Car Buying

How to Buy Tires

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author photo by Paul Eide November 2018

Buying tires is a tiring experience. I almost misspelled "tiring" as "trying," and actually, both are accurate. The entire performance of the vehicle depends on what kind of tires you have and if they are high quality.

But it's easier to spend several thousand dollars on a car, truck or other type of vehicle then it is to buy tires because let's face it, wheels aren't sexy until you hit your late 30s. How many high schoolers have taken their senior photos with a classic letterman jacket posed in front of a tire? Not many. It just doesn't happen.

So how do you buy tires? In this piece, I'm going to detail all the adult stuff I had to do in my quest to acquire -- eh, ac-tire? -- a new set for my 2015 Mazda6 Touring Edition sedan.

Locate the Tire Number

I'm no mathematician (I've spent most of my life writing sports blogs), but I sure felt like one after I realized I needed to memorize a long string of alphanumeric text to get the right size. P225/45R19 has been burned into my soul. You can locate this number by looking inside the driver's-side door frame. In the famous words of Pee-Wee Herman, "Take a picture. It will last longer."

When you have the tire number you can really do some damage.

Use the Internet to Learn About Your Tire

There's this thing called "the internet," and it rules. It is like an encyclopedia and CliffsNotes rolled into one. You'll love it. Execute a quick search for your model number, and you'll be amazed at how many websites exist just to sell you tires. "Tread" lightly and only trust good brands -- like Goodyear.

In your research, you will want to look at important things like expected mileage. 50,000 is miles is the standard, so don't settle for less. Are the ones you are considering all season? If you live where it snows, you don't want to be like your grandparents or even dad who annually went through the process of wrapping the wheels in chains. You also don't want to buy "snow tires" with the studs embedded in the rubber to get you more traction in slippery conditions, do you? I'll answer that -- no.

Select Your Tire

This is the most amount of fun you will have during this process, and when it's over, you will feel great. After a ton of research (because I get weird with spreadsheets), I selected the Goodyear Eagle Assurance MaxLife. Here are a few reasons:

  • They come with built-in tread wear indicator gauges that provide tread-depth readings.
  • They are all-season tires.
  • They come with a warranty that's good until 85,000 miles/140,000 kilometers.
  • They were reasonably priced ($99 per tire).

Find a Shop to Install Your Tires

Unless you really love Uber, it's good to find a shop close to home. It took less than two hours for Jensen Tire in Omaha, Nebraska, to remove my old ones and install the new Goodyears. Make sure you ask if they will dispose the old rubber that you no longer have any sort of emotional attachment to whatsoever and if there will be a fee for that. If they say there will be a fee, cock your head back, grin wildly, make direct eye contact, turn on your famous charm that your mom has been bragging about for years and say, "Fee? Oh, you." Seriously. Don't pay them for that. It should be part of the deal.

Drive Around on Them, Love Them

Driving on new tires is a legit amazing feeling. It makes your car feel new. It handles better. Your life handles better. If you are a real nerd, you can calculate the gas mileage savings and amaze all of your friends. They will never "tire" of hearing how big your brain is.

And that, my friends, is how to buy tires.

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New 2018 MAZDA MAZDA6 Touring
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This image is a stock photo and is not an exact representation of any vehicle offered for sale. Advertised vehicles of this model may have styling, trim levels, colors and optional equipment that differ from the stock photo.
How to Buy Tires - Autotrader