Considering how important tires are to the way our vehicles drive, handle and stop and our overall car safety, it's amazing how little attention some drivers pay to them, and sometimes car maintenance as a whole. To be fair though, like engine oil, it can be a little bewildering when you’re confronted with the huge choice of tire replacement options there are out there right now. So, let's consider what we should be looking for when a tire purchase for your vehicle becomes necessary.
Let's get this dealt with right at the start. In most aspects of life, we pretty much get what we pay for, and that's definitely the case when it comes to tires. None of us like spending more than we have to when it comes to replacing things we're unlikely to be too excited about, but in the vast majority of cases, opting for tires that are towards the higher end of the pricing spectrum really is the smarter thing to do. In mechanic circles, the really, really cheap tires it's easy to get tempted by are sometimes referred to as "ditch-finders," so make of that what you will.
Of course, there's no point paying over the odds for tires designed to cope with types of driving and conditions you’re never going to experience. But if two tires are designed for the same use and one costs a third of what the other costs, there will be a very good reason for that, and it's quality.
Understanding a tire sidewall
There's an easy way to find out what sort of tires your vehicle needs, and that's to have a look at what's written on the sidewall of the ones you have on at the moment. Of course, you first need to know what those numbers and letters actually mean. There are six pieces of vital information printed on the sidewall of any tire. These are the size, load index, speed rating, tread wear guide, traction and temperature scores and the manufacturer date code. Some of those indicators and ratings you can exceed but shouldn’t go below, such as the speed rating and the load index. There's nothing wrong with getting a tire rated for higher speeds or heavier loading than you're likely to need, but it would probably mean you’re also paying more for a better tire than you actually need. But some things are pretty non-negotiable, such as getting the correct size and a tire that's not out of date.
Types of tire
Without going into ultra-high performance and heavy-duty all-terrain tires, which you really should know about already if you drive something that needs them, there are two main types of tire, which are all-season and winter tires. And yes, the difference is as obvious as their names suggest. Don’t be confused by people referring to winter tires and snow tires as they're the same thing, but don’t be fooled into thinking they're not going to be greatly different to all-weather tires as they are very different.
Winter tires are made from different rubber compounds to all-weather tires, so they don’t harden in freezing temperatures, and therefore deliver a level of traction on snow and ice your all-weather tires can only dream of.
The easiest way to make sure you’re getting the right tires for your vehicle is to talk to the experts here at Honda of Clear Lake, so get in touch today for more information and advice and to make an appointment for your new tires!