Tire Buying Guide - Important Tips
Your car’s tires will wear out over time and need to be replaced periodically. Tire replacement depends upon how often a car is driven, how it is driven, and even where it is driven (seasons and climate). Tires can affect gas mileage as well as safe maneuvering capabilities such as stopping and cornering.
Most consumers look for ways to save money when it’s time to purchase new tires, but low prices might not always provide the best options. In contrast, higher prices do not necessarily translate into safer, longer lasting tires. Here, we’ll explain three important keys to starting the tire buying process.
3 Tips to Follow When Shopping for New Tires
It is helpful to begin with online research. Many online tire retailers, such as tirerack.com, offer independent ratings and reviews on every tire sold. Search consumer reviews on a few different brand name tires.
1. Select tires right for your climate: Plan for the weather. Some tires are listed as summer tires or performance radials. These tires may work if you reside in a warm climate where snow and ice aren’t factors. For those who experience the best of all four seasons, select an all-season or touring radial. Read the description to be sure the tire is rating for stopping on snow or ice.
2. Know the correct size: Not every tire is available in every size. Each tire has its size stamped on the sidewall. If reading the sidewall is difficult, look in your car’s user manual or check the manufacturer’s white sticker just inside the driver’s side door jam. Your car’s recommended tire size will be shown here. Every tire size follows this format P***-**R-** or P225-45R-18. When comparing tire prices, always use your car’s exact tire size. Price on the same model can vary as much as $80-$100 per tire based on size alone.
3. Consider the tire’s tread-wear rating: Along with its size, every tire has a tread-wear rating stamped on the sidewall. Each model has its own rating, ranging from 100 to 500. For normal commuting and maximum tire life, narrow down your selection to tires with a tread-wear rating of 360 or higher. In the late 70s the NHTSA standardized a 7,200 mile course on paved roadways in west Texas. Generally speaking, a tire that shows wear of about 50% receives a tread-wear rating of 100. A tire that receives a tread-ware rating of 200 is said to last twice as long. The scale continues up to tires with ratings of 600. NOTE: The rating is an estimate, not a guarantee. While higher tread-ware ratings are not always better, a rating of 400 is likely to outlast more expensive tires rated at 280.
These three factors will help get the search started with the basics in place. The rest of the selection process should be based on consumer reviews, pricing, and other important specs such as braking distances on wet and dry pavement. A few internet searches using the terms discussed here will help identify the right model for your vehicle.