There is a popular Chinese story that sketches out uncertainty, discovery, and what makes people do things differently. This story expresses how most people feel anytime they debate with themselves about the best time to buy tires.
Since there is usually no certain answer, most do what the villagers in this story did – which is to run for the mountains of their minds, until discovery happens.
Here goes the story, you may have heard it before.
A long time ago there was a monster named Nian who visited a small village in China each year to scare everyone he saw. On the day the monster was to appear, the villagers took to the mountains.
On that day, an old beggar wandered into the village to scare away the monster. An old lady was surprised to see him and offered him her house as she too fled to safety.
Around midnight, the monster appeared. He was so surprised to see that the old lady’s house was illuminated and that there was a red paper stuck to her door that he gave out a loud cry. As he approached the house, he heard loud banging and was too scared to come closer.
This is how the old man figured out what scared the monster: light (fire), red and loud noise. The villagers returned from the mountains and heard about the old man’s discovery. The tale spread to other villages and so, every year on New Year’s Eve, people stick red papers to their doors, blow up firecrackers and keep their houses brightly lit.
Just as the old man in this story illuminated his way to discovery, so do we want to illuminate our way around an interest.
This article discusses what the best time is to buy tires, amongst other related issues.
Tires in vehicles, do not stand alone. Tires work with a shock absorber and a spring to form the suspension system of a vehicle. The aim of having all these in a vehicle is to isolate and protect the occupants of the vehicle from undue external influence.
As the comfort of a vehicle depends on the good working state and functionality of a vehicle’s parts, in this case, the suspension system, it is important to know what each part does and how to keep these parts in good working conditions or change them when the need arises.
Over the years, it has become very easy for many to forget about what the tires of their vehicle do for them and how important it is in the scheme of things. Tires to a large extent play a large part in the safety of the occupants of any vehicle.
Research on tires has produced a lot of results and improved the average condition of tires. This does not take away the need to be vigilant about those parts. Complacency has resulted in the death of many people, and cost the loss, in billions of dollars, of lives and property.
The US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports that the number of people who have died in motor vehicle traffic crashes was 16,988 in 2019.
These accidents cost billions in dollars in hospital spending, therapy, and indirect costs. Tire blowouts also contribute to accidents on the road and also lead to the tragic loss of lives.
What is a Tire?
A tire is an essential part of most vehicles and is used to dampen the oscillations caused by irregular road surfaces, to protect the wheel from wear and tear, and to provide a high-friction bond between the vehicle and the ground to improve acceleration and handling. Tires are the skin of those round-looking things that spin as a car is driven. Tires can be made out of any material, the most common of which is rubber.
The materials can be out of any material for safety, durability, and performance reasons. Using rubber to manufacture, there are four different types that can be used – Natural rubber, Styrene-butadiene rubber, Polybutadiene rubber, and Butyl rubber, the latter three being produced from polymers of crude oil.
To enhance tire grip and to resist punctures, tire manufacturers use carbon black or silica or a combination of both to produce fillers. The different forms in which these compounds appear to influence how a tire behaves.
What do the numbers on tires mean?
Tires come with numbers. Have you noticed that? If you have, then read on to know what those numbers mean. These numbers are important for many reasons; many of which may not make sense to you immediately. You need to know what you are looking at sometimes, especially at those times when you need to change tires.
The first three numbers represent the tire width. This number could be something like, “255”. This is the measurement from the outside (facing out) of the tire to the inside of the tire.
A tire with 255 written as the first three digits, means the tire is 255mm wide. There will be a forward slash (/) to separate the next numbers.
The two numbers that follow the forward-slash represent the profile of the tire, also known as the aspect ratio. This is a two-digit number that is a measurement of the height of the cross-section of the tire to its width. The lower this number, the more your tires will look like bike tires. The higher this number, the more the tire will look more like bulldozer tires. This number is usually somewhere from 35 to 90. Somewhere around 60 is about average. These numbers will end in 0 or 5.
Next will be a letter or two letters that describe the construction of the tire. This is almost always an ‘R’ for passenger-type vehicles, which means radial. The last two digits will be the rim size.
The rest of the numbers/letters spread around the tire represent some other important information such as; Load rating, speed rating, etc.
Just try to get your hands on tires with very good traction and a very high tread rating.
How long do tires last?
The length of time is dependent on many things. The most important of which is the quality of the tire. When you get a quality tire, you can be assured of the fact that the tire will not wear out fast or that rubber will dry and crack fast.
When you get bad tires, they wear out fast, the rubber dries and cracks faster, and may probably stick to the road. So typically, you get what you buy.
Other things that determine how long tires last are the frequency of use and whether the car is an FWD(Four-wheel drive) or an AWD(All-wheel drive), and the nature of tasks the tires undertake.
On average, if a car is driven between 12,000 and 15,000 miles annually, the tires will wear out in the space of 3.5 years.
When to replace tires?
Before proceeding, let me echo something that has been said for a while now “tires are the only point of contact between you and the road. You should value being safe over saving a few bucks on tires.” The moment you start to notice any of a few signs, you know it is time to change them.
- When it starts to lose grip in wet conditions
- If the tires start to make noise, any noise whatsoever
- The moment your car starts to shake all of a sudden
- If you notice the threading start to separate
- The need to have to patch it up regularly
- If it starts to leak pressure constantly
- If it looks old. You can check that out with the DOT.
Of course, there are all-season tires and winter tires, etc., so know which it is first and know if to swap or totally change it.
How much do tires cost?
The cost of tires is entirely dependent on the type of tires you are buying and how many of them. Tires come from many manufacturers e.g.
The average cost of tires (all-season) tires is usually between $50 and $200, and this is also dependent on the car, its size, and the purpose of the tire. Michelin tires that are known as premium tire brands can go for as low as $50 and as high as $250.
What is the best time to buy tires?
The best time to buy tires is before the old one causes you harm. You should not compromise on your safety because of calculations that could result in you spending more than you would have spent on new tires. Safety first!
While promotions may seem like a good time to buy tires, they may not be the ideal time for you. Stay on the lookout. The best time to buy tires is right at that moment you need them – which could be the moment you notice that the tread depth has reduced, the tire is old and showing signs of deterioration, or is not performing as much as you assume that it should.
It is better to err on the side of caution and buy too soon than to have something unexpected occur before you buy.
You get what you pay for. You are better off paying for quality now than paying for the lack of quality tires later. The best time to buy tires is as soon as you can get your hands on quality tires. Do not wait for promotions or discounts before you buy them. The best time is now.