Buying a new set of tires can seem overwhelming. With various sizes, tire types, and brands to choose from, it’s easy to feel confused about what kind of tire you need. On top of that, tires are one of the pricier maintenance items your car will need during its lifetime. If you’re considering purchasing new tires for your car or truck, these tips will help you find a set of tires that fits your vehicle, driving style, and budget.
Tips for buying new tires
- Assess your current set of tires. For starters, determine whether you need new tires. Try the “Lincoln test” if you’re unsure. Place a penny upside down into the tread of your tires. If you can see the top of Abe’s head, your tires should be replaced immediately. If the tread falls somewhere on his forehead, you should plan to buy new tires in the next few months. Even if the tread is thick enough, uneven wear, flaking, cracks, bulges, or other damage can all indicate you need new tires. Finally, if your tires are more than six years old, vehicle manufacturers recommend you replace them, no matter their condition.
- Get to know tire types. The type of tire you need will depend on the weather conditions you drive in and how you use your vehicle.
- All-season tires: Most vehicles have all-season tires designed to work reasonably well in most weather conditions. They can handle some mud, snow, and slush.
- Winter tires: If you live in a climate with frequent snow and ice, winter tires might be a better choice. They are more effective in deep snow.
- Summer tires: These tires are best for warm weather climates. This kind of tire shouldn’t be driven if temperatures dip below freezing.
- All-terrain tires: These are used mainly for four-wheel drive vehicles. They are great for off-roading but not meant for extended highway driving.
- High-performance tires: These are designed with high-speed handling in mind, but they wear out quicker than “regular” tires. They may be a good choice if you drive a sports car. But they aren’t ideal for your everyday grocery store runs.
- Check out tread wear warranties. You can find treadwear ratings on a tire’s sidewall. The higher the number, the longer the tire is supposed to last. Most tires have manufacturing quality and defect warranties, but some have a tread life warranty. In most cases, if your tires wear out before your reach the mileage number, you can get a credit towards a new set of the same tires.
- Shop around. Consider cost, convenience, and customer service when choosing where to buy your tires. Warehouse clubs, online sellers, tire dealers, car dealerships, and local shops all sell tires and have their pros and cons. If you’re looking for something specialized and unique, a local tire shop might be your best option, though you’ll probably pay a little more. Warehouse clubs and online sellers may offer more competitive prices, but their selections might be limited. Car dealerships provide convenience, but they aren’t the cheapest option, and you’ll likely have no choice but to buy original equipment tires. In the end, where you purchase your tires will depend on the kind of tires you want and your personal preferences.
- Only purchase tires from a reputable seller. Visit BBB.org to see business ratings and read customer reviews. Make sure you only do business with a tire vendor with a good reputation and plenty of positive reviews. A little research goes a long way in finding out if a company is trustworthy or if they employ questionable business practices. Speak with someone on the phone or in person and ask plenty of questions about tire selections, installation, and warranties. Note the level of customer service you receive during this initial interaction to determine how you’ll be treated during tire installation and after the sale.
- Keep an eye on the fees. You’ll probably have to pay some extra fees on top of the cost of the tires. You’ll likely see installation charges, disposal fees for your old tires, and taxes on your final bill. Some vendors may ask you to pay for new tire stems and resetting the Tire Pressure Monitoring System. Still, others might offer add-on services like filling the tires with nitrogen and road hazard warranties. Review all the fees and add-ons carefully before you agree to buy.
- Inspect new tires upon installation. Take a good look at your new tires before you leave the shop. Look for any signs of damage and make sure the directional tread is facing the same way on all four tires. After you’ve driven a few miles on the new tires, check the tire pressure for each tire to make sure it matches the numbers indicated in the car’s door jamb. If tires are not within the suggested range, take the vehicle back to the shop for inspection.
- Maintain your new tires to extend their life. Regularly check your tire pressure, inspect the tires for signs of uneven wear and damage, and get regular tire rotations. These are all easy ways to keep your tires in good shape and make them last for as long as possible.
For more information
Visit the BBB Auto Resource Center for more advice on buying, selling, repairing, and maintaining your vehicle. See these BBB tips for choosing a car mechanic, buying a new car, and buying a used car.
Always work with businesses that follow BBB Accreditation Standards and BBB Standards for Trust.
One thought on “BBB Tip: A Buyer’s Guide to Purchasing Tires”
It makes sense that you should buy winter tires if you live in an area that has a lot of snow. My husband and I need to get new tires for our cars since our current ones are very old and worn out, so I wanted to make sure she choose the right ones. We’ll keep these tips in mind once we take our cars in to get new tires!
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