Tire professionals need to make sure customers can make an informed decision when replacing their OE tires.
In most cases, customers embark on their quest for replacement tires with the best of intentions. However, when confronted with the price, they may decide to do a one eighty and focus (adamantly) solely on price.
It’s at this point that customers must be reminded that if they wish to preserve the handling and performance characteristics of their vehicle, it’s important that they choose a tire that matches the original specifications of their car or truck.
The tires that came with their vehicle were selected or engineered specifically for that vehicle, as they are an active component that influences the performance of systems, including suspension and brakes. They may even play a significant role in terms of fuel economy.
These important factors apply even more to vehicles with speed-rated, performance tires (like Z-rated tires), which should never be equipped with “regular” non-rated tires, as they may drastically reduce the effectiveness of the braking and suspension systems.
While vehicle performance may be negatively affected by a poor choice of tires, the opposite is also true. The selection of a high-performance tire as a replacement solution may actually enhance certain vehicle characteristics, though it’s important to remember that there will be some level of trade-off. These types of decisions are what brand specialists are all about.
Run-flat tires are another factor that needs to be addressed. As their name indicates, these tires allow drivers to continue on their way in the event of a puncture. However, many owners of vehicles originally equipped with these tires deplore the harsh ride resulting from the stiffer sidewalls inherent with these types of tires.
A regular, more forgiving replacement tire may prove to be a viable solution, but vehicle owners must be reminded that their vehicle is probably not equipped with an emergency spare tire, which will require them to resort to an expensive roadside assistance service in the event of a puncture.
Finally, for light-duty trucks, or vehicles required to haul items such as boats and small trailers, safety dictates that replacement tires be robust enough to handle the extra loads imposed on them. Although a dedicated light truck tire may not run as smoothly and as quietly as a passenger vehicle tire, it won’t overheat and rupture under load. This advice holds even truer for heavy-duty pickup trucks and vans.
When it comes to replacement tires, saving money is by far the least important criteria. There is always a cheaper alternative out there somewhere, but passenger comfort and safety, along with driver confidence, are the real measures of a quality replacement tire.
One more important point: always remember to inspect the condition and pressure of the oft-neglected emergency or full-size spare tire, as nothing is more useless than a deflated spare tire.