Time to Re-tire?
Q: The tires that came with my car when it was new are worn out. Should I replace them with the same kind?
A: An automaker chooses a tire it thinks will provide the qualities desired by most buyers of a particular car. However, your needs may be different. Performance summer tires may provide optimal handling for your sports sedan. Head to the mountains on a ski trip and they’ll lose traction below 40 degrees and begin to crack below 20 degrees. More versatile all-season tires may better suit your needs.
So how do you negotiate the maze of tire choices? Here are some things to consider:
Know your priorities. A good price, of course is obvious. Beyond that, the most comfortable ride? Low noise levels? Long wear? High fuel economy? Remember, you can’t have them all.
Don’t obsess on the brand. A well-rated tire that matches your priorities is more important than who makes it.
Determine the correct size. The tire sidewall lists the size of the tire (i.e. 225/50R16). All four tires should match.
Beware of old tires. In letters smaller than the size, you’ll find a tire identification number, beginning with DOT. The last four numbers indicate the week and year of the tire’s manufacture; for example, 3115 would mean the 31st week of the year 2015. Buy the freshest tires available because tires do have a shelf life of 5 to 10 years.
Finally, frequently check the tire’s pressure. The correct pressure is listed in the owner’s manual or on a placard in the driver’s doorjamb.