Choosing the right type of tire is crucial not only for safety reasons, but also to make sure you’re getting the most long term value out of your tires. Tire technology is at an all-time high and continues to improve, which is marvelous, but with this comes the need to understand the enhanced sophistication enough so that you choose appropriate tires.

When you consider that tires are your one link to the road surface, you will want to make your tire purchase is an educated one. While poor tires can hurt a terrific car, great tires can do absolute wonders for a less-than-fantastic one. In fact, tire technology is way beyond the technology of many of the older cars on the road.

Where to Buy – You must first decide where you want to go for your purchase and there are a lot of choices. Overall, where you buy depends on your motivation — are you more concerned with price or convenience? The most expensive option is to return to the dealership where you most likely will receive the original equipment tires which are not necessarily the best idea (see below). A local shop, whether a national chain or mom-and-pop establishment, is probably the best place for the average consumer to shop for new tires. Prices can be reasonable and the service manager or other informed staff will help consumers select the correct tire for their vehicle. However, consumers should always shop around for the best prices. Tire and installation prices vary widely from store-to-store and there are quite a few merchants who will provide free rotation and pressure checks for the life of your tires. You may want to cut to the chase and ask the merchant what the out-the-door price is for your tires at the outset though this may actually be negotiable. So there are variables and you’ll want to be at least somewhat prepared for by either going online or making some phone calls prior to making your purchase.

If you purchase your tires online, you’ll need to do a little extra research to find out how much it will cost to have them put on your vehicle. Any shop will charge you to mount and balance the tires, as well as any other additional fees, such as disposing of the old tires, so be prepared for such.

Tire Choice – If you are satisfied with the performance of the tires that you are replacing, it may very likely be the case that you should simply get the same tires.  Naturally, your owner’s manual will detail the size and type of tire recommended by the car’s manufacturer. However, don’t assume that the tires that were on your car, if you purchased it new, are optimum. Manufacturers look for a tire that will provide acceptable performance in all conditions from toasty Arizona summers to frigid Vermont winters. They may choose a tire that emphasizes comfort over handling or handling over tread life. You may feel differently or take road trips to areas with inclement weather (like snow) and need to tailor your tires accordingly.

Another consideration is to tailor your tire purchase to the distinctive driving conditions you encounter most. If you typically drive on city streets or busy roadways during rush hour, you may want to consider a more responsive tire. If you generally drive on long stretches of interstates, a quiet, smooth-riding, long-wearing tire may be the best choice for you. If you drive on winding roads, you want to look for a better handling tire. Each type of typical driving condition has a tire best suited to match.

No matter what your needs, priorities and eventual purchase are, keep in mind that any tire selection is a balance between ride quality, noise suppression, fuel economy, wear, load capability and cost. It’s the job of the tire-store expert and the consumer to select a tire that is the right balance of each. Consider consulting Consumer Reports, the NHTSA or the U.S. Department of Transportation, among others, for their expertise on safety and quality prior to purchase.

Tire Specifications – The sidewalls of tires provide you with all the information that you need to understand what kind of tire you have or are considering. It is rather complex (tire width, aspect ratio, radial construction, tire diameter, tire load rating and tire speed rating) though understandable and there are many online tire fitment guide sites that easily break it down for you.  As always, any tire professional can explain the details as well.

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If you intend to change the size of your wheels or tires (which is terrific if you wish for better handling or an enhanced look) you must really do your homework and not overload or incorrectly load your vehicle and risk damage. These aesthetics can usually come at the expense of ride comfort.

Keep It Simple – For most consumers, our advice is to try not to over-buy and lose touch with what you fundamentally require in your tires purchase. Do you really need a touring tire when an all-season will suffice? And, understand the demands of your vehicle. Don’t buy a passenger-car tire if you need a have light-truck. Another consideration is tire warranty and they often depend upon the brand you buy. Don’t neglect to check this out prior to final sale. Nearly every major tire manufacturer has an extensive website replete with very specific data and recommendations spanning every aspect of tires.

We hope you enjoyed this post. If there is anything else we can do to help you feel free to call us at (805) 466-2446 (Atascadero) or (805) 239-8752 (Paso Robles). And be sure to stay connected with us on Facebook as well!