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Re: Tires, how long can they be used

To: "Randall Young" <>, <>
Subject: Re: Tires, how long can they be used
From: "Rocky Entriken" <>
Date: Sun, 30 Nov 2003 15:41:55 -0600
[Here's one from a few weeks ago that got trapped by various filters.  mjb.]

I'm going to offer an answer to Randall's question below, but will tell you
right up on top the answer concludes with a product offer. So you can take
my reply for what you consider it is worth.

----- Original Message -----
From: "Randall Young" <>
To: <>
Sent: Sunday, November 30, 2003 11:13 AM
Subject: RE: Tires, how long can they be used

> End rant, new relevant question :
> My BS RE71s have done the same thing the previous Yokos did, get hard and
> slippery with only about 1/2 the tread gone.  Is this a common occurrence
> on soft compound (treadwear 140 as I recall) street tires ?
> Randall

The short answer is yes, but you can do something about it. Tires get hard
with time and with use. Every heat cycle you put them through (i.e. every
time you drive them) hardens them a bit. And just sitting on the shelf, they
harden over time. More, cars that sit outside in the sun get sun-baked and
that also deteriorates tires. So, yes, Bill Sohl's observation that under
the 5-year rule he'd have to replace tires with less than 10K miles on them
could be right (the variable is care and storage).

Let me look at Bill's item first. Tires sitting in the sun all the time get
"cooked." I seem to recall it is UV from the sun rays. You get tread
separation and other deterioration. This is why a spare hanging on the back
of the van goes bad even with zero miles. This is also why there are such
things as tire covers.

I had a blowout on a trailer tire last year towing to a race. Plenty of
tread on it, but it had been ~5 years on those tires (okay, maybe 6, or
maybe 4 -- who remembers?). Tread separated. When I got the trailer stopped,
the tread was completely gone and the carcass was in tatters. The spare --
also subject to sun-baking -- had steel belt showing through cracks in the
tread even though it also had decent tread. We put it on anyway and limped
to the nearest town where I bought new tires for the trailer. When I got
home, I looked up in the JC Whitney catalogue for tire covers. I bought a
couple which we now always put on the trailer when it's parked by the house,
and another for the spare that hangs on the back door of the tow van.
Covering the tires helps ward off the sun's effects.

For the trailer, I'm not terribly concerned about traction, but for the race
car I am -- and now we're into Randall's question. I have Hoosier slicks on
my race car with R33 compound. Really sticky tires. Those  DOT gummies will
react the same way. They get hard, lose their stickiness, and don't do the
job for which you bought them even with half their tread left.

Some 21 years ago I bought a set of brand new slicks and went out and
finished 2nd in our Divisional Solo II Championship, 2/10ths out of first
(behind a fellow who has since won seven national championships). I was only
autocrossing then, so my tires lasted a long time. A year later, same tires,
I was six seconds out. They'd turned to stone. Faced with buying new rubber
($500, then, over $650 now), I came across a product -- Formula V Traction
Treatment -- that cost $25 (then). For 5% of the price of a new set, I
thought I'd gamble on it. Got a jug, treated the tires, ran them for
*another* year, took them to a *third* Divisional -- and won it. Two events
later the tires went to cord.

I'd never taken race tires to cord before. Always sold off the rock-hard
half-tread set to racers more impoverished than myself. I haven't sold off a
set of tires since then.

Imagine a kitchen sponge. New it is soft. Once you use it, when it dries out
it gets hard. Saturate it again and it is soft again. That is analogous to
what happens with tires. They dry out. Formula V Traction Treatment is a
petroleum product that, in essence, replaces that lost moisture. It's
purpose is to keep tires at the softness originally designed in its

FVTT is NOT a tire softener. It is a restorative/preservative. You can take
an old set of tires that have gone hard and restore them to their original
softness. You take a new set and regularly treat them to keep them at their
original softness and prevent hardening. It comes in gallon jugs. A gallon
treats my slicks about 20 times (does my rains about 15 times -- more tread
surface). You  just paint it on with a brush or roller, let it sit for a
couple of days, and they're ready to go.

Restoring old tires can take quite a lot -- when I restored a set it took
about 14 treatments. As a maintenance item, it takes 2-4 treatments between
events. I don't treat before every local autocross, but I do before any
major events and before road races. And I just treated mine yesterday
preparatory to bagging them and storing them for the winter.

Will it work on street tires? Yes, but the difference is most pronounced
with softer rubber. The difference between soft (new) and hard (old/used) on
street tires is fairly small compared to the same difference on race rubber.
If soft is 1 and hard is 10, you can see improvement from 10 to 1 pretty
easily, but if street tires with high wear ratings start life at 8, then 10
to 8 is negligible. It's there, and FVTT will restore street tires to
like-new softness -- just that it is hard to see the improvement. I had one
customer tell me he put it on his hardened windshield wipers and restored

I said up top there'd be a product offer. Here it is. I decided FVTT was the
slickest stuff I'd ever seen, but there were no local suppliers (I got mine
from the manufacturer). So I set myself up as a supplier. I've been using
it, and now selling it, for 21 years. I'll get anyone a jug for $42
(shipping included) if you want to give it a try. All I need is an address
FedEx can find and I'll ship it out. Commercial address preferred, not
required, and please include a phone number too. I put an invoice in the
box, you pay from that.

If anyone has questions, I'm happy to answer them.

--Rocky Entriken

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