The Ultimate Guide to Buying New Tires

January 5th, 2015 by

Tire Safety

Most of us have the same tires for so long that it’s hard to know when it’s time to change them out.

Unless you’re someone who checks your pressure weekly and regularly inspects for wear (good habits to get into), it’s unlikely that you know how worn your tires are. If it’s been quite a while since you looked closely, spend a few minutes inspecting.

For safety, it’s important to make sure that your tires have enough tread. Otherwise, you could lose traction while driving or not have enough stopping power when you need it.

Tires don’t really need tread to travel safely on dry pavement, but driving on wet roads is a totally different story. The tread moves  rainwater and snow out of the way as you go forward so each tire can maintain contact with the road.

If the grooves are worn down and the tire can’t make solid contact because of liquid on the road, you lose traction and the vehicle begins to slip or hydroplane.

Brand new tires have nice deep grooves in them to help water, snow, and slush pass through. But as time goes on, those grooves wear down, and your tires begin to look “bald.”

It happens so slowly that you might not notice how much the rubber has deteriorated. That’s why it’s important to check so you can decide when to start looking for replacement tires in Cincinnati.

How to Tell if It’s Time

One trick you can use to measure your tires’ tread involves a penny with an image of Lincoln on it. Stick the penny into the tread groove, and if you can see Lincoln’s whole head, it’s time to replace your rubber.

The penny method is an old strategy that people have used for years. However, it’s best to keep in mind that if you frequently drive on wet, slushy, or snowy roads, you should always have a significant amount tread.

If that’s the case, you might want to consider replacing a little early, even if part of Lincoln’s head is still covered. If you’re not sure, get yourself a tread depth gauge like the ones mechanics use.

Your tires should never have less than 1/16″ of tread depth. Many states in the U.S. even use that measurement as the standard for making sure tires are legally safe to drive on.

Assessing things visually is another good way to determine whether or not your tires need to be swapped for new ones. Inspect each sidewall for cracks, cuts, and bubbles; flaws like those can cause blowouts.

As you’re looking, you can easily find evidence of deterioration right on the tread too. Most recently made tires have tread wear bars. They’re flat, rubber bars that become exposed to signal that you need replacements. If the bars are even with the tread, it’s time.

The feel of the ride is another good indicator when it comes to figuring out how much longer to keep your tires. If your vehicle is vibrating or if you find it slipping easily in wet conditions, you should upgrade your rubber.

The Information You Need

When you decide that it’s time to replace your tires, there’s some key information you’ll need in order to pick out new ones.

First, you’ll need to know the make and model of your vehicle, along with the size of your tires. You can find the size on the sidewall of you current tires. There should be a series of numbers and letters. Just write down the whole line and bring it with you to the store.

Now the other information you need is not quite as straightforward. It depends on your personal use of the car. For instance, the tire expert you work with will want to know what kind of driving you typically do.

Is your vehicle regularly used for just buzzing into town or are you heading off-road every weekend for a little adventure? Be sure to let the shop know if you use your car for anything other than regular commuting and errands.

When to Buy

When you live in a place with a lot of rain or snow, fall is generally the best time to purchase new tires. Buying prior to winter is a smart move because you don’t need a lot of tread to drive on dry roads, but you do need it to drive on wet ones.

Shopping in the fall also gives you the opportunity to select new tires that are specific to your needs. For instance, you might want to opt for winter tires that perform particularly well in slippery conditions.

How to Choose

Okay, so you’ve made the decision to get some new tires for your car, but how on Earth are you supposed to know which ones to choose?

Aside from going solely by price, it can be extremely difficult to narrow down your options. And this is definitely not something you want to guess about. Tires are expensive, and you’ll be saddled with whichever ones you buy for the next several years.

One way to go is to stick with what works. Did you like your last tires? Did the ride feel nice and smooth? If you were satisfied before they were worn down, get the same ones.

The only catch is that if they came with your vehicle when you bought it new, they may be a little more expensive than some of the other options.

Automotive companies make sure they fit each vehicle with the best tires so shoppers will enjoy how the car feels. You might have to spend a bit more, but if your tires were nice and they lasted, it may be worth the investment.

If you want to go with a different kind instead, there are some special considerations to take into account. For example, if you have a truck or SUV that you use for towing heavy loads, specific tires are necessary. They need to be rated for the weight you typically haul.

Another factor is seasonal driving. If you live in a place that gets a lot of snow, winter tires are probably your best bet. In a recent test, Popular Mechanics compared the performance of all-season and snow tires to determine whether or not switching out seasonally is worth it.

They found that it’s definitely a good way to go. In the article, they noted that “The results were especially striking during braking and cornering, when snow tires improved performance by up to 5 percent and 20 percent, respectively.”

You may want to invest in all-seasons for 3/4 of the year and then switch to your winter tires when fall is winding down. Both sets will last longer because they’re not being used year round, and you’ll be able to drive confidently, knowing that your vehicle has the traction it needs.

Once you’ve narrowed down the tires that fit properly and match the kind of driving you do, go for the best set you can afford.

Buying four new tires can feel like a major financial blow because it’s an out-of-the-ordinary expense. But it’s worth spending a little bit more when it comes to this kind of purchase.

Opting for better quality will get you tires that last longer and help your car perform better. Once you’ve decided, it doesn’t take long to get your brand new tires on and ready to go. And chances are, your ride will feel a whole lot smoother thanks to the fresh tread.

Posted in tires Cincinnati