How to Choose the Right Tires

One of the most often overlooked yet important aspects of your car is your tires. Even with all the latest advancements in vehicle safety technology, they are still the only part of the car that touches the road, which means they have a significant impact on your safety. However, like many people, you've probably asked "what are the best tires for my car," since you don't know where to start. If you've never purchased tires on your own or just want to learn more to avoid overpaying, here's a handy guide to find the best car tires.

How to Tell If You're Due For New Tires

How to Choose the Right Tires

Image via Flickr by Joseph Brent

Before you run out to the nearest auto care specialist, it's in your best interest to find out if you actually need a new pair. One obvious sign is your tires screeching when you take a turn at a slow or moderate speed. When you hear this, it means your tires are bald. You can also use time as a factor when it comes to replacing your tires. Most manufacturers state that 10 years is the absolute maximum life span for tires, and for most everyday drivers, five years is the typical replacement date.

If you haven't heard any noises or suspect you might need new tires even before the five-year mark, there's an easy test that even a novice can perform. First, find a penny and place it upside-down in your tire treads. If Lincoln's head almost entirely disappears, you're probably good to go, but if you can see most of it, chances are you need new tires. While it's not as accurate as a visual inspection from a professional, the Penny Test works as a general guideline and helps with assessing the condition of your tires.

Finding the Right Tires

Now that you've done the test and realize you're overdue for a tire change, it's time to head down to your local tire store. As a rule of thumb, many manufacturers suggest that you replace all your tires at once. However, if you only need one, it's not going to damage your driving experience. In most cases, you can refer to your car manual to find the correct tire size. From there, choose a tire that fits your geography. If your area frequently has snow, you may want to opt for snow tires, although all-season tires are the industry standard and handle quite well in inclement weather.

Going With a Different Size

If you're unhappy with your tires, you can change the size for improved handling — or even for aesthetic reasons. Going with a smaller tire drastically improves handling, while larger tires provide an attractive look and more traction than the regular size. You may also want touring or high performance tires if you own a luxury car or sports car, as these tires offer superb cornering and handling on both wet and dry pavement.

Whether you need new tires because yours are outdated or you just need to replace a flat, choosing the right tire is an important decision. You may also want to consider tire maintenance plans, which save you a bundle over the life of your car. Whatever you decide, just remember that tires are the number one consideration for a safe and smooth driving experience.