It’s obvious that tires are the part of a car that interacts most with the road. It’s easy to forget how important they are, however, not just for holding air and rolling, but for handling, performance, and efficiency as well. Regardless of how luxurious and expensive your car is, poor quality tires are going to seriously limit the quality of your ride and inhibit performance. It’s a simple fact, but it may be intimidating given all the tire options there are out there. Here’s a handy guide to what characteristics you might want to look out for in a tire.
- Wear: A longwearing tire may be due to a harder compound used in the tread. This may affect ride quality and traction in some or all conditions. Of course, you don’t want a tire that’s going to wear out immediately, so it is important to try to weigh the benefits. The Uniform Tire Quality Grading system enforced by the U.S. Department of Transportation gives each tire a rating based on how long it ought to last. These ratings can be a useful tool in comparing tires if long life is your priority when purchasing a tire.
- Weather: Depending on the climate where you live, you may want to consider a tire with particular characteristics. If you live in a wet and rainy climate, consider buying a tire specifically designed to offer better traction on wet roads. If you do a lot of driving in snow and ice it’s important to use a winter tire with a more aggressive tread during the winter months and an easier rolling tire for the summer. Four-season or all-condition tires may bridge the gap if you’d rather use one tire for the entire year.
- Efficiency: Carmakers and tire makers have finally begun to market fuel saving low-rolling-resistance tires. Ask about a tire that can save you money at the pump.
- Ride Quality: Low profile tires are in vogue now because they look sporty. While they usually are used in high performance situations because the low profile provides more precise handling, they may not be the best choice for every day driving. The handling might be crisper but with less sidewall to absorb bumps and road vibration you may end up with a harsh and uncomfortable ride.
When you’re shopping for new tires, take these factors into consideration to get your ideal rubber. Remember, tires are hugely important and usually don’t get enough credit. Next time you’re replacing your tires just look at all the benefits you might stand to gain by upgrading.
November 14, 2012 by Jamie Rettig