A Quick Lesson in Tire Selection

The time has come for you to replace your old, worn out tires. Do you buy the same tires that came on your car when you bought it? Or do you switch it up with a different set of tires? You may not think selecting tires is that important, but tires are the only thing connecting your car to the road. So if you decide you’d like to try out something new, there are multiple factors to consider from where to live to how fast you drive. The first and most important thing you need to understand is the manufacturer’s requirements for your vehicle. These dictate the manufacturer’s minimum requirements for your vehicles tires and can be found in the owner’s manual or the tire placard on your vehicle. Read on for additional criteria to consider when shopping for tires.

Tire tread
Tire tread provides your car with a grip on the road, and is especially important when weather conditions get bad. Since tire tread is usually the reason to replace your current set of tires, life expectancy can be a big concern when it comes to shopping for a new set. The U.S. Department of Transportation requires each manufacturer to grade its tires and establish ratings for tread wear, traction and temperature resistance. This grading system is called the Uniform Tire Quality Grading System (UTQGS). Tread wear ratings are based on field testing and should be compared to tires of the same brand, though actual tread wear can differ depending on the car and the driver. The higher the rating, the longer the tire should last. On the other hand, traction and temperature resistance ratings are specific performance levels. Higher graded tires will allow the car to stop on wet roads in a shorter distance and also indicate the tires resistance to heat.

Driving environment
The different elements of your environment are a factor in determining the type of tires you will want to buy. If you live in an area with a lot of rain fall, you will want to look at wet-weather capable tire. Similarly if you live in an area with snow you will want to look for all-season tires or standard tires you can swap out with snow tires during winter months. Having two sets of tires for your car may be a bigger investment but since you are driving on them less, you will see less wear. The speed limit in the area you live is another factor that can affect your choice in tires. Each tire has a speed rating, indicating the safest top speed of the tire under ideal conditions, as well as the gripping and stopping power. Increasing the speed rating will increase the performance of your vehicle, but will decrease your tires’ tread life.

Other factors to consider
Many retailers will offer the option of low profile tires. These tires allow for bigger wheels and smaller sidewalls in a normal-size wheel well, which allow for larger breaks to improve the handling. While the look of these tires may appeal to some, they can be harsh over bumps in the road and expose the wheel to damage. Also look into the tread design of your tire as some designs are nosier than others. Generally this is only a problem for highway driving and can be improved by proper inflation and rotation of your tires every 5,000 to 10,000 miles.

Research the different options available to you and when you have narrowed down your criteria, begin shopping around at different retailers. Each retail store will offer a different selection of deals and tires, as well as amenities such as installation and rotation. Find a retailer and salesperson you trust and that is helpful in your decision process. And to avoid this process anytime in the near future, maintain and protect the life of your tires by keeping your new tires aligned, inflated and rotated.