Buying Tires Tips

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I found a great deal on tires if I sign up for a credit card. Should I?

Tire Prices, Discounts, and Company Credit Cards

Tire prices can be extremely competitive, and when the competition comes down to your credit card spending, the fight for your dollar can get even more intense. Many tire stores offer deep discounts for tires when you sign up for that company's credit card. Here's the catch--many of these companies may offer you an excellent price on tires while offering a not-so-excellent interest rate on the credit card. This is where reading the fine print is extremely important. Make sure you know not only the interest rate offered on the card, but also the kinds of penalties and service charges you could incur with late payments, charges that exceed your credit limit, etc. You might get up to three digit savings on your tire purchase, but if the surcharges, interest rates and fees add up, it could wind up costing you in the long run. It's worth noting that prices differ based on tire size, speed ratings, and make and model of the car so when comparing tire prices, make sure to compare similiar tires.

What about SUV and classic car tires?

What About SUV and Jeep Tires?

There are plenty of little things the average driver may not know about buying tires. The auto enthusiast makes it his or her business to know, but what about the rest of us? Many people don't know that the make and model of your car can affect your tire buying decisions. The driver of a BMW, for example, has much different needs than the owner of a Ford Contour. You'll also want to consider your driving conditions. Many people own SUVs, jeeps and other sport utility vehicles; how many of these owners will actually use the vehicles off-road? If you own a vehicle with "mudders" or other specialized tires, is there a "highway-only" version that will save you money and keep you road-worthy? A little research into your particular make and model may reveal some important results.

How useful is the treadwear grade printed on the side of the tire?

How Useful is the Treadwear Grade?

When looking at new tires, you'll notice a stamp on the tire that gives a "treadwear" grade. This grade will read 150, 300, 500 or higher. The numbers are simple to read--if a 300 grade tire wears at at 100,000 miles, a 500 grade tire should wear out at a higher mileage. When you go to buy tires, don't forget that these ratings are only accurate on tires of the same brand. The reason? A tire graded at 500 made by Company X has different testing standards than Company Y. A "500" from Company X may mean something quite different on Company Y's testing ground. If you buy tires from the same manufacturer every time, the treadwear grade isn't much of a mystery. If you are finding tires from a different manufacturer, do some research and get the skinny on how those tires perform at the different ratings. You can use that as your baseline when trying to figure out what grade tires your vehicle needs.

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Linda Handiak