Most people don’t like buying new tires; a few people actually do that. They are one of the more expensive maintenance items on a car; choosing the right ones for your vehicle can be tricky, and it can take your time to get them installed.
It’s a must to do that, as driving on worn tires with little tread left is unsafe and can leave you stranded on the side of the road. You should plan on spending at minimum a few hundred dollars to buy a set of tires and have them installed on your vehicle.
If you’re looking forward to buying new tires, follow our step-by-step guide to find out how to choose tires that will work on your car, match your driving style, and not break the bank.
1) Determine if You Need New Tires
Before you replace your tires, you should figure out if you really need to. If your car is pulling to one side, slipping around, or not confidently stopping when you brake, it might not be your tires – or it may be a simple fix like filling underinflated tires.
Do They Have Enough Tread? Try the Penny Test
Take a penny and insert Abraham Lincoln’s image headfirst into the most worn part of your tire. If you can see the top of Abe’s head, it’s time to buy new tires. Some tire experts suggest you do the test with a quarter. If you can see the top of George Washington’s head, you should be planning to buy new tires soon.
2) Choose the Right Tire Type
There’s more to selecting the right tires than finding some that fit and slapping them on your ride. You need to look at your vehicle’s minimum requirements, how you drive, your expectations for tire life, the weather where you do most of your driving, and the surfaces you travel on.
Finding the Right Type
You can waste a lot of money by putting the wrong tires on your vehicle. If you’re driving a Toyota Prius, you probably don’t want or need expensive ultra-high performance summer tires. Likewise, if you own a Porsche 911, installing ultra-long-wearing touring tires will kill your car’s handling potential.
Our guide to tire types describes the different styles that you will find on the market. You want to choose a set that meets your requirements without going too far. Sure, that ultra-aggressive off-road tire would give your Jeep Wrangler great extreme-terrain performance on the weekend, but it would be a handful when you are driving it down the freeway the other five days a week to work.
Finding the Right Tire Size
Consult your owner’s manual or the placard on the door jamb behind the driver to find the correct size and specifications for your vehicle. Don’t look at the sidewall of your existing tires: They may not be the actual size.
Evaluating Treadwear Warranties
Most mainstream tires will come with a treadwear warranty. While that number might give you some guidance about the tire’s expected life compared to others from the same manufacturer, it is often a number fashioned by their marketing department.
3) Shop for Tires
There are lots of places to buy car tires, and each comes with positives and negatives. The most important factor is finding a shop you can trust that will give you a good deal in a timely manner without cutting corners.
4) Watch the Extras
When buying tires, some costly extras can add up to an unwelcome surprise. Some are necessary; some are not. You’ll have to pay installation charges, disposal fees for your old tires, taxes, and the cost of new tire stems.
Depending on your car’s age, you’ll likely also see a charge for rebuilding or resetting the Tire Pressure Monitoring System (TPMS). They’re the devices in the tire that send a warning to your dashboard if a tire is low. It is normal to see a charge for this when you get new tires.
5) Get Them Installed
Getting your tires installed is the easy part; all you need is to devote some time to get it done. If you have an appointment, you might be able to have them installed in 30 minutes or less. If the shop is busy, you may need to leave your vehicle all day.
Before you leave the shop, check your wheels and new tires. Sometimes wheels can be damaged in the installation process, and you won’t notice it. If your new tires have a directional tread pattern, make sure that they are all oriented the right way
6) Maintain Your Tires
Now that you have new tires, you want to take good care of them. That means monitoring your tire pressures and occasionally inspecting them for uneven wear, sidewall damage, or punctures that can develop into leaks and leave you stranded.
If you notice your vehicle pulling to one side or another, it can be a sign of misaligned wheels, and you’ll want to get it checked before it wears your tread unevenly.