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Are You Picking the Right Tires? Your Life Could Depend on It


It seems like the simplest thing, buying new tires. However, you've got to put more thought into buying new tires than just asking if they fit. If you put the wrong tires on your car, you could be putting your life at risk. While any good tire shop will help you find the new tires you need, you should know about the tread types, sizing, and balancing for your new tires.

You Need to Know the Conditions Your Tires are Rated For

There are several conditions tires are rated for. You've got to find the right balance between handling, dry braking, wet braking, ride noise, ride comfort, rolling resistance, and snow traction. Some of these cannot be ignored, like dry braking and wet braking. Even if you live in the desert, you'll need to brake in wet weather from time to time. Unless you live in the mountains, you probably don't need to worry about snow traction. You won't find new tires that excel at everything, so you'll need to pick what's most important to you.

Your New Tires Start With Sizing

If you look on the side of your tires you'll see a string of numbers; it will say something like p215/60r16 94T. You'll learn size measurements like width and diameter from the first part of the numbers. The second part, the 94, tells the load index of the tires. Your tires carry up to their load index per each tire. Finally, the "T" represents the speed rating, or the maximum speed for the tire, based on the load index.

Next, Choose the Type of Your New Tires

There are a variety of tire types, and you'll need to pick the right tires for your car and environment. Each of these tire types has its own speed ratings, performance standards, and lifespan.

  • -All-season tires - These tires come in S- and T-speed ratings. They're made to have decent grip in all weather types, and longer lifespan. And so, you probably use all-season tires on your car or SUV.
  • -Performance all-season tires - You're going to consider these for your new tires if you've got a sports car, or are a driving enthusiast. You'll also want these if you've got upgraded wheels. With an H- and V-speed rating, you'll see better cornering grip than regular all-season tires. However, this performance comes at the cost of a shorter lifespan.
  • -Ultra high-performance all-season and summer tires - These tires are for your high end sports cars and performance sedans. Usually, new tires in this category come with ZR-, W-, and Y- speed ratings. You can sometimes have trouble telling the difference between all-season and summer tires. The differences are detailed on the manufacturer's website, or, a clue readily visible on these new tires is a mud & snow designation
  • -All-season and all-terrain truck tires - It's probably obvious, but you'll choose these tires if you're driving a truck. All-terrain truck tires tend to have an aggressive tread pattern to hold grip in off-road situations. Besides such aggressive tread patterns, most all-terrain tires have "A/T" or even "All Terrain" in their name.
  • -Winter/snow tires - You can easily identify snow tires by their mountain and snowflake on the sidewall. The tread also looks "busier" than all-season tires, full of slits that are called sipes. If you do need winter tires, be sure to buy these in sets of four, so you can optimize your braking and handling.

Talk to Your Trusted Tire Shop and Mechanic

If you have a mechanic you can trust, you'll be able to go to them with any questions you have, and make sure you're getting the right tires. West Coast Tire & Service has been family owned for generations. They have the experience to help you make the perfect choice for your new tires. Call, Email, Click or Pull into the shop to find out what West Coast Tire & Service can do for you.