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How to Select the Right Tires for Your Car

By Charles Hopkins Published 07/6/2006 | Auto and Trucks

Just as we take a great deal of care in maintaining the engine and transmission of our vehicles, it is very important to the overall performance of our cars to select the right tires for our make, model, and environment. Here's a few things to keep in mind as you go tire shopping.

First, take a long hard look at where you live. What is the weather like for most of the year? What is the usual condition of the roadways you will be traveling? Will you be using the vehicle off the road from time to time?

If you live in an area where you do not have to be concerned about issues such as snow and frequent ice, it may be that seasonal tires that are typically fine for warm weather will serve you well all year long. Tires that are geared toward the warmer climates also typically do well in areas that experience a fair amount of rain. 

If you are going to be traversing roadways that are not particularly smooth, look for tires with heavier tread, such as an all terrain type of tire. While it will not make your ride any smoother, it will ensure that your tires will stand up to the job for a longer period of time.

If you will be using the vehicle off-road as well as on the road, consider an all terrain type of tire.  These work well especially with pickup trucks and SUV's. Keep in mind that in order to handle those rough spots that are off road, you may sacrifice a small amount of smoothness on your highway ride, but if the quality of the tires is what they should be, you will barely notice the difference.

Another valuable resource is to consult the dealer or lot where you purchased the car. Chances are they can give you some constructive suggestions on what you need to consider and may possibly be able to recommend two or three brands to consider. 

Your owner's manual may also yield some good suggestions. If you have lost yours, or if you purchased a used car and never had one, check on the Internet or with the manufacturer and see if you can obtain the manual that is matches your make and model. 

Just about everyone understands about speed ratings. When you begin to evaluate different types of tires, take into consideration the speed rating that is a good fit for your vehicle. Make sure you replace the previous tires with new ones that have at least the same speed rating, if not a little higher. The end result will be slightly better handling and the overall improved maneuverability. 

One other note on selecting the right size of new tire. If you bought the car new, then you can obviously tell what size the manufacturer recommends. If you have purchased a used car, don't assume that what is on the car is what the manufacturer recommended. Check for a placard on the driver's side door; it may be rather small, but it will provide you with information about proper tire size and level of inflation that is right for your vehicle.

Purchasing a new set of tires can be a breeze, if you do a little homework in advance and understand exactly what you need.