Tire Buyer's Guide
- Tires are an integral part of the car simply because they make forward and backward movement smoother as they grip the ground.
- There are three main types of car tires in the market: radial, bias-play, and belted bias tires.
- The common tire variations based on application are all-season, snow, high-performance, low-profile, all-terrain, and spare tires.
- The basic tire terminologies used when talking about tires include tread, tread voids, shoulder, sidewall, bead, and plies.
- If you’re wondering what size of tire is on your car, refer to the numbers and it should give you the tire’s type, recommended car tire pressure, the type of vehicle it’s meant for, and more.
- High-end tires usually cost $300 to $1,000 each while mid-level tires typically range from $100 to $300.
- If you’re the budget type, there are inexpensive tires that are priced around the $50 to $200 mark.
Traction is one of the crucial aspects that make a car safe and fun to drive. With better traction, a driver can maneuver the car accurately on corners and while cruising. There are varying factors to achieve great traction and having a good-quality tire is one of them. Tires are an integral part of the car simply because they make forward and backward movement smoother as they grip the ground.
When it comes to choosing the tire, you have to know the wheel dimensions you’re using, as well as other factors like the season, how you’re going to use it, and vehicle specification for the correct tire pressure. To maximize your purchase, here’s an in-depth guide for choosing the best tire for your car.
What tires fit my car?
There are three main types of car tires in the market: radial, bias-play, and belted bias tires. Your vehicle has a factory tire with specifications that can be found in the owner’s manual or by examining the sidewall of the tire. If you’re getting a replacement, it is best to follow what’s been recommended by the manufacturer to avoid inconveniences. Here are the differences among the three:
This type of tire has parallel cords perpendicular to the tread’s centerline. It is reinforced by steel or stabilizer belts to increase rolling resistance, achieve longer tread life, and improve vehicle handling. Radial tires are not the most comfortable when it comes to unleveled roads, especially at low speeds.
Bias-ply or cross-ply tires have diagonal cords with an angle of 30 to 40 degrees. Each additional ply set is oriented at a different angle, forming a crisscross pattern underneath the tire tread. Bias-ply tires excel on rough terrains over radial tires. However, it offers less traction, slightly less control at high-speed drives, and more rolling resistance.
Belted bias tires are also cross-ply tires with added fiberglass or steel belts. This is to increase the tread’s strength, while at the same time, to reduce the rolling resistance present on regular bias-ply tires.
Different season tires
There are different styles of tires according to their use. The style of tire usually caters to the driving conditions in which the tire is purposely designed. The common tire variations based on application are all-season, snow, high-performance, low-profile, all-terrain, and spare tires. Make sure to swap your tires if you’re intending to use your vehicle under different driving conditions to avoid damaging them.
Basic tire parts and terminologies
To better understand the tire and communicate with sellers, you need to learn the basic tire terminologies used when talking about tires. Here are the common basic terms used to describe the parts of a tire:
The tread is the actual area that makes contact with the road. Tread patterns vary from one manufacturer to the other, which is why you see different patterns of markings on sands or soft soil.
The carved-out lines of the tire that channels water away from the tread. Voids are essential in keeping the grip of your tire in wet driving conditions. Rain groove is another term used to describe tread voids.
The tire shoulder is the line separating the sidewall and the edges of the treads.
The sidewall is the large surface you see if you look at the tires. It contains markings including the manufacturer, tire model, as well as the necessary information you need to determine a tire. It goes between the bead and the tread of the tire, with varying measurements known as tire profile.
The bead is one of the hardest parts of a tire and is the one that’s in physical contact with the rim. It is made of high-strength rubber with a steel insert to tightly seal the air that’s inflating the tire while allowing the tire to grip steadily on the rim.
Plies is the term used when referring to the layers of steel, nylon, cotton, or kevlar cords found integrated inside the rubber material of the tire. The plies are responsible for keeping the tire in shape despite handling heavy loads.
How to properly read the labels on your tire
If you take a closer look at the sidewall of your tire, you’ll see a set of letters, numbers, and symbols. Even though these characters appear random, they contain all the information you need to know about the tire. If you’re wondering what size of tire is on your car, refer to the numbers and it should give you the tire’s type, recommended car tire pressure, the type of vehicle it’s meant for, and more.
Knowing how to read the label on your tire will bring you ahead of a bad situation that may require a tire replacement. An example of a tire label looks like this: P 235/45 R17/94H. Here’s a break down on what each section of this set of characters means:
P (vehicle type)
The letter that precedes the first group of characters refers to the type of vehicle in which the tire is meant to be used. P stands for passenger vehicles while LT and T refer to light trucks and temporary space-saving spares, respectively.
235 (cross-section width)
The first set of numbers measures the width of the tire’s widest point or “cross-section width,” which is the measurement from the inner wall to the very outer sidewall. This measurement is in millimeters.
45 (aspect ratio)
This number represents the aspect ratio of the sidewall height relevant to the tire’s width. Numbers could vary depending on the dimensions of a specific tire.
R (tire type or construction)
The letter that comes after the aspect ratio is the type of tire, which in the case of our example is radial. Other examples of this would be B and D for bias-ply and diagonal bias, respectively.
17 (rim size use)
The number that comes right after the tire type indicates the size of the rim the tire is designed to fit onto. This is measured in inches and can be 14, 15, 16, 18, 19, and so on.
94 (tire load index)
This value refers to the load index, which is the maximum weight a tire can support. This value could range from 60 to 125. Load index 94 means that the tire can support up to 1,477 lbs or 670 kg.
H (speed rating)
The last letter of the set is the tire speed rating, which pertains to the maximum speed that the tire can handle. Tire speed rating ranges from L to (Y), which are equivalent to speed readings from 75 mph to above 186 mph.
How much are vehicle tires?
Tires are better off replaced as a set. The prices for sets vary depending on the type, brand, style, and size of the tire. High-end tires usually cost $300 to $1,000 each while mid-level tires typically range from $100 to $300. If you’re the budget type, there are inexpensive tires that are priced around the $50 to $200 mark. Make sure to secure the type, style, and size of tire your vehicle is using before buying a tire replacement.
How to Replace the Tire on Your Vehicle
One of the parts that you'll surely notice on any vehicle is the tire. It is not just made for aesthetic purpose only, but it is also made to support your vehicle's entire weight while helping you to have a smooth ride. If you do not maintain the tire on each corner of your ride, then it can be prone to failing. However, it can also get damaged due to different road elements or possible collisions. If situations such as these happen, you must replace the tire immediately. These tools and steps can help you to get the job done:
Difficulty level: Moderate
Things you'll need:
- Jack stands
- Rubber mallet
- Cross wrench
- New tire
Step 1: Make sure that your vehicle's parking brake is engaged. Also, ensure that your vehicle is parked in an even surface to keep it steady throughout the process.
Step 2: With the help of a jack stand, raise the area that is close to the tire that you will be replacing. Make sure that the stands are placed firmly on the bottom portion of your vehicle.
Step 3: Take off the wheel cover, and release the tightness of the wheel nuts afterwards. With the help of a cross wrench, move the nuts counterclockwise until they are loosened up.
Step 4: Lift the jack stand straight up in order to take off the tire. Adjust the position and height of the jack stand if necessary. It is recommended to bring an extra, in case the one that is currently in place cannot carry the load of your vehicle during replacement.
Step 5: You may now remove the nuts of the wheel completely. You can ensure that they can be taken off easily by hand twisting them in a counterclockwise motion.
Step 6: Once the wheel nuts are taken off, you may now remove the old tire from your vehicle. If it is too tight to be removed due to rust, you can use a rubber mallet. This can release the tire once you hit the inner half of the old tire.
Step 7: This is the time to install your new or spare tire on its hub. Make sure to place it gently to make sure that its rim is lined up properly with the bolts and nuts of the wheel. Also, ensure that the valve stem of your new tire is the one facing the front or outside your vehicle.
Step 8: With the help of the wrench once again, secure the nuts in their place. However, make sure that you are applying gentle pressure while doing this in order to prevent the jack stand from failing.
Step 9: Hand tighten the nuts afterwards to make sure that each one has equal tightness.
Step 10: Once your new tire is secured on its mounting area, you may now reattach the wheel cover.
Step 11: Lower your vehicle carefully, and remove the jack stand. Start your vehicle afterwardsw in order to test the efficiency of your new tire.