How to Buy Tires On the Internet and Save Money

Tires are something everyone has to buy sooner or later. Most people will either go to the local tire store and buy what is on sale or buy another set of the tires the vehicle came with. With a little research through the links on this page, however, you can be sure you get the best tire for your vehicle and will more than likely save some money. This page contains links to sites where you can purchase tires over the Web or just find some prices and information. There are also links to the homepages of various tire companies. At the bottom of this page is a section explaining some tire lingo and those numbers on the sidewalls. The last part has some suggestions for those wanting to upgrade their wheels as well, including some tire size selectors.

What type of tires is right for my vehicle?

The type of tires right for a vehicle depend on the kind of vehicle. Cars, trucks, and vans all need different types of tires. Another consideration is the location of the place you live. For example, all season tires are preferable for those living in places where snow and ice are common. All season tires are not substitutes for snow tires, but provide better traction in mud and snow than do summer tires.

Another consideration are your driving habits and where you drive. For example, if you own a pickup or sport utility vehicle, but live in the city and only drive on paved roads, you probably don't need something designed for traction in mud and sand. Instead, something designed for your vehicle with wet traction, ride comfort, and quietness will be more appropriate. If you drive a car or van you will want to take in to consideration the type of vehicle and your driving habits. On a standard passenger car, a variety of tires will be suitable. For most people, a good all season tire with a quiet ride is the best choice. If you drive a luxury or performance sedan, something with better traction and handling may be in order. A caution though, the higher performance tires will cost considerably more. If you drive a sports car, you want maximum handling and traction. Choosing an inexpensive sedan tire could result in poorer handling on your vehicle than you are used to.

Just a note : If you have just bought normal tires that came with your vehicle in the past, you may want to upgrade. The tire services listed below can actually sell you tires for less money than your local retailer pays for them. You can often get a much better set of tires for less money than you spent on the current ones. Tire upgrades will be discussed a little further down the page.

Where can I find more information on tires on the Web?

Listed below are a few tire services with home pages on the Web. By visiting any of the three sites you can look for a tire suited to your needs, or search by brand or type if you already have something in mind. Tire Rack and Discount Tire Direct are the largest direct tires services. Their ads can be found in numerous car magazines. Each will provide a wide variety of information on a vast selection of tires. They also have toll free numbers you can call to ask questions before placing an order. Your order is shipped to your house through UPS generally. It will take two to three days depending on your location. Once the shipment arrives, you just take the new tires to one of your local tire shops for mounting and balancing. Call around town first and compare prices. There is quite often a wide range.
Also listed are the homepages of some tire companies if you want to find out even more information about their products.

What do the numbers on the side of a tire mean?

Many people are unfamiliar with the markings on the sidewall (the part of the tire facing outward). The set of numbers provide valuable information about the tire which can aid in helping identify what you currently have as well as what you are getting. Any of the services mentioned above can provide you with the same information as you request, in addition to professional opinions.

Most tire have a set of numbers on the side which look like this: 185 60 R 14 82H

The numbers each indicate part of the tire's dimensions and characteristics. The 185 is the width of the tire in millimeters. The next number is the aspect ratio. This indicates the tires height with respect to the width. For instance, in this case the width is 185 millimeters. The height of the sidewall is 60 percent of 185 millimeters. The R indicates the construction type of the tire. In this case, the tire is a radial. Other types include B, for bias-belted, and D, for diagonal construction. The last number is the rim size the tire will fit on in inches. This one has a rim size of 14 inches. The next number, 82, is the load index. The higher the number, the greater the weight the tire can handle at maximum pressure. For 82, the weight is 1047 lbs. In most cases, the number is not something to be concerned with. The last letter, H, is the speed rating. There is a corresponding speed to each letter. A few are listed below. The higher the speed rating, the sticker the compound. This results in better traction and generally shorter tire life in terms of miles.
S = 112 mph T = 118 mph H = 130 mph V = 149 mph Z = 149+ mph
The other information on a tire looks like this:
Treadwear 300 Traction A Temperature A
These indicate the characteristics of a tire. Note: These numbers are only good for comparison when examining tires made by the same company. Treadwear indicates how long the tire will generally last. A higher treadwear means you should get more miles out of the tires. The Traction letter is either A, B, or C. C means it meets minimum requirements and A is the best. The same goes for Temperature. This is a measure of how well the tire dissipates heat when in use under maximum inflation.

A few tips :

  1. Always stay with the same speed rating or a upgrade to a higher one.

  2. Going to a lower speed rating can result in poorer traction and handling that you are
    accustomed to.
  3. Make sure to place the same type of tires on the same axle.
  4. Rotate your tires every 6,000 miles.
  5. Check the pressure in the tires weekly.
  6. Keep the wheels properly aligned. If the car pulls to one side an alignment is needed.
  7. Periodically inspect tires for damage or premature wear.
  8. Use compact spares only temporarily.


Tips for upgrading to a larger size tire and wheel

Upgrading to a set of custom wheels can not only improve the looks of your vehicle, but also improve performance. If you are looking to upgrade there are a few things to keep in mind. First, try and keep the overall tire diameter the same. This can be calculated using the numbers on the present tires and the numbers of the ones you want. Listed below are a few places that can make these calculations for you. You can even get information on how much your speedometer reading will be affected by the change. Also, if you are buying performance wheels you should by performance tires to go with them. Tire Rack and Discount Tire Direct sell packages of wheels and tires together. This can usually save you even more money. Check the pages or call the toll free phone numbers listed above.

This page created by Josh Matthew and Jennifer Aaron
for Dr. Bruce R. Magee's English 303 class.