For optimum car performance, safety and efficiency, you should always pick the right tire for the job. However, this might not be the easiest thing to do, especially if the car in question is the very first car you ever bought or you are not all that into cars anyway.
You can find the proper tire size of your vehicle on your existing tires, more specifically on the sidewall. You can also look inside your driver’s door well for a sticker that should contain all the tire data for your car. You can also check your VIN in order to correctly determine the size, but this option is the least popular.
The most important aspects you need to be aware of are all the specific tire metrics including tire type, tire width, tire aspect ratio, construction type, wheel diameter, load index, and speed rating. You can also go online and search for countless tire size calculators which should serve you as a reference point.
Either way, it’s best to contact a professional when it comes to tire sizes, prices, and types because this will make the entire process way easier. Tires are not something you should skimp on because they are your contact point with the road which means you need to make the right decision in order to be safe.
The first term you need to be familiar with is the type of tire. You need to look at the sidewall of your existing tires for a code, and the very first letter in that code is associated with a specific type of tire. If the first letter in the code is “P”, it means that the tire in question is a standard passenger vehicle tire.
If the first two letters are “LT”, this means that the tire you are looking at is designed for a lighter truck. “ST” stands for a special trailer type of tire which also includes boats and all other sorts of vehicles. If there is no letter at all at the beginning, it means that the tire is a so-called “standard” European tire.
Tire width is an important aspect when it comes to buying new tires, which means that you should pay close attention in order not to mess it up. The three numbers after the initial letter/s in the tire code are associated with tire width.
More specifically, the distance from one side of the tire to the other while looking at the tire head-on. These are usually measured in millimeters and you can also hear someone use the “section width” term which basically means the same thing as tire width.
Aspect ratio is a metric intended to describe how tall the tire is equal to the tire’s width. For example, if this number is 50, it means that the height of the tire is equal to 50% of the tire’s width. The higher the aspect ratio, the taller the tire.
Tires with high aspect ratios are mostly associated with commercial vehicles while tires with lower aspect ratios are mostly associated with sports car tires.
The next letter in the code refers to how the tire is made, or the internal materials used to construct the tire. The letter “R” stands for radial tires which are the industry standard these days because they are designed for efficiency, longevity, and comfort.
“D” stands for bias-constructed tires which are usually seen on motorcycles. The letter “F” is associated with specific run-flat tires.
The next two digits refer to wheel diameter or the distance between two rim walls. This distance is also measured in inches by calculating the distance across the face of the wheel. This is the metric most used to describe if your tires are low profile or not.
The two or three-digit code that follows wheel diameter is associated with how much weight a single tire can carry. You don’t have to know the specifics, all you need to do is match these two or three digits with the tire you want to buy.
It’s also worth mentioning that the load index is only relevant if your tire is inflated to the manufacturer’s recommendations.
The last letter in the tire code refers to the tire’s speed rating, or how fast can you drive using a specific tire. High-speed rated tires are better at heat management which means that they are designed to last longer, and are usually made for cars that spend a lot of time on the highway.
All you need to do is make sure that the tire code matches between your old and newer tires. However, if you are unsure about any of this, be sure to ask for professional guidance.
Is it OK to put different size tires on a car?
You can change the tire size as long as you stick with the right diameter. However, you should not do this without professional guidance as that can be extremely dangerous and detrimental to your overall efficiency and comfort.
Different tire sizing can also mess with your car’s speed rating, handling abilities, and responsiveness of your steering wheel. Manufacturers test their cars extensively in order to choose the perfect tire, so it’s better to leave it that way for your own good.
What happens if my tires are too big?
A lot of people out there love to modify their cars with larger wheels and tires because it makes the car look nicer. However, it’s extremely dangerous to do this because you are making your car less maneuverable, especially at higher speeds.
If you want to upgrade the wheels and tires on your off-road vehicle, that’s not such a large issue as it is with a road car.
What makes a tire high-performance?
Performance tires are made for sports cars and supercars because they offer higher levels of grip and they make the car more responsive and more controllable at higher speeds. These types of tires are usually designed for warm weather which means that they are not that good for snow, ice, and rain.
They offer unique tread patterns which are not all that aggressive which also means that they are worse when it comes to dispersing water. Furthermore, they are made to withstand higher temperatures better while also increasing grip levels.