If you’re in need of a new set of tires, walking into a tire store can be overwhelming. Whether you already know a thing or two about tires or not, you’ll be surrounded by tires that all seem to look exactly the same. Knowing what to look for before you go in will help your shopping trip go quick and smoothly. Here are the main things you should consider.
1. Tread Life:
Most steel wheels will say what their wear rating is, so, of course, you’ll start by looking at that. However, these ratings aren’t always completely accurate as many are done through manufacturer testing. Another way to gauge their tread life that may be more exact is to look at the UTQG (Uniform Tire Quality Grading) rating, a tire grading required by the U.S. Department of Transportation for all manufacturers. Each manufacturer follows the government guidelines in independently testing treadwear, traction, and temperature resistance; you’ll find that the treadwear ratings are assigned by the manufacturers following field testing and are most accurate when comparing tires of the same brand. For example, aside from the variable of conditions that may affect tire performance, a tire grade of 150 wears 50 percent longer than a tire graded 100. So, how long do you want your tires to last? Don’t expect to get a completely authentic answer from the wear rating or UTQG rating, but they’ll definitely give you a general idea of what to expect.
2. Wet weather requirements:
Obviously, the climate conditions where you live greatly dictate what kind of weather your tires need to be prepared for. If you’re somewhere like Ontario or Colorado, your tires will need to be more heavy-duty while places like California or Vancouver don’t require you to be equipped for as much. However, most of us need to be at least somewhat prepared for inclement weather, so be aware before you go if you need a four-season type of tires, standard tires, or straight-up snow tires for the winter.
3. Speed rating:
Speed ratings signify the safe top speed of a tire under ideal conditions. It may be tempting for some of you speedsters out there to buy tires that are speed rated over 150 mph, but honestly, how often will you be driving that fast – if ever? Even if you live in the Mid-Western and Western states that have a rural interstate speed limit of 75 mph, the fastest you should be going is 90 or 100, at most, so look for tires with a speed rating for 130 mph. It’s a much more practical choice, and you’ll end up paying less than you would for high-speed tires that you don’t actually need. A V-rated tire is usually enough unless your car really is intended to go faster than 150 mph. Usually, most ultra-high performance handling tires have a speed rating of at least V, so even though you may want the other features of this tire type, you probably won’t actually use the speed rating. Also, you should be aware that tires with higher speed ratings are typically made from a softer rubber compound, making their UTQG tread life ratings shorter. Therefore, they’ll likely wear out much faster.