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Tips for buying tires
Purchasing tires can be an overwhelming experience with literally hundreds of tire brands available, in a wide range of styles, construction, composition and price. Here's some tips thay could help:
1. Check your owners manual and information placard. The manufacturer of your car has made a recommendation about the size and type of tires which work best with your vehicle, that information is found in the owner's manual and on the information placard. The information placard on your vehicle is required by law, and is permanently attached to your door edge, door post, glove compartment door or inside your trunk lid.
2. Decipher the tire code. Perhaps the most confusing part of tire buying is figuring out what those numbers on the sidewall of the tire mean. They are part of a simple standardized code that is required by federal law in order to describe tires, and to identify them in case of a recall. You can read more in the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's online "Tire Safety" brochure, but here's a quick primer:
Example Tire Sidewall Markings: P215/65R 15 95H M+S
- First up is a letter or letters, indicating the tire's purpose: "P" for passenger cars or "LT" for light trucks are the most likely letters you'll see.
- Next is a three-digit number. This is the tire's width (in millimeters) from sidewall edge to sidewall edge.
- Then, a two-digit number which is the tire's aspect ratio, or the ratio of height to width. The smaller the number, the shorter the sidewall.
- Next, a letter, probably "R," which indicates radial construction. Almost every tire you encounter will be a radial nowadays, unless you're buying tires for a classic car.
- Then, another two-digit number, which is the diameter of the wheel that the tire is intended to fit.
- Next, an optional two- or three-digit number. This is the tire's load index number, and its inclusion is not required by law. The load index number corresponds with the tire's load-carrying capacity. Discount Tire has posted a handy chart with the load index numbers and loads. Simply put, don't install a tire with a lower load index number than your manufacturer recommends.
- Next, a letter. This is the tire's speed rating. Follow your manufacturer's recommendation. You should only need to upgrade to a higher speed rating if you have modified your vehicle for track use, or if you are heading to Germany to drive on the Autobahn.
- Next, some more letters, usually "M+S" or "M/S." This stands for mud and snow, and applies to most radial tires sold in America.