Getting the Best Deals on New Tires

by Nancy

For many individuals, purchasing a car is a major purchase. Even if you are buying a less expensive used car, you want to make the most out of your investment. That means taking good care of your vehicle. The better you care for the vehicle, the longer it lasts. Plus, you save money by reducing the number of repair fees. While there are many considerations for taking care of your car, one of the most important areas to focus on is your tires. No matter where you drive, your tires experience wear and tear. 

At a glance, most tires appear similar, but there are distinct differences. Which tires you use largely depends on your vehicle, as well as the type of environment you traditionally drive in. Getting new tires is not the only way to take care of your car. You can increase longevity by rotating your tires. There are also a few other driving considerations to get more life out of your tires.

Identifying your Tires

For many drivers, part of what makes selecting tires overwhelming is figuring out the measurements. The size of your car determines what tires you need. There is an easy way to figure out the size. Your tire measurements are listed either in your owner’s manual or the placard on the driver’s side doorjamb. The code may initially look confusing, but it is easy to break down.

The code will either start with a P or an LT. This refers to the type of vehicle, with P meaning passenger and LT representing light truck. This is followed by a number, which is the width of your tires in millimeters. Next there is a slash, followed by another number. This number is the height of your tire in comparison to the width. There will be another letter next, either R or D. R stands for radial tire, while D is diagonal bias ply tire. The next number indicates the total diameter in inches.

There are two final numbers, your load index and speed rating. Load index is the maximum amount of weight your tire can support, while the speed rating is the maximum speed the tire can spin. While there is a lot of information in a tire code, you are not expected to memorize it. All you need to do is specify the code when you are looking to purchase new tires and the manufacturer will do the rest. If you are buying used tires on your own, compare the listed numbers with your current tire code to see if there are any issues.

All-Season Tires

All-season tires create a smooth driving experience on roads and highways, providing excellent traction no matter the season. They typically feature an asymmetrical tread pattern, as well as circumferential grooves to help grip a slickened road. While all-season tires perform well no matter what the climate, it does not mean they are the best option. Typically, all-season tires are a safe bet if you live in an area with mild weather that does not require more specialized tires.

There are two additional variants for all-season tires, but they only have minor differences The first is touring tires, which make less noise and provide slightly better handling. Passenger tires provide a smoother ride and typically last longer than generic all-season tires.

Summer Tires

While most drivers are aware of difficulty driving in the winter, there are also some road hazards during the summer. It may not impact your driving as much as winter, but extreme dry spells can cause damage to your tires. Summer tires have a strong grip and more responsive handling in both dry and wet weather. Their contact patches and circumferential grooves also assist with hydroplaning after a storm.

Performance Tires

Performance tires are built with unique designs and grooves to give increased grip. They perform well in wet driving conditions. Their sipping is denser compared to other tires, which helps with handling. Performance tires also have higher speed ratings, making them more common on sports cars and luxury vehicles.

Touring Tires

Despite the shared name, touring tires are not the same as all-terrain touring tires. Touring tires provide drivers with more responsive handling. They also have higher speed ratings without impacting control or performance. They are not quite as highly rated for speed as performance tires, but typically provide superior handling. Many luxury vehicles include touring tires by default.

Winter Tires

If you live in a colder climate, winter tires are practically a necessity. Winter tires, sometimes referred to as snow tires, come in two variants, studded or non-studded. Studded tires perform better against snow or ice, but worse on traditional roads. In some towns, only select vehicles are allowed to have studded tires. As a result, non-studded are more common. These tires use special rubber compounds to withstand freezing conditions and provide superior grip and braking ability, even on slick ice or slippery roads.

Rotating and Replacing

Rotating your tires is a good way to reduce tread wear, reduce noise and improve your overall handling while driving. It also extends the life of your tires. If you do not rotate your tires, friction builds up and causes your tires to wear down quicker, degrading the overall quality. The general rule of thumb is to rotate your tires roughly every 7,500 miles, or once every six months. Rotating tires at a mechanic is fairly inexpensive, costing between $20 to $50 on average. Many mechanics will include it as a general service charge.

If you take care of your tires, you can typically get five or six years from the tire. Even if you are a careful driver and always stay below the speed limits, your tires still degrade over time. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration recommends replacing your tires every six years.

Purchasing New Tires

The cost of tires varies depending on the brand, size and type. While there are many options to choose from, there is only a small price variation, with most tires costing between $100 and $300. Some of the top tire brands include: