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One of your first choices when buying tires is what type to get; all-season, touring tires, or seasonal tires. But what do these terms mean? An all-season or all-weather tire has treads built to handle a variety of conditions from dry pavement to wet and slushy or snowy roads. These tires perform "in the middle" for all these conditions in terms of handling and performance. When ordering tires, if you want a set that excels in winter conditions, seasonal tires are the way to go. Keep in mind that you'll need to change from winter seasonal tires to summer once the weather turns. Seasonal tires tend to wear out much faster when used "out of season". A touring tire is one built to offer a comfortable ride, like a regular passenger tire, but also offer some high-performance features too. High performance tires are built for speed and have larger dimensions.
Tires are required to come with information on the week and year that particular tire was made. When you are ordering your new tires, save your receipts and use them to help enforce your tire warranty, which is usually good for four years from the day you ordered your tires. Otherwise, the warranty is only good for five years based on the tire's manufacturing date. If you buy a tire that is a few years old when you purchase it new, your warranty won't expire until four years from the date on the receipt regardless of what the manufacturing date may be. This can really work to your advantage!
When you are ordering tires, mechanics recommend you let the professionals handle the installation. Why can't you just mount a tire and spin the lug nuts until they are tight? For one thing, tires need proper balancing. When you buy tires and have them installed, the mechanic places tiny weights around the tire at certain intervals to insure the weight is evenly distributed around the tire. When a tire is properly balanced there is no vibration. An out of balance tire will vibrate, because the weight is uneven. Tire vibration affects the comfort of your ride, the life of your wheel bearings, shock absorbers and other parts of the suspension. Expert tire balancing is vital for the health of your car!
When looking at tire prices, you may notice an acronym popping up again and again; UTQG. This stands for "Uniform Tire Quality Grade". The UTQG is a government tire rating system which measures many different factors including temperature resistance, treadwear, and traction. Some tires are rated lower on the scale depending on their function. A mud tire is not built to last on the open road, so it may have a lower treadlife than a high mileage touring tire. Nobody expects to put 40 thousand miles in a mud bog, so naturally those who buy tires made for mud aren't bothered if those tires are rated lower in treadlife. The rating has different relevance depending on your needs. One thing to remember, the UTQG is most relevant between tires of the same manufacturer. Different companies make their tires in different ways-your results may vary between one brand and another.
When checking on tire prices, you may see a price listed for the tire alone, and another price for the tire with a wheel included. Some get confused here by tire terms. A tire is the rubber that meets the road, whereas a wheel is what a tire gets mounted on. If you are ordering tires and aren't interested in replacing your wheels, simply tell the mechanic you want to have new tires put on your existing wheels. If you do want a new tire/wheel combo, ask your dealer to show you a price list that includes wheels on all tires in your price range. The kind of wheels you want may affect the overall price of the tire. Many sellers offer package incentive deals for wheel/tire combos, so upgrading your original equipment wheels may not be as pricey as you might think.
When ordering tires, it saves a lot of time if you can tell the dealer exactly what you are looking for. Doing so helps speed up the process by giving the sales associate the exact information needed to help you with your purchase; knowing your stuff helps alleviate fears that you aren't taken seriously as a customer or could be taken advantage of. Going in armed with the right knowledge helps you put your best foot forward when talking tire terms. Do you know your sidewall from your whitewall? Your steel belts from your seat belts? You will get a lot of good, concise info that will come in handy at the tire counter.
When a mechanic shakes his or her head at your tires and says they have been vulcanized, this is not a bogus use of a tire term. What your mechanic sees is the effects of heat on your tires, which can prematurely age them and render them useless over time. Vulcanized tires are hard and inflexible, which is the very thing you don't want when it comes to wet pavement. A vulcanized tire can lose its grip on the pavement, potentially sending you out of control until you can get some traction back. Vulcanized tires need to be replaced. If your mechanic uses the dread word in reference to your tires, it's time to start checking tire prices--it's not safe to wait.