Flipping through the ads that dominate the Sunday paper last weekend was a myriad of brightly colored keds, flip flops, and heels for back to school shoe sales (since when do kids wear heels to school??). The fashionistas of late don’t seem to put much thought into things like arch support or tread traction for the longevity of your kid’s knees.
But we do. Well, for your car baby anyway. If you’ve been considering a purchase of new tires for your vehicle, there are a number of elements to consider. Tire manufacturers say there are 19-25 varying components that measure in to what frequently seems to simply be circles of rubber. When it really comes down to it, according to our tire experts, there are four key components you really need to consider: ride quality, tread life, weather conditions, and speed rating. We address the basics of sizes and a brief overview of those four key components in a past blog, Feet First: The Basics of Buying Tires. But now we would like to dive a little deeper into ride quality and discuss how you can decrease the richter scale you may be experiencing on your commute.
1. Ride Quality is how minimized the road irregularities are to the vehicle’s passengers.
“Ride Quality is usually the number one concern for our customers,” says Lisa Randall, one of our Toyota Parts tire experts.
Owners of family vehicles tend to prefer a smoother ride to not jostle the little ones, so they would require a larger, thicker tire to absorb any bumps in the road. Those who drive performance vehicles, however, may like a tire with a lower profile. The latter have thicker sidewalls and improved handling, but are more susceptible to taking the hit each time they roll over road damage. Unfortunately, this component relates to that old children’s song: “The toe bone is connected to the foot bone,” ankle bone, leg bone, etc. If the comfort of the ride feels like an old wooden roller coaster with questionable safety inspection certifications, the under belly of your beloved carriage might be taking a beating. Each vehicle has tire size suggestions based on the needs of the alignment and suspension of the car. Wandering outside of that suggestion could result in harm to your car – and could void your warranty.
In this infographic of size markings on the sidewall of a tire, you can see where I’ve marked the ratio between sidewall thickness (or height) and width in green. It’s a percentage of the relationship (ie: the sidewall height is 55 percent of the tire’s width), and is called the tire’s “series” or “profile.” A sporty tire with shorter sidewalls would be considered a lower-series tire. Off-road tires tend to be higher-series tires, designed to absorb the impact of a rough road or track.
If you’re hoping to get the best ride quality possible, there are other parts of the car that can help. Read about those relationships here.
Since a lot of these factors are difficult to measure, consulting an expert is really the best bet here.
This post was written by Milton Ruben Social Media Specialist Heather Cortright.