What Should I Consider When Buying Tires?

Mary McMahon

Buying tires can be a confusing task, because most people do not do it very often. Taking a few things into account when buying tires will make the process easier, and also ensure that you get the right tires for the right job. Good tires can make a major difference in your life: sometimes it feels like driving a brand new car. If you are not entirely certain about your needs, take someone experienced with you while buying tires, and make sure to go to a reputable dealer.

If you live in a wintery climate, you may want to consider speciality tires designed for driving in snow and ice.
If you live in a wintery climate, you may want to consider speciality tires designed for driving in snow and ice.

The first thing to think about when buying tires is if you need them, and how many you need. Tires are an extremely important part of your car, and make driving safer, easier, and more pleasant. When tires wear down, they can be dangerous, and they also impact your car's handling. Go outside and look at your tires, and bring a penny coin along. Inspect the tread to see if it is evenly worn, and if the wear looks the same on all the tires. Stick the penny into the tread face up: if you can see the entire head of the figure printed on the penny, you need new tires. Be aware that if only one of your tires is bad, you will still need to replace two when buying tires, and you should have the dealer put the new tires on the back axle, for safer handling.

Used tires.
Used tires.

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Once you have established the need for tires, think about your driving needs. If you live in an area with lots of ice and snow, you may want to consider buying tires customized for this purpose. If you want more sporty handling, you can purchase sport tires. Or you can stick with all weather tires, which will handle reasonably well in a variety of situations, and be slightly cheaper. You should also consider the type of car that you drive: some cars such as sport utility vehicles use specialized tires.

Before you go to the tire dealer, make sure that you know your tire size. This information can be found in the owner's manual for the vehicle, or on the informational placard inside the door. It is important to purchase tires of the right size for your car, so make sure to get this information right. Many tire dealers can also eyeball tire size by looking at your car, especially if it's a common make and model, but knowing the manufacturer's specification when buying tires is a good idea.

When you're at the dealer buying tires, you will be presented with a number of options. Try to keep your needs list in mind: don't yield to the temptation to buy expensive specialized tires if you've already decided that all weather tires will do. Do get information about the expected life of the tire and warranty, and keep it somewhere secure so that if you have a problem with your new tires, you can bring them back to the dealer for a refund. Make sure to care for your tires well also: balance and rotate them periodically, and adjust your car's alignment if you have uneven tread wear.

SUVs often need specialized tires.
SUVs often need specialized tires.

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