Buying new tires is a complicated chore many people struggle with.

Should you change your tires now or wait another few months? Which of the various types of tires are best for your vehicle? What do the tire specifications mean?

These are just some of the few questions you’ll ask when considering changing your car tires. Nobody wants to spend hundreds of dollars on tires they don’t need or on the wrong type of tires for their vehicles.

As the leading retailer of wheels and tires in Tampa, FL, our team at Wheel Identity can provide in-depth information on all you need to know about buying the perfect tires for your vehicle. We’ll cover the details in this blog post.

Find Out If You Need New Tires

Car tires are a significant expense, so before you decide to replace yours, you need to be sure they are due for replacement. If your car is pulling off to the side or struggling to slow down when you hit the brakes, it may not always be a sign of bad tires. Sometimes, the fix could be something far less costly than replacing your tires.

When you’re trying to confirm if it’s time to replace your tires, your vehicle’s owner’s manual is the first place to look. Most vehicle manufacturers recommend changing your tires every six years regardless of their current state. If your car tires are older than the manufacturer’s recommended limit, it’s time for replacements.

If you can’t find your owner’s manual, you can drive down to your local mechanic. The experienced professionals there can tell at a glance if you have worn-out or damaged tires.

You can also complete the tire inspection on your own. Here are a few things you can do:

  • Check the tread depth. An easy way to do this is to place a penny upside down into the grooves. If you can see Lincoln’s head, you almost certainly have worn-out treads and should replace your tires.
  • Check for cracks in the sidewalls. Can you see any cuts or deformations in the sidewalls? Your tires may be close to deflating completely.
  • Check for blisters and bulges. A noticeable bulge or blister around your tire’s exterior often signifies weakness.
White transport van with new Open Country tires installed by Wheel Identity, a Tampa tire store for improved performance and safety.

Choose the Right Type of Tires for Your Vehicles

You can’t just choose any tires that match your wheels and attach them to your vehicle. You must ensure you only choose tires that are a good fit based on your manufacturer’s minimum recommendations. You must also consider factors like the surfaces you drive on, the dominant weather you drive in, how you drive, and more.

Keep in mind that your tires do more than just carry your vehicle’s weight. They are supposed to produce excellent traction, allowing your car to steer your vehicle confidently.

Below are the main types of tires you can choose.

All-Season Tires

Manufacturers ship most new vehicles with all-season tires attached. These tires guarantee a balanced performance regardless of the weather conditions. So, you can use them all year, especially in climates that experience mild winters, including the Tampa, St. Petersburg, and Wesley Chapel, FL, areas.

If you live and drive mostly around our region, you should be fine with choosing all-season tires, assuming you choose ones that adhere to all other vehicle-specific ratings. However, all-season tires won’t provide the same level of performance as season-specific options.

Summer or High-Performance Tires

These tires guarantee the best handling on wet and dry surfaces. Therefore, you will likely find them on high-performance vehicles and sports cars.

If your car has summer tires, we recommend swapping them out in January, when we experience the coldest weather. The rubber compounds the tires feature will offer reduced traction as the temperatures drop.

Winter Tires

As the name implies, these tires are best for driving on snow and ice. Again, you won’t need these tires in Tampa, FL, and the surrounding areas. However, if you’re likely going to be in a region with harsher winters than we experience, you’ll need them.

The tires feature more aggressive treading, allowing them to grip ice and snow better. Additionally, the rubber compound in the treads does not lose pliability as the temperatures drop.

All-Terrain Tires

You can find all-terrain tires on trucks, SUVs, and other vehicles designed for off-road driving. These tires have large tread blocks, making driving through mud, dirt, and rocks a breeze.

Fuel-Efficient Tires

These are the tires to choose if you want to increase your vehicle’s fuel efficiency. The tires feature tread patterns and rubber compounds that minimize rolling resistance.

Run-Flat Tires

These tires allow you to keep driving even when punctured. You’re likely to find them on newer luxury vehicles. However, these vehicles don’t have room for spare tires, so it’s not a good idea to switch from run-flats to standard vehicle tires.

Vezda tires mounted on a rim at Wheel Identity, a Tampa tire store for purchase and installation.

Understanding the Tire Labels

Even when you know the right tire type for your vehicle, you must pay attention to the features or specifications to be sure they match your manufacturer’s recommendations. You can find the details by looking at the numbers and letters on the tire’s sidewall.

For example, you may see a label that says: 245/45 R 18 Y XL. What does it mean?

Looking at the example above, 245 is the tire width in millimeters, 45 is the ratio of the sidewall height to the width (in percentage), and R indicates that the tire is a radial-ply tire. Meanwhile, 18 is the wheel rim diameter in inches, and XL is the tire’s load capacity.

Y is the tire’s maximum speed when carrying its recommended load limit, but it’s not a measure of how fast you can or should drive. In this instance, it means the tire can go 186 mph.

Most all-season tires have a T (118 mph) or H (130 mph) rating. Keep in mind that the higher you go on the scale, the faster the tread wear.

Different manufacturers may have different labeling codes, so read the manual or ask your dealership what any numbers or letters you don’t understand stand for. The example above also doesn’t include general additions like the manufacturing date code or the treadwear grade.

The treadwear grade points toward the tire’s durability, but there are no documented standards for measuring it, and manufacturers affix the numbers themselves. So, you can treat it as a marketing gimmick. The main features to watch for are those we’ve seen above, as you’ll find when you go through your car manufacturer’s recommendations.

Decide Where to Buy Your Tires

When you’re thinking about buying new tires, you’ll have a lot of options but must decide what works best for you.

At Wheel Identity, we stock most major tire brands, so you can count on us to have the right tires for your vehicle. Vehicle owners looking for tires in Tampa, FL, love buying their tires from us because we guarantee competitive prices. We also fit your tires and ensure you’re using the right specifications.

However, you can also look at alternative sources for your tires. Driving down to the dealership is a popular option, but it’s often the most expensive overall. The dealer will replace your worn tires with an original equipment option, but you’ll pay up to twice the average prices elsewhere.

If you have local mom-and-pop wheels and tire shops near you, you can go there for your tire replacement. The prices in these establishments are usually reasonable, and the service managers will have enough experience to ensure you choose the correct tire for your vehicle.

If you have a few of these shops along your commute, it’s probably a good idea to check prices from a few of them to be sure you’re getting a good deal wherever you decide to get the tires. It may seem like an unnecessary hassle, but it could lead to significant savings if you change all four tires on your vehicle.

Finally, you can purchase your tires online and have them delivered to your doorstep. However, you’ll need to calculate how much you’ll pay a local shop for the tire installation, disposal of the old ones, and other such fees.

Wheel Identity balancing a tire on a machine for proper alignment and improved driving experience in Tampa, FL.

Be Careful About Choosing Used Tires

The cost of new tires makes replacing your worn-out tires with used ones tempting. If you can find slightly worn used tires, it’s a good way to save money.

However, there’s always a risk in buying used tires. Some of them may have punctures, treadwear, and other defects. The first thing you should do is the Lincoln penny test across multiple grooves to be sure the tread isn’t too low. You can check for any visible defects if the tread is still good.

The fact that you can’t see any defects doesn’t make the tires completely safe. In some cases, you’ll see the defects in action only after mounting the tires on the vehicle. If you spot any visual signs of tire repairs, it’s best to avoid such used tires.

You also won’t get any warranties on used tires. So, you’ll lose money if you find any problems a few days after your purchase. You should buy new tires if you want complete peace of mind about the quality of your tires.

Frequently Asked Questions

How Can I Keep My Tires in Excellent Shape?

You can keep your tires in shape by following these tips:

  • Always maintain the right air pressure. Vehicle manufacturers include a recommended tire pressure in the owner’s manual or on the sticker around the driver’s door jamb. You should check your tire pressure monthly and inflate when necessary. If you drive out of Tampa, FL, to a colder region, you should check the tire pressure more frequently.
  • Don’t drive aggressively. Fast acceleration, hard braking, and extreme turns can drastically reduce your tire’s tread life.
  • Rotate the tires periodically. Rotating your tires regularly is the best way to ensure even treadwear. Ideally, you should rotate your tires every 5,000 to 8,000 miles.

Should I Mix Different Tire Types?

You should not mix different tire types. You’ll get the best performance if all four tires are the same age, size, speed ratings, and tread pattern. If you mix tires with different characteristics, you’ll likely experience handling and stability issues when driving. Keep in mind that some car manufacturers install different tire sizes in the vehicle’s front and rear, so consult your owner’s manual if in doubt.

Should I Buy Winter Tires in Tampa, FL?

You don’t need winter tires in Tampa, FL, and the surrounding areas. The weather doesn’t get cold enough to affect the all-season or summer tires. However, if you intend to spend the winter months in the colder parts of the country with your car, you should invest in winter tires.

Should I Replace All Four Tires at Once?

If you followed the tire rotation recommendations, all four tires would likely need changing at the same time. If you find some tires still have enough tread, you can leave those for a little more time.

However, you should remember that all-wheel vehicles are always sensitive to tread depth differences. Therefore, we recommend consulting your owner’s manual or an experienced dealer before proceeding with the replacement.

You should replace a single tire for two-wheel drive vehicles if the others are still less than 30% worn. If they are 40 to 50% worn, you should replace at least two of them. Install the new tires on the rear for the best handling experience.

Consult the Vehicle Tire Pros Today

If you want to change your tires in Tampa, FL, and the surrounding areas like St. Petersburg, and Wesley Chapel, you should visit us at Wheel Identity. We are your local tire experts.

We can expertly replace your tires, answer all your questions, and help you find bargains on your new tires. We have lift kits for all kinds of vehicles, and you can count on our expert vehicle maintenance crew to find any problems with your suspensions, wheels, vehicle lighting, and more.

Call us at Wheel Identity today at (813) 590-4548 for your tires in Tampa, FL, or visit our shop whenever you’re in the area!

Defining Your Identity Starts Here

Tell us about your vehicle needs and we’ll let you know how we can help. If you have any questions or requests contact us today and we’ll be happy to help get you back on the road, in style!