Tuesday, February 1, 2011

The Wheels on the Bus....

I quickly learned that there's infinite opportunity to upgrade these vans in every conceivable way, but unfortunately our budget is very much finite. We'll be keeping upgrades and add-ons to what I consider essential (for safety and utility).  

After completing some front-end, steering, and alignment work on the van, it was time to toss the dry-rotted, unevenly worn Continentals. While some Vanagon enthusiasts suggest upgrading the wheels to 15" or 16", I decided to stick with the stock 14" alloys and replace the tires only. I had no baseline for comparison, and I knew that anything would be an improvement from what I'd been driving on. And $400 versus $1200 investment was also a major factor.

Options for C-rated, all-season, 14" tires are limited.  Reviews of the Hankook RA08 (185 r14 C) were all positive. The Bus Depot offers a convincing sales pitch (though purchase and installation ended up being cheaper through my local Sears):
The Hankook RA08 185R14 All Season Radial handles well and has excellent wear characteristics. This tire has a ten year track record, and is the only all-season tire in its price range to be made by an O.E.M. supplier to VW. Although the RA08 is about 40% cheaper than the Michelin Agilis, in a recent track test comparison in the German magazine ProMobil-Extra it outperformed the Michelin in every single handling test they performed (wet and dry handling, wet and dry braking, and aquaplaning). It is an excellent value and we recommend it highly.  
They are definitely a huge upgrade over the aged Contis, but we have yet to put any serious road trip miles on them. They are much quieter, and it's nice to know that I'm not riding on half-bald asymmetrical time bombs.

Winter has been a lonely season for our van.  Over 60" of snow has fallen in the Boston area so far. Even with fresh treads, we'll stick to the confident handling of our all-wheel-drive Subaru during these blizzards. If only I had opted for a Syncro (just kidding, that mechanic upkeep would definitely break the bank)...

2 comments:

  1. Hi Jeff - keep the posts comin' Last fall I bought the exact same model van as you, at least I think so from the pictures. And I live right outside Boston.

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  2. Hellow.

    Any update about those tires ?

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