What kind of car do you drive? The wear and tear you put on a tire is proportionate to the weight and power of the car you drive. Some types of cars have types of tires specifically designed for them.
Where do you live? If you’re located in a more rural area and do a lot of off-road driving, you might need tires that have more traction and resilience. Similar needs can arise if you live in an area that has lots of ice on the roads – you’ll need tires designed for that environment, or that can easily handle snow chains. For that matter, plenty of tires are designed to work best on dry pavement, perfect if you’re in the city or suburbia.
How often are you willing to maintain your tires? Some types of tires might need frequent rotation or replacing – which is difficult for people who are more interested in getting in and driving away.
There are many other features to look for in tires as well. First, if you’re looking at older tires, try not to buy anything more than six years old. Second, check your owner’s manual to see what tire size is recommended for your automobile. Third, when you’re looking at the environment where you live, as mentioned above, you might want to check with a dealer to see what type of tread is typically used for that area.
It’s also a good idea to have some idea of the standards for federal tire quality grading. All new tires have a paper with their federal grading molded into their sidewall. This system is not the same as a safety rating, but it does provide a means of comparison between different brands of tires.
The three categories within this system are treadwear, traction and temperature resistance. “Treadwear” uses a 100-point scale to determine how long a tire would last while driven on the same road by the same driver for a period of time. “Traction” uses grades of “A,” “B” and “C” to determine how well the tire would be able to stop on a wet road. Finally, “Temperature Resistance” also employs an A-B-C scale to determine how well a tire might respond to overheating from being driven at a high speed.
For more information about determining which type of tire is right for you, there are special guides available regarding tire safety and maintenance. A Consumer Guide to Uniform Tire Quality Grading, is available free from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. This guide lists the grades of all tires and will help you compare various brands. To obtain a copy, write to NHTSA, General Services Division (NAD-51), 400 7th Street, S.W., Washington, D.C., 20590.