While I own up to a modest understanding of the infernal combustion engine, I will assert that I am no mechanic. I have seen grown men (who presumably can dress themselves) make regular pilgrimages to their private shrine of automobile accomplishment viz. the garage, and tinker away ceaselessly on their vehicles, adjusting this, replacing that or polishing the whole darned thing. At a braai (BBQ for my foreign reader), when in the company of Top Gear wannabes, it’s all I can do to remain compos mentis when they drone on interminably about some seemingly inconsequential vehicular titbit, or their conquest to squeeze out that last nano-torque of performance.
No, I am not a tinkerer. A fiddler, possibly; but primarily in a musical context, and a subject for another post perhaps. If I were to describe my relationship to vehicles in general and 4×4 off-road vehicles in particular, “platonic” would probably do the trick. Thus it is that I entrust most of the vehicle’s mechanical wellbeing to qualified people. In this way, I can be utterly scathing when they don’t deliver (see a future post with Bosch Servicing Ruimsig), or full of praise on the odd occasion when they do.
One of the companies that DID deliver was Lombard’s Tyres (or tires – if you happen to be American). Before we departed for Namibia, the Hilux was wearing a set of inexpensive all-terrain tyres for everyday travelling, which probably wouldn’t have lasted. Also, the old spare looked decidedly forlorn. My preparative reading advised me to ensure the vehicle had adequate tyres for the demands of the trip – and to take two spares. Yes, but WHAT tyres to buy?
I have no intention of boring you senseless with an erudite dissertation on the construction of the things (which will mostly be other people’s work), so if you’re preparing for your own African expedition, follow the links below. Looking at what the other blokes were using, revealed BF Goodrich’s popularity, but only one or two people could tell me WHY they chose BFG against say, Pirelli or Goodyear. I also didn’t want to talk to a sales person, because I’ve yet to hear unbiased information from one. So it was on to the Net I climbed, and I eventually found this:
The above link refers to one of the most in-depth articles I’ve ever read. It exhaustively compares a selection of tyre brands over various terrains and was the prime source of assistance in our choice of Kumho tyres. For us the criteria were:
- The ability of the side walls to withstand a fair amount of punishment without tearing.
- The ability, at low pressure, to float on soft sand – seeing as Namibia is a land of sand, dryness, sand dunes and also quite a lot of sand.
- To remain impervious to sharp rocks, i.e. resist punctures
- Good road holding and the other normal performance issues.
- To be cost effective.
You will see the scores from the table that, although Kumho didn’t come first, it did seem to tick all our boxes. BF Goodrich was our second choice and you will also see from future chapters where the Kumhos shone and where they didn’t. Stay chooned…
Once the decision had been made we went about phoning around for quotes. And wasn’t that interesting! We phoned Tiger Wheel & Tyre, Supaquick, Speedy and Dunlop. Ok , I concede it wasn’t clever to phone Dunlop for Kumho tyres so they were pretty much out of the running. Also eliminated was Speedy as their website said they didn’t sell Kumho. By this time, I was prepared to settle for BF Goodrich tyres or even fork out the additional shekels for Bridgestones.
However, when asked for quotes both Tiger Wheel & Tyre and Supaquick promised to phone back – but didn’t, resulting in a search for another vendor. I finally came across Lombards Tyres. On their website we found a branch that was near us and I asked a bloke called Hansie for a quote for six tyres. Within the hour, something shocking and unexpected happened – he phoned back. Not only did he phone back but provided alternatives of Kumho models, prices and availability. After arranging the time, I put the phone down and said, “Yeah right. Let’s see them deliver”.
Arriving at Lombards Lanseria I was pleasantly surprised to find faultless service. The only item I had to come back for was the sixth spare wheel rim. But even then Hansie phoned me a day or two later to collect the rim and my older tyres. The result: While their service remains at this level and their prices stay competitive – they’re getting my business.