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Shopping for tires: a consumer guide

When Sarah and Miles were en route to their family vacation, the last thing they were looking forward to was shopping for tires. Unfortunately for them, Miles had overlooked the tires on the family car. If he had checked, he would have seen the dangerously bald tires. He might also have been able to predict the sudden blowout of the tire which caused the car to spin out of control. To this day Miles thanks God that he wasn't driving any faster!

Most people don't know much about shopping for tires until the fateful day that they realize that their tires are more important than they had thought. Don't let a lack of knowledge stop you from making a potentially life-saving purchase. Read on for an easy to understand guide to shopping for tires.

Buying tires is no small investment, a good set of tires can cost anything from $150 upwards, and that's just for one tire. There's no doubt about it, car ownership is getting more and more expensive in more ways than one. But don't let the potentially large cost of shopping for tires scare you; it's an essential purchase that all car owners have to undertake regularly. You are no exception!

How do I know when I need new tires?

There's no magical mileage or exact time period that this occurs, it all depends on how far you drive, how you drive, and of course what you drive. Cars that are in regular use, in a variety of conditions, are the most likely to need frequent tire changes.

Most of today's tires are made with special "wear bars" that show exactly when new tires are required. A wear bar is a raised bar at the bottom of the tread groove that connects across the tread lugs when the tires have worn to a certain point. You can also buy a tire gauge made especially for testing tire tread. Of course, the best way to know is to take your car into your nearest tire center, tire shop, mechanic or auto repairs shop.

What do I look for in a good tire?

The tire ride, durability of the tire, handling, traction and of course how good the tire itself looks. Most people skip through the first few criteria and buy the tire purely on the reputation of the brand. Shopping for tires is almost as important as what brand of car you buy, so don't skim over the selection too quickly, or take what a sales person says at face value. Your service manual will have recommendations for tire sizes, tread depths and even make of tire that is recommended by the manufacturer. When possible stick to these guidelines when shopping for tires.

Where do I go to buy new tires?

We can all relate to the fear of being taken advantage of. Walking into any second rate mechanic floor will leave you wondering what exactly you paid so much money for…? The good news is that there are ways to make the process of buying tires easier.

Buying your tires from a reputable dealer is the best way to ensure your sizeable purchase will result in many years of safe driving. And never compromise on second hand tires. If you can't afford new tires, maybe you can't afford to drive either! More and more car owners are turning to online shopping to buy their tires. Shopping for tires online means no bargaining or shopping around. With a few clicks of a mouse you can easily buy the perfect tires online. Remember, buying tires online doesn't remove all the footwork though. You will still need to have the tires expertly fitted to ensure the best use. But this can be easily organized and you will still come away from shopping for tires with some money left over.

How much should I spend of a new set of tires?

While it is possible to buy a tire for less than $20, it's the worst possible thing you can do for your car. It should go without saying at this point; never ever buy used tires! While many people routinely sacrifice quality for cheaper prices, buying a cheap dinnerware set can't kill you! (Not with out substantial effort on your part anyway!). It's worth putting some money aside before you intend shopping for tires, it's an important purchase! For the sake of your own safety and that of your loved ones, don't skimp when shopping for tires! There are strict laws all over the developed world regarding the sale of second hand tires, it's illegal. Unless you want to use them to kit out your donkey cart!

For one tire you are looking at spending at least $100. That's not to say that lesser known brands are inferior, but at least recognized brands have a proven track record and plenty of money for extensive testing. And many come with a warranty for a certain distance.

Always consult with a reputable expert before changing tires. Be sure to check on the expected lifespan of the tires, and weigh up the pro's and cons carefully before investing in a new set. These tires will hopefully be with you for a good few years before it's time to go shopping for tires again. Once you have done it once, it will get easier. You might even want to start experimenting with your choice of tire.

The tire blowout spoiled the family vacation for Sarah and Miles, but luckily a sour mood and a sore wallet were the total extent of their problems. No one was hurt, this time. Many others have not been as lucky. Hopefully this article has equipped you with some of the knowledge you need to brave shopping for tires. Shopping for tires is not as intimidating as you thought right?

Three things are a certainty in this life; death, taxes and shopping for tires! Luckily shopping for tires doesn't have to be as painful as the first two…

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