Every few years you probably find that your vehicle is in need of new tires when it warms up. Your buying process probably goes something like this: Step 1) Take your vehicle to the nearest automotive shop. Step 2) when asked what tires youd like, you respond with whichever are the cheapest. Step 3) panic in fear because you just stepped on the brakes in a rain storm and your vehicle doesnt seem to be sharing your sense of urgency to stop thanks to the hydroplaning it is dealing with. This could’ve been prevented during step two of your buying process by replacing the words whichever are the cheapest with Which ones are best for the handling and safety of my vehicle?. Your vehicles tires are the only components that have physical contact with the surface of the road. Yes, your brakes are responsible for slowing down your vehicle, but what exactly are they slowing down? The answer is your wheels, which are connected to your tires, which provide the surface resistance (traction) to slow down through their contact with the road. Low quality tires or tires that are worn out provide less traction to the road and therefore have a lower ability to perform the inputs that you give them through steering, accelerating, and braking. With that being said, there are many aspects of a tire that determine its quality and compatibility with your particular vehicle.
How to Read a Tire
You may have noticed the multiple combinations of numbers and letters on the side of your tire at one time or another but thought nothing of it. Those specific combinations will tell you everything you would want to know about the characteristics of your tire. Lets start with the most common combination on a tire, its size. This series of numbers and letters will look like this (245/50 R16), that tells us that the tire is 245 millimeters wide, 50 millimeters tall from tread to bead lip (the point that touches the wheel), and that it is made for a 16 inch wheel. Next we have the load and speed rating of the tire, this tells us how much weight the tire can handle and the velocity at which the tire can operate to without danger of failing, this would look like (92V), 92 being the load rating and V signifying the tire can operate safely up to 149mph. Finally the last crucial set of sidewall markings are the temperature and traction markings, these will be labeled either A) for the best performing B) for good performance or C) for acceptable performance. Just like school, you want to strive for an A in each of these categories.
In the end, take your time to be sure you’re getting a safe and reliable tire and if this is still a bit overwhelming to you, you can simply ask your service specialist to replace your tires with the brand and model of tire that your vehicle was equipped with from the factory.
Your tires are the only thing making contact with the road. Using quality tires can help to make sure that they will always maintain that bond.