Tires are your car’s only connection to the road. When you steer, accelerate, or brake you’re putting wear and tear on your tires, which is why it’s so important to have a good set. When it’s time to replace a tire or purchase a new set, here’s a checklist to help you make an informed and budget-friendly decision.
1. Understand the difference between tires.
The type of tire you buy will depend on where you live, the typical weather of that area, and your car. According to Safercar.gov, there are four different types of tires :
- All-season tires can handle a variety of road conditions and weather.
- All-terrain tires are primarily installed on four-wheel or all-wheel drive cars. They're a happy meeting point if you do both on and off-road driving.
- Winter tires are built to help your vehicle stay on the road in snow and ice, but using winter tires on your vehicle year-round is not recommended as they can reduce gas mileage.
- Summer tires are not designed to perform well in freezing temperatures or snow and ice. If you live in a warmer climate, these tires might be a wiser investment.
2. Check your owner's manual.
The type of tire you buy will depend on where you live, but the size will depend on your car. Check your owner’s manual or the “Tire and Loading Information” label on the driver’s side door edge to find the manufacturer recommended size. See an example of this sticker , along with how to read your Tire Identification Number.
3. Research renting tires.
A relatively new industry is catering to drivers who may not want to spend a lot of money on a new set of tires. These rental or rent-to-own programs make it possible for customers to drive off the lot with spiffy tires or rims without putting an immediate dent in their wallet. Make sure you do the math and read the fine print before you make the decision, though. In the long haul, you could end up spending much more than you would have if you’d bought the tires outright.
4. Compare prices online and offline to get the best deal.
If you’re not interested in renting but still want to find a good deal on tires, do your research. Is it cheaper to buy the tire online? Does the manufacturer have any rebates going on? Do an online search for tire coupons, promotions, and rebates.
Then, shop around at the “big box” stores like Costco, Sam’s Club, and SEARS, along with the tire chains like Discount Tire and Big O Tires. * Many tire shops will price match, so don’t be afraid to share your research with the salesman. They could be willing to negotiate lower than their competitors.
5. Take care of your newly purchased/rented tires.
Use Safecar.gov’s handy TireWise checklist to learn more about registering your new tires with the manufacturer, recording your tires’ manufacture date, and maintaining your tires. It’s a useful resource to keep stored in your glove compartment box and can be a helpful reminder of when you should:
- check your tire pressure,
- get your tires rotated,
- and inspect your tire tread.
If you’re renting your tires, you’ll want to stay on top of your payments, as failure to pay could result in your tires being repossessed. Expensive rims and tires can be alluring, but you might be better off with a more affordable set of tires if long-term payments are worrisome. Whether you rent your tires or buy them outright, you can help make sure your next flat tire doesn’t leave you stranded when you purchase a Roadside Assistance plan from Direct Auto. It includes 24-Hour emergency towing, mechanical help, and much more.
* Costco, Sam's Club, and Sears are not affiliated with Direct and do not endorse Direct or Direct's products and Direct does not endorse Costco, Sam's Club, or Sears or their respective products.