Tire Comparison: What You Need to Know Before You Buy Tires

Ferrari Tires
Rodolfo Araiza G, Flickr 

One of the most confusing things about buying tires is knowing precisely what kind of tires your car needs. But we’re not talking about size here, or even tread type – but performance rating. Depending on what you drive, your car may require tires that are specifically rated to perform well at and above certain speeds. These are called high performance tires, and they’re made with a softer rubber compound that enables them to flex more when cornering at higher speeds. Failing to get a tire with the right performance rating could lead to a heightened risk of accident.

Think about it. Your tires are the very thing that keep you from flying off the road into the path of oncoming traffic. They’re also the one piece of equipment that’s most often overlooked by drivers when it comes to taking corners and stopping suddenly. Before you replace your tires, check with your owner’s manual or read the sticker on the inside of your driver’s door. Here, you’ll find the manufacturer’s recommendation for not only the right size of tire to fit your vehicle, but also the proper speed rating. Never buy a tire with a speed rating inferior to the one that the manufacturer recommends. If you do, you could leave yourself open to a bunch of undesirable scenarios.

  • Poor handling on corners which can lead to accidents.
  • Tire blowout.
  • Irregular wear.
  • Premature wear.
  • Damage to your car’s alignment and suspension.
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While it’s never recommended to go down in performance rating, you can often buy tires that have higher speed and performance ratings than base manufacturer recommendations.

  • For example, maybe your sedan comes with standard tires but you’d like to get better handling. The answer? Replace your original equipment tires with higher performing tires that are more conducive to improved handling.
  • There’s a tradeoff that occurs, however, when you install high performance tires on your vehicle. When you take into consideration the fact that the higher the performance, the softer the rubber compound, one of the things you give up is longevity of life. In other words, you might be able to get 80,000 miles out of a standard passenger tire – but super high performing tires may only last you 20,000 or 40,000 miles under the same driving conditions and with the same care and frequency of rotation.

If you’re not sure what you need or what kind of performance rating would be best for your driving habits, talk to your local auto mechanic and discuss your options. High performance tires cost more, but in the end that extra cost may be well worth it if it means achieving better grip and handling.

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