Category Archives: buying tires

Questions to Ask Before Buying Your Next Set of Tires


car tires on gray backgroundBuying a new set of car tires is a huge investment, both in tires and your safety. That’s why it makes cents (pun intended) to ask questions about this big purchase.

What size tires do I need?

The simplest way to determine what size tires are needed for your car is to look at your current size of tires. You can find the size on the tire, usually in a series of letters and numbers (i.e. P235/55R17, 225/70R17, 265/70R15). The tire size could include the letters LT (light truck), P (passenger), or T (temporary spare). These letters are usually followed by a series of numbers. The first three numbers are the width between the sidewalls of the tire, such as 175, 235, or 255. The second number is the aspect ratio, which is a percentage. The last number, typically between 15-20, is the diameter of the wheel rim that the tire fits on.

How do I drive?

Choosing the cheapest tires is an option, but not always a good one. Be honest with your driving style and intentions. If you want a daily commuter tire for basic driving, look for tires built specifically for high mileage driving. For tires for a muscle car, research tires with a higher speed rating (or let your mechanic do the research).

What is the condition of my current tires?

The condition of your current set of tires can give you clues about any car issues. Before you put on the next set of tires, have your current set inspected to make sure they are wearing evenly. If you find uneven wear, make an appointment with a mechanic. Uneven wear can be a sign of a mechanical issue, such as worn breaks or suspension parts. An unevenly worn tire can also mean that the car needs to be aligned so the new tires and existing suspension parts are not worn down prematurely.

Do I need one or two set of tires?

If you have to drive through all kinds of weather (including our famous Wisconsin thunderstorms and winter snow storms), two sets of tires may make more sense for long-term driving—especially if your car does not handle well in the snow. All-season tires are manufactured for all sorts of summer and winter conditions; however, a set of tires designed for every condition does not perform as well as tires built specifically for snow and ice. Snow tires are manufactured with a compound specifically tested for driving through snowy conditions.

Are there any tire deals going on? How much is the total cost?

Before you purchase, ask if there are any deals on tires that meet your specific criteria. Tire manufacturers often offer rebates and sales on select sets of tires. If you do purchase tires with a rebate offer, be clear on deadlines for submitting paperwork and what needs to be submitted.

The cost of the tires is not the final price; tires need to be mounted on your set of rims and balanced. Balancing the tires minimizes shaking at highway speeds and ensures even tire tread wear (assuming all parts are aligned and in working order). Ask your tire shop or mechanic for a total cost so you can drive away on your new set of tires with all the information you need.

Tire Shopping 101: Choosing the Right Tires for Your Car


car tiresBuying tires isn’t like going to the grocery store, and choosing the right tires is a lot more important than the kind of soup you buy (and a lot more expensive).  Use these tips so you can make the right decision and purchase the best set of tires for your vehicle and your driving style.

Tire Size

You can find the size of your tires on the side of your tire, in your user manual, and sometimes on the inside of the driver-side door (or you can ask the experts when you head in to buy). Tire size is written in a series of letters and numbers, such as P255/55R17.

The first letter indicates the kind of vehicle the tire is intended for.  Here are some of the most common letters you find in tire sizes:

P-passenger cars

LT-light truck

T-Temporary spare

After the letter is a number, these numbers specify width, in millimeters, between the two sidewalls.  In our example above the width between the two sidewalls is 255. The second number, in this example 55 is the aspect ratio.  The number is a percentage, and the higher the percentage, the larger the sidewall of the tire. The last number, 17 in this case, is the diameter of wheel that the tire fits on.

Driving Style & Conditions

Once you’ve determined the size of the tires you need, it’s time to decide which tire is ideal for your driving style.  Are you looking for tires for your muscle car?  Look for tires with a higher speed rating.   Do you need tires for a daily commuter? Look for tires that can make it through all the miles you put on, maintain safe tread depth, and give you a quiet ride. Do your research and give the tire shop you contact all the information about your car and driving styles. If you drive in wet, snowy, and icy conditions, ask the experts to recommend a tire with a proven record on winter roads.

Snow Tires

Sometimes the right set of tires is two set of tires.  All-season tires, the most common tires on our cars, are designed for rain, heat, cold and snow. They give you a good all-around tire for those conditions, but the “take” is that they are not specially equipped for winter.  Snow tires are specially constructed with a softer compound and tread pattern designed specifically for gaining additional traction.  If you have to routinely head out in the winter weather, snow tires give you an added advantage (along with these safe winter driving practices).  If you want the advantages of both tires but don’t want to have to deal with mounting and unmounting the tires twice a year, buy a second set of tires and rims so you can easily have the right tires when you need it.