Tires,tires,tires. Here we are at the end of the winter season and Summer will be here before we know it! As many people dismount their snow tires and put on the Summer tires, I’d like to take this opportunity to put some questions to rest.
So much has changed in the tire industry over the past decade. Tire technology has improved, there are a larger number of manufacturers with more choices of tires in various price ranges.
I find picking out tires to be a challenging task. Number one, I’m fussy, and number two, I want something that is going to last. Very rarely do people stick to the same tires their cars came with when it’s time for replacements. Most repair facilities will make suggestions for your vehicle. Most often, these suggestions are based on value, the least amount of come-backs due to a defective tire, the feedback from dissatisfied customers, and lastly, what tires are most readily available.
No repair shop wants to sell you something you won’t be happy with. This is a good motivator for the shop to give you sound advice. All that aside, this is how I pick my tires: I prefer to go with a well known brand as I find the larger companies easier to deal with when you have a defective tire and need to replace it. This also includes a good tire distributor. I have brands that I’m partial to, generally based on my experiences with each of them. Next, I look at the tread pattern. A regular street tire that you’re going to commute with every day should not be a performance style tire or something aggressive. I like the regular tried-and-true block style tread design. Next is the treadwear factor. A good, solid middle-of-the-road wear factor to start with is 500. The higher the number, the longer the tire will last. The lower the number most often means the tire is made of a softer rubber and will wear more quickly. Lastly, I look at the design of the sidewall. Here again is a compliment to more modern designs. I prefer the type of sidewall that extends out to meet the edge of the rim. This is your first defense against curb rash. It makes the rubber side of the tire extend just enough past the rim to give you some protection when you’re too close to a curb. Yes, your wheel may still get scratched if you’re really rubbing the curb, but it will help minimize the damage.
Because there is so much competition in the tire market, many tire companies are offering mileage guarantees. Granted, a list of strict criteria must be met to be sure the warranty isn’t voided. Some of them include documentation of routine balance and rotations, as well as annual alignments. Don’t be fooled, most of these warranties are pro-rated. Where you purchase your tires is also a considerable factor. A larger service center that sells a fair amount of tires will typically be easier in the case of a warranty claim. Also, in many cases, larger tire retailers offer free mounting, seasonal swap-overs, and maintenance plans, as well as road hazard insurance. Yes…there is clearly a lot to consider when shopping for tires. In summary, if you’re bringing your car to a reputable repair facility, they will be of great assistance with your tire purchase. As with any car problem, if you ever have issues with a previous repair, a good repair shop will take care of the issue immediately and your tires are no exception.