What size and type of tire does my car require? Placards with size, service rating, and air pressure are posted on each car. Open the drivers door. The placard is usually placed on the edge of the door or on the body pillar. The owners manual will also contain this information.
When are tires worn out? A simple answer lies in the tread depth. Tread depth is measured from the top of the tread block to the bottom of an adjacent groove. It is measured in increments of 1/32 of an inch. Most new tires begin with a tread depth of 10/32 or 12/32. A tread depth gauge, found in most auto parts stores, will help to determine when a tire is due for replacement. Most states require a minimum tread depth of 3/32 to 5/32.
What is a UTQG rating? UTQG is an acronym for Uniform Tire Quality Grade. The federal government requires manufacturers to test and grade tires in areas of tread wear, traction, and temperature. Consumers need to be aware that these tests compare the tires of an individual manufacturer and is not meant as a comparison of different brands.
What is a tread wear warranty? In simple terms, the manufacturer guarantees the tire to last a certain number of miles before the tread is worn to unacceptable levels. These warranties range from zero, on some truck and off-road tires, to 80,000 miles on high-end car tires. These warranties have limits and cover only normal wear under normal conditions. They do not cover damage caused by road debris or any other impact damage. Mechanical wear, caused by lack of rotation, worn suspension, misalignment, or any other mechanical causes, is usually not covered. However, the tread wear warranty can be used to compare among brands. A guaranteed number of miles indicate the manufacturers willingness to stand behind its claims of the tires quality.
Armed with information, consumers are better equipped to shop for this most ubiquitous, and mysterious, of commodities. Do not be afraid to ask for a lower price. In todays economy, tire dealers are generally willing to negotiate. As with any other purchase, caveat emptor (let the buyer beware). Be aware of what you are actually buying. Look for hidden fees. Does the price include mounting, balancing, and installation of the tires? Does it include new valve stems and disposal of the old tires? Press for the final price, including sales and excise tax before you commit to the sale.