Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Pre Release of the New XD Rockstar III XD827 Wheel and Customizable inserts - Rockstar 3

It's an undeniable fact that the Rockstar series of wheels by KMC has been one of the most influential and best selling wheel lines of all time.  It looks like KMC is going to keep this line going strong with their announcement of the release of the new XD Rockstar III or XD827!
The Rockstar 3 is taking a very customizable path with all kinds of options as far as the removable inserts for these wheels!  It looks like there are going to be 4 different options on how you can run these, as well as mulitple colors for each and also 2 different base wheel finishes.

The Rockstar III will be available in an all matte black.

The Rockstar III will also be available in matte black and machined.

You can run the wheel with or without inserts.  Here is a picture of both black and black/machined without the inserts installed.

Now to the customization!  There will be 7 colors available in the inserts.  XD knows that Jeep lovers especially love custom color matching parts on their Jeeps, so they made these inserts to match factory Jeep Wrangler paint colors!  So the red is actually Jeep red!  Can't beat that!
Here is a preview of the colors. Red, yellow, orange, green, blue, white, and of course the black that comes with the wheels originally.

All Rockstar III's will come from the factory with the black inserts installed and the colored inserts are an option to purchase separately.

The inserts that come with the wheels from the factory are what they call the "mid spoke" inserts.  An alternate insert that can be purchase separately in any of the colors is the "split spoke".  Here is a picture of the "split spoke" installed on a wheel.

The 3rd insert option is a spoke delete and replaced it with a bolt on bead lock.  The bead lock can be purchased in any of the 7 colors as well.  Here is a shot of the bead lock installed on both the black and black/machined.

Here's a few more shots for your viewing pleasure!

There is going to be a chrome insert option as well, though I believe that may be released at a later date.

So as you can see KMC has took the next step in customization for the new XD827 Rockstar III.  Obviously the all black is going to be the most commonly sought version, but it will be interesting to see how many decide to take advantage of the custom colors and designs!
It looks like these are going to be arriving to dealers by mid July and here at Custom Automotive we have loads of them on order as well as the custom inserts in all colors!  KMC has yet to finalize pricing, but that will be coming in the next few days.  Check back with our site for pricing or to order - .

You can also visit our Facebook page for updates, as well as follow us on Instagram for more pics!
Here is a list of sizing and offsets that will be available!

17x8  +20
17x9  -12
18x9  +0
20x9  +25, +18, -12
20x10  -24
20x12  -44
22x10  -18
22x12  -44

Friday, October 10, 2014

Introducing the newest addition to the Nitto lineup...the Terra Grappler G2

It is safe to say that I have sold more Nitto Terra Grapplers over the past 6 years than any other tire on the market.  It is also safe to say that this tire has developed a reputation as one of the best all terrain tires on the market for everyday on and off road driving.  So when Nitto announced that they have a new Terra Grappler coming out the first thing I asked was, "What is wrong with the old one?"  I mean if is isn't broke don't fix it right?  Well evidently Nitto thought the tire could use some improvement and that brings us to the new Nitto Terra Grappler G2!

What's different?
Probably the most common complaint I get from Terra Grappler owners was that they just didn't get the wear they were expecting.  Not that a lot of them complained about it because I rarely get ANY complaint from Nitto's, but I would say this is the most common.  While 90% of owners get great or acceptable mileage, there is the other 10% that had them fall short of what they were expecting.  Nitto responded by introducing an all new tread compound that is supposed to have superior treadwear to the old tire.  How sure is Nitto of this new compound?  They threw in a 65,000 mile warranty on all p-metric sizes and a 50,000 mile warranty on LT sizes.  Overall, the Terra Grappler was already a great wearing tire so I'm excited to see what we will get from the G2!

Tread Design
The tread design on the new G2 is almost identical to the original.  The shape of the lugs is the same but the siping is slightly different.  The siping on the outer tread block extends all the way to the edge.  The biggest improvement here is that the sipes are now full depth.  This means they are cut all the way to the bottom of the tread which will allow you to have the advantage of siping throughout the full tread life of the tire, not just the first half.  This also improves the looks of the tire as the tread gets low.

Sidewall Design
The latest trend in off road tires is an aggressive sidewall design.  Not everyone wants to run a mud tire with side cleat, but most still want the side cleat.  This gives the tire a good, aggressive, offroad look without all the fuss of an aggressive tread.  Nitto answered with 2 new sidewall designs that you can choose between before mounting.  In my opinion they did a great job and delivered a great looking sidewall!

Sidewall 1

Sidewall 2

Nitto seems to have taken one of the best truck tires available and made it even better!  These should satisfy even the most critical offroad enthusiasts as well as your everyday driver just looking for a reliable, quiet, good riding tire with great tread life and a bold look to go along with it.
The G2 has just been released in 20 sizes with 12 more sizes to be released in the next month.
You can get another good look at the new G2 along with a full list of sizes and specs by visiting Nitto's website.

You can check out the sizes available now and order the new tire through our website with free shipping.
Custom Automotive
4548 US Hwy 62
Calvert City, KY 42029

Thursday, September 26, 2013

The One and Only...Nitto Trail Grappler

It seems these days customers want their cake and want to eat it too.  They want great handling and performance from their tires, but keep a good quiet ride at the same time.  They want to put huge off road tires and wheels on their vehicles and modify the suspension while keeping factory ride quality.  A few short years ago this was not even feasible.  You had to give up your ride quality to get a great handling tire or give up a quiet ride to get a great looking off road tire.  Thanks to modern technology and some great research and development from some of these companies, the sacrifice you give today to customize your vehicle is much less.  Specifically with the Nitto Trail Grappler, you can now get the mud tire of your dreams without giving up tread life, durability, and ride comfort!

Nitto Trail Grappler

Nitto has always been know for producing super high quality tires.  The Trail Grappler is no exception! When Nitto announced a couple of years ago that they were going to release a new tire that combined the aggressiveness of the Mud Grappler with the ride comfort of the Terra Grappler I was a bit skeptical.  The Terra Grappler is a great riding tire, but if you get in some nasty stuff they will get you hung up looking for a buddy to help pull you out.  The Mud Grappler will get you just about anywhere, but you have to be willing to put up with the insane road noise!  The new tire was to be named the "Trail Grappler" and after a couple of years of sending hundreds of customers off with these tires I can proudly say that Nitto succeeded!

Noise Level:
Nitto Trail GrapplerNitto used advanced CAD design and sound analysis equipment and long hours of testing multiple models to come up with a tread design that puts out much lower sound levels than the average MT tire. They did this while keeping a tread design that cleans extremely well and provides great forward and lateral grip.  Here's a shot of the tread -
Nitto Trail Grappler

This low noise tread design also produces lower rolling resistance and higher mileage!  The z pattern down the middle helps with lateral stability and mud traction as well.

Ride Comfort:
While noise level is a big part of ride comfort, ride stiffness and difficulty in balancing is what makes many mud tires uncomfortable.  All Nitto Trail Grapplers are 10 ply rated tires.  While this makes them ideal for hauling heavy loads or running under really heavy trucks, you would think this would make them a bit stiff for a lighter vehicle such as a compact truck or Jeep.  This is not true, however, with the Trail Grappler.  The super thick 3 ply sidewall is very durable but allows Nitto to make the sidewall "softer" without sacrificing strength.  This gives the Trail Grappler a much softer ride than you would expect, allowing us to install them on vehicles of any size and weight.  Also, Nitto's proprietary, automated manufacturing system produces extraordinarily uniform tires.  There is no other brand tire I sell that uses less wheel weight compared to the weight of the tire than the Nitto tires.  It is very common for a 75lb Nitto Trail Grappler to use less than an ounce of wheel weight to balance it out.  That is extraordinary!  All of this means the Trail Grappler will give you a ride much better than you've ever experienced with a mud tire!

Tread Wear:
I've talked about how the tread design itself promotes longer tread life.  The tire also benefits from 2 extra wide, extra strong belts running under the tread of the tire.  This helps keep the tire uniform throughout its life and helps keep the tread wearing smooth and even.  These work exactly as intended I promise you because I rarely see a Trail Grappler come in that has been worn uneven from the alignment being off on the truck or worn struts, etc.  These hold up great!  I'm seeing an average of 40,000-45,000 miles with many customers getting well over 50,000 miles.  That is in the neighborhood of most all terrain tires!

It is obvious at first glance that the Trail Grappler is designed to perform in less than ideal conditions.  Mud, snow, and timber are just a few of the surfaces this tire was intended for.  Deep sipes in the center blocks of the tread allow for increased wet traction, raised stone ejectors in between the outer blocks keep rocks and debris from clogging the tread, 3d tapered grooves coming off the center blocks of the tread increase off road performance, and the high void tread allows for great self cleaning to keep these tires biting in the worst of conditions!  You shouldn't be calling any buddies to pull you out while running a set of these!

The thing about the Trail Grappler that most people fall in love with at first glance is the sidewall design. There are two different and very aggressive sidewalls designs on each Trail Grappler.  Here are a few pictures of the differences in the two sidewall designs.
Nitto Trail Grappler
Sidewall Design 1

Nitto Trail Grappler
Sidewall Design 2

Nitto Trail Grappler
Sidewall Design 1

Nitto Trail Grappler
Sidewall Design 2

Sidewall design 1 is by far the favorite in our shop because of the lettering font but they are both great looking sidewalls!

For those of you looking for a mud tire that compromises nothing, gives you great traction off road, great ride and tread life on the road, and a great look to make your truck look like a true 4x4, look no further than the Nitto Trail Grappler!  You won't be disappointed!
We keep hundreds of Trail Grapplers in stock in our store in most sizes with same day installation always available.  Also, they can be purchased from our online store with free shipping by clicking here.
Custom Automotive
4548 Hwy 62
Calvert City, KY 42029

Here is a short video explaining some of the technology that goes into the Nitto Trail Grappler!

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Are your tires fresh? A quick guide to tire aging: Diagnosis and Prevention

   It seems these days fresher is always better.  Unless you're talking about wine or cheese, that is probably a true statement.  You hear people saying things like "check out the new deli, they have the freshest ingredients!", or "you have got to take a look at the new store in the mall, they have the freshest styles!". Febreeze has made millions by giving our homes that "fresh" feeling.  It is obvious that in society today we value freshness.  So, when it comes to tires, is fresher better?

   I'm sure you've all heard that tires are good for 5 years and after that should be replaced whether they are wore out or not.  I've seen news outlets showing how to read the date on a tire and telling people to check this date and make sure their tires have a current date when they buy them.  While this is good advice in general, in the real world things are not that simple.  Many different factors determine how old a tire is when you finally put it on your vehicle and also the rate at which is ages.

   Just in case any of you do not know where to look to find the age of your tire, I'm going to give you a quick tutorial.  If you look at the sidewall of your tire down close to the rim you will find the letters DOT followed by a series of numbers and letters.

The first 2 letters are the plant code.  This tells you where the tire was built.  73 is the plant code for the Toyo tire plant in White, Georgia.  This tire is a Nitto Terra Grappler which are built by Toyo so that makes sense.  You'll notice 4 numbers at the end of the DOT number and that will tell you when the tire was built.  If you don't see 4 numbers at the end of the DOT number then look on the other side of the tire as the date is only stamped on 1 side of the tire.  In the case of this tire, 0913 stands for the 9th week of 2013.  If your tire only has 3 numbers, such as 158, then it is from the 90's and 158 would stand for the 15th week of 1998.

  Now that we know how to read a tire, I'm going to tell you how unimportant that is!  The only time I really worry about the date stamped on the tire is when a tire manufacturer issues a recall and they specify build dates that fall under the recall.  Looking at how your tire sidewall is aging is a much more accurate meter of the deterioration of a tire.

  Most tires we sell at the shop have a build date that is within 6 months of the current date.  This is fairly quick when factoring in shipping from the manufacturer to a main warehouse, then to a local warehouse, then having to sit in that warehouse while older stock gets moved first, then getting to us and sitting in our warehouse until someone comes in needing that size.  However, if your vehicle uses a less common size, such as a 285/35r18 that is used primarily on Mercedes sports cars, then it is very common to get a tire in that is a couple of years old.  They naturally sit in the warehouse longer before they are sold because they are so rarely sold.  Is this a reason for concern?  Of course not!  Tires that are stored in climate controlled warehouses age extremely slowly!  I've seen tires in warehouses that were 10 years old and are as good as new, while you will find tires on vehicles that may be 2 years old and look much older.  Outdoor elements, such as rain and sun, speed up the aging process significantly.  This means that vehicles that are garage kept or are not driven as often will age tires at a much slower rate than vehicles that are kept out in the elements all the time or are driven a lot.

  The first sign of tire aging is "dry cracking" in the sidewall.  This is the most exposed part of the tire and therefore is the first to deteriorate.  The sun deteriorates the rubber in the tire just like it does your skin!  After enough sun exposure they will start cracking, especially when water is thrown into the mix from rain or dew.  Look at your sidewall for small cracks.  The best place to look is between the rim and the ground where the sidewall is bulged out from being under the weight of the vehicle.  This exposes cracks that can't be seen when the tire isn't being flexed.
  Here is a picture of a tire that we pulled off that is 8 years old.

  You can see that this tire has no cracking in the sidewall and therefore is perfectly safe to run even though it is 8 years old!  We can see from the DOT number that this tire was built the 2nd week of 2005.  This tire was replaced because the tread was wore out but as far as aging this tire had years left in it.
   Here is a tire we can look at that is about 4 years old.

You can see this tire has some slight dry cracking in the sidewall close to the bead, but this tire is completely safe to run.  This is about average for a tire that is 4 years old and has quite a few miles on it.  The dry cracking is very minor and there are no places where you can actually see down into the cracks.
  Here is a picture of a tire that we took off that is 7 years old.

This tire has some extreme dry cracking in the sidewall and I would not consider it safe to run.  You can clearly see down in the cracks of the tire and there is no way to tell how deep the cracks go.  If the deterioration has gotten this deep into the sidewall it could weaken the walls to the point of blowing out, especially when under extreme heat caused by hot pavement during the summer or running the tire with low air pressure, or both.

  Tread depth is normally the main concern when looking at your tires to determine if they need replaced or not.  I'm not going to go into much depth on that because I think most everyone knows that tread depth is important.  I will stress that it is a good idea to get down and look under your vehicle at the tread on the inside of the tire. Most people walk around the vehicle and glance down at the outer tread, but the inner part of the tread wears much quicker on a lot of vehicles, especially if they are not aligned correctly.
Here is a picture of a tire where the outside tread looked great, but upon further inspection the inside tread was completely wore out.

I've seen people run tires like this, thinking that their tread was fine, until they blew out on the inside because they were wore out and the customer never looked at the inner part of the tread.
At what tread depth should you replace your tires?
  Some of our customers run their tires until they are about to pop!  Others prefer to replace them when they get to about 1/2 tread.  It is a matter of personal preference and if you have the means it is nice to have a new set of tires because they handle so much better, especially in bad conditions such as rain or snow.  While many have their own preference, and there is nothing wrong with that, a good general rule for everyone to go by is to look at the wear bars on your tires.  Every tire is made with these wear bars that are about 3/32's of an inch thick, basically telling you that after your tread passes this point your tire performance will be significantly diminished.
Here is a good picture of a tires wear bars.
You can see the small rectangular blocks in the 4 tread grooves. This tire still has a little ways to go before it gets to the wear bars.  Once the tread gets even with those bars, I would highly recommend replacing the tires!

How do you prevent premature aging of your tires?
  If tires are taken care of properly, they will almost always wear through the entire tread before you ever have to be concerned about tire aging.  Keeping your air pressure at the correct level will help.  Low air pressure causes the sidewall to flex more, which creates friction in the sidewall, which in turn creates a lot of heat.  This heat speeds up the aging process significantly.  Low air pressure or high air pressure also can cause the tires to wear too much on the outside or in the middle of the tread, reducing your tread life. In general, too little air causes the outer edges of the tread to wear faster and too much air causes the center of the tread to wear faster.  It is important to check your air at least once a month to make sure you are at the correct pressure.  When running the factory size tires on your vehicle, the factory recommended air pressure can be found on the placard in the front driver side door jam.

Here you can see that the recommended air pressure for my 4Runner with factory size 265/65r17 is 32 psi.
Whether you use regular air or nitrogen you will still experience pressure loss over time and it is important to stay on top of it.  At Custom Automotive we offer free air pressure checks anytime to help motivate customers to keep their tires aired up!
  Using a sidewall protector such as Mothers Protectant can help protect your sidewalls from deterioration.

 This product is available on our shelves at Custom Automotive.  We apply this solution to the tires on every car that comes into our shop whether it's for new tires, used tires, wheels, or just a rotation.  This helps moisturize the tire and protect it from the elements and also works great on interiors as well!  Smells great too!  Mothers has some great products and this is one I make sure I have plenty of at home!  I always follow a wash with a wipe down of the tires and interior with this stuff.

  So in summary, we've covered how to determine the age of your tires using the stamped sidewall DOT number, how to determine the condition of your tires by looking at sidewall cracking and tread depth, and how to prolong the life of your tires by keeping the correct air pressure and protecting your sidewalls.   Whether your tread wears out or your sidewalls deteriorate first, it is important to know what to look for when deciding when you should replace your tires.  If you have any concerns, it is always best to play it safe and ask someone you trust at a local tire store whether your tires are safe to run or not.

-Dustin Brown
Custom Automotive
Calvert City, KY

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Welcome to my Blog!

Welcome! Welcome! Welcome!  I've had people asking me for years why I don't have a blog to talk about tires, wheels, and all things relating.  Well here it is!  I will update as often as I feel necessary to share my experiences in the tire and wheel business with you guys.  I'm a busy guy so this isn't going to be very complex and I'm not going to spend a ton of time on it, but I will share many of the things I have learned in my life as a wheel/tire guy.
You will find posts talking about things such as tips on keeping your wheels and tires in top shape, what to look for in a tire to determine if it needs replaced, how to figure out what size tire you need or what size wheel/tire combo will work best for your ride, tire pressure sensors, etc etc etc!
This should be fun and hopefully some of you can learn some things from this blog.  If you disagree with any of my posts that is fine!  Comment and let me know how you feel, I may reply back or I may not but I encourage discussion and there will be no hard feelings from me!
Also, if anyone has a certain topic of discussion or anything about wheels and tires you would like to know about let me know and I'll do what I can do accommodate your request.  After all, this blog is for you!