When you head out to buy tires at your local tire store, there are several factors to consider. Out of all the information you must keep in mind, you’re probably asking yourself which is most important? After all, those tires keep you and your passengers connected to the road, so these decisions are critical. Your local Driver’s Edge welcomes your questions and can assist you every step of the way.
Tire Store Checklist
It may be beneficial to spend some time educating yourself about tires before you need them. It sounds obvious, but it’s easy to put this off. Making decisions during a crisis situation, however, doesn’t always lead to good choices.
Here are some important factors to consider before you find yourself with a blow-out or flat on the side of the road.
All-Season, Winter or Summer Tires
Do you live in an area that experiences snow and ice for long periods of time in the winter? Weather like this requires a tire that can safely navigate those conditions, specifically the ability to provide additional traction when needed. Winter tires are manufactured with different rubber, tread depth and patterns, and edges that bite snow and ice.
No snow or ice where you drive? Then an all-season tire may be what you need. Most cars come with these tires because they give a quiet, smooth ride and offer the traction necessary under ordinary conditions. If your driving needs entail getting the kids to school, going to the store and work nearby, and maybe one long trip a year, an all-season tire would generally be a good choice.
A set of summer tires may be best when you live in an area that has snow, icy conditions, and more temperate climates during the year. The main difference between the all-season tires and summer tires is tread depth. The summer tires have less tread depth, which can also mean they may have less tread life, but they are more responsive at high speeds.
All of this means your vehicles may need two sets of tires, which can be a major expense. But it also means each set will last longer, since they are only used during part of the year.
Take a look at the side of your tires and you’ll find a sequence of numbers and letters. Here is a quick explanation choosing car tires using the example P205/55 R15:
- The letter P refers to the type of tire, in this case a passenger tire
- The first number (205) expresses the width of the tire in millimeters
- The second number (55) pertains to the tire’s height as a percentage of its width (aspect ratio)
- The letter R tells us that the tire is a radial
- The final number (16) is the diameter of the rim the tire gets mounted on
Once you understand the sizing system of tires, the sequence becomes more understandable. However, your owner’s manual may be even more helpful.
The owner’s manual will indicate the factory-installed size along with some alternative sizes that will work, as well. You may have to purchase different rims, but at least you’ll know which tire sizes to work with.
When to Replace
The whole point is to replace your tires before they put you in danger. Tread depth is the most valuable indicator, so walk around your vehicle once a month or so and check your tires. Most states require tires to have more than 2/32” of tread depth. Once the tread has less, it’s considered worn out.
To help with this, tires have an indicator molded into the tire across the tread pattern that warns drivers when the tread depth reaches the minimum. Don’t ignore it. Book an appointment and head to your local Driver’s Edge to begin the process of picking out replacement tires.