A few Tips to know when you are Buying New and Used Tires
4 Essentials To Know When Buying New/Used Tires
When it’s time to buy new/used tires, you might put it off because of all of the choices you need to make. Instead, go into the tire shop prepared with a bit of knowledge about your vehicle. You may not want the same tires for several reasons — including how they ride, the kind of tire isn’t right for the type of driving you do, they’re the wrong size and more.
Check the Tire Size
You can’t always rely on the size of the tires that are currently on the vehicle — unless it was bought new from the dealership. If this is the case, then you can get the size right off the tire. However, if the vehicle was purchased used, even from a dealership, it could have a different size tire than what came with the vehicle. Often, people put larger or smaller tires on the vehicle for various reasons.
Always check the owner’s manual for the tire size. Compare the size listed in the owner’s manual with the tire size. If you like the tire size you could keep that size. However, keep in mind that the bigger the tire, the more expensive it is. Plus, in some cases, a bigger tire doesn’t ride as nice as the tire that was originally on the vehicle.
You could also find the proper tire size on the vehicle’s information placard. Call the tire shop ahead of time to make sure it has the tire size in the brand you want in stock. If not, many shops will order the tires for you, though they may require payment upfront.
The size on the tire will look similar to this: P215/65/R 15 95H M+S. The first letter in the sequence indicates that the tire is for a passenger car if it’s a “P.” You might see “LT” on light trucks. The next three-digit number is how wide the tire is from one sidewall edge to the other. This is measured in milliliters.
The next two-digit number — 65 in this example — is the ratio of the tire’s height to its width. The bigger the number the more sidewall the tire has. The next part of the sizing notation is a letter. Most tires have “R,” which means the tire is a radial tire. You might find a “B,” which means the tire is a bias tire; and these are commonly found on older vehicles and light trailers.
The next number, a 15 in this example, is the rim size — the diameter of the rim. Some tire size notations may also feature an optional number. This two- or three-digit number notes the load index and is not required by law to be on the tire. This shows how much each tire can carry. Always install tires with a load index at least as high as the manufacturer’s recommendations.
The next letter is the speed rating. In this example, it is an “H,” which means that the tires are rated to go as fast as 130 miles per hour for an extended time. You have no reason to upgrade to a tire with a higher speed rating unless you are driving the vehicle on a track or you’re shipping the vehicle to an area that doesn’t believe in speed limits.
The last set of letters designate the type of tire. “M+S” stands for mud and snow. Common notations also include “AS” for all season and “AT” for all terrain.
Regardless of which tire you choose, it will have a release agent on it; and this makes the tire slippery. It won’t grip as nicely as it should until the residue wears off. When buying tires, be careful, especially when braking and cornering in wet conditions. Break-in time on most tires is about 500 miles.
Oxygen breaks down rubber, so the age of the tires is very important. In most cases, when purchasing new tires, this isn’t a concern. However, when purchasing used tires or if your vehicle’s tires don’t wear fast because you don’t drive frequently, the age of the tire is a concern. Look for a series of 10 to 12 numbers close to the rim. Pay attention to the last four digits, which show the week and year the tire was manufactured.
For example, if the last four digits are 5014, the tire was manufactured in the 50th week of 2014. It is recommended to change tires that are 10 years old or older, even if they look brand new.
The Bottom Line
When purchasing new tires, know the size you need, the type you need for the terrain and weather you drive in or on, and the speed rating — if you plan on taking your vehicle on the Autobahn if you visit Germany or plan on living there, for example. When buying used tires, be sure to check the age of the tires before accepting them.
Natalie Saldana is A-Abana Auto Insurance’s Vice President of Sales. Her and her team’s primary duty is to make sure that every driver behind the wheel is covered and safe. A key factor of staying safe on the road is making sure your tires are in great shape!