At oil change time I got some bad news. Everything was fine when the attendant checked my fluids and wipers. Not so when he checked my tires. According to him, my tires were worn and needed to be replaced. This was news to me. My car had been traveling fine. There was no bumping, steering problems or excessive noises.
The attendant left me wondering how to buy tires. What do you look for and how do you know when tires need to be replaced?
Instead of flinging myself on the mercy of the tire sales clerk I decided to research tire buying. Here’s what I learned.
Buy in sets or pairs.
Even though the tires are rated to be the same size a new tire will have more tread and be slightly larger than the older tire. This size difference puts strain on the axle, transmission and other parts of the vehicle. To eliminate the strain, tires should always be purchased in pairs or sets.
Do you want a tire for all seasons? Specialized tires are also available for winter driving Knowing how you drive will help you determine what type of tire you need.
Buying a tire is like buying shoes. You need to get the right size. Your owner’s manual should tell you what size you need. The other place you can check is on the side of the existing tire. Mine read “P165/85 R15”. There also may be a sticker inside the driver’s door, in the glove compartment or on the inside of the hatch where you put gas into the vehicle.
Where to purchase
Tires are available from car dealers, wholesale clubs, tire dealers and discount stores. They can also be ordered online. Prices can vary widely even among the same type and size of tire. It pays to shop around.
Know where you want your tires to be put on your vehicle. For years, manufacturers recommended that the best tires needed to be on the front of the vehicle. Now, tire manufacturers are now recommending that the tires with the best tread wear need to be placed on the back of the vehicle. This is a recent industry change.
New tires adhere to the road better than older tires. Placing new ones on the back of the vehicle will help prevent fishtailing and hydroplaning.
Determining the amount of tread on your tires is easy and important. To see if it is time for new tires put a U.S. penny into the tread depth of your tire. You should not be able to see the top of Abe Lincolin’s head. If you do, it is time to purchase new tires.
When I found this out I tested my tires with a penny. Sure enough, I could see the top of his head very clearly. A closer inspection of the tire revealed the steel belts that should have been contained in the rubber.
If you have steel showing it is beyond time to replace the tires.
We got new ones. Even though my car seemed to be driving fine before the new ones were put on it is definitely handling better now. That’s a sure clue that it was past time.
I’m glad that I did some research on how to buy tires for my vehicle. Otherwise, I’d still be driving on tires that needed to be replaced.