How to Buy the Tires You Need on a Budget: What you need to know about financing wheels and tires
If you haven’t checked your tires recently, you might be taking risks on the road. The tires you buy could help you safely get where you’re going.
But how do you choose tires that keep you safe and provide excellent handling and fuel economy – without breaking the bank? Let’s get up to speed on everything you need to know before buying tires.
Types of tires
There are four primary tire types.
All-season tires provide good grip and traction in a variety of road conditions without sacrificing a smooth ride and good handling. However, they aren’t meant to handle extreme temperatures well. Most cars come from the factory with all-season tires.
Summer tires are designed for hot road conditions. They have excellent hydroplaning resistance for wet roads and handle responsively, but they aren’t suitable for temperatures below freezing and wintery roads. Summer tires tend to have a shorter lifespan than most other tires.
Winter tires are a go-to for snowy and icy weather, maintaining traction by keeping snow and slush off the tire’s contact space. Because of the conditions they’re made for, winter tires can wear down quickly on warm roads.
Performance or all-terrain tires give you powerful traction on wet roads so you can take tight corners.
Factors to consider when buying tires
Tires have different specs and details, so how do you ensure you’re getting the best fit for your vehicle, climate, and driving needs? There are several factors to consider.
Size. To find out the right tire size for your vehicle, check your owner’s manual or look at the information sticker inside the driver’s door. This information can also be found online using your vehicle’s make, model, and year.
Climate. Consider the climates where you expect to be driving and what tires suit those road conditions best.
Load capacity. Choose tires with a load capacity that’s appropriate for your vehicle, what you’ll be hauling, and the type of driving you do. Every tire has a load capacity index number that tells you how much weight it can support and carry safely.
Speed rating. Tires have speed ratings to indicate the maximum speed they’re to be driven. A tire’s speed rating is usually indicated by a letter on the sidewall of the tire, with “Z” being the highest rating.
Tread depth. Different tread depths determine the amount of grip and traction your tires are able to provide. As tires wear down, they become less effective at evacuating water and can become more prone to hydroplaning.
Legal use. Make sure you understand state laws about certain tires before you buy tires you might only be able to use for a few months out of the year. For example, the months when studded tires are allowed on the road varies by state.
Price. While investing in high-quality tires is important, you need tires that fit your budget. Shop around and compare prices and financing options offered by various retailers.
How to read a tire sidewall
As you shop for tires, you’ll see writing on each tire’s sidewall, which contains nearly everything you need to know about the tire.
Sidewall information includes the tire’s manufacturer and product names, speed rating, and load capacity, which is expressed as a letter and number, such as H70. The sidewall also provides measurement information such as tire width, aspect ratio, and rim diameter, along with the gradings for treadwear, traction, and temperature. The smaller writing on the inner edge of the sidewall includes the tire’s USDOT ID number and the material used in the tire, along with the maximum air pressure.
How to care for tires
Tires aren’t a small expense, so keep them in good shape for as long as possible. Additionally, a well-maintained tire will keep you safer on the road. Follow these guidelines to properly care for your tires.
Maintain a consistent tire pressure. Check your tire pressure regularly and add or adjust the inflation as necessary. Avoiding underinflated or overinflated tires will help protect you from low fuel economy, poor handling and traction, and blowouts. It’s normal to have some slight variation due to changes in air temperature, but checking tire pressures once a month or so can help identify the presence of a slow leak.
Rotate your tires regularly. Depending on your vehicle, tires can wear more quickly in some positions than others. Follow your owner’s manual or tire manufacturer’s recommendation on what direction to rotate your tires. It is generally recommended to rotate your tires every 5,000 to 10,000 miles.
Keep your tires balanced. A tire’s weight is typically slightly off-balance, even when it’s new, which can lead to excess wear in specific parts of the tire. Have a tire mechanic balance your tires regularly, including every time you have your tires rotated.
Schedule regular alignments. Your vehicle can easily become misaligned, which causes tires to wear unevenly and deteriorate faster. Have your vehicle professionally aligned every six months or 6,000 miles, whichever comes first. Of course, if your vehicle is pulling to one side, see your mechanic.
Check your treads regularly. Keep an eye on how worn your tire treads are by doing the penny test. Hold a penny on its end in your tire tread with Lincoln’s head upside-down. If the tread is shallow enough that you can see the top of Lincoln’s head, it’s time for new tires.
How to shop for tires
Where can you shop for new tires? Here are three options.
Brick-and-mortar tire shops. Many people get new tires at big box retailers or a dedicated tire shop, where tire professionals can help you pick out your tires and install them. Prices can vary significantly from shop to shop, but professional expertise may trump a rock-bottom price.
Online tire retailers. You can buy your tires online, which may be a more economical solution for you, especially if you have the knowledge and equipment to install your own tires. Or, a mechanic may install your tires for a fee, but ensure this is an option in advance.
Vehicle dealerships. Most vehicle dealerships’ service departments sell and install tires, along with performing any other repairs and maintenance. This could be a more expensive option compared to online retailers and tire shops, but dealerships are also known for providing excellent work and conveniences, such as loaner cars.
Get back on the road with Snap Finance
Buying tires doesn’t have to be overwhelming. Do your homework so you can make a choice that works for your budget and will keep you safe.
If less-than-ideal credit is a roadblock to getting the tires you need, Snap Finance can help. Snap offers lease-to-own financing for many items, including tires.¹With Snap, you can shop now and pay later with multiple ownership options to get you back on the road.
Interested in learning more? Here’s how it works.
The advertised service is a lease-to-own agreement provided by Snap RTO LLC. Lease-to-own financing is not available to residents of Minnesota, New Jersey and Wisconsin.
¹Some restrictions on leasable auto parts and services may apply. See merchants for restrictions. Snap lease is not available at auto related merchant locations in some states.