If you are shopping for new tires, chances are you might be feeling more confused than when you started.Tire sizes, tread types, and an overwhelming amount of different types of tires often keep drivers going in circles wondering what is the right choice for their situation.
Tire prices can range from very cheap to head-scratching expensive, and almost every tire brand claims to be the best, so choosing the right tires can be an overwhelming task.
Tires have come a long way in recent decades and (thankfully) last much longer due to advances in quality materials and production. However, the actual life of a tire also depends on what you drive, where you drive, and the climate you’re driving in.
While purchasing tires may never be second nature to you, here are three major factors to consider before purchasing your next set of tires:
1. Tire size matters.
It’s always best to get the same size tire that originally came on your vehicle.
For most vehicles, this information is in the owner’s manual and posted in the driver’s side doorjamb. Many vehicles also have this information labeled on the gas tank hatch and the glove box door.
There has been a recent trend to “upsize” and get bigger tires, but many tire experts say both grip, acceleration and fuel economy suffer when drivers choose to “go big” with tires. Road tests performed by Car & Driver found that as wheels and tires get heavier, performance suffers. Bigger tires also add weight to your vehicle, which can lead to reduced fuel economy.
Overall, most auto manufacturers suggest sticking with the size your vehicle came with as opposed to “plus-sizing” your tires. Remember, the original tire size was made specifically for your car to give you the best performance.
2. What will best handle your route?
Consider what roads your travels normally take you. If you drive mostly in high-traffic areas, you’ll likely be better off buying more responsive tires that provide more reliable braking.
If you drive mainly on back roads, you want to choose tires that handle curves well. Hitting the highway a lot? You’re better off with longwearing tires.
If you drive on rough roads, like gravel roads or streets with a lot of potholes, consider all-terrain tires. All-terrain tires are not only durable, but they’re designed to give you more control on those rough patches.
3. Will they withstand the weather?
The type of tire you choose will depend on the type of climate you are in. All-season tires are a good choice for drivers who live in moderate climates, but they’re not designed to handle extreme winter weather conditions. If you are driving in winter weather, make sure your tires can handle the worst driving conditions you can possibly encounter.
Winter tires are equipped with deeper tread to grip snow and ice, which provides greater maneuverability and control during inclement weather. Keep in mind that it’s best to have winter tires on all four wheels–even if you only have a two-wheel drive vehicle. This gives you the best control on snow- or ice-covered roads.
If you’re headed to warmer weather during the winter months, you obviously don’t need to think about snow tires. Summer tires are made for speed, agility and road-holding performance. They have a more shallow tread depth than winter tires, which puts more “rubber to the road” and allows for more stability.
Choosing the right tires might seem like a difficult task, but don’t let the different types and sizes overwhelm you. By keeping your tire size, road conditions, and climate in mind, your next tire purchase will be a smooth ride.