What Drivers Need to Know to Find the Best Tires

June 17, 2015

Anyone shopping for tires should ensure they follow best practices for buying. After deciding it is time to buy tires for a vehicle, the Safercar.gov site provides several tips for car owners and their vehicles. They point out that it is important to have this information through the entire service life of the tires.

What Type Of Tires To Buy

There is no type of tire that is best for all people. The best type of tire depends on where a person lives, the type of weather a vehicle is exposed to and the type of roads a person drives on. For example, tires made for city roads would not be suitable for people who drive mostly on dirt roads or country roads. People who want versatile tires often choose all-season tires. They are suitable for a variety of road conditions and also have snow and mud capabilities. For deep snow, winter tires are more useful than the all-season tires. People who live in warmer regions such as Southern California often choose tires made for warm weather. These tires are not meant for driving in temperatures below freezing. Vehicles that have four-wheel drive capability benefit from all-terrain tires for off-road use.

Understanding Tire Ratings

Government agencies rate tires based on traction performance, tread wear and temperature resistance. This rating system is called the Uniform Tire Quality Grading Standards. To find the tire ratings of a tire in the United States, look on the side wall of the tire. A tread wear grade shows how long the tread is meant to last on a tire. For example, a tire that has a grade number of 200 should last twice as long as a tire with a grade of 100. As a rule, a higher number grade for a tire means it should take much longer to wear down.

The traction grade of a tire shows its ability to stop while traveling on wet pavement over a short distance. Possible grades for this category include C, B, A and AA. The highest possible grade is AA. There are also temperature grades. These show how well a tire resists heat. The grades are the same as those for traction. AA is the highest possible grade for this category too.

To determine what size of tires to buy, consult the owner's manual for the vehicle. This should be in the tire section of the manual. Another option for finding out tire size requirements is to look for the Tire and Loading Information label, which is found on the driver's side door edge. Every tire has a Tire Identification Number or TIN from the Department of Transportation. Look at the last four digits to determine the week and year when the tire was manufactured. When buying tires, always look at the date when the tires were made. For more information about tires and road safety, discuss concerns with an agent.

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