It’s hard to be a beginner in the midst of the tire aisle trying to determine the right tire for your car, truck or van. There are so many different options and tire features, and all you want are tires that can make your vehicle go down our Wisconsin roads. However, don’t make a beginner’s mistake and believe that all tires are equal or that the cheapest option is the right tire for your vehicle. Instead do your research and use this beginner’s guide for tire shopping:
Select the Right Tire for Driving Condition
What do you need your tires for? A muscle car you only take out in the summer? A minivan that needs to get the kids back and forth to school? A comfortable and a great ride when you want to take a drive?
If you need cars for your muscle car, look for tires with a higher speed rating. For day-to-day use, you do not need tires with a higher speed rating, but you do need tires that can provide a nice, quiet ride and maintains safe tread depth. Do your research, and be honest with yourself—and the experts you consult—about your driving style. If you have to venture out in the worst winter conditions, select a tire with a proven record on winter roads.
Another strategy for tire selection is to stick with what works. If you are happy with the performance of the current tires on your vehicle, replace your old tires with the same tires that you had before.
How to Determine Tire Size
It’s easy to find the size of the tire you need for your vehicle. Tire sizes are found on the tire, in your user manual and often on the inside of the driver-side door. Look for three numbers, such as P255/55R17.
The P indicates that the tire is intended for passenger cars. You may also commonly see the letters LT, which is for a light truck. The first numbers are the width, in millimeters, between the two sidewalls. 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.
Question of Snow 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. Constructed with a softer compound and tread pattern designed specifically for getting through winter precipitation, snow tires can dig down and find traction on even the roughest roads. If you HAVE to venture out on winter roads because of work or school, snow tires get you there.
Once you’ve gone through these simple criteria, visit a tire shop and ask them what tires work best for you. They can make recommendations based on what they’ve seen work on other Wisconsin customers, and can handle the extreme heat and cold of our Wisconsin weather. A good tire shop can also assist with a full car alignment so your new tires wear evenly and you can get the most miles out of your tires.