I never buy a set of tires without conducting some research beforehand. It doesn’t matter if it’s a brand new car or one I’ve been maintaining for ten years; brands, models, and standards of tires change all the time, and I want the safest and most durable tires on my car at all times.
Which brands are currently popular among car enthusiasts? Which have recently put out tires that have been subject to recalls? A little brand research can reveal a lot about the products on the market and help you narrow down your choices quickly.
Some people are loyal to one specific brand, which is fine. But don’t close off every other tire on the market without conducting some research because the landscape might have change since last you bought a set.
Research Driving Conditions
Have you recently moved to a new state or city? The driving conditions might be completely different from where you used to live. My move from New York to Texas, for example, made buying tires a much different experience.
How often does it rain? Or snow? Does ice become a problem on the streets? What about flooding? The best source of information might be your new neighbors. Ask what kinds of tires they buy for their cars and why.
Research Tire Standards
The Rubber Manufacturer’s Association approves symbols that can be placed on tires that meet their standards for certain conditions. The snow or winter tire symbol, for example, is a series of three jagged mountain peaks with a snowflake in the center. If tires display this symbol, they have met the RMA’s standards for driving in severe snow.
This is a safety issue more than anything else, so give it some thought. Know, for example, that mud and snow tires (designated by M&S or M+S) are not approved for severe weather, but for light driving in mud and snow.
It might seem best to purchase tires from discount chains or big box stores, but this isn’t always the case. Each time you set out to buy new tires, research the prices at several different stores. Obtain price quotes for your top three choices, then compare the results later.
Some people buy their tires online, while others prefer brick-and-mortar stores that will also handle installation. Remember, when obtaining quotes, that you should know how much the provider charges for installation of the new tires and disposal of the old. This can change the price considerably.