What is the one thing that is always in use on your vehicle? The tires. Tires are the single most important piece of equipment that can go on your vehicle and ensuring that you have the proper tires for your vehicle will guarantee you a smoother ride and will have you replacing your tires less frequently.
The first thing to know about tires is that there are different types of tires and what type of tire you need will all depend on the vehicle you drive. It will also depend on the level of performance that you want to achieve with those tires. Here is the breakdown of the different types of tires that are available:
- Standard All-Season Tires: These are the tires that are best suited for the majority of the cars on the road today. These kind of tires offer great traction, especially when conditions are dry, a longer tread wear due to a harder compound, and they make for an overall more comfortable ride. All this in addition to a typically good value. These tires will typically range in sizes to fit wheels that are from 14 inches to 18 inches and the tread expectancy can be anywhere from 40,000 all the way up to 100,000 miles. The one drawback to these types of tires is that they lack the superior grip and handling properties of the high performance tires. But for a good overall value, they cannot be beat.
- High-Performance All-Season Tires: These types of tires are for those who want to get more performance out of their tires but do not want to sacrifice total comfort. These tires are more expensive than the standard all-season tires and their tread life is not as long as their compound will be somewhat softer. Typically you can expect these type of tires to last anywhere from 40,000 miles all the way up to 70,000 miles in some cases. They are usually available for wheels that are sized between 15 and 20 inches
- Ultra High-Performance Tires: These types of tires offer the best in handling and braking in both wet and dry conditions but most will not come with any type of tread life warranty. These tires are the most expensive yet they will wear out the fastest because they are made of the softest compound out of all three of the different types of tires. These tires are typically reserved for climates that do not have a lot of snow and ice and they will go on wheels with sizes between 15 and 22 inches.
If you are not sure what kind of tires you need, a good rule of thumb is to look on your existing tires or in your owner’s manual. This will tell you the size of your wheel along with the adequate load rating for your vehicle. Obviously a minivan or an SUV will have a higher load rating than a compact car will.
You will also find information on what size tires you may require. When you look on your tires you will see a number that is represented by a ratio and is then followed with a single whole number such as 215/60-16. Each number has a meaning and using this example the numbers would mean:
- 215/60: This ratio represents the width in millimeters and the percentage of the width that makes up the distance of the rim and the outer edge of the tire, otherwise known as the profile. In this case the tire would be 215 millimeters wide and is 129 millimeters (or 60 percent of the 215 millimeters) in distance from the ground to the vehicle’s rim.
- 16: This number represents in inches the size of the wheel that the tire is made for. In this case, the tire would go on a vehicle that has a 16 inch rim.
Another factor in determining the tires that are right for you is how fast you will be taking those tires. Tire manufacturers have letters that represent the maximum that a tire should be driven in terms of speed. There are actually around 20 different tire ratings but the most common are as follows:
- Q Rating: Safe to be driven at speeds up to 99 miles per hour.
- S Rating: Safe to be driven at speeds up to 112 miles per hour.
- T Rating: Safe to be driven at speeds up to 118 miles per hour.
- H Rating: Safe to be driven at speeds up to 130 miles per hour.
- V Rating: Safe to be driven at speeds up to 149 miles per hour.
- Z Rating: Safe to be driven at speeds up to 186 miles per hour.
Of course the higher the rating, the softer the compound of the tire and thus the better the tire will handle even at slower speeds that what is considered a safe maximum. While most all-season and snow tires are just fine at the Q, S, or T rating you should not buy performance tires unless they at least have an H rating or better. Even at that, most will tend to stick with V and Z when it comes to performance tires.
Once again, the perfect tire for you will be determined by the vehicle you drive and the style of driver that you are. Ensuring a good fit for both you and your vehicle can make all the difference in the world when it comes to the performance and comfort of your ride.