Owning a vehicle is an expensive business, largely because there are so many safety issues to consider. Insurances, registration, licensing and fuel are just some of the costs that you need to pay regularly. So, it’s no surprise that tires are one of the car expenses that people like to try and save money on.
The problem with buying a discount tire is that unless you buy it from a reputable tire shop, there’s no guarantee that you aren’t swapping one problem for another. Buying too cheap tires may very well end up being the last bad decision you make.
What Kind of Tire Do I Need?
This largely depends on what type of vehicle you’re driving and where you intend to do your driving. A parent who drives their children to and from school is going to need a different tire to someone who mostly drives over dusty back roads in a small town. Here’s a brief outline of the different types of tires:
- All-Season – a good, all-rounder, with enough tread to be able to cope with wet weather.
- Touring – these have more tread than all-season tires and are able to handle tougher weather conditions and heavier vehicles.
- Summer – As the name suggests, these are for lighter vehicles and cars that live in the warmer climates.
- Winter – Yes, you guessed it, these are the ones that you want to have when you’re driving in harsh winter conditions. These are designed for weather lower than 45 degrees and come with or without studs.
- Performance – A bit tougher than Touring tires, these carry a higher speed rating.
This list only includes tires for every day vehicles. Once you start to look at tires for Trucks and SUV’s there are more options such as Highway, All-Terrain and Mud-Terrain. And, of course, trailers, wheelbarrows and golf carts, also need their own specialty tires.
When buying discounted tires, you also need to consider the cost of having the tires fitted. Most discount tire shops don’t offer this service. It’s also recommended that you buy your tires in pairs, as in two for the front and two for the back. A wheel alignment is also recommended when you buy new tires. In fact, it’s probably a good time to carry out other minor maintenance tasks on your vehicle.
How Do I Know If A Discount Tire Is Safe for Me to Drive With?
As far as safety goes, there are a few things you should check for before you buy a discounted tire.
- Tread Depth – this refers to how deep the patterns on your tires are. The tread gets worn down as you drive, until it’s no longer thick enough to be safe. Discount Tire Direct recommends that your tread depth be over 4/32nds of an inch. Tires can be serviced but only if the tread is thicker than 2/32in.
- Tire Age – It is recommended that you replace your tires within 6 to 10 years of purchase. Tires have a Dot number stamped on them when they are made, so you need to check that when you are buying a discounted or used tire.
- Air Pressure – Your car’s user manual will tell you how inflated your tire must be. A tire with low air pressure will not handle corners or bad weather well.
Where’s the Best Place to Buy Discounted Tires?
As mentioned before, a reputable dealer is the best place to buy discounted tires. Gary, who owns the local wreckers, may indeed have cheap tires for sale but if they’re not going to keep you safe, or are only going to last five minutes, they’re not worth even the peanuts that you paid for them.
Discount Tire Direct or America’s Tire as the franchise is known in California have a very informative website that explains clearly everything you need to know about tires, safety, and even how to change a tire.
Their website has a page dedicated to tips and guides and this is where you’ll find information tire safety, tire maintenance and driving tips. They stock most of the brand which will be familiar to you such as Firestone, Goodyear, and Michelin. And they have a wide range of tires for trucks and other heavy duty vehicles.
The best advice we can give for buying new, used, or discounted tires, is to do your research. Get personal recommendations from friends or family. Ask your local mechanic where he buys his tires and keep an eye out for current tire deals. Finally, don’t rule out your local discount tire shop, if you do your homework, you’ll be able to tell, very quickly, if the discount is worth it or not.