Buying new tires might not be the highlight of your year, but it could be one of the most important investments you make in your safety. Tires whose tread falls below 4/32" have a higher chance of losing traction in adverse driving conditions, and that means you have a higher risk of being involved in an auto accident. Depending on how they're driven, most tires need to be replaced every 3 to 4 years.
Here's what you need to know when it comes time to make that all-important purchase.
Be prepared to answer some basic questions at the tire store
Buying new tires requires purchasers to make all sorts of decisions based on how you drive, where you drive and what kind of longevity you're hoping to get out of your tires. An experienced automotive service technician will help you identify your priorities with questions like these:
- What kinds of surfaces do you drive on most frequently?
- How do you prioritize tire longevity versus cost?
- How many miles a year do you put on your vehicle?
- Are you happy with the performance of your current tires?
Your answers to these questions will help your automotive service technician determine which tires best fit your needs.
With so many tire options on the market, it will behoove you to make calls to several stores before deciding where to purchase your new tires. However, every tire store will have slightly different options and slightly different installation procedures.
Here are some questions all tire purchasers should ask before signing on the dotted line:
- Can you offer me a pricing tier with several tire choices that would be appropriate for my vehicle?
- What kind of mileage can I expect out of my tires?
- What warranty will my tires have?
- Will there be an additional cost for tire installation and balancing?
- What benefits do you offer loyal customers?
With these questions, you can make sure you're getting the best tires for you.
It's best to get a full, matching set
It may be tempting if you're on a budget to buy only two new tires and not a full set. Often, for instance, in a front-wheel drive car, the front two wheels will wear more quickly than the rear tires, especially if they haven't been rotated consistently. However, replacing only the front tires and not all four can be dangerous.
"Buying only two new front tires can increase the chance of fishtailing or hydroplaning. Different-sized tires can also unbalance the car's suspension," according to Angie's List.
You may need an alignment
Tire installation doesn't usually include an alignment, but it can be a good idea to get one when you get new tires installed.
"Proper alignment is necessary for even tread wear and precise steering," Jensen Tire & Auto explained. "Uneven front- or rear-tire wear, or changes in your vehicle's handling or steering response can indicate misalignment."
If you have concerns about your vehicle's handling or you have noticed uneven wear on your tires or the feeling that your vehicle is pulling to one side when you drive, it would be a good idea to ask your automotive service technician to check if your vehicle needs an alignment. If it needs to get done, you'll save time and protect your new tires by getting everything done at the same appointment.
Tires require ongoing maintenance
Driving away from the store with your new set of tires shouldn't be the last you see of your automotive service technicians for the next 3 to 4 years.
"Routine tire maintenance is extremely important — both to keep your family safe, and to ensure your vehicle's long lifespan," Jensen Tire & Auto said.
A good rule of thumb is to check your tire pressure monthly or every time your TPMS signal comes on. If the pressure is consistently low in one of your tires, it could indicate it has a leak. Another important habit is to rotate your tires regularly to ensure even wear. Consider having them rotated about as often as you change your oil.
When it’s time to replace your tires, stop in and consult with the tire experts at Jensen Tire & Auto, locally owned and family owned since 1973.