You could be the world's greatest online shopper, a coupon ninja, the superstar of the clearance section but I bet you'd still be nervous about buying tires. It’s not fun, in fact it is difficult to understand and stressful. Lots of different sizes and ratings and not enough info about what they mean. Even the most seasoned veteran tends to resort to deciding by price, just about the worst way to do it. Here's how to avoid falling into the same trap.
This is going to sound cliche but the first thing we'd recommend is keeping the tires you have in the first place. Obviously this isn't an option if you're already needing new tires but if they still have some life on them there's some ways to hold onto them a little longer. Things like rotating them regularly, you see it's always best to have the tires with the most life on the front of that car as these are the wheels that do the most work with steering and all. The downside of the front tires doing all the work is that they wear out the fastest so rotating them regularly gives each set a little break and keeps everything even.
Now we're going out on a limb here and assume you've probably never taken the time to really examine the other ways tires can wear unevenly. That’s okay though because we have. One of the most common ways we see tires need to be replaced earlier then they should is uneven wear from side to side. This is caused by the tires sitting uneven due to a bad alignment. In fact there's few things that will ruin tires faster than a bad alignment. We’ve seen it happen in as little as 3000 to 4000 miles. This can easily be avoided by getting an alignment after putting on new tires.
Now have you ever been driving down the road and saw a wheel on a car that was just bouncing a bit too much? That car has a suspension problem and while they don't always look as obvious as that they are just as damaging to tires. They cause what we refer to as “cupping”. This is when the inside part of the rubber shifts to make high and low spots. Cupping can be prevented by having your suspension checked regularly and replacing parts that are worn.
Let's say you did everyone perfectly, squeezed every last mile out of those tires and it's now time to buy new ones. Step one: Don't Buy Based On Price. That's it, that's the step. Step two is asking yourself if you're happy with the kind of tires you have on there now, with the grip of the road and how it felt to drive. Were you happy with how many miles you got out of them? Step three would be to ask your mechanic. They are your best source of information, they know all about tires and which ones would be best for you.