Today I wiped out my second aluminum wheel and third low profile 205/50R16
tire in a pothole coming off the George Washington Bridge. This is the
second time this has happened in six weeks at the entrance to the bridge.
I've really had it with low profile tires, at least while we live in the New
York/New Jersey area during winter. I might have had to do a wheel alignment
after today's pothole with a normal profile tire but I don't think I'd be
replacing it and the wheel once again.
I was told by someone with a similar problem with his old Supra that he was
able to find a normal profile tire to fit his wide rims. Are there any such
tires available for a 2002 Focus ZX5? I know I'll "sacrifice" handling but I
don't find the handling of the ZX5 all that responsive and nimble anyway.
What will it drive like with normal tires? A truck?
My wife is so upset with the tire problem that she wants us to get rid of
the Focus even though it only has 28K miles on it. I'm more forgiving but I
do think that these tires and rims should not be standard on the ZX5's sold
in the New York area.
Should I put on the stock 14" rims and then normal profile tires? Not very
stylish but it would enable us, I expect, to be able to go across the bridge
and make it to Connecticut like other drivers have no problem doing. I
understand I'd have to replace the rotors as well. Anything else? Is this
really a feasible alternative?
I'd love to sue the city of New York but a friend actually did and his suit
is still pending....seven years later.
If you want stylish, stay with what you've got and keep replacing rims.
If you want something practical, replace your low aspect ratio tires and
rims with a higher aspect ratio tire on a suitable diameter rim. My
2000 Focus SE came with 195/60R15 tires on alloy rims, and I've never
bent any of the wheels in 48000 miles. I live in Minnesota, where
potholes are quite common.
I was told today by my Firestone dealer that I couldn't switch to a 15" rim.
I was looking at a Focus wagon with 15" rims in his parking lot. It had
substantially more robust tires than my 205/50R16's. He said the ZX5 was
configured for a 16" rim and it couldn't be changed. Hopefully, more
knowledgable people here will advise otherwise.
Also, strangely, these tires are picking up nails. Replaced three tires
today alone! Two of them had two nails each in them. Hey! I remember in the
past simply plugging nail holes and remounting the tire. They can't do that
Ah, I wasn't aware the ZX5 Premium had bigger brake disks than the lesser
Focuses. According to the Ford website, the 'standard" and 'comfort' ZX5
grades come with 15" wheels and 195/60R15 tires. The 'Premium' is the
only ZX5 variant to use the 16" wheels. I would be very surprised if
the 15" wheels did not fit. Get yourself over to one of the Focus
discussion groups (Focaljet or Club Focus) and you will find someone
who knows for sure.
I have similarly been plagued by nails & screws in both my vehicles'
I bought one of those cheap do-it-yourself tire plugging kits at
the hardware store for $5, that come with two T-handled implements,
and some very sticky rope-type plugs. One of the tools is an awl
to ream out the hole, and the other is a sort of huge sewing needle
to insert the sticky 'rope' with.
The first time I used one, I was on vacation and I was willing to
try anything just to avoid being stranded. Despite looking like
it couldn't possibly work or last, they do. I tell myself it's just
a temporary thing, but I've been driving on them for months and they
haven't leaked a bit of air.
You have to decide for yourself if you are comfortable using them,
I figure if it hasn't shifted in thousands of miles of use, it's
unlikely to suddenly fall out.
the reason for not plugging tires anymore is indeed safety. Not so much for
you the driver, but for the tire guy. If a tire is run low for a period of
time it can create a zipper effect in the casing or side wall of the tire.
They want to patch the tire by dismounting from the rim to inspect the case.
If one were to air back up a damaged case serious or fatal injury could
occur if case failed. Thats the only reason.
Don't know what you mean by "cheap", I have successfully used those kits
many times, I live in a sub that's still being built and they lose a LOT of
nails and screws in the streets. If you install the plug correctly it should
last the life of the tire, and it's much cheaper than taking the thing to
the tire store and paying $10-20 every time, not to mention the convenience.
The trick I found was to buy the kit in the "truck" size, the tools are much
sturdier. The kit I bought the first time had flimsy little tools that bent
completely out of shape when I tried to use them.
Your local Firestone dealer doesn't know what he's talking about. Only the
SVT has larger brake rotors. All other Focus models can take even 14" rims.
I run 205/50-16s in the summer and 185/65-14s on steel wheels in the winter
(undersized slightly on the tires for chain clearance). The 15" will be a
perfect compromise for your car, maintaining 95% of the cornering power and
likely never bending a rim on a pothole.
p.s. you can pick up a nice set of 15" wheels and tires, balanced and
drop-shipped from Tirerack.com for a good price.
15" *should* work, but some folks have given some advice on this. I don't
You can also pick up some some new 15" tire take-offs here:
These are not in the "wheels" pdf file, but rather the "Find Specials
Here" pdf file. It is also in the "Focus Performance and Service Parts
Guide" - last page or two. Set of 4 15" focus rims with 195x60x15"
Firestone Firehawk or Goodyear Eagle Tires - $399 + shipping.
I have no association with these folks, just a customer - I love the
winter mats I got from them.
It depends on where the hole is, and the speed rating of the tire. Holes in
the middle 70% or so of the *tread* area can be patched (unless prohibited
due to the tire's speed rating). I think anything rated faster than V cannot
be patched, as these are tires rated for 220kph and the repair shop / tire
manufacturer would have some liability if they didn't forbid patching and
someone had a blowout at that speed. Do you need a 220kph tire in America?
Not likely. The handling difference going down one class will not be
What air pressure do you have in the tires, and do you check it often
enough? Low air pressure can make tire and wheel damage from potholes
more likely, make the handling worse, wear out the tires quickly, reduce
the load capacity, and increase the chance of a blowout. During falling
temperature seasons, the falling temperature can cause the air pressure
in the tire to fall much more quickly than it otherwise would.
Timothy J. Lee
Going to a 195/60-15 tire and rim will not cost much in handling, in fact
your ride will be more comfortable. I have the 15" alloy rims and have not
bent one yet.
Might be difficult to research, but sometimes the state or county has a
program where they will re-imbrues you for damages caused by defective
roads. I know they have a program like that in Michigan but it isn't
publicized and therefore most folks don't know about it.
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