Selecting the right tire for your needs and budget is something you can
accomplish by using the search modes and helpful information available on our
web site. Take a few minutes to read these helpful guidelines and take a look at
the links, which will help you understand key information.
Determine When You Need Tires
- Tires are considered to be worn out at 2/32 inch minimum tread depth.
- In wet conditions 4/32 inch or less tread means a significant loss
of wet traction due to shallower grooves and sipes.
- In snow conditions, traction noticeably diminishes at 6/32 inch
tread depth. Shallower lug and groove depths limit a tire's ability to
"bite" into snow and clean out snow compressed into the tread.
- Irregular wear necessitates early tire replacement.
Determine How Many Tires You Need
- If you need one tire (due to damage, a defect, irregular wear, etc.) it is
recommended that you replace it with a tire that has a similar brand, line,
speed rating, and load capacity to your three remaining tires.
- If you need two tires due to poor or irregular wear, replace the tire with
ones of similar or better quality. The two new tires should go
on the rear of your vehicle.
- Replacing all four tires is the best case scenario, as you are open to a wide
range of options.
Determine the Tire Size
Most people replace their old tires with the same size that was on the vehicle.
If this is your choice, there are various locations you can check to determine
You can check the sidewall of the tire itself. You can also
find this information in the owner's manual for your vehicle. Finally, you can
check your vehicle's tire placard. The placard is often located inside the glove
box door, fuel door, doorpost, or door edge of your vehicle. If you know the
tire size you need, use our Search by
Size option to see what we have available.
Changing tire size can often improve the ride and performance of a vehicle
through the following methods:tire:
- By selecting a tire of the next lower profile, you can significantly improve
the ride quality and handling of your vehicle. On small cars, a good example is
to replace the original equipment
155/80R-13 size with 175/70R-13. The tread is almost an inch wider and the tire has
a proportionately lower sidewall (however the tire's height remains the same).
Both of these features improve handling and stability. Use our
Find Tire Size by Vehicle to see these options.
sizing has become very popular. In this application, the plus
size tire is the same height as the original but its sidewalls are shorter. This
change delivers improvement in tire response and handling. Use our
Find Tire Size by Vehicle
search to see these options.
- Upsizing, or selecting a larger tire, is a common option, especially for SUV
and truck owners. Taller, wider tires improve performance as well as ride
quality. On trucks, larger tires can improve traction, load carrying capacity
and appearance. Because cars and trucks are equipped with computerized systems
(ABS for example) that use feedback from tire rotation, use these guidelines to
select a larger tire:
- Make sure the tire has load carrying capacity equal to or greater than
what the vehicle placard suggests
- Verify that the rim width range is appropriate for the tire to be installed.
- Confirm that the tire-to-vehicle clearance, lock-to-lock steering and
suspension clearance is such that no rubbing occurs.
Analyze Your Driving Conditions
A person who lives in southern California will often choose a significantly
different tire for their car than someone who lives in Minnesota. There are
exceptions to the rule, however. The person who lives in California may go on a
skiing or off-roading trip. The person in Minnesota may only drive on plowed
roads during snow season. Therefore, their driving situations may include a
variety of conditions.
Here are some guidelines to help you select the right tire based on your driving
- Analyze your average driving conditions to determine if you most frequently
drive on dry roads, a combination of both wet and dry roads, or primarily wet
roads. Then, factor in the possibility of seasonal extremes. Most tires
purchased today are the all-season type that appeal to the great majority of
drivers who seek acceptable performance and traction across the spectrum of
possible driving conditions in all four seasons. Look for the M&S symbol on the
sidewall to ensure the tire's mud and snow rating for winter use.
- Consider seasonal tires. All-season tires have performance and traction
disadvantages since their design elements are averaged. In the fast-growing
performance market segment, two newer strategies have become popular. In
non-snow climates, summer or dry type designs are emerging as year-round
favorites. These designs feature far superior dry handling and traction with wet
performance ranging from acceptable to excellent. Performance enthusiasts who
live in more extreme winter climates also use these new designs when seasons
allow and change over to winter tires once the snow begins to fall.
- If you drive a pickup truck or SUV, chances are you'll be considering a
purpose-built tire design to match your driving needs. These designs have
tradeoffs including traction (both on and off the road for various conditions),
highway ride quality, and performance. In terms of traction, designs range from
HT (highway tread) to AP (all-purpose) to AT (all-terrain) to MT (mud terrain)
in order of aggressive tread design. Highway ride quality diminishes as the
tread design becomes more aggressive.
- You can pick tread aggressiveness according to your needs, but be mindful of the
highway ride quality tradeoff. Most SUV owners select AP type tires for their
balanced highway ride and all-season traction. Sport truck tires with all-season
tread designs are quickly gaining popularity among SUV owners, however. These
drivers are looking for better handling when on the highway and are willing to
settle for less traction off-road. Meanwhile, pickup truck owners continue to
sustain their "purpose-oriented" tire selection, with AT tires remaining the
most popular type in this market segment. However, Sport truck tires are showing
gains among those who like great highway handling and need a tire that can
handle truck load capacities.
Buy the Best Quality You Can Afford
The old adage, "you get what you pay for", may have been invented for tire
buying. A good exercise would be to calculate the total price for your tire
purchase and divide that by the miles of service to get the cost per mile.
You'll quickly see that the better tires are the better value. When you have
mileage guarantees to compare, this calculation is very easy, but there is
another way. When you are comparing tires within a particular brand, use the
UTQG (Uniform Tire Quality Grading) ratings (treadwear
grade) to calculate value. Divide the tread wear rating by the price. The
highest number should be your pick if you want the best value according to
treadwear grade. This system won't help you compare between brands, however,
because there is no standardization for wear scoring. Traction and temperature
ratings are standardized, however, and are useful for making comparisons between
Consider Performance and Speed Ratings
Most people are aware of speed ratings. Simply put, you need to buy a tire with
the appropriate speed rating for your vehicle. In Europe, the law mandates that
the original equipment tire must be replaced with a tire possessing the same or
higher speed rating. However, in the US you can buy a lower (and less expensive)
speed rated tire of the same size. If you do this, be aware that you are
limiting your vehicle's performance in terms of handling and speed capacity.
Generally speaking, a tire's handling response corresponds with its speed
rating. Look at it this way: you'll lose that crisp handling the manufacturer
designed into the vehicle and you will not be able to safely achieve the speeds
the vehicle was designed for if you use a lower speed rated tire than the
original design. Conversely, you can improve your vehicle's handling with a
higher speed rated tire.
Consider Tire Type
Each year more car, light truck, and SUV designs are introduced. As a result,
tire manufacturers are responding with more specialized designs. Be aware that
for a given vehicle you can choose anything from long-wearing, easy-riding tires
to style-conscious, ultra-high performance tires. It's your call. We have many
different types of tires to fit a wide range of vehicle styles and driving