[Personal] 97T or 98T?

I need some help from someone who actually knows something about tires. This is a long post regarding it, so be prepared.

We got a flat in our Honda Odyssey (2004). Since it’s too close to the sidewall, they couldn’t patch it. Since we’re at 77k miles on the factory tires which are rated for 65k, we decided the best thing to do would be to replace all four.

Well, the tire center at Sam’s couldn’t do it. The Michelin Symmetry tires that we have on there are rated at 98T, and the sticker on the door says the same. All they had was 97T tires, and a bunch of them. They would have to special order the 98T’s for us. He wouldn’t install the 97T’s.

The mechanic also put the fear of “safety” in us. And told us not to let someone else put 97Ts on, as many would ‘just for the sale’. He said it had to do with the strength of the sidewall and the minivan.

We were supposed to head down to our friend Mark and Helena’s housewarming party. But they live in Tuckahoe. There was no way we were going to make a two hour round trip (at 75mph) on a holiday weekend driving on a doughtnut.

So we headed over to NTB (National Tire and Battery). Same thing, they didn’t have any 98T’s. But, they also had a wide selection of 97Ts. The mechanic there said that they always put the 97s on the Hondas. When I told him what the Sam’s tech said, he indicated that it was the letter, not the number that was important. The T was the speed rating. This means it’s top rated speed is 118mph. You can apparently put on a higher letter, (which is faster), but not a lower letter such as R (106 mph). It has to do with the temperature. Now, of course, I’m never going to be going that fast, but that is apparently the more important rating.

He suggested we call the dealer. They were actually really useless. The service department had no additional information and said “we aren’t tire experts and that I should ask at the tire installer”. I was appalled and told him as much. How could the dealer *not* have the information regarding the vehicle’s allowed ratings? All I wanted to know was if I could do the 97Ts or was a I forced to bring it back to the dealer (and of course pay more money). He tried connecting me to parts. They didn’t answer. His solution? Call another dealer. Thanks a whole freakin’ lot you ass.

The 97 or 98 determines the total weight allowed per tire. So the 97t allows a weight of 1609lbs, while the 98T is 1653lbs (44lbs per tire differerence, or 176lbs total.). The curb weight is 4365lbs, but I’m inside right now, and the website doesn’t give the total allowed weight. Though the difference between the two is 2071lbs. That’s alot of people and/or cargo.

Looking on the internet, I found several posts from people in the exact same predicament as us. They can’t find the 98Ts anywhere but at the dealer. Many say they went with the 97s. One gentlemen even explains that with the maximum weight allowance of the 97Ts (6436lbs total), you’re already exceeding the maximum allowable for the minivan, so you’re definately safe.

Part of the problem there is that PSI makes a big difference on the weight. The tires should max at 44psi (manufacturer), but the recommended pressure from Honda is 36psi. Many vehicle manufacturers do this. Read your manual, or door panel, rather than the tire itself. The reduced pressure also means a reduced maximum weight.

Wheeeehhhhheeeww… That was alot of information. We never made it down to the housewarming. We want to be sure we get the right tires for this vehicle. It’s a family car.

So the bottom line is this. How much safety am I sacrificing going with the 97Ts instead? Or should I definately go to the dealer and get the 98Ts? Thoughts?

Right now, I’m leaning towards going with the 97Ts myself. Getting the higher end Michelin Hydroedge tires (great for water reduction). I’m still looking at like 130$/tire. Even if I go with the lesser model, the cost per tire is still over $100. These aren’t your mama’s 60$ tires kids.

[Listening to: Harder To Breathe – Maroon 5 – ]

One Reply to “[Personal] 97T or 98T?”

  1. Use the 98T tires. If there is an accident due to the tires failure, being rated at less spec than Honda’s spec, it may make a difference with the insurance co. The blame will be on you for using the wrong tire. And I would also air the tire to the spec that the manufacturer recommends for that particular model of tire.

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