Few things appear as simple as selecting new tires and wheels for your vehicle, but in reality, the process is quite complex. The basic round shapes and composition of wheels and tires pale in comparison to the intricate devices and machinery throughout your automobile, but few of those things are as important to your driving experience. It’s important to remember that the entire relationship between your vehicle and the driving surface of the road is mediated by your wheels and tires, which translates to a bad experience if you have substandard or improper equipment.
So what are the factors to consider when choosing wheels and tires? While the two are inexorably connected, let’s focus on tires for a moment. There are a wide variety of options to choose from when selecting a tire, including the following considerations:
This value represents how long a tire will last before its tread has worn away and it needs to be replaced. Manufacturers are required to grade their tires based on a government rating system called the UTQG (Uniform Tire Quality Grading) rating. While there are a wide variety of factors that affect tread life, the UTQG rating provides a side-by-side comparison value between tires. Higher ratings will last longer, so you should favor tires with a higher UTQG rating if all other factors are equal.
Wet Weather Capability
This category depends largely on where you live and the type of climate you plan on operating your vehicle in. Areas that experience significant or continual rainfall are prime candidates for additional wet weather handling, while drivers in drier areas can probably pass this over. If you happen to live in an area that experiences extremes, such as snow, you should pay extra attention to all-weather tires or even specific snow tires that get exchanged during the winter.
Tires are rated for speed and can limit the realistic maximum speed of your vehicle. This rating is represented by letter codes, ranging from the lowest at Q (99 mph) up to Y (186 mph). The vast majority of drivers do not need to be concerned about these codes because you will rarely be in conditions that allow for such high speeds, but it is something to consider if you plan on some high-velocity driving. Most drivers that are considering higher speed ratings for their tires will still want to limit themselves to V (149 mph) or lower unless they have a vehicle that can actually go faster.
While the description is pretty self-explanatory, ride quality is really a representation of a few different concepts. This value essentially reflects the profile of your tire, which affects handling and ride experience. There is an inverse relationship between these values, meaning better handling will result in a bumpier ride while a smooth and comfortable ride will reduce responsiveness. It’s important to firmly decide what you want your vehicle to do before you make a choice based on ride quality, otherwise, you will limit yourself.
This is an easily overlooked factor when choosing tires because there is no label or rating system that reflects this value. Noise really only shows up at higher speeds, such as those on a highway, but can be a significant irritant over time if left unchecked. This factor is something that can really only be checked through direct experience with the tire itself or with the help of a good salesperson. Few things will be as noticeable over time as noise, so this is a factor to pay close attention to.
Now that we’ve covered tires, we’ll discuss wheels a little bit. While there is a huge range of options for wheels, the factors involved in deciding on them are a little simpler. For the most part, wheel choices are simply aesthetic and serve as an excellent way for you to showcase your personality in a way that’s easily recognizable to other drivers. We won’t cover aesthetic choices here, but we will discuss functional considerations.
The two key aspects of wheels to consider are their material composition and their size. Larger wheels allow for larger tires that can affect the handling characteristics of your vehicle with larger wheels and low profile tires performing the best. Additionally, wheels made of lightweight alloy offer a whole host of performance benefits and are generally superior to standard material wheels. If handling and performance are important factors for you, it would be worthwhile to invest in alloy wheels.
If you follow the information provided in this guide, you should be able to select a wheel and tire combination that best suits your needs while eschewing factors that don’t really apply to your situation. If you are going to invest in wheels and tires, make sure your money counts where you need it to. 2zero Car Studio can assist you in exploring custom wheel and tire options, visit our services page or call us at (941) 210-5400. We’d be happy to help you find the best solution for you.