Tire confidential: Tips on picking the right one for you

(BPT) – To most people, a tire is a tire is a tire. To the naked eye, that’s absolutely correct: They are black and round. However, upon further inspection, tires are one of the most technologically advanced parts of a car, influencing the braking, steering, comfort, handling, safety and fuel efficiency. They are also the only parts actually touching the road.

Whether it’s the daily commute, family road trip, cruise to the beach, off-road adventure or grocery run, tires absorb constant pounding over all sorts of surfaces in all kinds of weather conditions. Thanks to stout engineering and technology, they continue to perform with amazing effectiveness and last longer than ever.

However, no matter how long-lasting tires are, there’s a time when you’ll need to replace them, and picking the right one for your vehicle can be challenging. ‘Cornering, acceleration, wet road traction, tire wear, ride, styling and fuel economy can be modified by changing tires,’ says Alan Holtschneider of Yokohama Tire. ‘Knowing what types of tires are available is important because it can save money and fuel and vastly improve a vehicle’s ride and handling.’

Holtschneider said the first step to selecting the right tires is to consider how you will be using them.

* Think about how far (and fast) you normally drive and add in the weather and road conditions you generally encounter.

* Determine how you want your vehicle to perform.

* Calculate how much money you want to spend.

* Decide how long you plan to keep the vehicle.

With countless tire sizes and types, there are a few things to know, according to Holtschneider. The three basic tire categories are all-season, summer and winter.

* All-season tires are the most popular because they can work all year, depending on where you live. All-season tires can even handle moderate snow.

* Summer tires are generally more performance/handling-oriented and are not recommended for winter/snowy conditions.

* Winter tires are great in the snow but don’t perform as well in non-wintry conditions.

There are sub-categories, too, like ultra high performance, light truck and grand touring tires, says Holtschneider. ‘For example, the AVID Ascend GT fits into the grand touring segment. It’s a highly advanced all-season tire delivering improved wet/snow braking and handling, long mileage and superior comfort.’

After selecting the tire that best meets your needs, Holtschneider suggests keeping them properly maintained. Here are some tips:

* Check tire pressure at least once a month – this takes about five minutes. Consult the vehicle’s owner’s manual or placard on the driver’s door to determine proper tire pressure. Tire pressure should be checked when the tires are cold.

* Check your tread depth by placing a penny upside down into a tread groove. If you can see all of Lincoln’s head, your tire’s tread has worn down to the legal limit and you need to buy a new tire.

* Tires should be replaced when the tread is worn down to 2/32 of an inch, the lowest legal limit. It’s best to replace them before they reach 2/32 for optimal performance, especially in bad weather.

For more tire care and safety tips, visit www.yokohamatire.com/tires-101.

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