What You Need to Know Before Buying New Tires

Need New Tires? Here’s What You Need to Consider

When it’s time for a new set of tires, you can’t just walk into your local auto service center and say, “Sell me some tires.” If you’re just interested in transportation and not a car enthusiast, perhaps you wish the conversation were that simple. While there are various tire specifications and qualities to be discussed, the ASE certified technicians at AutoStream Car Care in Ellicott City, Maryland, can help you navigate tire specifications so that you can outfit your vehicle without stressing unnecessarily over every detail.

What Do Tire Markings Mean?

When you look at the side of a tire, you may be confused by all the letters and numbers you see. Each item gives you relevant information or specifications. Once you understand what each element means, purchasing tires seems a lot less confusing. First, every tire for sale in the United States has a Department of Transportation (DOT) marking that assures you it meets safety requirements. The code will also indicate the manufacturer and tire size. It may also contain additional information such as tread pattern and time of production.

Manufacturers are also required to provide the Uniform Tire Quality Grade (UTQG) on the tire. This indicates information about the tire’s construction, tread life, etc. Inflation (indicated by PSI, pounds per square inch), and maximum load capacity are also included on the tire. Tire sizes are noted by a series of letters and numbers. P or LT denote whether the tire is for a passenger car or light duty truck. (A European metric tire does not carry this label.) Two numbers–one for sidewall to sidewall width and the other for sidewall height (aspect ratio)–give additional specifications. Next are a letter to give the speed rating (“Z,” “S,” or “T”) and an “R” if the tire is a radial (multiple specially designed layers for strength). The next number is the tire diameter. Finally, one finds the number indicating the load index and a letter which represents an additional speed rating.

Service After the Sale

Did you know that it takes more than just the initial purchase to have safe, long-lasting tires on your car? While purchasing good tires with the correct specifications for your vehicle and features that fit your preferences and driving habits is important, maintaining that new set is also crucial. Bring your car to AutoStream Car Care in Ellicott City, Maryland, for all your tire service needs–air pressure checks, flat repairs, rotating and balancing, and wheel alignment.

Written by Doug Grills

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