Buying Tires for Young Drivers

Friday, November 5, 2010 by Larry Shead
What is the best tire for your daughter's or son's car? The answer depends on how old the driver is, where they drive and the make, model and year of the vehicle. With this information we can recommend the best traction tire we sell for their vehicle and the weather conditions they will face.

For example, my son's 04 VW Golf's tires and wheels are the O.E. size and the recommended minimum speed rating is H (130 mph) and the minimum load capacity is S (standard load). We live in Indiana and the worst conditions we face are deep snow and ice during the winter. On my son's car we are not going to run a dedicated set of winter tires, so finding the tire that meets the minimum requirements for the vehicle and have the best snow and ice traction in an all-season tire would be ideal for my son.

If treadlife, noise or other factors are important as well, our Tire Decision Guide can help you sort out the tires that best fit your needs based on performance categories. If it helps you, a quick call to one of our sales specialists will confirm your choices and further answer any questions that you may have.


Check the Tires on Your New or Used Car

Friday, October 29, 2010 by Larry Shead

If you have recently purchased a new or used vehicle, hopefully the tires were in good shape and the tread type was appropriate for where you live and drive.

When we bought my son a used Golf, the tires that are on the vehicle were a summer tread and only had 5/32 tread depth available. Not an ideal situation this time of year for a 17-year old living in South Bend, Indiana. I suggested  to my son that he check our website and search for what tire is best suited to his vehicle, driving style and price range.

The web site proved beneficial, as he was able to find six tires that would work on his car and that would provide safe traction for the weather conditions we face here in the Midwest. 

It is good to know that even the young enthusiasts among us can navigate the Tire Rack web site, find available product and learn more about his car and vehicles in general!

Are you going to drive in snow for the first time this year?

Friday, October 22, 2010 by Larry Shead
If this will be your first time driving in a winter climate, there are few things to consider. One of the most important things to remember is that how comfortable and competent you are driving in winter weather is important, but being aware of the other drivers around you is equally important. In other words, defensive driving techniques are valuable when driving in winter conditions and putting winter snow and ice tires on your vehicle is the best way to up your "defensive driver" status.

Most vehicles on the road today can be fit with winter / snow tires in either the Original Equipment sizes or "minus size." Tire and wheel packages will in nearly every case improve your snow and ice traction and decrease the overall cost of installation.

Search for winter tires or winter tires and wheel packages by vehicle.

Be safe and enjoy the ride.

Slip Sliding Away

Friday, October 1, 2010 by Larry Shead
Until yesterday, I was sure that I knew how to drive on summer performance tires in wet conditions without losing control of my vehicle and spinning out. Little did I know that when the test track temperatures drop, 75% of the straight line traction and 95% of the slalom course and skid pad traction would be lost.

At first I thought it was the brand of tire I was test driving that was causing the slip sliding away, but all four tires that we tested responded the same way -- limited traction other than straight line at slow speeds.

What a suprise I got when I was sideways on the track, not once, but several times during the course of eight runs on the Max Performance Summer tires we were testing. The lesson I learned is one that I thought I already knew, but apparently not since all of my personal vehicles use Passenger All-Season tires.

This new information will serve me well when recommending a solution to a loss of traction in cool temperatures when using summer performance tires in wet conditions.

When it Snows Can You Still Go?

Friday, September 10, 2010 by Larry Shead

If you live in an area of the country where snow and ice will be upon you before you can say "Winter Tire and Wheel Package" then you have some decisions to make about how you are going to get the traction you need to stay on the road and keep your car out of the collision center.

Tire Rack recommends a dedicated set of winter tires and wheels for several reasons. Having a separate set of tires and wheels for spring, summer and fall and another for winter is more expensive up front,  but over the life of the tires and wheels you are saving on wear and tear and saving the expense of remounting and rebalancing twice a year.

And for snow and ice, there is nothing better than a dedicated winter tire. The tread pattern, tread depth and tread compound are uniquely designed to provide traction that no all-season tire is capable of providing. Many of the cars that roll off the assembly line are equipped with summer performance tires that simply are not effective when the temperatures fall below 40 degrees Farenheit.

The time to start shopping for winter tires and winter tires and wheels is right now!

How to Choose a Winter / Snow Tire That Meets Your Needs

Saturday, September 4, 2010 by Larry Shead

When it comes to winter tires there are three types on the market. Studless Ice and Snow tires provide the best traction on ice and in packed snow conditions without the need for tire studs, while Performance Winter / Snow tires have the correct tread design, tread compound and tread depth to suit less severe winter conditions. Finally, there are the Studdable Winter / Snow tires that are designed to provide winter traction using traditional studdable tread designs and winter compounds for good snow and ice traction. Studded winter tires are not legal in all states and those states where they are legal typically have time frames when they can be on the roadway.

All winter tires will provide the best traction and vehicle stability when installed in sets of four on your vehicle.

When choosing what category of snow tire best meets your needs, consider the following.

How much snow and ice do you see on average during a winter season?

If your roads are generally clear and mostly dry, then you might be able to get away with a Performance Winter / Snow tire as opposed to the studdless variety, thus providing you with less noise, better tread life and greater sidewall stability.

Would you prefer to have the best winter traction, just in case the weather is worse than anticipated or to stay safe when traveling in your area?


The traffic in some areas is so congested that it is hard to predict when you are going to need to have the highest grip level to avoid sliding into someone when avoiding an accident even though there may not be much snow and ice on the roadway.

Whatever your needs may be, Tire Rack has snow tires to keep you safe and get you through even the worst weather conditions.

Balance and Control. The Key to Winter Traction.

Friday, August 20, 2010 by Larry Shead
All winter / snow tires are not created equally. Some are better in deep snow or on ice or hard-packed snow. Some snow tires offer just slightly better snow and ice traction than an all-season tire although they provide superior handling on dry or wet road conditions. Depending on the part of the country you live in, the vehicle you drive and your winter driving skill, there is a snow tire designed specifically for your needs.

When choosing to use snow tires, the safest and best traction comes from having four snow tires on the vehicle. Starting, cornering and stopping traction will be at the highest level when all four tires are gripping at the same level.

Certain parts of the country receive significantly more snow than other areas, and some areas have more ice to contend with than snow. The manufacturers who produce snow tires have taken all of that into account and in my eight years of selling snow tires, there have not been very many (none that I can recall off-hand) times when a customer was unable to find a snow tire that when installed in a set of four, would not provide the safety and traction required for a particular area of the country.

Whether you need performance winter tires for your sports sedan or studded snow tires for your light truck, Tire Rack has a wide range of brands and sizes to choose from to help you keep moving when the snow starts to fly.

Too Many Tire Choices, Not Enough Time

Friday, August 13, 2010 by Larry Shead
If you are as busy as I am, it is hard enough to sit down to eat dinner with your family once a month, let alone try to research what product best suits my needs when shopping for the best value.

At Tire Rack, we do the product research to shorten your time spent selecting tires, wheels, suspension or brake components. You are just a click away from enough information, consumer reviews and test results to make choosing products simpler.

Please take the time to visit our website. You can specify your vehicle and the kind of product you are looking for and we pretty much do the rest by just showing you only the products that will fit your vehicle.

As always, you can call and speak to a sales specialist and get good old fashioned recommendations.

Enjoy the ride.

Long Lasting Tread Life with Traction to Boot

Friday, August 6, 2010 by Larry Shead
If there was a tire that was long lasting and could provide exceptional traction throughout the life of the tire as well, would you be more likely to buy the tire?

Tires with long treadlife (60K or more) and excellent dry and wet traction are on the market today. At Tire Rack, we stock 17 major brands of tires and sizes to fit all current production vehicles and hard-to-find Original Equipment tires.

turanza serenityAn example of a long wearing, great traction tire would be the Bridgestone Turanza with Serenity. The Serenity is available in H-, V- and W-speed ratings and made in 35 different sizes. The treadlife warranty is 60K on the H- and V-rated tires. The W-rated tire has a 45K mile warranty. With almost 3.5 million miles reported on in our consumer reviews and a "buy again" rating of 8.2 out of 10, the Serenity tire will provide the traction and safety you need with the treadlife and value you deserve.

Truck Tire Load Ratings

Friday, July 23, 2010 by Larry Shead
When considering what tires to purchase for your truck, think about the load carrying capability of the tire you select. Half-ton pickups can use standard load-rated tires, but 3/4- and 1-ton vehicles require load range D or E tires to meet the Gross Vehicle Axle Weight.  

For example, a common truck tire size of 245/7R16 is made in standard load, load range C, D and E but can support distinctly different loads and accept considerably different inflation pressures.

Maximum Load: 2,271 lbs.
Max. Inflation Pressure: 44 psi
Load Range: SL  

Maximum Load: 2,205 lbs.
Max. Inflation Pressure: 50 psi
Load Range: C    

Maximum Load: 2,623 lbs.
Max. Inflation Pressure: 65 psi
Load Range: D  

Maximum Load: 3,042 lbs.
Max. Inflation Pressure: 80 psi
Load Range: E          

As you can see, the load carrying capability of the tires varies greatly and is designed to meet the needs of the heavier 3/4- and 1-ton axle weights when you get into load ranges D and E.

Meeting the load requirements of the vehicle you are putting tires on will offer you the safety and performance the vehicle was engineered to provide.

The Right Tires for My Vehicle, Driving Style and Geographic Area

Friday, July 16, 2010 by Larry Shead
Decisions, decisions, decisions! How does someone sort through all of the brands, performance categories and reviews to arrive at the best tire for their needs? Testing that includes side-by-side comparisons in a controlled environment and continual updates of tech articles are at your disposal as well.

Tires are an important aspect of a vehicle’s handling, performance and safety; so finding the right tire to fit your needs is worth the time it takes to do the research.

Ideally, when searching for tires, you should attempt to reduce your selection to three tires. It is unlikely that more than three tires are suitable for a particular car, driving style and area of the country where the vehicle is primarily driven. Take your time and enjoy the learning process. And always, we can help.

Tire & Wheel Packages – Convenient, Cost-Effective and Great Looking

Friday, June 25, 2010 by Larry Shead
If you own a vehicle that is four or more years old, there is good chance that the wheels are starting to look dingy, scratched and unappealing. If it is time to purchase new tires, you might be able to solve two problems with one purchase, by considering a Tires & Wheels Package. 

Building a Tires & Wheels Package is pretty simple once you take into consideration your budget, ride quality desired, driving style and the weather conditions of your region.

Wheels come in different finishes, different spoke designs and have slightly different manufacturing processes that make them stronger and possibly lighter; both good things for a wheel. Most newer vehicles have thousands of wheels that would fit properly and the sheer number of wheels to select from can become overwhelming, but with a little forethought and patience, you can choose a Tire & Wheel Package that will enhance the look of your vehicle and provide excellent value.

Bubbles are for gum not tires

Friday, June 18, 2010 by Larry Shead

Low profile tires and larger rim diameters may make tires more vulnerable to road hazards like potholes, railroad tracks and curbs.

When a bubble appears on the sidewall of your tire, you can be pretty sure that an impact occurred and the tire’s inner liner has been pinched. When the liner has been pinched, a pinhole appears that allows air to escape to the outside and for a bubble to form.

Once a bubble appears, tire safety has been compromised and it is only a matter of time before the tire fails.  Another impact in the area of the bubble can cause the tire to have a catastrophic failure.

Inspecting your tires regularly for road hazard damage and for proper tire inflation pressure will keep you safe and help your tires wear more effectively.

One final point, tires can bubble on the inside wall as easily as on the outside wall, be sure to check both sides when you are doing your inspections.

Knowing When Your Tires are Toast

Friday, June 4, 2010 by Larry Shead
Tires do not last forever. Some tires wear out faster than others, but how can you tell when it is time to make a tire change? Using a tread depth guage is certainly one way to determine if your tires are ready for the recycle bin. You can even use a coin as a guide for how much tread remains on your tires.

All of that aside, the best way to determine if your tires are toast would be if they are still providing a safe level of traction in the worst conditions you face. Dry traction is seldom the problem, but being prepared for wet conditions or even winter weather means your tires need a few 32nds of tread depth to keep you safely on the road.

Most tires worth their weight in salt lose the bulk of their hydroplaning resistance once the tread depth reaches 4/32. For snow traction the 6/32 tread depth is when snow and ice traction starts to slip away.

Knowing when to replace your tires based on your driving conditions and the part of the country where you drive most frequently will help your vehicle get a grip. A quick call to one of our sales specialists just before the rainy or snowy weather comes to your area will give you a good idea if it is time to replace your tires.

Abbreviations Worth Remembering

Friday, May 28, 2010 by Larry Shead
In the tire industry, there are certain abbreviations that are used frequently and often those of us in the business forget that not everyone we talk to knows what all of the jargon means.

For example O.E. stands for Original Equipment and Ser. Des. means service description.

Other abbreviations associated with tires include:
The list can go on on from here, but these are some of the more common abbreviations used in the tire industry.
Here's more technical information on tires.

Spring showers

Friday, May 21, 2010 by Larry Shead
Having the right tires on your vehicle for evacuating water and resisting hydroplaning is important during the rainy season. Certain brands are better than others when it comes to wet traction.

The Tire Rack testing program helps us determine which tires are the best in cornering and braking on wet surfaces.  Putting the tires through the paces on our fully irrigated test track with a skid pad and slalom course gives us a true and reliable indication of what tires are capable of "handling the wet."

The tread design of a tire helps reduce hydroplaning at high speeds and when you are passing through deep water.  Where the tread compound is most effective is when you are traveling at lower speeds or in shallow water. By choosing a directional tread design when using a wider tire size than original equipment, you will receive maximum resistance to hydoplaning.  Would you like more information on hydoplaning resistance?

The Tire Decision Guide on Tire Rack's website is a superb tool for determining the best tire for your needs. The surveys and the tests links on our site will assist you all year long with your tire selection, too.

Tire Expertise at Every Turn

Thursday, May 13, 2010 by Larry Shead
Are you looking for a highly trained professional to answer your tire questions? If you would like to figure out what tire best fits your needs based on where you live, how you drive and what tire is the best overall value, then you definitely should check us out.

Tire Rack testing and customer review programs are unique to the tire industry. Each sales specialist receives extensive training in the classroom, on the track and by speaking to our valued customers on a daily basis.

If you live in a warm climate we can find the correct summer tire to meet your needs or we can recommend an all-season tire that is longer wearing, quieter and often more economical than a purely summer tire.

If you need one Original Equipment tire due to a road hazard or a set of four tires, you can expect us to know what you are looking for and to provide you with fast, efficient and cost-effective shipping right to your door or better yet, to a recommended installer near where you live or work.

Because we listen and we care about your repeat business, our expert advice coupled with the fact that we carry 18 major brands of tires means you can be confident that before and after the sale you will be getting the best Tire Rack has to offer.