Guide To Buying Tires Online
Buying new tires can be a pain, mainly because there so many choices and understanding what you need and what your alternative options are can be difficult. These hurdles often bring consumers to two common marketplaces for tires. The first is your car dealership where you know you will be getting suitable tires but the price of the tires are going to be over inflated. Car dealerships supply customers with tires from the manufacturer which tend to function okay but in truth, there are better options out there which won’t be too hard to find, and at better prices. The second place consumers turn too for new tires are local tire shops, which tend to have a limited selection of tires. There are so many car models and so many tire options, they can’t possibly offer the best selection and they don’t. At best, your local tire shop can offer a modest selection of tires and can offer to offer to order specific tires for you if you know what you want. Of course, this service comes with an up-charge because the shop needs to make money. I want to empower you to order your own tires, without needing a salesman to guide you into selecting the tires he wants to sell. With this guide, you will be able to choose which tires will fit your current vehicle, suit your driving habits and I will even tell you where I buy my tires.
Current Tire Specifications
The best place to start when you’re considering new tires is checking the specifications on your current tires. Many people don’t know how to check their tire specifications and they’ve been right under your nose the whole time. The specifications are right on the sidewalls of your tires. Write these down!
The specifications usually start with a letter. If there is no letter, that means the tires were made to European standards. The letter “P” means they were made to the specifications of American passenger vehicles. If the first letters are “LT” that means that the tires were made to the standard of light trucks.
After the letters you see the first number. This is a three digit number. This number represents the tire width in millimeters.
After the first number is a slash followed by a two digit number. This number is the aspect ratio. It is not a direct measurement of the tire height but it can be used to determine the height of the tire. It is actually a proportion of the tire’s width to height.
After the aspect ratio is the letter “R” which stands for radial. This just means that the layers of the tire run radially (which means they run horizontally as opposed to lengthwise).
The last number to denote is the wheel diameter in inches. This is the number of inches that would be observed if you were to measure the wheel from top to bottom.
Some people like to take these numbers and convert all of them to inches. That really isn’t necessary, the important part is that you have them recorded so that you can be confident that you will be finding a suitable replacement.
One important side-note I would like to make is that if you are choosing to upgrade your wheels in the near future, you will be better off choosing your new wheels first and then selecting tires.
Now That You Know Your Tire Specifications, What Next?
Those tire specifications are all you really need to start shopping around. Many websites allow you select the year and make of your car and you don’t even need to necessarily have your tire specifications to look at compatible tires. I do like to have them handy just so that I can double check compatibility before completing the order.
Do the Tire Specifications Need To Match Exactly?
No, the tire specifications of the tires you are buying do not need to match exactly to the tires you are currently replacing. Some people intentionally look for tires that are slightly taller and/or slightly wider for performance benefits. Taller tires make for a smoother ride and wider tires increase traction.
Seasonal Tires Vs All-Weather Tires
There is always mass debate whether you can get away with all-weather tires on your car. The truth really depends where you live. If you live in a climate with mild winters and you’re not going to face more snowfall than an inch a couple of times a year, my advice is that all-weather tires will be just fine, given that they’re in decent shape. Most of my life I lived in climate with a mild to moderate winter and experienced very few problems with all-weather tires. I did however, use premium tires and was always sure to check the threads before any snowfall and replaced my tires before their recommended lifespan was expired. The benefit to this was that I didn’t have to change my tires back to all-weather tires once the winter was over.
If you want to ensure the best and safest experience while driving in the winter, than by all means go for the winter tires. I can assure you that winter tires will outperform all-weather tires in the snow by a noticeable margin. Even if there isn’t snow, winter tires easily outperform all-weather tires in cold weather. The reason is because winter tires have deeper and thicker threads which clears snow and slush out from it and maintains traction. It’s not just about the treads though, the rubber used in winter tires remains flexible, whereas the rubber used for all-weather tires becomes stiff in cold weather.
When opting to use winter tires, you should remember to change them at the end of the season. The month which you should switch your winter tires back to all-weather tires depends on where you live. It is recommended to switch back to all-weather tires when the temperature consistently reaches 40°-45° Fahrenheit. The reason for this, is that winter tires break down really quickly and easily in warmer weather. Keeping your winter tires on once the weather warms up is going to cause you unnecessary wear and tear and ultimately cost you more money once the treads are worn down.
It is not so difficult to store your winter tires until the next snowy season. Just take off the tires, clean them, bag them individually, and stack them until needed.
What About Summer Tires?
Aha, so we covered winter tires, and now you’re asking if summer tires are as essential as winter tires. Summer tires are not as essential to have in the warm weather(over all-season tires) as winter tires are in cold weather conditions. Summer tires do offer better performance and handling but for casual drivers, the extra performance is usually unnecessary. Summer tires are typically rated for temperatures down to 40°. So if you opt to forgo all-season tires and switch between winter and summer tires, that is also a reasonable solution.