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Selecting the Right Tires

Selecting the Right Tires

Selecting the right tires for your vehicle is an important decision. Your safety, as well as driving enjoyment over the next years and thousands of miles will be determined by this decision. The information provided here and the advice/recommendations from the experts at the Tire Rack will ensure you select tires that match your vehicle...and the way you drive it!

"How many tires do I need?"

Since tires affect the personality and performance of your vehicle, all four tires should be as identical as possible or handling problems may arise. If your tires don't match, it is possible that one end of your vehicle won't respond as quickly or completely as the other, making it more difficult to control.

Consider the following:

JUST ONE TIRE?

If your tires have a lot of remaining tread depth, but you need to replace just one that has been damaged by an accident, road hazard or a vandal, you should replace it with a tire that exactly matches the others. Select a replacement tire of the same brand, line, size and speed rating. While there may be a less expensive tire available, it wouldn't be a bargain this time because it would be different than the other three tires on your vehicle.

A PAIR OF TIRES?

If two of your tires have a lot of remaining tread depth, but you need to replace the other two because they were damaged or have worn out, you should replace them with a pair of tires that come as close as possible to matching your existing tires. While identical new tires are desirable, others of the same size and type can also provide good results. Only consider selecting new tires that are from the same tire category as your existing tires. New tires should be installed on the rear axle.

While your vehicle is being serviced ask your mechanic why one pair of tires have worn faster than the others. Was it caused by a lack of tire rotation, out-of-spec wheel alignment or loose mechanical parts? Once the problem has been found, it can be corrected before it damages your new tires. Keep in mind that your ultimate goal is that all of your tires always wear out at the same time so they can be replaced as a set.

A SET OF TIRES?

If all of your tires are wearing out together, you have the greatest flexibility in tire selection. If you were happy with the original tires, simply replace them. If you want longer treadwear, a smoother ride or more handling, there are probably tires that will help you accomplish that. Review the tire category types until you find a category description that describes a tire that fits your needs.

Once you know how many tires you will be replacing, determine size and type by answering the questions below:

What is the right size for my vehicle?

Buying the correct tire size can get complicated, especially if you decide to upgrade from your vehicle's Original Equipment size. The expert sales team at the Tire Rack is always ready to offer performance and fitment advice.

A tire's first requirement is that it must be able to carry the weight of your vehicle. No matter how good a tire you select, if its capabilities are "overworked" just carrying the load, it will have little reserve capacity to help your vehicle respond to quick emergency. So when you are in the selection process, make certain that your new tire's size is designed to carry the weight of your vehicle! Don't undersize.

The other size consideration is overall tire diameter. Since many of the functions of today's vehicles are highly computerized, maintaining accurate speed data going into the computer assures accurate instructions coming out. And an important part of the speed equation is your tire's overall tire diameter.

For cars and vans, staying within a 3% diameter change is desirable. Pick-ups and sport utility vehicles (SUVs) are usually engineered to handle up to a 15% oversize tire. Most tire dimensions can be calculated. For more information review the Tire Tech article, "Calculating Tire Dimensions." While at first a 3% diameter increase or reduction in tire diameter may sound very limiting, in most cases it allows approximately a 3/4" diameter change.

Additionally to help with the selection of substitute sizes, a system called "Plus Sizing" was developed. We use Plus Sizing to take into account the diameters of the available tires and the wheels, and then helps select the appropriate tire width that ensures adequate load capacity. Maintaining the tire's overall diameter helps maintain accurate speed data going into the computer.

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