Choosing the Right Tires for Your Car
Buying new tires can feel daunting, with all the different brands, sizes, and tire types to choose from. How do you know which ones are best for your car and driving conditions? Here’s a look at what you need to know to make the most informed decision.
Tire Fit, Function, and Value
When selecting new tires, it’s important to pay attention to three essential factors: function, fit, and value.
When it comes to new tires, consider your driving needs. For example, most passenger vehicles in California come equipped with all-season tires. These can be used year-round and do well in most of the road conditions throughout the state. However, when it comes to more extreme weather like snow or ice, all-weather tires aren’t ideal.
Winter tires have more rugged tread that allows them to handle well in ice and snow. In addition, their rubber compound helps them have better traction when the temperature drops below 45 degrees Fahrenheit. Driving in Seattle, you’ll definitely notice you have better stopping power and traction with winter tires than all-weather tires. In contrast, dedicated summer tires enhance warm weather driving performance.
If you enjoy off-road driving, there are a wide variety of tires on the market, including all-terrain (which is a good mix of highway driving and off-road capability) and dedicated off-road tires. When you’re ready to purchase new tires, be sure to discuss how you plan to use them with your service advisor to ensure you get the load rating, speed rating, wear rating, and type of tire you need.
When purchasing tires, the easiest choice is to get tires that are the same size as the ones that were originally installed by your vehicle’s manufacturer. If you want to change the wheel size or tire profile, however, discuss it with your service advisor first so they can make sure your new wheels and tires fit properly. If the wheels and tires are too large, they may rub while driving over bumps or navigating turns.
It’s also important to make sure that the new tires work with your vehicle’s safety systems, like the anti-lock brakes, stability control, or traction control. Your vehicle’s computer may also need to be recalibrated to ensure these systems function properly.
Many people equate price to value, but it’s important to note that the tire that meets all your needs—AND has the warranty and tread life you’d expect—likely won’t be the least expensive option. However, it will likely bring you the most value over time and the best return on investment.
How to Know When You Need New Tires
So, how do you know if you need new tires? Like choosing tires, there are three factors you should consider: tread wear, tire age, and heat exposure.
Tread depth is the measurement from the top of a tire’s rubber to the deepest part of the tire’s groove. As you drive, tire tread wears down; over time, this makes your tires less effective at gripping the road. It also affects acceleration, braking, cornering, and fuel economy—not to mention safety.
Fortunately, there are two easy ways to check your tread depth. First, many tires come with tread wear indicator bars. These are small, raised bars that are located around the tire at different points to measure how evenly your tread is being worn down. Once your tread reaches about 2/32 inches (the same depth you should replace your tires at), the wear bars will start to be noticeably visible on the tire, signaling that it’s time to replace them.
If your tires don’t have wear bars or you have difficulty finding them, you can also use a penny to test your tread depth. With Lincoln’s head facing down, place the penny into the grooves of your tire tread. If any of Lincoln’s head is hidden by the tread, your tires still have some life left in them. If you can see the top of his head, it’s time for a replacement.
Many automakers recommend replacing your tires every six years (regardless of tire wear) while most tire manufacturers recommend replacing your tires every ten years. The general consensus is that you should have your tires inspected (if not replaced) at six years, and they should definitely be replaced after ten years, no matter the condition or tread depth. This is because rubber breaks down over time, due to friction from driving and exposure to the elements. Driving with tires that are more than ten years old can be a safety hazard.
Although any extreme weather conditions can cause damage and wear to your tires, the sun’s ultraviolet rays can break down the chemical compounds in tires, which can cause issues like dry rot and cracking.
For Quality Tire Services, Turn to EuroCar
When it’s time to buy new tires, visit EuroCar Service. We’ll help you select the right tires for your car and typical driving conditions. We see all European makes, including Audi, BMW, Mercedes, Land Rover, Mini-Cooper, Fiat, Volvo, Saab, Volkswagen, Jaguar, and Smart Car. Contact us today at (206) 527-8828 or request an appointment online.