Friday, November 23, 2018

Snow Tires, Maintenance Inspections, and Black Friday TV Sets

After last week's fiasco-in-the-snow where my wife could not get up the kid's driveway to drop off the Little Guy, and then scared herself silly several times on the way home, I spent some time today swapping out her OEM tires for the studded snows she bought last year.

This year all the lug nuts came off like they should, and as I took each wheel/tire off the car, I inspected the suspension, undercarriage, brake pads, and tire for wear and/or damage. Her tires are *this close* to the treadwear indicators, so we'll probably just get new tires in the Spring. Just for grins, I looked up user reviews of the OEM tires, and they're real stinkers. They seem to only be good for about 30k miles, and they're not particularly grippy like you'd expect a fast-wearing tire to be.

Her rear brake pads look like they'll do 80k miles no sweat, and her front ones are a bit less than half worn. I'll order up some replacement pads, and swap them out in the Spring when I take off the snow tires.

And relying on some internal flag that got set at some time, I ordered up a set of winter tires for the Jeep, along with a set of rims. I researched this pretty well last Fall, and I went with some Bridgestone Blizzak tires in the OEM size, 245/65-R17. I've had excellent results with Bridgestones on both of my Grand Cherokees, and the members of the Grand Cherokee forums I visit swear by these things. When guys (and gals) in Montana, Idaho, Upper Peninsula, Colorado, and other snowy states say these things work, I'm temped to believe them.

And these are the rims. Stock is 17x7, and these are 17x8, so the tire will 'stretch' out a bit, but well within Bridgestone's allowable range specs.

I had wanted to buy these crazy good Nokian "Hakkapeliitta" tires, but youch, they're $202 each vs $152 for the Blzzaks. "Car and Driver" did a road test of a bunch of snow/winter tires last year, and these things came out on top in almost every category.

I've seen words to the effect of "Put them on a Jeep and go climb icy walls", and while that's a stretch, they also wear like iron, very unusual for a tire of this type, and they're much quieter than their looks would lead you to believe.

If the Blizzaks don't wear very well, I'll definitely replace them with these. Studded tires on all four corners of an AWD vehicle is a pretty potent combination, and with my "Granny Driving" these days, it should even the odds in winter.

ANYWAY......after spending several hours on her car, I just sat down with a  cuppa, and she started making loud noises about a new TV for the living room, Special Pricing TODAY ONLY!, and yadda yadda yadda.

Groan...out to Best Buy at 1500 hours the day after Thanksgiving.

Oh, joy.....

Since I rarely watch TV in the living room, I really don't care what's in there. So, I went with an established brand, Samsung, and picked the price point (~$350) and size (50") she wanted.

I wrote down the SKU of the set (are they still "sets" these days?) we wanted, and we headed out. We found a parking spot dead center on the entrance, about 4 cars back. Astounding!

As soon as we crossed the portal I went all Commando Mode, and went straight for the stacks of TV's they had set up. Went through all the Samsung models near the door, and couldn't find the SKU we wanted. SO....To The Rear! of the store, where ALL the TV's are on display. Found the set, and a BB guy with a cart, paid for the TV and a Roku stick via the guy's wireless tablet, and he rolled it out front as I went to retrieve the Command Car.

He loaded it in the back, and we exfiled the area. TOT: 20 minutes!

So for $327 + tax, we wound up with a 50" Samsung 4k set that "normally" retails for $450 + tax, and a $50 Roku stick for $19.99.

It's actually a nice set, and had really amazing detail right out-of-the-box. The colors looked washed out, though, and going through all the presets didn't do much to improve it. Fortunately, it has an "Expert Mode" where you can go in and dink with almost all the detailed settings, so I spent an hour trying various combinations of settings to keep the great definition, AND get the colors corrected. Did a pretty good job "by eyeball", but since I have a set of calibration discs downstairs, I'll drag my Oppo BluRay player over there, and do a full-on Video Calibration to it, like I did to our plasma sets some years ago. The difference is quite noticeable, and can make a $300 TV look as good as a $700 TV......usually.

So the former living room TV (bought new last year at this time) will be trundled up to the guest room, and the itty-bitty 24" TV from there will go into the Little Guys room, hence the Roku stick. The wife found out that you can get a lot of "children's programming" on Roku, and since we don't want the expense of a fifth cable box, we'll plug the Roku into the little TV's USB port and use that As Required.

And in dinking with this set, I'm amazed that a consumer item like this is available at the cost point it occupies. My 50" 1080i/p Plasma TV cost over $2500 just about 10 years ago, and while it still has an excellent picture and reliability record, it draws around 700 Watts, and weighs about 80 pounds. This new one draws 60 Watts, and weighs 30 pounds.

One-tenth the power, one-third the weight,and four times the resolution of  a top-of-the-line plasma TV of 10 years ago for fourteen percent of the cost!


  1. The Taurus needs new shoes. The local Discount Tire store has always treated me well and I usually go with what they recommend. Tire technology evolves. Not as fast as electronics but I remember my second car getting winter tires with walnut shells embedded in the rubber. Worked great but wore out quickly.

    1. I've had excellent dealings at America's Tire/Discount Tire. Always had great service, good prices, and from watching them, they do good work.

      Greatly UNLIKE the Big-O store that screwed up the lug nuts and studs big time last year!

  2. I've been shopping for the new Generation Eight televisions to replace the older models. They're much better, much clearer and much lighter, but 3X the cost.

    1. Depends on what you want to spend. The sweet spot for "good" 65" TV's is around $1500.

      The really good 65" sets are $2500~$3500.

  3. Five years ago, I had similar experience at Best Buy looking for an iPad. I'd called all the other stores in town and couldn't find one. Called Best Buy and they were well-stocked. In and out in half an hour.

    But what are these "snow tires" of which you speak?

    1. I refuse to have anything to do with Will Call at BB. Since I pretty much know where the items I want are located in the store, I just walk in and go right to them, pick it out, and either pay right there, or carry it up front.

      With Will Call, I'd order an item in the morning, and they still hadn't pulled it from stock by the time I got there at 1700!

      Do they still make "rain tires" for use in your area?

  4. And that TV is already obsolete... sigh

    1. Yeah, but for $330 we can live with it!

      When my Big 'Ol 50" Panasonic plasma bites the dust I wants me an 80" OLED TV!!!!

      By then we'll probably be able to get 100" sets.....


Keep it civil, please....