How to choose the right tire

Staff Reports • Feb 27, 2018 at 7:27 PM

The tires on your vehicle can affect your safety and your driving enjoyment. Choose tires that match both your vehicle and the way you drive.

How many tires do I need?

All four tires should be identical. If your tires don’t match, you could have handling problems. For instance, one end of your vehicle may not respond as quickly or completely as the other end, making the vehicle more difficult to control. If you just need to replace one tire that has been dam-aged, replace it with a tire of the same brand type, size and speed rating. A tire that doesn’t match the other three tires on your vehicle could affect you driving safety.

If you need to replace two tires and the remaining two have a lot of tread depth left, replace them with tires that match your existing set as closely as possible. Identical new tires are best but others of the same size and type can also provide good results.

Should I buy a different type of tire?

If you are replacing all four tires, you can explore another category of tires. If you want longer lasting tires, better traction or a smoother ride, there are tire that will help you accomplish this.

What size of tire do I need?

Tires must be able to carry the weight of your vehicle. If a tire is overworked just carrying the load, it will have little reserve capacity to help your vehicle respond quickly and safely. Do not buy undersized tires. Check your owner’s manual, vehicle door jam or glovebox, to find the size of tire recommended for your vehicle.

The other size consideration is overall tire diameter. For cars and vans, stay within a plus or minus 3 percent diameter change. Pick-ups and sport utility vehicles are usually engineered to handle up to a 15 percent oversize tire.

What weather and driving conditions will the tires face?

Select a tire that suits the driving conditions you face most often:

• Snow or ice: snow tires.

• Heavy traffic: More responsive tires.

• Winding roads or in the mountains: A tire that handles well.

• Extensive highway driving: tires with a smooth, quiet ride.

If you face very different driving conditions such as heavy snow in the winter and lots of highway driving in the summer, consider selecting two sets of tires. You’ll get better driving performance and longer total wear from your tires.

What kind of “look” do I want?

Think about whether you’re happy with standard tires or you want the added flair of custom wheels or plus sizing.

How can I find the best value?

Simple fact: In the long run, cheap tires won’t save you money. They don’t last as long as higher quality tires and may result in a rougher ride and inferior handling.

Your goal in tire shopping should be to find the highest quality tire that meets your specific needs and your budget.

A tire has several important functions:

Steers the vehicle

A tire’s ability to maintain its course affects the vehicle’s ability to drive in a straight path. The tire has to help the vehicle steer regardless of road and weather conditions.

Supports the vehicle

A car tire has to carry more than 50 times its own weight.

Absorbs bumps

The flexibility of a tire helps it absorb obstacles on uneven road surfaces and provides a stable ride for the driver and passengers while protecting the vehicle.

Transmits forces

Tires transmit the engine’s power to accelerate and the braking force to stop. How well the tire performs these functions depends in part on how well the tire is maintained. 

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