Auto Tire Buying Tips

by Don Elliott on August 4, 2011

Choosing the right auto tire is an important decision. Most quality auto tire shops and automotive repair centers will offer choices of tire brands, tread design, speed ratings and warranties. With the help of a reputable tire or car repair business, it is difficult to make a bad tire decision. Asking questions and checking the tire details could save you a few bucks. It could also help match you with tires that correspond with your driving habits.

Price – Let’s get this one out of the way right up front. Tires can be qualified as good, better, and best. The price per tire matches up with the quality of the tire, but there is always a deal. One common offer is to buy three and get the fourth tire free. Coupons are very common in the tire business. Check online or sign up for your tire store’s ‘club’ to find the best deals. If your car is older or you expect to sell it soon, a good tire may be the one to buy. If you intend to drive 60,000 miles or more, the investment for a better or the best tire might be the way to go. You should shop for extras or have an alignment as part of the deal. Most tire centers will rotate the tires for free to get you back into their shop. Occasionally the extras auto repair shops offer are not worth buying. It pays to ask whether you have to buy road hazard protection or a warranty.

Type – Manufacturers choose the tire specs for original equipment tires because they maximize the performance of their vehicle. Replacement tires with the same tire size code are usually the best buy. Tread design can change to match your driving habits. For example, upgrade to a mud and snow (M+S) from the original equipment all-season tread, if it is important to get more traction in snowier climates. All-season treads are typically the best price per tire because they are the most common.

Date of Production – The Department of Transportation (DOT) requires tire manufacturers to include a DOT code on the tire to specify the company, factory, mold, batch, and date of production. Tires actually have a shelf life. If a tire has been “on the shelf” for six years or more, it should not be used. The date of production is listed on the tire as two digits for the week, followed by two digits for the year. (2209 production is the 22nd week of 2009) Check the production date to make sure the tires are really “new”.

Any automotive wholesaler will tell you how much four matching tires will improve your used car value. If buying four new tires is not possible, at least match your tires on the front or on the rear. Make sure the tire size of all the tires is the same. Following these tire practices will ensure safer driving and a better used car value.

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