How to choose the best tires for your vehicle?

September 23, 2008 at 1:39 am 4 comments

used car priceThe “right” set of tires greatly affects your vehicle’s performance and handling, road worthiness and safety, and fuel economy. Here is the spin on how to choose the right tires for your vehicle.

There are so many brands available in the market today and they all claim to be the best performance-boosting-safety-enhancing-fuel-efficient-super-tires. Well, maybe they really are but how would you choose the right one for your vehicle?

It all depends on the type of vehicle you drive, the climate and terrain of your locality and how you intend to use your vehicle. After considering these factors, your decision should be based on the tire’s performance and safety, price, brand and appearance.

To help you weigh your options, here are a few basic tire classifications to start with:


Each vehicle model has a specific range of appropriate tire sizes. This is usually listed in the owner’s manual or on a label posted on the vehicle. Anyway, it’s easy to get this information online.


There are three basic tire types: radial, bias-ply and bias belted. Most vehicles today come equipped with radial tires because they generally offer better performance and more durability.

Of course, you don’t need to know that some tires specify in their labels that they are for use as temporary spares, for passenger cars or for light trucks. But now you also know.


Tread, here, refers to the rubber on the circumference of the tire which is designed to make contact with the ground.

The most common are all-season tires which can be used for regular highway conditions, rain, snow, slush and mud. This type of tire usually has an “m + s” (mud + snow) label. Then there are also specialized treads for snow or for regular highway conditions only.

All tires made by manufacturers who distribute to the US (most likely those also available in your area) must meet federal safety standards. Grades are assigned by manufacturers after performing tests designed by the government.

Except for off road tires and temporary spares, each tire has a label printed on paper or molded on the side of the tire. The quality ratings are based on the tire’s tread wear, traction and temperature resistance.

Tread wear grade

This tells you how long the manufacturer expects the tire to last in comparison to other tires if all were subjected to the same usage conditions. For example, a tire rated 200 is expected to last twice as long as a tire rated 100.

Traction rating

This is scored A, B or C, tells you how well the tires can stop your vehicle on wet roads. Those tires rated “A” offer the best traction.

Temperature resistance

This rating, also scored A, B, or C, measures how well the tire will resist overheating during sustained high speed use. Yes, a tire graded “A” represents the best performance.


Here’s how a typical tire label looks like: P205/60R-16 91V

In this tire label, “P” indicates that the tire is for passenger cars. Variations are “LT” for light truck or “T” for temporary or spare tire.

“205/60” means that the tire is 205mm wide and its side walls are 60mm tall.

“R” in this case means that this is a Radial tire.

“16” refers to the diameter of the wheel rim which is 14 inches.

“91” is the tire’s load index.

And the last letter “V” refers to the speed rating, the maximum safe speed that the tire can still be performing under ideal conditions. Variations are: Q (99mph), S (112mph), T (118mph), U (124mph), H (130mph), V (up to 149mph), Z (more than 149mph), W (168mph), and Y (186mph).


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