Consumer Reports' Tire Guide Helps Drivers Put the Right Rubber on the Road
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Tastes and powertrains change from driver to driver, but everyone needs a set of tires to get them from point “A” to point “B.” The trouble comes in knowing which ones to buy for your vehicle.
Luckily, Consumer Reports (CR) has a resource for that. Their tire guide goes over not just which tires suit each driver, but how to maintain them once they’re on your vehicle so they last as long as possible.
Learning a few things about the rubber that meets the road and following some basic advice can help save you money and keep you safe. Popped tires might just seem like a hassle, but they can cause serious accidents. Your tires could be what separates you from a safe ride home and a trip to the hospital.
Picking out the right tires for your car can be a daunting task.
What kind of tire should I buy?
The tire you buy depends completely on the vehicle you drive—its height, weight, and what you use it for. Any tire will display its size, speed rating, treadwear grade, and the weight it can safely carry on its sidewall.
The most common type of tire is the all-season tire, which CR says comes in three classes—base, performance, and ultra-high performance.
All-seasons come in all sizes and for all types of vehicles, but “ultra-high” all-seasons are typically a few inches bigger than the lower classes.
Performance and ultra-high performance tires offer better handling and braking than regular all-seasons, but they are also more expensive and ultra-highs typically don’t last as long.
They are also rated for higher speeds, but any regular driver won’t exceed the 118 mph rating of a regular all-season.
People looking to use their vehicles for specific purposes like racing or all-terrain driving should invest in tires that suit the activity. And if your neighborhood sees a lot of snowfall and ice during the winter months, considering the purchase of a set of winter tires could also be a good idea.
I bought my tires, now how do I take care of them?
A set of tires should generally last you 50,000 miles. But they won’t get there all on their own. To all the longevity you can from them, you’ll have to keep track of a few things.
Air pressure is the most obvious part of tire maintenance, but that doesn’t make it any less important. CR says you can find the proper pressure for your tires on your vehicle’s door jamb, inside its glove compartment, or on your fuel-filler door. You should check it once a month and after the tires have cooled from being used.
Treadwear is also important to pay attention to. You want to make sure wear is even across the tire’s surface. Uneven wear on the edges or in the center of the tire can indicate overinflation, underinflation, or misalignment—all issues that you should address as soon as possible.
How else can I lengthen the lifespan of my tires?
Maintenance can improve longevity, but it’s only one piece of the puzzle. Improving your driving habits can also prevent unnecessary wear on your tires and save you money on other expenses like car insurance.
Slowing down, obeying traffic laws, and paying attention all prevent the aggressive breaking that can wear tires down quickly. More specifically, avoiding uneven pavement and potholes can help keep your tires in good shape, too.
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