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Your vehicle tires provide the single link between your car and a road surface. No matter how powerful your engine is or how sophisticated the vehicle’s transmission is, it’s of no use if your tires are sub-par.

How to Choose Tires & Wheels

There are basically two important guidelines to remember while buying tires. The first is to know your expectations and driving needs so that the salesperson accurately understands and communicates your tire requirements.

Secondly, find a trustworthy store to buy the tire fitting your needs. Then ask the salesperson to clear the following points to ensure you buy the right tires:

1. Tread life: A tire’s projected life expectancy is graded by manufacturers based on tread wear, temperature resistance and traction. Manufacturers conduct tests based on government set guidelines to give a comparison between the tested and control tires.

The test gives the wear rate of the tire after field-testing on a government specified course. For example, a 150 tire grade tire wears 50% longer than a 100 tire grade tire. Though the tire’s performance varies with condition, this tread life number tells you how long a tire can last.

2. Weather requirements: Different climates mean there will be different requirements for tires. In higher altitudes that have harsher winters with snow and ice, all-season tires year round or snow tires in winter and standard tires in summer will be needed. At lower elevations that have mild winters with some rain, all-season or standard tires will work fine year round.

3. Speed: The speed rating of a tire is the tire’s safe top speed in ideal conditions. Though you may not need it, buy tires with a speed rating that’s good for 130mph as they cost less.

Most ultra-high performance tires have a speed rating of at least 149 mph, which most people buy even if they never reach that speed. However, remember that high speed rated tires are made of a softer rubber compound and thus have a shorter tread life rating and may not last as long in the actual world.

4. Ride quality: Low-profile tires of 50-40 series look great but are harsh on bumps when compared to a 55 or 60. Low profile tires easily expose wheels to damage and have stiffer sidewalls that may improve handling while increasing ride harshness. So you have comparisons to make before you choose.

5. Noise: If you drive mostly on lower-speed city streets, your tread design noise is not a worry. However, for highway driving, this should be considered especially if you usually drive an SUV on pavement. As the noise varies between tire brands and designs, a good salesperson will tell you which tires are quiet.

How to Choose Wheels

Now that you know about tires, next some information on wheels. There is no urgent reason but beauty to change wheels as they do not wear out like tires. Attractive wheels that come as original equipment in most of today’s cars define your car’s looks. So looks is one reason for changing wheels as good looking wheels make a lot of difference in cars and trucks.

Another reason to switch wheels is the plus concept. You can improve the performance and appearance of your vehicle by using a large diameter wheel on a low profile tire while maintaining speedometer and odometer changes.

Tires with shorter sidewalls give you better steering response and lateral stability. Moreover, most wheels look better than the tire’s sidewall. So if your car has a 15-inch wheel, upgrading it to a 16-inch wheel is a plus one and an 18-inch wheel is a plus three.

Benefits of good alloy wheels

1. The unsprung weight of a vehicle is that portion not supported by suspension like wheels and tires, and is not susceptible to road shock and cornering forces. Alloy wheels have a reduced unsprung weight compared to steel wheels and provide for more precise steering input and better cornering characteristics. So look for a good-quality alloy wheel as it affects a vehicle’s road holding ability.

2. Moreover, the alloy wheel’s strength reduces tire deflections in cornering, which is important in cars with high performance tires. Alloy wheels also provide better brake cooling as they are great heat conductors that improve heat dissipation from brakes.

3. Good alloy wheels also reduce the risk of brake fade in demanding conditions like spirited driving on twisted mountain roads. They allow cool airflow over brake rotors and calipers while its lighter rotational weight provides increased acceleration and fuel economy.

With the help of these tips, it’s easier to make a wise decision buying wheels and tires. So be straightforward with your needs, keep your budget in mind and you will be able to choose the right tires and wheels from the many available market choices.

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