The Best Tire for Your Driving Style

The average consumer thinks a tire is round and black. They aren't usually concerned about their tires until they come out to find it flat in the morning. Simply put, a tire is a container filled with compressed air. It determines the load your vehicle can safely maintain, the speed at which you can drive, and the comfort of the ride itself. This article will help you to determine what tire meets your needs, and how tires are rated by government standards.

Undoubtedly, the biggest mistake consumers makes is not following the guidelines for the vehicle when replacing tires. A car is designed to meet crucial specifications in the tire department. The manufacturer knows what is best for the vehicle because they do extensive testing before any vehicle is released to the public.

The U.S. Department of Transportation's National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) rates all tires in a specific way. This includes most tires that are now used on passenger cars, minivans, sport utility vehicles and light pickup trucks. Federal regulations require that these ratings be molded into the outer sidewall of all passenger vehicles' tires. NHTSA rates these tires with a letter/number grade consisting of three categories: temperature, traction, and tread wear.

Because the true test of any passenger tire is its ability to withstand heat, an "A", "B", and "C" rating are used. Tires rated "A" have the highest resistance to heat of any tire produced. Twenty seven percent of the tires produced today have an "A" rating, fifty nine percent a "B" rating and fourteen percent have a "C" rating according to NHTSA.

Traction is rated the same way. Tires with the highest rating, "AA", will stop a vehicle in the shortest possible distance on a wet road. Ranges are from "AA" to "C", with three percent of tires being rated "AA".

Tread wear is determined by using a control tire, giving it a rating of 100. Therefore, a tire rated 200 should last twice as long as the control tire. Currently, there are tires with a rating of 700, although most tires are rated 600 or below, with the lowest rating at 200 assigned to approximately thirteen percent of tires produced.

As you would not wear ballet slippers to go hiking, or snow boots to go dancing, so should you always use the proper tire for your driving style. Every function of your automobile is dependent on the rubber that meets the road. High powered engines, anti-skid systems, and a strong braking system are of little use to you if you do not utilize the proper tire for driving conditions. Worn tires are a true safety hazard, and proper maintenance and the use of the best tire for the driving needs is paramount to your safety.

If you do a great deal of high speed driving on the freeway, you need a tire that can withstand high heat and that gives you the best possible traction. Driving in hazardous conditions in areas of the country that have a lot of snowfall or wet weather would call for a tire that gives great traction and stability. If your main driving is around town and short commutes, then a tire that gives good traction and a smooth ride is best.

Today's tires are manufactured with up to 25 different components, from steel and fabric belts to the actual tread layer. The steel belts help to make the tread flatter, thus giving you more contact with the road. On the sidewall of the tire, a letter combination indicates what the tires are to be used for. "P" indicates a passenger tire; "LT" indicates a light truck. Many SUV's come equipped with LT tires, although they are not required to have them by law. Also, some tires have a "max load" identifier. Always follow the pattern and type for your vehicle.

If you do a lot of highway driving, you should also be aware of the speed rating of your tire. Tires are rated for speeds from 99 to 186 MPH. Common ratings are T (118 MPH) and H (130 MPH). This rating is perfect for freeway driving. If a consumer is doing a daily urban commute, then a tire with a speed rating of S (112 MPH) is perfectly acceptable.

Why is speed rating so important? Simply stated, speed rating determines the amount of heat dissipation a tire can handle. Because heat is the most determining factor in the life of a tire, a higher speed rating is a good choice for SUV's and highway drivers.

Another factor to consider is the load rating of the tire. It indicates the load carrying capacity for a single tire. Obviously, you will want to be sure to match load rating on any tire you buy.

Using common sense when buying tires for your vehicle goes a long way in determining your satisfaction with the tire. Never cut corners to save a few dollars when considering tires. They are the most important part of your vehicle.