What you need to know before buying new tires

Buying New Tires

by Debra Karplus


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"The tires are the most important part of the car," according to a Senior Consumer Advice Editor at Edmunds (2010), an organization that manages three websites devoted to educating automotive consumers. If you are driving a relatively new vehicle, that's great. Keep the tires properly inflated, checking monthly, especially if outdoor temperatures vary in your area. Drive on reasonable roads, avoid excessive braking, and have your tires rotated and balanced every five thousand miles. These are a few of the ways you can stretch dollars by prolonging the life of your car tires, thus buying new tires less frequently.

How Do You Know When You Need New Tires?

But, if you own your vehicle long enough or drive many miles, ultimately you will need to replace them. Depending on the tires and other factors, expect to purchase new tires every thirty thousand to eighty thousand miles (indeed, that's a huge range) or at least every ten years, because tires simply get old after a while. An expert will probably know when tires need to be replaced, simply by looking at them. For the rest of us, there is a simple test that seems goofy, but many people insist that it's a reliable method.

Hold a penny between your thumb and index finger. Stick it into the tread of your tire with the top of the penny near Lincoln's head. If you can read any of the letters of "In God we Trust," then you probably need new tires.

If it looks like you do need new tires, the best time for you would be before winter sets in or before you will be taking a road trip.

When Can You Find the Best Deals for Buying New Tires?

Tires can be purchased relatively inexpensively online, especially if you have the promotion code for a discounted price, but you'll still need to find someone reputable to install and balance them properly. There could possibly be a problem with the warranty if the seller is not the installer. Check it out before buying. Or watch for good sales at auto repair shops or discount stores that have automotive departments that sell and install tires.

Though many items purchased as used are good buys, tires may be like shoes in that the used ones may be worn and potentially damaging, so look for new, good quality tires that are the correct size for your vehicle. That may seem obvious, but it's amazing how many people buy the wrong sized tires simply because they are cheaper. Don't skimp on this one. Additionally, you want to buy either two or four tires at a time. They will wear better and ultimately last longer, so buy them in pairs if possible. Don't only buy one tire! The type of driving, in town or highway, may determine which tires to select.

What Are Some Other Factors in Buying New Tires for Your Car, Van or Truck?

Tires have an expected life. The longer the tires are expected to last, the more expensive they may be. Consider how long you expect to own your vehicle when purchasing tires. Additionally, consider the warranty that comes with your tire purchase and never be enticed into buying an extended warranty with this (or any other!) purchase. Many warranties include free tire rotation and balancing as long as you have those tires on your vehicle, which costs about $35; that may or may not be an attractive feature of the warranty. Warranties often include free tire pressure checks. That's not as enticing as it may sound; as many places in your town are likely to check tire pressure on tires they didn't even sell. All you have to do is drive in and ask.

Don't tread lightly on your decision when it comes time for buying new tires. Take your time and look for deals online and local sales that best stretch your dollars. You'll be glad you did.


Debra is an occupational therapist, accountant, teacher and freelance writer. She is a writer for Advance for Occupational Therapy Practitioners. She also writes for Grand Magazine and has some items (fiction and non fiction) selling on Amazon.com (kindle). Learn more about her at DebraKarplus.blogspot.com.

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