No matter how reliable your vehicle is, it will require maintenance from time to time to keep it up and running. There are a lot of routine vehicle maintenance tasks that you can drag out a little longer than recommended by the manufacturer. You might not need to get your oil changed exactly when the mileage suggests it if you don’t drive like an idiot. You might not need your annual or bi-annual visit to service your vehicle if you take good care of it, never let the gas tank fall below one-quarter, and haven’t noticed anything unusual with the way it operates.
However, one maintenance task you should never skimp on is replacing your tires. Worn out tires is the most common reason that you see people stranded on the side of the road. And — most importantly — the most common reason that auto-failure leads to an car accident are blowouts. As a car owner, it is your responsibility to maintain road-worthy tires, for the safety of yourself, the other passengers in your car, and the other drivers on the road. Saving a few bucks by ignoring when you need new tires is not worth putting human lives in danger.
We realize that when you visit a shop that sells new car tires, you might find such a large selection of tires that it is overwhelming to figure out what is best for your vehicle. Here are a few tips for buying new tires:
- Size matters. If you look on the inside of your driver’s door, you’ll see a chart that appears to be jibberish. Those codes tell you the recommended size of tire for your vehicle (note: if you are driving a pre-owned car, the current tires may not be sized correctly) and the ideal tire pressure. You might have a large selection of tires to choose from, but stick to the ones that are sized appropriately for your car. The size of the tires in relation to the type of vehicle you have impacts the way it operates, the fuel economy, the safety of it, and the speedometer’s ability to accurately tell you your speed.
- Age matters, even when they’re new. Even when they just sit in a tire shop, unused, the material that tires are made of deteriorate over time. You should never drive on tires that are older than six years, no matter how new they appear to be.
So how can you tell the age of a tire? Look at the side wall, you will see a series of letters and then four numbers. The last two number indicate the year and the first two numbers indicate the number of weeks into that year the tires were made. For example, if you see “1007,” you know that the tires were made in the 10th week of 2007 (and also, that those tires are too old to be driven on).
Sometimes, when a shop has a very large selection of tires, the tires may sit on the shelf for a while before they are purchased. Even with brand new tires, always look at the date before buying.
- Your driving habits matter. When you are looking at a large selection of tires, you probably have several options for tires that could go on your vehicle. There is no standard right answer here; what matters is how you drive your car. If you live down a dirt road, you probably want all-terrain tires. If you are a drag racer, you should look at ultra high-performance tires. If you are a run-of-mill driver, those specialty tires cost money you don’t need to spend and sometimes even wear out faster. All-season road tires are your best bet.
You might dread the sight of the tread on your tires getting low. Buying new tires can be a large chunk of change; some new tires will set you back several hundred dollars, and some new tires cost you a four-digit number. It might be an expense you aren’t excited to cough up, but a necessary and important expenditure. Having good-quality tires impacts your car’s performance, fuel economy, and — most important of all — all humans on the roadways.