Honda Civic/CRX/del Sol 1984-1995 Repair Guide

Tires and Wheels



See Figure 1

Tire inflation is generally the most ignored item of auto maintenance, a potentially costly and hazardous oversight. When underinflated, tires wear unevenly requiring early replacement. Also the contact patch of a poorly inflated tire is less stable and therefore provides less grip. An underinflated tire is more prone to bottoming-out over bumps and potholes leading to bent wheels, flats, or both. Increased load (such as when carrying passengers, cargo or both) will exacerbate any of the above problems. Studies have shown gasoline mileage can drop as much as 0.8% for every 1 psi of underinflation.

Two items should be a permanent fixture in every glove compartment: a tire pressure gauge and a tread depth gauge. Check the tire pressure, including the spare, regularly with a pocket type gauge or preferably, a dial gauge. Kicking the tires won't tell you a thing, and the gauge on a service station air hose is notoriously inaccurate.

Avoid dropping a dial gauge or exposing it to sudden shocks, as this may cause it to go out of calibration.

A plate located on the left door will tell the proper pressure for the tires. Ideally, inflation pressure should be checked before driving when the tires are cold. When driven on, tires flex, create friction, and the air inside them expands increasing pressure.) Every 10°F rise or drop in temperature means a difference of 1 psi, which explains why the tire seems to lose air on a cold night or into the Fall and Winter seasons. When it is impossible to check the tires cold, allow for pressure build-up due to heat. If the hot pressure exceeds the cold pressure by more than 15 psi, reduce vehicle speed, load or both. This is a sure sign that excess internal heat is being created in the tire, and the temperature could continue to rise. If the heat approaches the temperature at which the tire was cured during manufacture, the tread could separate from the body.

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Fig. Fig. 1: Tire information can be found on a sticker located near the driver's door striker plate

Never attempt to counteract excessive pressure build-up by bleeding off air pressure (letting some air out). This will produce the opposite of the desired effect by allowing more tire flex and friction, further raising the tire temperature.

Before starting a long trip with lots of luggage, you can add about 2-4 psi to the tires to make them run cooler but never exceed the maximum inflation pressure on the side of the tire.


See Figures 2, 3 and 4

All tires made since 1968 have eight built-in tread wear indicator bars. They show up as 1 / 2 in. (13mm) wide smooth bands across the tire when 1 / 16 in. (1.6mm) of tread remains. The appearance of tread wear indicators means that the tires should be replaced. In fact, many states have laws prohibiting the use of tires with less than 1 / 16 in. (1.6mm) tread.

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Fig. Fig. 2: When these bands become visible on the tread surface, replace the tire

You can check your own tread depth with an inexpensive gauge or by using a Lincoln head penny. Slip the Lincoln penny into several tread grooves. If you can see the top of Lincoln's head in two adjacent grooves, the tires have less than 1 / 16 in. (1.6mm) tread left and should be replaced. You can measure snow tires in the same manner by using the "tails" side of the Lincoln penny.

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Fig. Fig. 3: A Lincoln head penny may also be used to determine tread depth

A tread depth gauge will allow you to more accurately monitor the wear of your tires over time and you will be able to check that the tire is wearing evenly across the treadwidth.

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Fig. Fig. 4: A depth gauge is the most accurate way to determine tread depth


See Figure 5

Tires must be rotated periodically to equalize wear patterns that vary with a tire's position on the vehicle. Tires will also wear in an uneven way as the front steering/suspension system wears to the point where the alignment should be reset.

Rotating the tires will ensure maximum life for the tires as a set, as you will not have to discard a tire early due to wear on only part of the tread. This is particularly important with a front-wheel drive vehicle. Since the front tires handle all of the traction and turning as well as most of the stopping forces, they will wear noticeably faster than the rears. Regular rotation is required to equalize wear.

When rotating "directional tires", make sure that they always roll in the same direction. This means that a tire used on the left side of the vehicle must not be switched to the right side and vice-versa. These tires are marked on the sidewall as to the direction of rotation; observe the mark when reinstalling the tire(s).

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Fig. Fig. 5: Tire rotation diagrams


All Honda vehicles covered in this information came equipped from the factory with steel belted radial tires. No other type of tire should be used. All of these vehicles use a temporary type spare tire, which is designed for limited emergency use.

For maximum satisfaction, tires should be used in sets of five. Mixing of different types (radial, bias-belted, fiberglass belted) must be avoided.

Conventional bias ply tires are constructed so that the cords run bead-to-bead at an angle. This type of construction gives rigidity to both tread and sidewall.

Bias-belted tires are an evolutionary improvement over bias ply tires. Belts are laid at alternating angles from bead-to-bead, and also at a 90° angle to the bead, as in the radial tire. Tread life is improved considerably over the conventional bias ply tire.

The radial tire differs in construction. Instead of the carcass plies running at an angle of 90° to each other, they run at a 90° angle to the bead. This gives the tread and sidewall a great deal of flexibility and accounts for the characteristic bulge surrounding the contact patch associated with radial tires.

Snow tires should not be operated at sustained speeds over 70 mph (113 kph), unless they are specially designed as "performance snow tires" and carry a manufacturer's speed rating.

On four wheel drive vehicles, all tires must be of the same size, type and tread pattern, to provide even traction on loose surfaces and to prevent driveline bind.


Store the tires at proper inflation pressure if they are mounted on wheels. All tires should be kept in a cool, dry place. If they are stored in the garage or basement, do not let them stand on a concrete floor, set them on strips of wood.


Some Honda vehicles are equipped with aluminum alloy wheels. These wheels are protected with a clear-coat finish when they are manufactured. This finish protects the alloy wheel from tarnishing or discoloring. When these wheels are handled, care should be taken to not scratch the coating. Also, when having replacement tires mounted, be sure to first inquire that the shop doing the work is equipped with a tire changing machine designed to not scratch alloy wheels. Traditional steel wheel tire changers may gouge the finish of alloy wheels.

Alloy wheels should be cleaned periodically (as-needed) to prevent potentially harmful road dirt and chemical buildup from eating away at the clear-coat finish. When cleaning alloy wheels, use only non-acid-based and non-abrasive cleaners. Cleaners containing harsh acids will etch the wheel surface and cause the coating to peel off. There are many good quality cleaners available that are specifically designed to cut the grime from alloy wheels without attacking the finish (soap and water will work, but brake dust stuck to the wheels is hard to remove). Always follow the manufacturer's directions given on the container when using a specific cleaner.