A Guide to Buying New Car Tires
Posted on March 17, 2021
Buying New Tires
Buying new car tires can be a daunting experience. They all look pretty much the same, don’t they? Round and rubber, how much could they be different from one another? Then you get into the tire buying process and the amount of choices and range in prices becomes a little bit overwhelming…
Well, don’t worry, CarHub is here to help. It’s easy to book an appointment to speak with a CarHub service professional today about your tire buying options but if you’d prefer to do your research from the comfort of your home, we’re going to layout the nitty-gritty details of tires for you so that you will be informed and prepared when you head out to make your purchase.
Ready to dig into it? If so, read on...
What Type Of Tires Do I Need For My Car?
First, what is the right type of tire for your vehicle? The tires that you would need for a RAM 1500 won’t be the same as what you would need for a Jeep Wrangler, for instance.
Second, what do you need the tires for, specifically? This will help to determine if you need all-season tires, winter or summer.
Third, how much do you want to pay? That’s right, not all tires are created equally and the choices that you make could have a significant effect on your bottom line while you’re tire shopping.
First, some discussion about seasonal tires is in order. Most cars today come with all-season tires. So, what does this mean? All-seasons are the catch-all that will provide you with the minimum amount of capability all year long. They’ll run smoothly on a hot winter day and provide some grip when the conditions get icy. The name is a bit of a misnomer though. Most drivers think that it means that they can leave these tires on their vehicle all year round with excellent results. Not so. When there’s snow on the ground, you’d be far better off with a set of dedicated winter tires to keep from slipping and sliding when conditions get slick.
All-Season Tire Types
Wait, there’s more!
There are two main types of all-season tires: high-performance all-seasons and grand touring all-seasons. High-performance all-seasons provide sharper handling than their counterparts. Grand touring all-seasons, while still good, won’t set you back quite as much as the high-performance tires but you will give up a bit in the grip and handling department.
Anyone who lives in a part of the world with a lot of snow knows the benefit of snow tires. All-season tires should be called ‘three-season tires’ in actuality. For winter driving conditions, the deep treads on winter tires will increase traction and keep you feeling safe and secure on snowy roads.
It may be tempting to skimp on the winter tires and stick with the so-called All-Seasons that your car is currently sporting. The problem is that at around seven degrees Celsius and under, the compounds in all-season tires begin to harden. This hardening seriously affects the grip that your tires will have on the road. This is where you want to switch to winter tires.
Winter tires, conversely, are created to continue to provide flexibility in frigid temperatures, to maintain the grip that will allow for ideal performance and handling in your vehicle.
How do they accomplish better traction in sub-zero environments?
Winter tires are endowed with deep slits cut across the tread which is called ‘siping’. The purpose of the siping is to provide traction on ice by essentially biting into a slick surface. All-season tires may also feature siping but it is deeper and more pronounced in winter tires.
The deeper and more pronounced treads that winter tires are endowed with also help with braking in slick conditions. The grip that they provide may add that extra bit of stickiness that you need when you need to stop fast in difficult driving conditions.
You’ll notice the difference anywhere that you’re driving but especially on the highway. When you kick the speed up, handling and performance considerations become even more important. Winter tires have been proven to have the ability to cut a car’s stopping time in half in winter conditions.
Save the hockey pucks for the rink! You don’t want to be driving on stiff, frozen tires, when the mercury drops into the minuses. Winter tires are the safe bet for cold weather driving.
What is the UTGC?
If you’re not up on your tire lingo, the UTGC is a grading system that stands for Uniform Tire Quality Grade. Its purpose is to help consumers make informed decisions about the tires that they are purchasing. It is based on three specific criteria that lead to the classification of a tire. This classification is the result of data collection that comes from conducting tests with the tires on a closed circuit (which sounds like some super fun tests to perform, if you ask us).
The three criteria that the UTGC is based on are the three T’s of tire grading: treadwear, traction and temperature.
Treadwear denotes how fast a tire is expected to wear out. The reference value of the test tires is ‘100’ so that is the base level within the testing model. That means that anything below 100 has less of a lifespan than anything above.
As a rule, the higher the number in the treadwear category, the longer your tire is expected to last. For example, if the treadwear number is 500, the tire is expected to have five times the lifespan of the base test model.
The traction label is an indicator of how the tire is expected to perform on wet surfaces. It is denoted by the successive letters, AA, A, B and C, respectively, with AA being the highest-rated and C the lowest.
The temperature rating of a tire will give an indication of what degree of heat the tire can withstand before suffering from an undue amount of degradation. If the degradation is too high, the tire can become compromised and possibly explode. A blowout can lead to a loss of control of the vehicle and nobody wants that.
A Few Things to Note
Two things to be aware of: the UTQG is not applied to winter tires and that the UTGC is useful when applied to tires of the same brand. Brands have diverged in their rating systems within the UTGC and cannot be compared against each other using its metrics.
Why Do Some Tires Cost More Than Others?
For most people who are shopping for new tires, the cost is a consideration that cannot be overlooked. The majority of shoppers will naturally be tempted to go with the cheaper option. But is it worth it?
The short answer is, probably not. Higher-end tires are designed to handle a variety of road conditions and their performance will necessarily be affected by the care that goes into their composition. Factors that go into the performance of a higher-end tire include tread design and the rubber compounds used in the tire.
Testing shows that the performance of your tires has a serious impact on the performance of your vehicle. The commonly held belief is that your vehicle’s stopping power is derived from your brakes alone but this is not true. Your tires could be the difference in up to fifty feet of distance to come to a complete stop in your vehicle. Wet conditions will affect your stopping power even more, so it’s in your best interest to make sure that your tires are tip-top. Using high-grade tires will ensure that your car will be able to perform to the peak of its abilities when it needs to. No matter how great your braking system is on your vehicle, the better your tires are, the more reliable your stopping power will be.
Does better constructed equal better performance?
Tread thickness and softer rubber will allow for better handling of your vehicle. The tread thickness of your tires lets your car grip the road in ways that a thinner tread won’t, especially in conditions of inclement weather. Snow, ice, rain and mud - all of the slippery and slick parts of driving will be better handled with a thicker tread. Thicker tread tires may cost a bit more but the difference that they will lend to your vehicle’s handling will be noticeable. One downfall is that thicker tread tires will add a bit of noise to your drive but that is a small price to pay for safety.
Summer tires typically have a thinner tread and they will perform just fine as long as they remain in dry conditions. Once the weather starts to play a factor though, the thick-tread versions will be the safer bet.
How About Braking?
The higher performance your tire is rated for the better stopping power your vehicle will have. A shorter braking distance will help you to avoid what could otherwise be a serious accident. As mentioned, the shorter braking distance will often be the result of softer rubber and thicker tread on a tire, as well as improved overall construction and design of the tire. These factors generally imply a higher cost, so once again, you are faced with a choice - pay upfront or pay down the line.
How About Handling?
A better-constructed tire will affect the handling of your vehicle, which is always important but it makes all of the difference to your safety when conditions are less than ideal. High speeds and slick conditions will affect how well your car grips the road. The better that your car tires are constructed, the better that they will be at keeping your car on the right track. And the better that they are constructed the more expensive they will likely be, but some things are not worth cheaping out on.
How About Comfort?
Up to now, we’ve been focused on the safety benefits of opting for high-performance tires but a higher-grade tire will also add to the general comfort of your drive. High-quality tires add comfort by absorbing the shocks of the road more. This is due to the softer rubber and more advanced construction of the tire. There is a minor downfall of opting for a softer rubber tire though: they’ll wear out faster. This means that you’ll likely pay a little more from the outset and that cost will be repeated down the line. At the risk of losing out on safety and comfort in a cheaper tire, it is a safe argument to say that a slightly more expensive tire is definitely worth it.
The inexpensive materials that go into creating a cheaper tire can have adverse effects on the braking, handling and longevity of your tire. Tires may not be the flashiest part of your car but they are a part that you definitely should not skimp on. As the buffer between you and the road, your tires are the last line of defense in offering you the comfort, safety and reliability that you deserve.
In the end, the choice is yours to make as to which tire is the right fit for you and your vehicle. If you do your research and an off-brand seems right for your needs, saving a few bucks could be the wise move. Usually, though, the car tires crafted by the major brands will be a safer bet when it comes to comfort and reliability.
If you’re feeling unsure, this should put your mind at ease: you don’t have to go on the tire buying journey alone! A CarHub service professional is here to give you all of the info and tips that a person could want when it comes to tires. You also might want to learn more about some of the important tirewall symbols.
You can book an appointment to speak to a CarHub Product Advisor today, to get you on the road with a new set of tires today.