Before you start shopping for new tires for you car, you need to ask yourself some important questions and do a little bit of research. Otherwise you may be overwhelmed by the incredible range of options available out there.

First, decide if you are replacing a blown or worn out tire or if you are buying a complete new set of wheels & tires . There are definite cost savings to buying just one tire at a time. However, there are also consequences to the performance and overall safety of your car if you drive with different tires instead of a matched set.

Next, take a look at the numbers on your existing tires and the manufacturer specs for your rims. The latter should be on a plate on the inside of the front door on the driver’s side. These numbers and letters will help you understand your current tires and make decisions about what tires to buy.

The numbers on the tire will indicate things like the load index, speed rating, and aspect ratio. Heavier vehicles, like SUVs, need a higher load index than small sedans. Most vehicles will be fine with tires with a speed rating of S, which is good for speeds up to 112 mph. A lower aspect ratio will indicate a performance tire.

When considering the construction of the tires to buy, you want to consider the driving conditions that you generally encounter. Wet or snowy climates call for more traction with wider channels for the water to run off the tires. Off road tires or all-terrain will have a tread design best described as knobby, which performs well on dirt, gravel, and even grass.

Lastly, you’ll need to take a look at the wear ratings of the tires. Higher wear ratings (600 is the highest), indicate the tires should last longer, offering a better investment. However, higher wear tires may be made of harder rubber, which can affect traction when driving on dry roads.

Ultimately you’re going to want to put all these facts together to determine which tires are best for your vehicle and which deal is best for your pocketbook.

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