Where to buy good tires?
We know you've heard it before, but it's critical enough to bear repeating. It's also a bit daunting, too, that the tires on a vehicle are the one single link to the road surface. Think about that for a moment. You can have the most powerful engine, the most sophisticated transmission, the most elaborate super-trick suspension, and every other automotive widget known to mankind, but it all ain't worth a tinker's damn if the tires (and wheels) are subpar. In a way, it's really a bit strange but that's just how the operation of the automobile is.
Luckily, after examining the facts in the above-noted fashion, you can rest assured that tire technology is at an all-time high and it keeps getting better. In fact, it's actually quite amazing that while crummy tires can hurt a great car, great tires can do wonders for a less-than-fantastic car. In other words, there are some instances where tire technology is way beyond many of the cars on the road.
The technology that makes wheels and tires as good as they are is also what can make the subject quite intimidating. Our purpose here is to try and put a finer point on some of the basics of wheels and tires, and how to select them, too. Think of it as a wheel-and-tire primer that will provide you with some ground-floor facts when it comes time to make a replacement tire purchase or a wheel-and-tire upgrade.
For starters, there's tons of information on the sidewall of any tire and we cover that thoroughly in Sidewall Graffiti. There you'll find the full scoop on exactly what all the numbers mean.
If you've bought a vehicle new and come to the point where you need to replace the tires, there are several ways to go. Of course the easy way is get the exact size and make that came on the vehicle when it was new. Beyond that, you might consider going to a better quality tire or one that improves dry and/or wet handling that's still the same size as the OE tire. The next step would be to switch to a different wheel and the reasons for doing that are numerous. Some people merely want a different look for the wheel while using the same tires that came on the original wheels. While this might be OK if you want to make an appearance change right away, we think it's better to wait until you need new tires anyway, then upgrade to a larger diameter wheel and tire all at once.
Known as the plus sizing concept, this basically means that if you have a 15-inch wheel, plus one would be a 16-inch wheel and plus two would be a 17-inch wheel. But before we get further into wheels, we want to shed some light on what you should know when walking into a tire store to buy tires for your existing wheels. And, of course, this info also applies when you're doing a wheel upgrade, as well.