Having just gone through the trial of selecting new tires for my car and since this is a web site about tires, I thought it would be helpful to write about my experience and also some of the criteria that I used to finally decide which tires would be the right ones for my car. Of course we will all use different criteria, but hopefully this list will help readers and you may want to add them to your list. If you do not have one, perhaps this will help you when it comes time to put new rubber on your car.
Select New Tires for Your Car
We will expand on each of the items below:
- Tire Size
- Year of Your Car
- Speed Rating
- Road Condition – Mud, Snow, Rain, Seasons
- Valve Stems
- Mileage Warranty
- Maintaining your Warranty
- Repair Locations
When you go into see a tire dealer regardless of who it is they will check to make sure that they put the right size of tire on your car as defined by the manufacturer of your car. You can save time and also cross check your dealer if you already know the size of tire that is currently on your car. My car’s tire size is P215 60 R 16
You can read this off the side wall of the tire and all of your tires on your car should be the same. If not you are going to have problems controlling your car at higher speeds. consult your owner’s manual to find out what tire size should be on your car and compare to what you see on your current tires.
Year – Make – Model – Engine
When you talk to the dealer, they will need to know the year your car was made, the manufacturer of your car , the model and the engine size. This is the information that is used to select the size of tire from their database and to provide you a cross section of tire manufacturers to choose from.
Make sure you have this information with you when you go into see the tire dealer.
The above information will also determine the speed rating of the tires that should be on your car. Most people will never come close to the speed rating for your car or your tires. However you must make sure that you have the right speed rating for your car to ensure that your tires will not over heat and explode at high speed. Again your dealer will confirm this and you should ask him to explain.
Road Condition – Mud, Snow, Rain, Seasons
There are basically three general sets of conditions that you need to be prepared for. Dry conditions – wet/mud and ice/snow. Most people will opt for all season tires to allow them to have a good tire that can deal with all of the above conditions. However there are some locations that require snow tires during the winter and will not allow summer or all season tires in the winter time.
If you live in an area were there is a lot of snow, consider using all seasons in the summer and fall and then switch to snow tires for the winter. Traction is much better and you will be much safer as well.
All season tires perform well on plowed roads and wet conditions as long as there is sufficient tread dept. If you are caught on the road with all season tires with lot’s of snow, pull off or at least go slow so that you can maintain control.
I have used nitrogen filled tires for the first time over the past two years. Based on my experience, I would recommend using nitrogen filled tires. The gas is more inert and will maintain the tire pressure better than compressed air.
Not all locations will fill your tires with nitrogen and some will charge extra for this service.
Most tire shops will replace the valve stem each time they replace the tire. This is standard and costs very little. The reason they replace these is to prevent any possible leaks that might crop up due to the current stems weakening from wear and tear.
Cars with Tire pressure monitoring systems should not have any problem. The existing units should continue to operate as advertised and should not need replacement unless they have been damaged during removal of the old tire, damaged by the tire going flat while the car is still moving or just age.
The mileage warranty that comes with the tire is basically how far you should be able to drive on your tires given normal average driving. Lower mileage tires are also cheaper as well since they will have less tread depth on them as well.
The mileage warranty you select will depend on how long you plan to keep the car and what your budget can afford at the time. Higher is generally better.
Maintaining your Warranty
The dealer will give you a list of things to do to maintain your warranty. These will include tire pressure maintenance, tire rotation , tire balance and to ensure that your car is maintained properly to protect your tires. Read the specific requirements and ensure you follow these .
This was very important for me. You might find cheaper tires at a small garage, but what happens when you are on a trip and need tire repairs immediately. Dealing with a national supplier such as Costco or Wal-Mart guarantees that there is a location not too far away regardless of where you actually are.
In our case I wanted coverage in Canada and the US. I wanted to be able to take advantage of the free tire rotation and balancing for the life of the tires regardless of were we were with the car.
Our next post will be about which Tire Supplier we chose and why!