Important features to consider when you purchase new car tires

You may have noticed recently that your car is in need of new tires. Perhaps you feel that you need a different style of tire, or maybe you did the "penny" test and realized that your tread was worn down. You want to buy new tires, but aren't sure what to get. While a reputable dealer should be able to guide you to the right tires, it doesn't hurt to know a little bit about what you might need. The code written on your tire wall can help you find a tire that is the right size and style for your car. Whether you are shopping locally, or buying your car tires online, make sure you know these important specifications.

Determining the type of car is pretty easy.  If you have a passenger car, then you will want passenger tires. Trucks and sport utility vehicles, while usually sold with passenger tires, tend to do better with light truck tires, especially if those vehicles commonly carry heavier loads.

Several other numbers indicated on your car tire will tell you the sizing for your vehicle, such as the width of the tire across the tread, aspect ratio of the sidewall (compared to the width) and diameter of the rim. These numbers are important, because the wrong size wheel can put too much pressure on your whole assembly, potentially damaging brakes, struts, and axles.

Tread and weather capabilities

Not all treads are created equal. Look for an all-weather tire with an M+S rating in the code to make sure your tires can handle both dry and wet conditions. If you live in a climate with a lot of snow, consider purchasing winter tires, which have specialized tread to gain traction in harsh winter weather. Additionally, you will want to ask about the tread life for your tire; car tires with a short tread life are replaced more often, and may cost you more in the long run.

Speed rating and other considerations

Since tires experience a lot of friction, they have to be able to stand up to heat well. The speed rating on a car's tire, usually marked with an S (112 MPH), T (118 MPH), or an H (130 MPH), designates meeting minimum government standards for reaching and sustaining a certain speed. T and H speed ratings are good for cars that will be driving on highways, and are generally the best car tires for regular use. An S rating is good for a car that only does in-town driving. However, most manufacturers do not recommend downgrading your tire speed rating because it can seriously affect the handling of your vehicle, even at lower speeds.

Check the owner's manual to ensure you are using a tire that your vehicle is designed to handle. If your tire's measurements or specifications do not fit your vehicle, it could affect performance and may shorten the life of your tires, wheels and assembly. You can always upgrade your wheels and assembly if you are set on a certain type of tire, but it could be a very expensive modification by the time you are all done.

You may also want to consider some personal preferences when selecting your tires. For example, mudding tires are great on dirt roads, but are incredibly noisy on pavement. Likewise, some tires will give a smoother ride than others. Some of these preferences could make a big difference in your comfort if you take a long highway trip. You may also want to check car tire reviews online to see which brands have a better track record.

Whether you are replacing worn-out tires or looking to upgrade, it is important to know the features of each tire you consider. With a little help from Sears, you can find the best tires for your vehicle.

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