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12 Tire Buying Tips

Consider How You Drive
What type of driving you will be doing?
What type of driving you will be doing?
Brian Stablyk/Photographer's Choice/Getty Images

Regardless of where you get new tires, there are a few things you should keep in mind:

  • Know the size and type of tire recommended by your owner's manual.
  • Determine your needs and priorities. What type of driving you will be doing? Do you prefer a soft ride, a firm ride, or a mix of the two?
  • Make sure you purchase a tire that is capable of supporting the load your vehicle might demand. Don't buy a passenger-car tire if you need a light-truck tire.
  • Don't buy more tire than you need. Consumers often overestimate their tire needs. In most cases, a quality all-season tire will suffice where a touring tire might be suggested.
  • 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.
  • An interesting trend in the automotive aftermarket industry is "plus sizing." It involves mounting bigger wheels and tires on a vehicle to enhance the look or improve handling.

Plus sizing usually increases cornering response and traction. Often these gains come at the expense of increased ride harshness. In addition, these larger wheels and tires are often not as durable as OEM wheels and tires.

A few items of note for consumers considering plus sizing:

  • Make sure that the tire and wheel are approved for use on your vehicle.
  • Make sure that the replacement tire has the same load-carrying capacity.
  • The new wheel and tire combination should be within 3 percent +/- the original tire diameter.
  • Make sure that a new tire placard is installed to inform future owners of the correct tire pressure.

Go to the next page to learn more about tire technology.