Tires are one of the most important safety features of a vehicle. They are the parts of the vehicle that touch the ground, so they need to be in good shape all the time. Unsurprisingly, most people do not pay attention to this important part of their vehicles. As a result, they risk getting in an accident more than those who do.
If you are looking to buy new tires for your vehicle, here is how to go about it.
Your car must be in good shape
Before you buy new tires for your car, you need to make sure it is in good shape. Check your old tires for signs of uneven wear as this often indicates alignment or suspension issues. Also, check whether your tires have more wear on the inside or outside or whether the wear pattern is even across the entire tread width.
Putting new tires on a car with bad shocks or improper alignment will cause the tires to wear quickly and unevenly. And that is why it is important to confirm this so you can take necessary action if your vehicle has these issues.
Your vehicle’s information placard and owner’s manual recommend specific tires
Your car’s manufacturer always recommends the size and type of tires that best fit your vehicle in your owner’s manual and information placard. So, take a close look at these detail cards before you make a purchase.
Your vehicle’s information placard is a requirement by law. It should be attached to your glove compartment door, door post, door edge, or trunk lid. If you can’t find it, it may be because it has been painted over.
Besides, if you don’t have an owner’s manual, maybe through theft or loss, you can get a replacement from your car dealer or manufacturer at a cost.
Consider the weather and driving conditions
An important factor to consider is the weather in the area where you plan to drive your vehicle. Tires are often designed to handle specific driving conditions. Hence, you should ensure the new tires you are buying are right for the weather condition of your area.
For instance, if you live in colder regions, you need winter tires that will give you more traction on the snow. These tires are usually made with soft rubbers designed to grip slippery surfaces. If, on the other hand, you live in hotter regions, you need summer tires made of tougher rubber that will last longer in hot weather.
Further, you can buy all-season tires, which are designed to perform well in almost all weather conditions.
Decipher the tire code
To buy the right tires for your car, you should first decipher the characters written on its sidewall. These characters are codes required by law to describe tires and identify them. An example is P 185/ 75 R 14 82 S.
Below is a quick breakdown of tire codes.
- The first character in the code is a letter, and it denotes the type of tire you want to buy. The most common letters in a tire code are “P,” which stands for passenger tires, and “LT,” denoting light trucks. Other letters are “ST” for special trailer and “T” for temporary or spare tires.
- After, there is a three-digit number that denotes the thread width (in millimeters) from one sidewall edge to another.
- Next is a two-digit number indicating the tire’s aspect ratio or height-to-width ratio. The smaller this figure, the shorter the sidewall.
- Then, there is another letter indicating internal construction. This letter could be “R,” “B,” “-,” or “D.”
- After, there is another two-digit number that shows the diameter of the wheel the tire is designed to fit.
- Also, there is an optional two- or three-digit number indicating the tire’s load index number. This figure is not required by law, so it is not always included. The load index number describes how much load the tire can carry. We advise that you avoid choosing a tire with a lower load index than what your car’s manufacturer recommends.
- After the load index is the tire’s speed rating denoted with a letter. It indicates the speed with which the tire dissipates heat. The more heated a rubber gets, the faster it wears. The more common tire speed ratings are T and H as they are the most suitable for traveling long distances on highways. If you, however, aren’t a traveler, the S rating is good enough for you.
There are many other characters in a tire code, however, the aforementioned are the more essential ones.
Buying new tires is not easy. However, paying attention to the aforementioned before you buy a new tire will help you choose the best one for your vehicle and your driving situation.