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A Guide to Choosing the Right Tires for Your Vehicle

No matter what kind of vehicle you have, one of the things that you’ll need to do eventually is buy new tires. Whether it’s because one of your tires has a nail in it or they simply are too old, one thing that the dealer is going to ask is what kind of tires you want. The way you answer this is going to depend on driving conditions and the vehicle you drive.

For Comfort & Handling – A set of touring tires will help with providing great dependability on both dry and wet pavements. They will offer both performance handling and a ride that is quiet and smooth.

For Performance & Handling or For a Sports Car – Tires that are high-performance are made to be used at higher rates of speed both in wet and dry conditions. Since their rubber compound is softer, they give you an improved grip, particularly when you’re cornering at high speeds.

SUV or Pickup Truck – Truck tires that are light help with providing traction and durability in off-road conditions that aren’t the best. If you drive an SUV, choose SUV tires that are made for comfort-tuned, on-road SUV applications.

Commercial Vehicle – The truck tires that are light and made for commercial vehicles are made for handling driving through mud, dirt and the everyday wear that comes from driving a commercial vehicle.

Make sure that the tires you choose are going to meet your vehicle’s needs and your needs. Don’t just think about typical conditions you’ll be driving in but the worst-case scenario you may encounter. What kind of performance do you want? Do you want traction in wet conditions over a great cornering capability when the road is dry? When you are giving your dealer a lot more information, they’ll be able to tell you which tire is best for you.

Winter Tires – These are made to perform when the weather is snowy, wet, icy or cold. They’re made to handle well and to have great traction when the conditions are wet. They also can be used when you’re driving in dry weather as well.

All-Season Tires – These kinds of tires satisfy the needs of the majority of road conditions. They come with deep-water channels to provide traction when it’s wet but they also have a rubber compound that is hard to give the tires longer life during the warmer weather.

Off-road tires – These are the tires that you want when you’re taking your vehicle off of the road and doing limited driving on the road. These tire’s sidewalls are stiffer so that they don’t puncture as easily in the off-road conditions. Their tread pattern’s offer wider spacing when compared with all-season tires so that it’s easier to remove the mud from its tread.

Tire Size

When you know the size of your tires, it can help you with saving some time and making a good and informed purchase. The original size of your vehicle’s tires will be in the vehicle owner’s manual or on its tire label. This can be found on the lid of the glove box, inside your fuel hatch, or on your driver’s side doorjamb. If you don’t know or you want to be certain, you can check the sidewall of the tire too.

Tire Width – This number is three digits and it refers to your tire’s width in terms of millimeters.

Aspect Ratio – This is the relationship in between your tire’s width and height.

Radial – The R indicates the carcass plies’ radial construction. This carcass plies is what runs against your tire from one lip to another, helping with providing stability, ride comfort, strength, and flexibility.

Wheel Diameter – This number indicates what size the wheel is that the tire fits on.

Load Index – This is a number from 0-279, and it indicates the amount of weight a tire can carry when its inflation pressure is maximum. When you’re purchasing a tire, you shouldn’t buy one that has a load index lower than the original tires.

Speed Rating – This is the maximum speed that your tire will be able to operate. This will range from Q, which is the lowest, to Z, which is the highest. The only exception is H, which falls after U but before V. In order to keep your vehicle’s speed capability, you should replace your tires with tires that have ratings that are as good or better than your original tires.

Mud and Snow – When you see the letters M&S on a tire, it means that the tire’s met the RMA’s standards when it comes to a snow and mud tire. You can find these in these combinations, M/S, M&S, and M+S. The all-season tires have this mark on them. If you have bought tires that are made for bad ice and snow, there’s going to be a separate marking on the tire that shows that they are made for severe snow.

Tip – You should never choose tires that are smaller than those that your vehicle originally came with. If you want to choose a different size than what you originally had or you want to upgrade, talk to the retailer to get some suggestions.

Tire Mixing

For vehicles that are rear or front wheel drive, it’s a good idea to mount your new tires upon your rear axle so that you’re preventing an oversteer condition that’s unstable. When you are buying just one new tire, pair it on your rear axle with whatever tire has the most tread depth remaining.

If it’s necessary to use bias-ply and radial tires on your vehicle at the same time, you should always put your radials on your rear axle. Bias-ply and radial shouldn’t ever be put on your same axle.

For vehicles that are 4-wheel drive, if there aren’t any instructions in your owner’s manual for tire mixing, these guidelines should be followed:

  • Don’t mix different sized tires
  • Don’t mix bias-ply and radial tires
  • The outer circumference of your four tires should be within 1 or 1.5 inches of one another
  • Don’t mix your tread patterns like all-season and off-road

The next time you go to buy new tires, remember these guidelines. They will help you to save time and perhaps save money.

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