Want a good tip on buying tires?Here are 10 of them
There’s a great deal of information out there on how to buy the right tires for your car or light truck. We’ve combed through a lot of it and extracted the following 10 tips to help make your decision easier.
1: Look before you leap
While it may seem obvious, make sure that your tires actually need replacing. Do the penny test. Insert a penny between the tire tread with Lincoln’s head facing you and pointing down. If you can see all of Lincoln’s head above the tread, it’s probably time for a new set of tires. Ditto if you see uneven tread wear, cracked sidewalls, discoloration or bulging.1
2: Stick with a winner
If you’re happy with the way your car handles, the easiest thing to do is to buy the exact same original equipment (OE) tires that came with your vehicle (or an exact match).
3: Know what you want
Your personal driving style, the type of vehicle you drive and the environment in which you drive it are important factors in buying the right tires. Before you walk into the tire store, know what you’re looking for—a more comfortable ride, more steering control, better traction on wet roads, less noise, longer wear, etc.2
4: Maintain equilibrium
If you’re seeking the perfect tire, you may not find it. Selecting the right tire is normally a balance of ride quality, noise suppression, fuel economy, wear, load capability and cost.3
5: Size matters
Know the size and type of tire the manufacturer of your car recommends. This recommendation is based on the size, weight, load capacity, off-road capability and steering for your specific vehicle. Changing the tire size and type could impact the handling of your vehicle. The two critical measurements to match are the tire's width (in millimeters) from sidewall edge to sidewall edge and its diameter from rim to rim.4, 5
6: Compare, compare, compare
Tire prices can vary from one tire store to another. Do as many comparisons as you can to find the best value. And be sure to ask for the “out-the-door” price, which can include mounting, balancing and providing the valve stem.6
7: Going online
Online tire prices could be lower often lower than those at the local tire stores. But be sure to add in the cost of shipping as well as mounting and balancing before you spring for them. Some local tire stores will match an online price, so if you know the brand and model of the replacement tire, it’s worthwhile to first price it online.7
8: Four of a kind
Never buy just one replacement tire. Modern suspension technology is designed to work best with a matching set of tires. For uniform performance, replace all four tires at once. If you can’t replace all four tires at once, at least replace both tires on the front or the rear axle simulatanelously.8
9: Drive straight
It’s a good idea to have your wheel alignment checked annually. By all means, have it done when you buy new tires so they don't immediately start to wear unevenly. Many shops guarantee alignment work for up to one year, so bring your vehicle back before the guarantee ends to have the alignment checked again.9
10: Full speed ahead
The speed rating of a tire tells you the speed it can safely maintain over time. A higher speed rating usually means you’ll have better control and handling at higher speeds—and that the tire can take the extra heat. It's OK to move up to a higher speed-rated tire, but don't go lower than your vehicle manufacturer recommends.10
11: A stitch in time saves nine
Tires aren’t maintenance free; they lose air over time. Underinflated tires decrease gas mileage and are more likely to suffer a blowout. Help avoid problems by checking inflation pressures and inspecting your tires monthly.11
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