Tire Buying Guide

Everything you need to know about buying new tires


How to tell if you need new tires

The life of a tire can depend on a combination of factors such as driving habits, upkeep and road conditions—meaning there’s no comprehensive answer for when it’s time to put on some new wheels. However, there are three major things you should consider when making the call: treadwear, age and surface defects.

Treadwear

The tread on your tires should be in healthy condition. The longer and more even the treads, the better. When the grooves of your tread appear shallow and uneven, you are risking less grip on the road especially in harsh weather conditions.

How to tell if your tire tread is too short

Use the penny test.

  1. Take a penny, and position Abe’s head downward into one of the grooves of the most worn part of tire tread.
  2. If any part of Abe’s head is covered by the tread, your tire is fine. This means your tire has at least 2/32” of tread. If there is a gap between the tire tread and his head, it’s time to buy new tires

Age

After your tires turn five years old, most manufacturers recommend to have your tires inspected annually. Depending on your driving habits and maintenance, it could be time for a change, or it could last another five years

Proper upkeep will extend the life of the tire, but most manufacturers suggest replacing tires at 10 years, regardless of visible appearance.

How to tell your tire’s age

On the sidewall of the tire, there will be a 12-digit DOT code. The last four digits represent the date the tire was manufactured—the first two of the four indicate the week number and the last two indicate the year it was made.

Surface Defects

Due to improper maintenance and/or extreme weather conditions, your tire may endure physical changes throughout its life. These changes can cause defects such as cracks on the sidewall, bulges and blisters. These weak spots may be an indication that a leak is developing or the tire’s surface is about to suddenly blow out. If your tires are showing signs similar to the image below, you are in need of new tires immediately.


What type of tires to buy

SpeedyTire offers a wide selection of tire types available for a variety of driving needs. While most manufacturers create many lines of tires with different proprietary characteristics, they can typically be grouped into general categories based on vehicle requirements and driver preferences. To get started, select the type that’s best for you and your vehicle.

All Terrain

Made for both on-and-off-road driving all year long. When you find yourself in muddy, snowy, wet or dry conditions, these tires will stand up to the challenge and provide comfortable ride along the way.

All Season

Your standard, middle-of-the-road type of tire. Often the most popular and versatile tires, All Season tires offer a dependability designed for a variety of driving conditions in addition to good fuel economy and tread life.

Performance

Best for low speed traction, cornering and handling. If you’re looking maneuvering capabilities with decent tread life, these are your best bet.

Highway

Designed for a quiet ride and longer tread life. Highway tires offer a more predictable ride for high mileage usage on those long commutes.

Racing

Clings to the road and hugs curves. This type of tire is made to put as much of its soft rubber on the pavement as possible for ultimate acceleration and control.

Touring

Offers all-season capability, predictable handling and long tread life. Touring tires can take light snow conditions while providing a smooth, quiet ride for your most frequent driving.

Ultra High Performance

Designed for the top luxury sedans and sport cars. These tires tout a quiet, gliding ride with superior control and handling only for the most elite vehicles.

Runflat

Stays inflated when punctured. Depending on the model, these tires can drive up to 50 miles after the puncturing incident. Runflats can only be installed on cars with a Tire Pressure Monitoring System (TPMS).

Winter

Provides increased traction on the snow and ice. Also called “Snow Tires,” these tires sport larger treads to provide the extra grip you need on the slick roads in the winter months.

All Season Runflat

Focuses on versatility and dependability. Made for the most common type of driving, these tires offer the additional security of driving up to 50 miles after being punctured. Runflats can only be installed on cars with a Tire Pressure Monitoring System (TPMS).

Ultra High Performance Runflat

The luxury sedans and sports car tire that won’t give up on you. These Ultra High Performance tires have the potential to drive up to 50 miles after being punctured. Ultra High Performance Runflats can only be installed on cars with a Tire Pressure Monitoring System (TPMS) and a speed rating of Z or higher (indicated on the tire’s outer wall).


What size tires to buy

Use SpeedyTire’s Vehicle Search

Finding the size tires you need is a breeze using SpeedyTire’s search. Just enter your vehicle’s year, make and model, and we’ll provide a selection of tires that are made for your vehicle!

Search Now

OR

Look at your current tires

By law, your tires are labeled with several measurements on the sidewall. Use the diagram below to identify the necessary measurements.

What the writing on your tires mean

When you look at the wall of your tires, you should see a set of 8-12 characters such as P235/75R15. This is called the Tire Identification Number (TIN).

Tire Type ​– the first letter or set of letters in the sequence referring to the type of vehicle or circumstance when the tire may be used.

Common types include:

  • P – Passenger
  • LT – Light Truck
  • ST – Special Trailer
  • T – Temporary

In our example...our tire is a passenger tire.

Tire Width ​— the set of numbers following the tire type in millimeters(mm). This indicates the width of the tire tread.

In our example...our tire’s width is 235mm.

Aspect Ratio​ — the two-digit number following the slash. This number represents the ratio of the height of the tire's cross-section to its width.

In our example...our ratio is 75, meaning the tire height is 75% of its width.

Speed Rating (optional) ​– the letter following the Aspect Ratio. In some cases, the tire will display a W,Y or Z to show the speeds it can handle, with Z being the highest speeds for performance tires.

In our example… our tire does not have one.

Construction​ — the letter following the speed rating or aspect ratio. This represents the way the tire was constructed—the most common being Radial.

In our example… our tire is Radial.

Rim Diameter ​– the last number or two in the sequence indicating the width of the rim in inches.

In our example, our tire has a rim diameter of 15 inches.