Most people take tires for granted and don’t pay much attention to specifications, tread pattern or wear.
This is a huge mistake. Here’s why…
Tires are the only car parts that make constant contact with the road and they do everything from braking and accelerating to steering and road holding.
In fact, you could think of tires as one of the most, if not the most important part of your car which is responsible not only for your car’s performance and traction, but for overall safety.
That is why we have compiled a couple of important things you should know about tires in general and, it will help you understand the technology behind the tires better, and choose the perfect set for your car.
1. Summer and winter tires
On the first glance, summer and winter tires look the same but the difference is enormous.
First, the compound is totally different as well as the tread pattern.
Winter tires have a softer compound which is more suited for cold weather. In those conditions, a winter tire gets harder and with a specific tread, the pattern provides better road holding, traction, and stability on snow and ice.
Summer tires have harder compound, and tread pattern which is more appropriate for warm weather and rainy conditions.
If you are using winter tires in the summer, softer compound will suffer more wear and you can experience slightly worse fuel economy and more noise.
However, if you use summer tires in the winter watch out!
Below 44 degrees Fahrenheit, you can experience far worse braking and traction, thus you can get into real trouble in challenging conditions.
In fact, having a proper tire in the winter means coming home safe instead of coming home on a flatbed truck after skidding off the road.
We recommend that you always have two sets of tires, one summer and one winter, and change them when needed.
This way, you will have perfect tires for any condition.
2. Manufacturing date
If you think that a set of tires you just bought is new, you’re not exactly right. They are unused but they are likely to be at least a year old.
The truth is that all those new tires you see at the tire shop were produced last year or even the year before that and although they look and perform like new tires, they are not.
That is why is important to know how to find the manufacturing date on the side of a tire, and find out exactly how old the tires are.
Look for four numerals after the letters “DOT“ on the side of the tire near the edge of the wheel rim. Those four numbers will tell you an exact week and year of the production.
For example, if you see the code “DOT 3014“, this means that your tire is produced in the 30th week of the year 2014.
If you are buying a new set of tires, always buy tires that were produced in the same period and never accept tires that are older than one year.
Quite often, shops will try to sell you old tires but if you know how to look they can not take advantage of you.
Also, an older tire can suffer from the case of dry rot and lose most of its capabilities, so having something like that on your car is potentially dangerous.
3. Tread wear
As you know, treads on your tire get worn over time and tread wear is proportional to the amount and style of your driving. You should check tread wear every once in a while since it can tell you a lot about your car.
If the tread wear is uneven, that means the camber of the wheels is less than ideal and you need a suspension check or wheel balancing.
You can check your tire tread wear in numerous ways from using a real measuring instrument to using a coin or needle.
However, if the tread depth is less than 5/32“ it is time to change your tires and it is illegal in some states to drive with tires in this condition.
General consensus is that anything from 11/32“ to 6/32“ tread depth is good and tires perform as they should, but anything less is considered worn and you should change them immediately.
As tires get worn, you will experience poorer braking and handling capabilities. Sometimes, the difference in braking distance between new and worn out tires is double, which is seriously affecting the safety of your car.
4. Choosing a right tire
Choosing a right tire for your ride is, in fact, quite simple. First, you should look for the recommended tire (same size, brand, model) by the car manufacturer or the tire which came with the car and which is a part of OEM equipment.
Second, analyze your driving and if you are aggressive and need little more in terms of braking or road holding, look for performance options, but if you are a regular driver and you're looking for safety and fuel economy, there are tires to help you achieve better mileage.
Do not go for cheap options and always be willing to spend a little more on quality rubber.
Better and more expensive tires mean better road holding and shorter braking distance, which sometimes is a life-saving feature.
5. How long the tires last?
Even though there isn’t an exact expiration date on a set of tires, you need to know the limits of the rubber. Of course, tires can get worn out by driving and by age, since the tire compound starts to lose its capabilities after 5 to 6 years.
However, if you drive an average of 12,000 to 15,000 miles per year, your tires should last 3 to 4 years of regular use.
If you drive aggressively, brake and accelerate hard, you can expect a shorter lifespan of the tires, since they work harder and get worn faster.
6. Where to buy new tires?
At the moment there are multiple choices for buying a new set of tires. It all depends on how much you want to spend and how knowledgeable are you.
Not only they have what you need but they have experienced staff and you can buy and install your tires at one place, which is very convenient.
You can even get a significant discount if you wait for the big sales or buy your winter tires in summer or vice versa.
You can buy your tires online from sites like TireRack.com or Tires-Direct.com. The prices are better but you don’t have human assistance which is important.
Tires can be bought even in large supermarkets, however, choice and model availability in those outfits are somewhat limited.