles for a grand or less.

4. Easy Cruising

Adaptive cruise control uses radar to help you keep a safe distance from the car in front as you cruise at highway speeds so that you don’t have to constantly hit the brakes and reset your cruising speed.

Currently, it’s optional on BMW’s cars ($2,400) and on Audi’s A4 ($2,100); it’s available on mainstream cars like the Ford Taurus ($1,200), too.

By 2020, it will be a nearly ubiquitous option and a standard feature on all top-of-the-line vehicles. It will likely evolve to work at low speeds and help you avoid collisions in stop-and-go traffic, much like Volvo’s City Safe feature.

5. Vehicle-to-Vehicle Communications

Wouldn’t it be nice if cars could talk to each other in order to avoid accidents?

In the future, they will. Ford is currently engineering an intelligent vehicle system that uses advanced Wi-Fi technology; it transmits your vehicle’s location and recognizes other vehicles surrounding you.

The system will warn you of an oncoming car when you’d like to pass a vehicle on a country road, or alert you to a car about to blow through a red light, or tell you when a vehicle several cars ahead has stopped short. This technology will be available as an option by the end of the decade, although it’ll be much longer before it’s standard. Because the concept is so new, there’s no way to estimate what it will cost.

6. A Better Way to Connect

Finding your way, finding your music and finding your friends will continue to get easier. Bluetooth will be standard at every level, and pairing your phone with the hands-free system will be much less complicated.

A voice prompt will be all you’ll need to make a call or change the song. Likewise, widely standard in-car communications systems, such as Ford’s Sync, will read incoming text messages. If you have a built-in navigation system, you’ll easily be able to speak destinations or ask the system to find a stop along your route. More systems will work like Ford’s MyFord Touch (available now on the Edge and Focus models for about $1,000).

7. App Central

In-car Wi-Fi is available now from General Motors for a few hundred dollars, plus a monthly subscription fee, and widespread rollout is imminent.

That means surfing the Web on the way to work will probably be par for the course by 2020. And despite government concerns about distracted driving, it’s a good bet that apps for Pandora radio, Facebook and Twitter will soon be standard fare in your infotainment system.

The systems will rely on voice commands. GM has already started testing audio Facebook updates through its revamped OnStar communications link. Toyota’s Entune system, previewed at this year’s Consumer Electronics Show, also responds to voice commands and can use the driver’s smart phone to bring apps such as OpenTable, MovieTickets.com and Bing to the dashboard.

8. Fuel-Sipper Tech

President Obama’s latest fuel-economy proposal calls for an industry-wide average of up to 62 miles per gallon by 2025, so look for automakers to embrace fuel savings wherever they can.

To get to the 62 mpg mark, experts estimate it will require widespread electrification, adding up to $10,000 to the cost of a new vehicle. Regenerative brakes, which recharge the battery when you step on the brake pedal, will be standard equipment for gas-engine as well as hybrid vehicles. A stop/start feature, similar to that on today’s hybrids, will become standard for gas-engine vehicles, improving fuel economy by up to 10%.

When your vehicle is stopped, such as at a light or in heavy traffic, the system turns off the engine and restarts it when you take your foot off the brake. Ford will begin offering this on some vehicles next year.

9. Advanced Engines

Hybrids will become a much bigger percentage of cars sold, as will “mild” hybrids, such as Buick’s LaCrosse with eAssist, which uses a small lithium ion battery to power a stop/start system and regenerative brakes. The remaining gas-engine models will rely on turbocharging and direct-injection.

Engine size will be a factor, as well. Ford’s newest EcoBoost engine is a turbocharged 1.0-liter three-cylinder with direct injection that will offer up to 20% better fuel economy than a traditional four-cylinder with the same amount of power. (No pricing is available yet for the three-cylinder engine, but on the 2011 Ford Flex, the six-cylinder EcoBoost engine costs $3,000 more than the regular one.)

You’ll also see transmissions with more gears, which will help improve fuel economy by up to 6%. Eight speeds is the new six.

10. Exotic Materials

Making cars lighter is one way that automakers can meet higher mileage standards. So instead of high-strength steel and aluminum, carmakers are looking at carbon fiber, the strong, durable and ultralight material found in tennis rackets, bicycles and even airplanes.

Lightweight carbon fiber pieces will be featured on many upscale vehicles, like BMW’s forthcoming line of electric cars, which will hit the road in 2013. Although manufacturing the material is costly now, prices will come down as advances in manufacturing are made. Using carbon fiber to reduce weight could improve fuel economy by 7%.

10 Things Your Car Will Have By 2020

Vote TODAY, June 6th for the American Red Cross of the Black Hills

Video on why the American Red Cross of the Black Hills could use a new truck from Toyota  We need everyone to vote on June 6th for the American Red Cross-Black Hills Area Chapter. What are we voting for? For them to get a new truck from Toyota. They applied with a video as to why they need a new car and are 1 of 500 organizations that were chosen as finalist. Toyota is giving away 100 cars in 100 days and June 6th is the day to vote for the American Red Cross. They will be up against 4 other organizations.  At the end of the day whichever 1 of the 5 has the most votes, wins a car. In this case, the American Red Cross has said they are in need of a truck.

Read all about how the program works here. The only way to vote is through Facebook so make sure you login and vote. You can click on the vote button below on June 6th.