To say tires are important is a massive understatement. Of course, those four rubbery points of contact between you and the road help get you from Point A to Point B safely and efficiently. But if one fails, your vehicle will be sidelined until the tire is repaired or replaced.
Because tires are so crucial, it’s important you learn as much as you can about them, as well as what types of tires are best for your particular vehicle. This way, when it’s time to purchase new tires, you can rest assured knowing you’re selecting the correct size, type and features. Here are a handful of ways to help determine the best type of tire for your ride.
Tire Codes 101
The sidewall of each tire is chock-full of useful tracking information — the only problem is that it’s written in the form of a longtail code. Indeed, without the proper know-how, it can certainly be difficult to decipher this jumble of letters and numbers. But by better familiarizing yourself with this information, you’ll be better equipped to select the best tires for your vehicle.
For example, this longtail code usually starts with either “P” — this means the tires are ideal for sedans, minivans and SUVs — or “LT,” which is meant for larger vehicles designed to tow trailers or carry a lot of weight. Right after the vehicle type code, you’ll usually find three digits that indicate the width of the tire in millimeters; for example, P225 means the passenger car tire is 225 millimeters when properly mounted and inflated.
Sedan Tires aren’t Meant for All Vehicles
When choosing new tires for your sedan, start by looking for that longtail code on the side of the tire. Manufacturers choose the tires for each and every vehicle based on its size and weight, as well as how it performs. Beyond this information, know that sedans do best with touring, low-rolling-resistance or performance tires.
Now, if you own an eco-friendly or hybrid model vehicle, low-rolling-resistance tires are a great option because they increase fuel efficiency. Meantime, high-end sedans typically do well with touring tires, which feature an exceptionally comfortable ride and less noise.
SUVs Don’t Need Huge Shoes
While SUV owners who enjoy off-roading will outfit their vehicle with oversized mud tires, most SUVs do quite well with a basic set of street tires. In general, look for crossover/SUV touring all-season tires and highway all-season tires. If you put these types of tires on your SUV, it will be ready to handle just about any type of road condition safely and adeptly.
Truck Tires Offer Plenty of Options
When choosing new tires for your truck, experts say you should consider the climate in which you live and the amount of driving you do on a monthly or annual basis as deciding factors. For example, a basic “LT” or truck tire offers better handling, a more comfortable ride and less noise than its all-terrain or off-road counterparts. If you typically drive your truck to commute to and from work, as well as to run errands on the weekend, you’ll want to go with a basic truck tire.
As a bonus, this type of tire is often an all-season option and can handle most climate conditions. However, if you live at the end of a long gravel road or love to drive through muddy or rocky terrains, you should definitely go with an off-road tire, as its large and deep treads grip uneven surfaces like a pro.
An Educated Tire Buyer Equals a Safer Driver
Entrusting the salesperson to recommend you the right tires for your vehicle is a sure bet, but you may also want to educate yourself as much as possible about the subject. Start by looking at your current tires and crack the mysterious code to see exactly what features your tires offer — and then learn more about the specific types of tires that are best for your vehicle. By doing this, you’ll be a smarter shopper, as well as a safer driver.