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Tire Purchasing Guide

Tires come in a lot of shapes and sizes and are designed for different uses. It’s important to select the correct tires, whether you drive a car, a pickup truck, or a sport utility vehicle. Yet, the choices can be overwhelming. We have put together a guide to simplify shopping for tires and help you make an educated choice.

What is Each Type of Tire?

All-Season Tires

These tires are designed for year-round usage in both wet and dry conditions. They handle well in warm weather. But they lack the extreme grip and performance characteristics of summer tires and all-terrain tires.

Summer Tires

Summer tires are known for their performance handling and responsiveness. They generally have higher speed ratings and are popular with people who enjoy driving. They are suitable for both dry and wet conditions.

Winter Tires

Winter tires have a special tread pattern that gives traction and enhanced grip in freezing rain, slushy, snowy, and icy conditions. The rubber used in winter tires is formulated to stay pliable in freezing weather. Winter tires should be replaced with summer or all-season tires in warmer months.

All-Terrain Tires

All-terrain tires have more rugged tread and are designed for use on paved surfaces and for off-road driving.

Which Tires are Best for my Driving Area?

The right tire depends on the type of vehicle you drive—car, SUV, or pickup truck—and where you drive it. You can find information about the size of the tires for your car or truck on the driver’s side door panel, in the owner’s manual, and on the sidewall of the tire.

If you are an average driver living in an area that has mild or warm weather most of the year, you may choose all-season tires.

If you live in an area that has predictable snow and ice each year, you may want a set of winter tires designed to handle these driving conditions.

If you drive your pickup truck off-road, you will want all-terrain tires.

How to Know if You Need New Tires?

As tires wear, they lose tread depth and traction.

Tread depth is measured in 32nds of an inch. A new tire typically has 10/32nds of tread depth or more. Truck tires may have even deeper tread.

Texas highway safety regulations require that all tires on a vehicle have at least 2/32nds of an inch of tread depth. If the tires have less depth than that or are close to 2/32nds, you should replace them.

Do Your Tires Pass the Penny Test?

A common way to check the tread depth on tires is the penny test.

Insert a penny into the groove of a tire tread. Turn the coin so Lincoln goes head first into the tread.

If you can see Old Abe’s entire head, the tread is shallow and the tire needs replacing.

It’s important to check the tread depth at multiple locations on the tire. You should replace the tire if the tread depth is less than 2/32nds of an inch at any location.

Even if there is plenty of tread, rubber breaks down over time. Tire manufacturers recommend replacing tires every six years, regardless of tread wear.

Tire Checking Tips

It’s important to inspect your tires and check their pressure regularly. Tires that are worn or not properly inflated can cause an accident.

Tires with worn tread may lose traction on wet pavement and can cause a car or truck to hydroplane, leading to a serious accident.

Underinflated tires tend to wear on the outer edges while overinflated tires generally wear in the center.

When you take your car or truck in for an oil change have the mechanic inspect the tires.

If you purchase new tires, be sure to fill out the forms provided by the dealer to register the tires with the manufacturer. That will enable the manufacturer to notify you in the event of a tire recall. If you receive a tire recall notice, you should have your tires replaced promptly.

Tire manufacturers recall many thousands of tires every year, due to manufacturing defects. Most people are unaware of tire recalls because the manufacturer did not know how to contact them.

If you were injured in a car or truck accident caused by defective tires, you may have a legal right to seek compensation from the tire manufacturer. An attorney at Herrman & Herrman can help you determine whether your accident was caused by a defective tire. We have a Spanish and English-speaking staff, and offices in Corpus Christi, McAllen, San Antonio, and Brownsville. Please call us at (361) 882-4357 to speak with an attorney about your accident.

Infographic - Tire Purchasing Guide
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