Volkswagen Golf/Jetta/Cabriole 1990-1999

Tires and Wheels


Tire rotation

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Fig. Break the lug bolts/nuts free while the vehicle is on the ground. Do not completely remove the lug bolts/nuts until the wheel is off the ground

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Fig. Once the vehicle is off the ground, remove the lugs

To equalize tire wear and increase the mileage you obtain from your tires, rotate them every 7500 miles. All Volkswagens are designed for radial tires. Radial tires should be rotated by moving the front tires to the rear and the rear tires to the front. Do not move them from side to side unless absolutely necessary, or unless the tire is near the end of its life anyway. Radial tires tend to distort slightly and take a set in the direction of rotation. If a tire is moved from one side to the other and turns the opposite direction, the ride and handling will be affected and the tire may wear faster.


When buying new tires, they should always be replaced in sets of two or four. Always install the same type of tire on all four wheels. Mixing of different types (radial, bias-belted, fiberglass belted) can be hazardous because vehicle handling becomes inconsistent.

Conventional bias tires are constructed so that the cords run bead to bead at an angle. Alternate plies run at an opposite angle. This type of construction gives rigidity to both the tread and the side wall and is good for carrying heavy loads.

Bias belted tires are similar in construction to conventional bias ply tires. Belts run at an angle and also at a 90° angle to the bead, as in radial tires. Tread life is improved considerably over the conventional bias tire and the side wall remains fairly rigid.

On radial tires, instead of the cords and belts being at an angle of 90° to each other, they are all parallel and at an angle of 90° to the bead. The cords wrap directly across the carcass of the tire to make the shortest line from bead to bead. This gives the tread a great deal of rigidity and the side wall a great deal of flexibility. With this construction, it is easier for the tread to stay flat on the road when the car is turning and tire side loads are high. These tires also tend to be rounder and have less rolling resistance. Dry and wet road handling are greatly improved over bias or belted tires. This type of construction accounts for the characteristic bulge associated with radial tires because the side walls are relatively unsupported. This makes proper inflation pressure so important to tire life and performance.

Tire Storage

Store the tires at the proper inflation pressure if they are mounted on wheels. Keep them in a cool dry place, laid on their sides. If the tires are stored in the garage or basement, do not let them stand on a concrete floor. Set them on strips of wood.


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Fig. Tire inflation pressure specifications can usually be found on the driver's side door post

Tire inflation is the most ignored item of auto maintenance, and one of the most important. Buy a tire pressure gauge and keep it in the glovebox of your car. Service station air gauges are generally either not working or inaccurate and should not be relied upon. Also, using the same gauge all the time increases the accuracy of your pressure readings. The tire pressures recommended for your car are usually found on the left door post and in the owner's manual. If you are driving on replacement tires of a different type, follow the inflation recommendations of the tire manufacturer. Never exceed the maximum pressure shown on the tire sidewall. Always check tire pressure when the tires are cool because air pressure increases with heat. Readings can change as much as 4-6 psi depending on tire temperature. For every 10° rise (or drop) in tire temperature, there is a difference of 1 psi. This explains why tires loose pressure when the weather turns colder.

Excess heat generated while driving on an underinflated tire causes serious damage to the structure of the tire. For long highway drives, inflating the tires to within 3-4 psi (cold pressure) of the maximum allowed will increase fuel mileage and tire life.


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Fig. Most tires are made with built-in wear indicator bars; when the bars appear across the tread, the tire should be replaced

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Fig. An inexpensive tire gauge can be used to measure tread depth

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Fig. A penny can be used to check tread depth as well

All tires have 7 built-in tread wear indicator bars that show up as 13mm (1/2 inch) wide smooth bands across the tire when 1.5mm (1/16 inch) 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 1.5mm (1/16 inch) tread. 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 2 adjacent grooves, the tires have less than 1.5mm (1/16 inch) tread left and should be replaced. You can measure snow tires in the same manner by using the tails side of the Lincoln penny. If you can see the top of the Lincoln memorial, it's time to replace the snow tires.