There's a lot to consider when choosing tires! Learn how to pick tires that are best for your vehicle - no matter what time of year it is.
The Best Tips on Choosing the Right Tires for Your Motor
You don't necessarily think of tires until you need them, but there is more to it than just grabbing a new set. Here is some help picking out the right ones so your car handles better and your tires last longer.
Tire Size Matters
When choosing new automotive tires for your vehicle, there are specific sizes you need to be aware of. The easiest way to know the size is to either check with the tire store or check your owner's manual. Let's say that your tires are P215/60R16 94T. Here is how that code breaks down so you know what the numbers mean. The 215 number stands for the millimeters of cross section width and the number 60 is the ratio of sidewall height to width. The letter R stands for radial ply construction, and the wheel rim diameter is where you get the 16. If you had 20s on your vehicle, that number would be 20.
The speed rating has different ratings depending on the automotive tires. For example, an all-season standard tire may carry the letter S for 112mph or a T for 118mph. This is the maximum speed load, not the maximum speed you should be driving. There are other letters that increase in speed; for example, H is 130mph, V is 149mph, ZR is 149 and up, W is 168, and Y is 186. However, if you have a set of winter tires, you may see a code letter of Q, which is for 99mph.
There are other codes to be aware of. In our example above, the 94 is the number that stands for the load index but in this case, that number 94 means 1,477lbs per tire. There is also a treadwear grade you'll find on the tire, traction and temperature score, and the manufacture date code, which indicates when it was made.
Types of Tires
There are quite a few types of tires, including all-season tires, performance all season tires, ultra high-performance tires, all season truck tires, all-terrain truck tires, winter/snow tires, performance winter/snow tires, and truck winter/snow tires. Here is a little more about each.
All season tires work for most vehicles, from small to light duty trucks and SUVs. These are not going to give you the best performance like some of the other tires, but they will give you year-round traction, a comfortable ride, and extended tread wear. You will usually find these on 14 to 18-inch wheel sizes, and the speed ratings run from none to S and T, which is 112 and 118mph. Treadwear warranties range from none at all to 40,000 to 100,000 miles.
Performance all season tires are similar to all-season tires but have a better braking, handling, and a higher speed rating. Ultra high-performance tires are at the top of the list in this sector and are typically found on sports cars and luxury sedans.
All season truck tires are similar to all-season tires and have approximately the same ratings but with a larger wheel size that runs from 15 to 22 inches. Like the all season tires, the ratings change along with the performance, such as the all-terrain truck tires that are intended for more rugged wear, and the winter/show tires that are meant for handling cold weather conditions. These tires have a specific rubber that is built to remain pliable in extreme conditions, and the tread is unique, too. It has to grip the snow better so you do not slide as easily. Like the other types of tires, winter/snow tires also have options that are of a higher performance. While these usually cost more, they have better features and perform better than the cheapest option.
Tire Handling and Performance
There are a few things to look for in handling and performance. These include handling, dry braking, wet braking, ride noise, ride comfort, rolling resistance, and snow traction. For example, an ultra high-performance summer tire will handle great. It will have no problem with dry braking, and it will be good at wet braking but will start to lose performance at rolling resistance and not do well at all or perform poorly with snow traction, for obvious reasons. The all season tire or all weather tires will not have handling and performance issues but will not excel at things like wet braking or snow traction. However, it will still perform well in these conditions. The winter/snow tire will excel at ride comfort and snow traction but under-perform at handling, dry braking, and wet braking, although it still falls under the "good" level even under these conditions.
Keep in mind that the higher the performance of your tire, the higher in cost it is going to be on average. However, a better tire will keep you safer and extend the life of your car, and you won't wear them out as quickly. The investment you make now will last longer if you get something better than just an average or cheaper tire.
A lot of this can be confusing if you are not used to reading the numbers or knowing what they mean. However, with these helpful hints and a little bit of practice, you can choose the right tire for your needs and not have to depend on what the tire salesperson offers. At the very least, you'll know if what they are telling you is really in your best interest. Whether it's all weather tires, snow tires, or high performance tires you choose, learn a little about how to pick the right one so you always know what is best.