Jim Smart
November 7, 2005

When You Intend To Drive It
Occasional weekend drivers that are also concours-restored rides can get by with bias-ply or bias-belted original-equipment tires. The downside to those dated tires is handling and wear. Bias-ply tires last an average of 12,000 miles. Bias-belted tires don't last much longer because they're made from a softer rubber compound to deliver a smoother ride. Because their sidewalls don't flex in the corners, the contact patch experiences a lot of friction and twist, which increases heat and wear. When you've been driving on radial tires for the better part of three decades, bias-ply and bias-belted tires can be a bit of a shock because they don't drive anything like a radial tire. Those old-style tires are unforgiving of sudden corners and over-correction. They'll get away from you in a hurry, potentially putting you and your Mustang in harm's way.

Driving a classic Mustang with bias-ply or bias-belted tires calls for driving with your mind way ahead of the vehicle. Response time with bias-ply and bias-belted tires is considerably slower.

With this in mind, how do you intend to drive your Mustang? If it's every weekend, consider purchasing radial tires that blend well with the car's factory-original persona. We suggest radial tires in the correct size, with the right sidewall, for improved handling and longevity. For improved handling, you might want to widen the tire's contact patch. For example, a 70-series tire instead of a 78 or an 83.

Tire wear and reliability are the direct result of proper maintenance. Tire inflation is the single, greatest reason why tires wear and fail. Underinflation causes tires to overheat and wear out more quickly. Keep them properly inflated and check tire pressure frequently.

Proper rotation is the second greatest contribution you can make to tire life. Keep them rotated and your Mustang's front end in proper alignment. Bias-ply and bias-belted tires are rotated in a criss-cross fashion just like your grandfather taught you. Radial tires should be rotated front to back, and vice versa, on the same side every 8,000 miles. No matter what anyone tells you, including your local tire dealer, criss-cross rotation of radial tires causes cupping, cord shift, and uneven wear. We base this on 30 years of experience driving on radial tires. The tire direction must remain the same throughout the tire's service life. Criss-crossing radial tires from side to side will ruin the tires, and you'll never get them to balance and ride smoothly.

Along with proper rotation and inflation, get your tires dynamic-balanced whenever they're rotated and the front end is aligned. Out-of-balance tires are unpleasant and unsafe.