6 Things You Need To Know When Shopping for Tires

6 Things You Need To Know When Shopping for Tires

Tires are the single most important aspect of your car! Even if you have a great and sophisticated engine, you won’t get anywhere without a set of great tires. Tires have a variety of features that allow them to handle multiple weather and road conditions. With a staggering amount of features and brands out there, tire shopping can seem complicated. Let this guide help you simplify the process.

Finding the Store

First, you need to find the right store. When looking up tire stores, call each one up and ask what type of warranty programs they provide for replacement tires. Inquire about the cost of road hazard insurance, and what conditions are covered and for how long. This is especially important if you live near heavy construction where your tires are more likely to encounter nails and other hazards.

Before making the final selection, research the Internet to find customer reviews. Find out if the store truly honors the warranties and has satisfied customers. Chat boards and online groups are a great way to gauge satisfaction.

Compare Mileage

Once you have selected a store, you need to start comparing different tire brands. One aspect to compare is the mileage. Consider how long you are going to keep your car. If you plan to sell it soon (within 1-2 years), buy tires with lesser mileage that can properly handle your day-to-day road conditions. Otherwise, buy tires that have a higher mileage rating. There is no sense in putting extra money into a car you are going to part with soon.

Handling and Speed Ratings

Often stores will enter your car’s make, model, and year to determine a list of compatible tire models. When selecting a tire, take a look at the tire’s rating for braking and maneuvering capabilities. You need to be able to safely handle wet and icy conditions, depending on where you live.

If you live in an area with heavy snow or ice, you may consider buying a separate set of snow tires to use in the winter, and regular tires otherwise. On the other hand, you could also consider all-season tires that provide better braking and traction in both wet and icy conditions.

If you have a high-performance vehicle, you may want to look at buying high-performance tires. These tires have less tread life, greater speed rating, and are generally more expensive. Trying to go to a lower speed-rating to increase tread life and save money may be a bad idea, as this may introduce a safety hazard. Sports cars generate a lot of heat, and lower-speed-rated tires may not be able to handle the increased load.

Tire Size

Though most experts recommend sticking to the same tires that came with your car, you may want to try on a bigger set of tires. Tire sizes are usually imprinted on the side of your tires and mainly consist of the tire width, tire diameter, aspect ratio, and load index.

The aspect ratio is the ratio of the tire height and width, while the load index tells how much weight the tires can handle. Make sure that the tires you select have the same load index as your originals.

If you change your tire size, you will need to buy a new set of wheels. What wheel you select is not as important as the tires you select, as long as the tires will fit the wheel. Your store will make sure to provide you with a selection that will fit the make and model of your car.

Replacement Time

When driving in wet and snowy conditions, it is important that your tires have excellent traction and grip. To stay safe, you must ensure that your tires are in good condition and are replaced when needed. One aspect to look for when deciding to replace tires is the tread depth. Once the depth starts to get to 4/32 of an inch, you should start looking for replacement tires.

One great test to see if you should replace your tires is the penny test. Simply take a penny and place it head facing down between the treads. If you see Honest Abe’s head, then it is time to replace your tires. It just happens that the distance between the edge of the coin and the head is 2/32 of an inch.

Tire Age

Before replacing tires, check the tire age. Since rubber is perishable, driving on old tires is dangerous and has led to many deaths. The tire age can be found as the last 4 digits of the DOT’s tire identification number. The first two numbers are the week, followed by the year of manufacture. Make sure that the tires are less than a year old.


Tire shopping does not need to be an overwhelming task. Find the right store, the right ratings, and the right price, and you should be ready to go!