I was immediately disabused of my notion that I could just put stiffer shocks on the car. The nice gentleman at Les Schwab said it would completely change the way the car handled, as well as being expensive, and I wouldn’t like the results.
He suggested three options: I could go to a narrower, yet taller tire that would probably clear the lip on the wheel arch. I could go to a smaller tire overall, or I could get the wheel arch lip ‘rolled’.
You see, the only place the tire touches is on the inwardly projecting edge of the body panel above the tire. And it barely touches, even there, and only when I have more than just me in the car. Apparently there is a special tool (called, appropriately enough, a ‘roller’) which auto body shops use to roll this horizontally projecting lip of metal into a more vertical position.
This is apparently a routine strategy when putting oversized tires on one’s inexpensive import, as all the cool kids are doing. I did a bit of web research, and apparently great care must be taken in the ‘rolling’ process to avoid cracking the paint. Presumably an auto body shop knows how to do this.
So, the guy at Les Schwab will call around and get some price quotes for rolling my car. Will I do it? I don’t know. I really, really like the way the car is handling now. It always used to feel tentative, as if I was only a few pounds of lateral force away from completely losing traction. And I was plenty tired of spinning out at green lights. Now it feels rock solid, and I like it. If I’m going to spend time in commuter traffic, I like having some sort of defense against the idiots I encounter. Going to a smaller tire footprint will mean I lose some of that control. Maybe just a little, but still it would be a step in the wrong direction.
I guess it will come down to how much it will cost, and how much of a pain it will be to get it done.
Of course, I also have my eye on this totally bitchin’ spoiler….
Peace out, yo.