If you own a vehicle, there are a variety of important decisions that you need to make on a regular basis to ensure your vehicle stays in good condition, so you stay safe on the road. One very important decision that you will have to make about every three to five years is buying a new set of tires.

While some people may purchase tires without putting too much thought into it, not getting the right tires for your vehicle could prove to be a very costly mistake. It is very important that you get the right tires for your car and personal situation. As such, there are a variety of tips and factors that should be taken into consideration when you are trying to find new tires for your vehicle.

Tire Size

As you are shopping for new tires, the most important factor to consider is tire size. If you choose tires that are too small, you may not have the support and protection that you need. If you choose tires that are too large, it could make it harder to maneuver and make quick movements.

Due to the importance of tire size, you should always consult with the owner’s manual of your vehicle first which likely can be found in your glove box or online. The manual will be able to help you choose the right type of tire based on the make and model of your vehicle.

Weather Conditions

When you are looking for tires, you also need to carefully consider the climate where you live.

If you live in an area that is generally warm, you should consider getting summer tires. These tires are able to provide you with great grip on the road when it is warm outside, whether the roads are dry or wet.

If you live in a climate where it can be very cold and icy, you should consider having winter tires installed. These tires will provide you with additional grip and support during tougher driving conditions, such as when there is ice and snow on the road. These tires tend to be wider and can provide you with better steering control and reduce your braking distance compared to summer tires.

If you live in an area that clearly experiences all four season, all-season tires could be a good option as they are a good balance of both. However, it is highly recommended that you switch to the appropriate season and terrain tires during more extreme driving situations like during heavy snowfalls.

Driving Style

Another important factor to consider is your driving style. While most people consider vehicle needs and climate conditions when choosing tires, not as many people think about their actual driving habits. However, your driving habits can have a major impact on how quickly you will wear out your tires and whether the tires will provide you with the support that you need.

For most people, getting standard tires that are designed for all seasons could be fine. However, if you like to drive at high speeds, tend to go off-road, or would like to be able to quickly go around sharp curves, getting high-performance tires could be a good option. These tires will provide you with the additional traction and support that you need when you are on the road.

New Versus Used Tires

When you are looking for a set of tires for your vehicle, another factor to consider is whether you should get new or used tires.

It is very possible to purchase a quality set of tires that are gently used. However, if you are going to purchase used vehicle, you need to proceed with caution. As such, it is best to purchase the used tires from a reputable dealer. While a reputable dealer provides a sense of security, you should still make sure that you check the tires out carefully as it’s better to be safe than sorry. This should include checking the tread, examining the tires for prior repairs or replacements, and asking about the tire history.

As long as you can find a quality set, used tires are good investment and saves you a lot of money.

Where You Drive

You also need to make sure that you consider the location of where you will be doing most of your driving. If you will be doing most of your driving in an urban area, it is unlikely that you will be driving at high speeds. Because of this, you should look for tires that provide you with more traction and give you more flexibility when braking. However, if you live in a rural area, you should look for tires that will provide you with additional support at higher speeds as you are more likely to be driving on open highways.

Understand Codes

When you are looking for new tires, you should make sure that you understand the codes that are used to describe tires.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has created the Uniform Tire Quality Grading system that is used to measure and compare tire options. These codes are used to grade tires based on three different factors:

  • Treadwear is used to measure how long the tread of a tire will last. The baseline for this is a score of 100. You can then compare this to other tire options. A tire that has a treadwear of 200 should last twice as long as the baseline tire option.
  • Traction is graded with a grade anywhere from C to AA, with AA being the best grade option. If you live in an area that has more snow and rain, getting tires will an A or AA option is a necessity.
  • Temperature is graded anywhere from C to A, with A being the best. Those tires with better temperature grades are better suited to handle extreme cold temperatures.

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This article was worked on by a variety of people from the Autoversed team, including freelancers, editors, and/or other full-time employees.