Where the rubber meets the road
How to choose the right tires for your vehicle
Tips on choosing the right replacement tires for your vehicle—a look at tire size, speed rating, performance, handling and safety.
When it’s time for a tire change, many drivers go with the OE (original equipment) tires that came with their car or truck. But for increased safety and performance, it’s better to base your choice on things like the local climate, personal driving style and speed rating. After all, there’s a lot riding on your vehicle’s four tires, most importantly, the safety of you and your passengers.
The penny test
How do you know when to replace tires? Here’s how to check tire tread: stick a penny (Lincoln’s head facing down) into the tread groove. If the top of his head is visible, it’s probably time to replace.
Tip: Stay on top of things. Check for tread wear at least once every two months.
Summer, Winter or All-season
There are different tires for different seasons. Summer tires provide excellent grip and handling on both wet and dry roads. Winter or snow tires provide better grip on ice and snow. All-season tires provide excellent handling, winter or summer. By far, all-season tires are the most popular, as they can stay on the vehicle year round.
Tip: Unless you live in an extremely hot or cold climate, all-season tires are probably your best bet. Look for an S (112 mph) or T (118 mph) speed rating.1 If looking to finance your purchase, Synchrony Car CareTM has a network of merchant partners who provide attractive offers.
How a tire performs on the road is also important. Performance is a catchall term for things like braking, acceleration and grip or traction. All three types—summer, winter, and all-season—are also available as high-performance tires that enhance high-speed handling and stability.
Tip: High-performance tires tend to wear faster than standard tires. Consider them only if they fit your driving style.
A tire's speed rating (see chart below) is an indication of how well it will handle at a particular test speed.
B - Up to 31 mph
C - Up to 37 mph
D - Up to 40 mph
E - Up to 43 mph
F - Up to 50 mph
G - Up to 56 mph
J - Up to 62 mph
K - Up to 68 mph
L - Up to 75 mph
M - Up to 81 mph
N - Up to 87 mph
P - Up to 94 mph
Q - Up to 100 mph
R - Up to 106 mph
S - Up to 112 mph
T - Up to 118 mph
U - Up to 124 mph
H - Up to 130 mph
V - Up to 149 mph
W - Up to 168 mph
Y - Up to 186 mph
Z - 149 mph and over
The higher the speed rating, the better the handling will be. Generally, high-performance cars use H (130 mph) or V (149 mph) ratings, while passenger vehicles use S (112 mph) and T (118 mph) ratings.
One thing to remember: Never mix and match tires with different speed ratings on your vehicle. This can cause serious problems with the handling of your vehicle.2
Tip: As with high-performance tires, consider high-speed tires only if they fit your driving style. Synchrony Car CareTM can help facilitate your purchase through one of their multiple merchant partners.
What the sidewalls say
You can learn a lot about a tire by looking at the measurement numbers on its sidewall. They include tire width, aspect ratio, radial design, tire diameter, tire load rating and tire speed rating.
Here's a typical example:
Tip: High-performance tires are wider than all-season tires and have a lower aspect ratio, which looks good on your vehicle, but can result in a stiffer ride.
Plus sizing is when you replace both the wheels and tires at the same time—going with larger diameter alloy wheels and low profile tires to boost performance, handling and the overall look of the vehicle. Use an online tire size calculator to determine the optimum wheel and tire size for your vehicle.
Tip: If your budget won’t allow you to replace the wheels, you can still improve handling by choosing a tire with a shorter sidewall (profile).3
The bottom line is safety
Whether replacing auto tires or truck tires, the number one criteria should always be safety. You can compare safety ratings from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration of most tire brands at safercar.gov Here’s a link:
We include links to other websites in this article for your convenience. We do not endorse any content on these sites.
All product names, logos, and brands are property of their respective owners. All company, product and service names used in this website are for identification purposes only. Use of these names, logos, and brands does not imply endorsement.
This content is subject to change without notice and offered for informational use only. You are urged to consult with your individual business, financial, legal, tax and/or other advisors with respect to any information presented. Synchrony Financial and any of its affiliates (collectively, “Synchrony”) make no representations or warranties regarding this content and accept no liability for any loss or harm arising from the use of the information provided. Your receipt of this material constitutes your acceptance of these terms and conditions.
© 2016 Synchrony Financial. All rights reserved. No reuse without prior written consent from Synchrony Financial.