The Ultimate Tire Buying Guide

How To Buy Tires For Your Car?

We all know the importance of tires but do you know which tire is best suited for your needs? With hundreds of tire brands, tire types and sizes identifying which tire you require is an intimidating task. An incorrect decision could be expensive and dangerous. 

However, with our ultimate tire buying guide, you will have all the right information enabling you to make an informed and wallet-friendly decision when it comes to buying your new set of tires.

Table Of Contents

1. When Do You Need New Tires?

        1.1 What Is Tire Tread?

        1.2 When Should You Replace The Tires?

                1.2.1 Using A Penny

                1.2.2 Wear Indicators Bar

                1.2.3 Using A Tread Depth Gauge

2. What Tire Size Will I Need?

3. Types Of Tires

4. Which Is The Best Tire For Me? 

        4.1 Weather Conditions

                4.1.1 The Climate Is Warm

                4.1.2 The Climate Is Seasonal

                4.1.3 The Climate Is Seasonal With Extreme Winters

        4.2 Where Do You Drive?

                4.2.1 City Driving

                4.2.2 Highway Driving

                4.2.3 Off-road Driving

        4.3 Driving Style

                4.3.1 Performance

                4.3.2 Comfort

                4.3.3 Combination

5. What To Look For In A Tire?

        5.1 Fuel Economy 

        5.2 Tire Warranty

1. When Do You Need New Tires? When To Replace Tires?

First things first - when is it time to get a new set of tires? There are two main scenarios when you have to replace tires: Seasonal change and Worn out tread. A shift from summer to winter necessitates tire replacements since your summer tire will not work well in winter. Different weather conditions require the use of different tire types. More on this topic later. 

Knowing when your tread is worn out requires no technical degree. A simple coin or a specialized tool (if you prefer accuracy) can do the trick. The tire tread tells you how much life your tire has and how long they will last. So first let us understand what tire tread is. 

1.1. What Is Tire Tread?

1.1. What Is Tire Tread?

The tread on the tire is what helps you determine the life of your tire and when you will need to start shopping for new ones. The tire tread or track is the pattern or design that your tires have around its circumference 

As the tire is driven over thousands of kilometres, this tread starts deteriorating and eventually wears out thin. The entire reason for the tread on a tire is to maintain traction or better grip with the ground, expel water/snow and aid in vehicle handling. If this tread is non-existent your vehicle will start slipping and skidding, will take longer to accelerate and cover a larger distance before stopping when you brake. This is a safety issue and there are legal mandates around the required tire depths. Legally, the minimum allowed tread depth actually varies across provinces in Canada. So it may be higher than the 1.6 mm (2/32 inch) where you live. Make sure to adhere to the tire tread depth standards of your province and you can read more about it here.

When the tread wears off to legally mandated depth you really need to swap out the tires for a new set. And set it should be a set because if you only replace one tire - say the front right, the extra traction/grip provided by the new tire will cause the vehicle to steer in that direction when braking or moving in a straight line. So always replace tires in pairs both fronts or both rears and if feasible all four at once. 


1.2. When Should You Replace The Tires?

Now, there are two scenarios when you will need to replace your tires - one is when the tire tread is worn out and the other is when the tire is damaged. The tire can be damaged due to an accident or a puncture or have noticeable discoloration or cracks. Punctures do not necessarily mean you need to replace your tires since the tire can be repaired when punctured. Have the tire inspected by your local mechanic to determine if they can be repaired and reused Apart from tire damage, other factors that can indicate tire failure are tire age, vibrations when driving, uneven tread wear and of course tire tread. Most manufacturers recommend buying tires once your old set turns 6 years old

As for worn-out tread, you can try any of the methods to find each tire’s tread depth.

1.2.1. Using A Penny:

Insert a toonie within the tread of the tire at different intervals. If the rubber reaches the bear paws, then your tires are likely new. But if the silver end is completely visible then start shopping for new tires asap.

1.2.2. Wear Indicators Bar:

Most modern tires come with narrow bands that stretch within the grooves across the tread. When the tread surface becomes flush with the bar, it is time to replace the tires.

1.2.3. Using A Tread Depth Gauge:

The tread depth gauge can be used to measure the tread depth of the tire accurately. It has an extended prong that fits within the tread’s groove and correspondingly shows the depth reading. Anything below 1.6 mm or 2/32” warrants tire replacement. 

2. What Tire Size Will I Need?

The overwhelmingly large array of tire sizes can be daunting to choose from but a special set of alphanumerics can ease the job. Every tire has its own specifications mentioned on the tire’s sidewall which indicates the tire size, load index and speed rating and other attributes like when the tire was manufactured and what is its tread wear resistance and gripping power or traction. Refer here to find out all tire specifications mentioned on tire sidewall to decide the right tire specs you need. 

3. Types Of Tires

Once you have the right tire size it's time to pick your choice of tire type. There are many different types of tires depending on the season they can be used in like summer and winter tires. These tires can further be classified into truck and car tires which have varying load indexes to accommodate different weights. The type of tire you chose is very important as it determines what type of driving dynamics you get, or how comfortable your ride is, how much tread life they have and what weather conditions you can drive in. 

A summer tire will not work well in winters and similarly, a winter tire will only slow you down in the summer. A common choice of tire is all-season tires that perform relatively well in all weather conditions. But even all-seasons have their drawbacks and modern all-weather tires offer unmatched all-year performance. To learn more about the types of tires, manufacturer’s treadwear warranties and other such useful information, refer to the types of tires guide. 

4. Which Is The Best Tire For Me? What Type Of Tire Should I Buy?

Every vehicle is driven differently and on different roads and so the type of tire you chose must reflect weather conditions the tire is driven in, where you drive and your preferred driving dynamics. 

Things to consider when selecting the type of tires:

  • Weather condition you drive in? Worst weather conditions you will encounter?
  • Where do you drive? Highways, streets, off-road?
  • Your preferred driving dynamics - performance vs comfort

4.1. Weather Conditions

Canada is a country of extreme climates and so you are likely to experience heavy snowfall as well as the scorching summer sun. But the conditions can vary depending on where you live across Canada. For example, Vancouver gets moderate seasons and winters are nominal whereas Québec City gets very hot summers and heavy snowfall in the winters. 


4.1.1. The Climate Is Warm:

If the temperature remains above freezing during winters (above 7℃ or 45℉) then you can stick to all-season or summer tires for year-round performance. 

4.1.2. The Climate Is Seasonal:

If you get hot summers and low temperatures during winters (between 7℃ or 45℉ and -10℃ or 14℉) then you can opt for one set of summer and one of the winter tires that are changed seasonally. Alternatively, you can have a single pair of all-weather tires (that have the 3PMSF pictograph).

4.1.3. The Climate Is Seasonal With Extreme Winters:

If the temperature drops way below freezing point (below -10℃ or 14℉), then it is recommended to use winter tires during inclement weather and summer or all-season tires for the rest of the year. 

4.2. Where Do You Drive?

4.2. Where Do You Drive?

4.2.1. City Driving Requires:

  • Longevity: City driving requires immediate and repeated stops and starts that can wear tires faster. Choose tires with increased longevity.
  • Braking distance: Tires that provide minimal braking distances on both dry and wet roads.
  • Fuel economy: Tires with low rolling resistance reduces fuel consumption.

4.2.2. Highway Driving Requires:

  • Comfort: Highway trips are long and so comfort should be a priority. Choose tires with low levels of vibration and noise.
  • Braking distance at high speed: For maximum safety, select tires that provide optimum braking distance on both dry and wet roads.
  • Handling: Select tires that provide excellent grip and stability.

4.2.3. Unpaved Roads Require:

All-terrain truck tires are ideal as they provide off-road driving capabilities. 


4.3. Driving Style

4.3. Driving Style

If you are an enthusiastic driver that enjoys hugging the road and feeling every bend in the road then performance tires are for you. High-Performance tires are available in all tire types from summer to winter so you can get performance characteristics like sharp cornering, immediate steering responses and shorter braking distances. Sports tires also have aggressive tread patterns and narrow tire profiles that can enhance the look of any car. However, these benefits come at the cost of comfort and composed ride quality. 


If you prefer a calm and composed ride and prioritize comfort over performance then standard tires have all the main attributes like a smooth and comfortable ride, minimal vibrations, low noise and other useful factors like long tread life and affordable

If you are looking for the middle ground then all-season grand touring tires are a good match. They provide enhanced handling and steering characteristics while maintaining excellent ride quality. They also sport a lower tire profile look which gives them an aesthetic edge over standard tires.

5. What To Look For In A Tire?

5.1. Fuel Economy

Fuel economy is important and tires can greatly influence your vehicle’s fuel consumption since your car literally rolls on them. 

  • Tires with low rolling resistance help decrease fuel consumption.
  • Original equipment tires usually offer optimal fuel savings.
  • Some tire manufacturers add fuel efficiency grade.


5.2. Tire Warranty

Tires can come with two warranties - treadwear or tread mileage and defect protection warranty. The treadwear warranty gives a rough estimate of how many miles tires are rated to last according to the manufacturer. Only top manufacturers provide both warranties together. If the tires fail before the given treadwear warranties, then the manufacturers provide compensation on the purchase of new tires. However, tire manufacturers thoroughly check for proper tire maintenance before evaluating returns. 

Related Topics