We know you've heard it before, but it's critical enough to bear repeating. The tires on a vehicle are the one single link to the road surface. You can have the most powerful vehicle with all the possible upgrades, but that won't matter if your tires are subpar. That's just how the operation of an automobile is.
Luckily, tire technology is at an all-time high and it keeps getting better. In fact, it's actually quite amazing that while crummy tires can hurt a great car, great tires can do wonders for a less-than- fantastic car. In other words, there are some instances where tire technology is way beyond many of the cars on the road.
Our purpose here is to try and put a finer point on some of the basics of how to select the right tires for your vehicle. Here's a list of what you should consider before purchasing your next set of tires:
What's your idea of how long a set of tires should last? One way to get a handle on a tire's projected life expectancy is to look at part of the UTQG (Uniform Tire Quality Grading) rating. Actual performance of the tire can vary significantly depending on conditions, but the tire's UTQG tread life number can help you get in the ballpark as to how long a tire will really last.
Most of us live in a climate where inclement weather is a factor at least part of the time. If you live in a region that will likely receive a large amount of annual rainfall, you'll want to look more closely at a capable wet-weather tire. For those of you in Snow Belt regions, some kind of four-season type of tire will be the minimum you should consider if not an all-out snow tire for the winter that you swap for standard tires in the milder months.
How often do you think you're going to need a tire that's speed rated for anything over 149mph? Be honest and knock down your required speed rating. You'll pay less and likely not notice the difference in the real world. For reference, the most common speed ratings you'll come across on the majority of tires are shown in the chart below. Speed ratings signify the safe top speed of a tire under ideal conditions. Be aware that tires with higher speed ratings are usually made from a softer rubber compound and generally will have shorter UTQG tread life ratings and will not actually last as long in the real world.
- Q = 99 mph
- S = 112 mph
- T = 118 mph
- U = 124 mph
- H = 130 mph
- V = up to 149 mph
- Z = 149 mph and above
- W = 168 mph
- Y = 186 mph
A low-profile tire looks great, but can be harsh over bumps or potholes. In general, a lower profile tire also exposes the wheel to damage more easily. Lower profile tires also have stiffer sidewalls, which improves handling but increases rides harshness. It's all about compromise and there's no such thing as a free lunch.
These days it's tough to buy truly bad tires. While some tires are lower quality than others there are so many good ones out there that you will usually have several possibilities from which to choose. Just remember to be straightforward with what you really need and factor it in with that ever-present budget consideration and you'll be well grounded when it comes to keeping your car or truck on the ground.
Speak to one of our service members now to see if you need new tires!