Tire Buying Q&A

I need new tires. How do I know which tires to get?
— Where the Rubber Meets the Road

Berning’s Auto Repair Answer:

A lot of factors go into selecting new tires: traction, weather conditions, handling, load capacity, fuel efficiency, tread life, looks, warranty and price. MN driving conditions vary from interstate commuting to rock crawling; from blistering hot summers to the frozen tundra – and everything in between.

We can help you strike the proper balance. Let’s look at selecting new tires in light of three factors: Function, Fit, and Value.

Function: This gets at what your needs are for new tires: weather conditions, terrain, temperatures, etc.

New family vehicles sold in MN usually come with all-season tires. They can be used all year long and do pretty well in most local road conditions – but they aren’t ideal at the extremes.

Winter tires have a more aggressive tread for handling snow and ice and they have a rubber compound that helps them have better traction as temperatures drop below 45 degrees Fahrenheit. Definitely better stopping and road-holding characteristics than all-season tires in MN winter weather.

Likewise, dedicated summer tires enhance warm weather performance driving.

If you drive off-road, there is a spectrum of tires from all-terrain (a good mix of highway and off-road capability) to dedicated off-road tires.

The key is to discuss the function you need with your Berning’s tire professional to get the type of tire, load rating, speed rating and wear rating you need.

Fit: If you’re happy with your current wheels, then talk with us about where you drive, if you tow or carry heavy loads, if you’re sensitive to tire noise – things like that. We can suggest options appropriate for your particular needs. The easiest thing is to select tires in the same size that were installed at the factory.

If you want a different size wheel or tire profile, be sure to work with a professional that can make sure that your new wheels and tires fit properly and don’t rub in bumps or turns. For example, you may want large wheels and low profile tires for your SUV. But if you plan to do some off-roading, there may not be low profile tires that work well in dirt and mud – and low profile tires won’t protect your rims from rocks leading to damage. You need a tire and wheel combination that meets all your needs.

It’s also critical to make sure that important safety systems like anti-lock brakes, stability control and traction control aren’t adversely affected by the new tire size (the computer may need to be recalibrated to make necessary adjustments).

Value: Note, I didn’t say price. The tire that meets all your needs AND has the warranty and tread life you expect will probably not be the cheapest option – but it may well return the best value for your tire dollar.

A lot goes into choosing the best tires for you and your vehicle. At Berning’s, we’ll help you with all the options for this key automotive decision.

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