Buying Tires for Your Vehicle

    Published: 06-16-2009
    Views: 31,009
    Auto Repair Expert John Neilsen discusses Buying Tires for your Vehicle.

    John Nielsen: Hi! I am John Nielsen with AAA. Today we are here talking about buying and maintaining your tires. In this segment we are going to talk specifically about buying a tire for your vehicle.

    Now, there are a number of things to consider when you buy a tire for your vehicle. The first might be where you drive. When you are driving in the Northern United States, you might want to consider a tire with mud and snow rating, to help you in those days when you have snow and light ice.

    If you expect severe snow in an area, you might want a severe snow rated tire. Conversely in other parts of the United States, you may want a tire that's designed specifically to help you in the rainy condition.

    Another consideration might be how far you drive your car on a regular basis? Tires have a wear rating and tires that have extremely high wear ratings are important for those who drive their tires long distance.

    However, if you don't drive your car much, it maybe okay to get a tire that wears a little bit more quickly. Finally, how you drive your car is important. There are performance tires for high performance vehicles, there are truck tires for trucks, and then there are standard, high-mileage, high-efficiency tires for those who are concerned about fuel economy and longevity.

    To help us in selecting the proper tire for our vehicle, we can use a number of factors. The first is going to be the tire sidewall itself. Now, if you look in this example, tires have a rating that talks about the tire size, the rim diameter, and the aspect ratio of the sidewall.

    As we can see in this graphic, this tire is a P185/78/R 15. The first letter P stands for passenger car tire. If this were for a truck, it would say LT. The 185 actually talks about the width of the tread, how wide is the tire.

    The next number 78 talks about the aspect ratio. In this case, it's 78. And 78 means that it's 78% as high as the tire is wide. Then, we have got the letter R which stands for radial, and finally 15, which talks about the rim.

    Now, much of this is already designed in your car and you have a little choice in what you are going to put on. You need to make sure that the tire you are selecting is exactly right for your vehicle, fits the rim properly, and is of the proper width and aspect ratio.

    Two other numbers to pay attention to would be the maximum load capacity and finally the speed rating. The letter Q would indicate a tire that the speed rated up to 99 miles an hour. A Z-rated tire would be rated for more than 149 miles an hour.

    Each of these characteristics are unique to your vehicle. The specific information can be found in your owner's manual, or also in the inside drivers door. One thing we can't leave out is the uniform tire quality grading system.

    This is on the sidewall of the tire and really talks about how the tire is going to wear, what kind of traction you can expect to get out of it, and the temperature that it's going to run at?

    The first number will be 400, 500, 600 and it really talks about how long that tire is going to wear? In this case, the higher the number, the longer life we can expect from the tire.

    Traction is represented by letter, an A would be the best which tells us how good the car is going to have traction in dry and wet conditions. The last letter is going to be actually the temperature that the tire runs at.

    Again an A, meaning that it runs coolest, that's the tire that's going to last the longest and is most desirable. Low cost tires, while safe and certainly meeting minimum standards may not give you the performance and life that you expect. Remember, it's always a trade off. So work with your tire dealer to determine the best tire at the best cost for you in your driving conditions.

    One thing to make sure when you buy your tire is that you register them with the manufacturer. Your tire dealer will provide you with a slip and allow you to register with the tire manufacturer which will make sure that you are notified if there is any problem or recall with the tire.

    One more thing to double-check is the age of the tire. Tires are actually imprinted with the date they were manufactured. Most new tires should be less than a year old, but certainly no more than four years old. In the next segment, we are going to talk about how to maintain your tire.

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