How to Choose Tires for Your Vehicle: A Helpful Guide

February 7th, 2020 by

Most of us don’t pay much attention to how or when we replace our tires. If the mechanic tells us when we go in for an oil change that our tires are looking a little bald, we’ll have them changed. And usually, we choose whatever model we had put on last time.

But the kind of tires you choose can make a huge difference in your driving experience. The right tires could provide you with more fuel efficiency, better control, more comfort, and more effective protection from the elements. Read on to learn how to choose tires that will work well for your vehicle and your driving needs.


Types of Tires

The first thing you need to take into consideration when you’re picking tires is what kind of tires you want. Which on you choose will depend on several factors that we’ll discuss more in-depth later. There are three basic types: all-season, summer, and winter.

All-season tires are an excellent middle-of-the-line option that doesn’t excel in any specific area but offers excellent solid reliability. Summer tires are designed to handle well and provide exceptional dry/wet braking, but they’re awful at snow traction. On the flip side, winter tires have amazing traction, but only moderate braking.



The other major factor you’ll have to look for is tire size. Different vehicles require different tire sizes, and these sizes don’t come in standard measurements. Instead, somewhere in your owner’s manual, you’ll find a number that looks something like P215/60R16 94T.

The P in that number indicates that the tire is for a passenger car (as opposed to LT for a light truck). The next number refers to the width of the tire in millimetres, and the number just after the slash is a percentage of that width that indicates the height of the tire sidewall. The next letter designates the tire as radial or not, and the following number specifies the diameter of the wheel the tire fits in inches.

The last number indicates the maximum load capacity of the tire, and the last letter gives a speed rating for the tire.


Weather Conditions

You need to take into account the kind of weather conditions you drive in most frequently when you’re buying new tires. For most people, all-season tires will work fine in almost any weather conditions.  These tires will transition back and forth between hot summer roads and icy winter streets with little issue.

If you live somewhere extremely temperate, it may be worth investing in a set of summer tires that will be more suited to your clime. Likewise, if you live somewhere extremely cold with harsh winters, a set of winter tires is a good idea. And if you’ve got a car that you want to keep in top performance condition, you may want to splurge for a set of each and swap them out seasonally.


Type of Roads

Different sorts of driving wear tires differently, and as such, certain tires are suited better to those different sorts of driving. You need to take a look at where you spend most of your driving miles when you’re picking out new tires. Do you do mainly city driving, highway driving, or driving on unpaved roads?

If you spend most of your driving time in a city, you want to look for tires with an optimum braking distance, excellent longevity, and solid fuel economy. If you do a lot of highway driving, look for braking distance ratings at high speeds, good noise and vibration control, and excellent grip and stability. If most of your driving happens on unpaved roads, you want tires designed for off-road traction and durability.


Driving Style

If you want to get the best experience out of your tires, you need to think about what you value in your driving. Different tires are suited to optimize different experiences. Your tires should be tailored to your driving style.

If you prefer a quiet, comfortable ride with as little vibration as possible, look for tires that focus on decreasing road noise and promote a smooth ride. You may want to look for a tire with a lower speed rating and a milder tread design, as these are designed to maximize comfort. But if you’re all about power and handling, look for tires that can provide you with precision steering and high-speed ratings.


When to Replace Tires

Replacing your tires on time is not only a matter of safety but also of efficiency and comfort. If you blow a tire on the highway, the results could be disastrous. Worn tires also don’t provide as much fuel efficiency or protection from road noise and vibrations.

Use a quarter to check on when it’s time to replace your tires. Stick the quarter into the treads with George’s head pointing down; if his head is level with the treads, it’s time to start shopping. If you stick a penny in and Abe’s head is level with the treads, drive directly to the tire shop and get new tires right now.


Learn How to Choose Tires

Getting new tires is something most of us do on autopilot, picking a replacement for whatever tires came on the vehicle. But if you know how to choose tires that suit your driving needs, you could have a much safer and more enjoyable driving experience. So take it off of cruise control next time and choose tires that work well for you.

If you’d like to get a new set of tires on your car, see us at Viking Motors. We have a professional team of Chevrolet, Buick, and GMC technicians who can help you get the perfect tires in no time. Contact us today to start improving your driving experience.