One of the most essential maintenance checks on your car is your tire quality. Buying tires, and knowing when to buy, is important for your safety and to prevent unnecessary wear and damage to your car.
Most tires need to be changed between 25 and 50k miles. Not all drivers wear their tires the same. Sometimes it depends on how frequently the driver uses the vehicle. Sometimes it’s the type of terrain you drive on or even the type of car you drive. The type of tires, themselves, have different lifespans. Regardless, buying new tires is important when you have significant wear.
When do I know it’s time to get new tires?
This will depend on the kind of tires you have. There are a few signs to look for to determine if you need new tires.
- Tread – You should be able to stick a penny in your tread, the top of Abe’s head downward, and not be able to see the top of his head. If you can, it’s time for new tires.
- Age – Your tires have an expiration date on them. While this may not be the most reliable way of telling if your tires need replacing, if you drive a lot, and it’s past your expiration, it’s probably time. Also, tires should not be used after 10 years, at which point they start breaking down.
- Uneven wear – If your tires show more wear on the edges, or on one side more than the other, you need to get them replaced. Uneven wear can be caused by a number of factors, including under-inflation or needing an alignment.
- Sidewall damage – Some damage in the tread (like a nail, for example) can be repaired, but damage to the sidewall affects the integrity of the entire tire. If you see signs of sidewall damage, get new tires ASAP.
It’s important to properly maintain your tires to get the most mileage out of them and to stay safe on the road.
There are quite a few options when it comes to buying tires. A good tire shop will help walk you through your options and the benefits of certain tires. Here are a few things you’ll want to look at before you go to buy.
What size tires do I need?
Look at your car specs. Your owner’s manual should list the minimum specifications for buying tires. This is what the manufacturer recommends for safety and optimum car performance. You can also find this on the inside of your driver’s door. When buying tires, be sure to get an appropriate size.
What type do I need?
There are three main types of tires you can buy: Summer, All-Season, and Winter. Each has pros and cons. In warmer weather (like Central Texas) you’ll likely want summer or all-season tires. Summer tires often have better grip, handling, heat resistance, and less chance of hydroplaning. All-season offers a bit stiffer handling, but it can better handle snow (should you run into it) and last longer.
Here’s a breakdown:
Best for: Sports cars, beginning drivers, summer temps, rainy weather
Drawbacks: Don’t last as long, not meant for cold temps, can’t drive well on heavy snow and ice.
Best for: A variety of weather, drivers with trucks and SUVs, commuters, rolling resistance
Drawbacks: Not as good for gas mileage, stiffer handling, and slightly less effective traction in rainy weather
Best for: Regular snow driving, ice traction, road grip, SUVs and pickups
Drawbacks: Not as good for gas mileage, more expensive, need to be switched out in the summer
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