A fresh breeze is wafting back the scent of spring, driving anyone with winter tires on their car to put their summer tires back on it.
Part of the reasons is that these tires are mounted on the original rims which look much better than the ugly winter wheels (or otherwise semi-rusted steel wheels). In other cases, it may be time for the original tires to be replaced, as they show increasing wear. Then here comes the question: when should you buy new tires for the summer?
Modern city cars and vans require less maintenance than those of the past. Even the tire air pressure is checked by the on-board computer, which warns the driver in the event of a leak.
However, nothing will warn you more about tire wear than a visual inspection. Without being an expert, it is still possible to see if a tire is starting to be too worn.
And if you want to make sure you get it perfectly right, it is better to reach out to the professional at your local dealer. And in this case, it would be better to choose an expert dealer, although the technician of a department store could do the job.
Even if you see grooves on your tires, that doesn't necessarily mean that they are still good. Almost everywhere, the law requires that your tires be changed if there are only 1/16 (2/32) of an inch deep in the grooves.
But don't take this for granted! Some tires about 5/32 of an inch deep may look good, but they could be dangerous in heavy rain and cause hydroplaning. Therefore, if a technician suggests you change your tires, do it!
What should you do before changing the tires?
Regardless of the age of the vehicle, before fitting new tires to it, it would be prudent to have the front axle inspected and have it repaired or corrected, if necessary.
Depending on where you are traveling, winter may have caused damage to the roads, creating deep potholes (especially in big cities) that will have distorted the parallelism of your wheels. In fact, tires showing uneven wear would be the obvious result!
Which is the best tire for your car?
Obviously, in most cases, a motorist should choose a replacement tire identical to the one that originally fitted his car. However, in some cases it would be better to switch to higher quality tires. And this is where we have to work a little.
In order to be as realistic as possible, we consulted a major independent dealer in the Montreal region to find out which tire could be considered the best, if not one of the best on the market.
Of course, it is almost impossible to answer this question simply, because these days there are so many more models than in the past. At the start, know that there are more than 1000 sizes and configurations in the catalogs which can, by the way, be consulted online.
In order to complete your choice, it is better to consult an expert. Of course, chances are you're looking for the cheapest tire possible. However, you will also want the best value for money. The inexpensive tire exists, that's for sure, but you will lose in comfort, handling and durability.
It should be understood that most cars require a certain type of tire which will not necessarily correspond to the price you wish to pay. For example, there are so many cars that leave the factory with so-called “performance” tires, tires with a speed index Z.
The speed rating is the maximum speed that a tire can sustain over a period of time, without warping or even bursting. We will see a letter on the sidewalls of a tire following the identification of its size.
For example, a tire with a size of 205/55 R16 means that the tread measures 205 mm and the sidewalls are 55% of this dimension. The letter R indicates that it is a tire with a radial carcass, while the number 16 indicates that it will be mounted on a rim 16 inches in diameter. Then, an identification like 94Z will follow. What matters here is the letter Z. In this case, it indicates that this tire can withstand a sustained speed of 149 m / h (180 km / h) for a certain period of time.
Nowadays, the most common tires have S, T, H or Z indices, which translates into sustained speeds of 112 m / h (180 km / h), 118 m / h (190 km / h) , 130 m / h (210 km / h) and 149 m / h (210 km / h). It is always better not to choose a speed index lower than the original one, although some dealers will offer for certain cars tires of index H, more comfortable, than products of index Z, more rigid.
This last remark also applies to "Run Flat" tires fitted at the factory on a number of new cars. Often criticized for their rigidity, they are often shunned by car owners who prefer softer and more comfortable tires. It may be an option, but be aware that in this case your car probably does not contain a spare tire.
Summer tires or All-season tires
Nowadays, there is almost no longer any question of "summer tires". Summer tires are those with few grooves and are intended for very high-performance vehicles.
In fact, most of the cars found on the market are now sold with “all season” tires. This type of tire can be recognized by its grooves designed to evacuate as much water as possible on wet pavement. It is also designed for light snowfall (remember that in Quebec, winter tires proper are mandatory from December 1 to March 15).
In addition, several tires of common sizes are offered in "green" format. Green tires are made of different (and often harder) rubbers that reduce friction on the road, thereby improving fuel economy. They are considered to be more ecological, but remember that what they gain in fuel economy, they lose in grip, especially on wet pavement.
Rules of thumb
Whatever your decision is, make sure you choose a good quality tire rather than going for the lowest price.