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Selecting The Right Tire

How to Select the Right Tire

The tires on your vehicle can affect your safety and your driving enjoyment. Choose tires that match both your vehicle and the way you drive.

To find the right tire, answer these questions and talk to your Kal Tire professional:

How many tires do I need?

All four tires should be identical. If your tires don’t match, you could have handling problems. For instance, one end of your vehicle may not respond as quickly or completely as the other end, making the vehicle more difficult to control.

If you just need to replace one tire that has been damaged, replace it with a tire of the same brand type, size and speed rating. One or two tires that don’t match the other tires on your vehicle could affect your driving safety.

If you need to replace two tires and the remaining two have a lot of tread depth left, replace them with tires that match your existing set as closely as possible. Identical new tires are best but others of the same size and type can also provide good results.

Should I buy a different type of tire?

If you are replacing all four tires, you can explore another category of tires. If you want longer lasting tires, better traction, a smoother ride, or better gas mileage there are tires that will help you accomplish this. Review the tire types or talk to your Kal Tire professional until you find a category description that describes a tire that fits your needs.

What size of tire do I need?

Tires must be able to carry the weight of your vehicle. If a tire is overworked just carrying the load, it will have little reserve capacity to help your vehicle respond quickly and safely. Do not buy undersized tires.

Check your owner’s manual, vehicle door jamb or glovebox, to find the size of tire recommended for your vehicle, or try our Kal Tire vehicle database.

The other size consideration is overall tire diameter. For cars and vans, stay within a ±3% diameter change. Pick-ups and sport utility vehicles (SUVs) are usually engineered to handle up to a 15% oversize tire.

Find out more about plus sizing, minus sizing or custom wheels.

What weather and driving conditions will the tires face?

Select a tire that suits the driving conditions you face most often:

  • Snow or ice: snow tires
  • Heavy traffic: more responsive tires
  • Winding roads or in the mountains: a tire that handles well
  • Extensive highway driving: tires with a smooth, quiet ride

If you face very different driving conditions (heavy snow in the winter and lots of highway driving in the summer), consider selecting two sets of tires. You’ll get better driving performance and longer total wear from your tires.

What kind of ‘look’ do I want?

Think about whether you’re happy with standard tires or you want the added flair of custom wheels or plus sizing.

How can I find the best value? Simple fact:

In the long run, cheap tires won’t save you money. They don’t last as long as higher quality tires and they may result in a rougher ride and inferior handling.

Your goal in tire shopping should be to find the highest quality tire that meets your specific needs and your budget.

Replace your tires when:

Treadwear depth reaches 2/32″ or you can see the treadwear indicator which shows a solid bar of rubber across the width of the tread, or use a penny to check the depth. To do this, place a penny in the tire tread, if you can see the top of Queen Elizabeth II’s crown, your treads are worn and need replacing.

Evaluate your tires by checking the tire pressure frequently. Also, do a visual check regularly for cuts, irregular wear, bulges or other problems.

Immediately fix punctures. You might be able to save the tire and you will definitely drive more safely.

Don’t mix tires of different sizes or types on the same axle. Never mix radial and non-radial tires on the same axle. The better matched your tires are, the safer the driving.

Have your tires mounted professionally! Improper mounting can lead to serious injury if a tire/rim assembly explodes.

Avoid spinning your tires at high speeds. If you are stuck in snow, ice, mud or sand, excessive spinning of your tires can cause a sudden tire explosion that could harm your vehicle, you and/or bystanders. For best results rock the vehicle backward and forward to free your vehicle.

What tires do

Consider this fact: The tire is the only point of contact between a vehicle and the road.

A tire has several important functions:

Steers the vehicle

A tire’s ability to maintain its course affects the vehicle’s ability to drive in a straight path. The tire has to help the vehicle steer regardless of road and weather conditions.

Supports the vehicle

A car tire has to carry more than 50 times its own weight.

Absorbs bumps

The flexibility of a tire helps it to absorb obstacles on uneven road surfaces and provides a stable ride for the driver and passengers while protecting the vehicle.

Transmits forces

Tires transmit the engine’s power to accelerate and the braking force to stop.

How well the tire performs these functions depends in part on how well the tire is maintained. See how to maintain your tires.

About Your Tires


The UTQG rating is made up of three components: Treadwear, Traction and Temperature. The grade is based on the performance of the tire graded against a standardized monitoring tire.

Using a specific government testing track, the treadwear grade is a comparative rating based on the wear rate of the tire under controlled conditions. For example, a tire graded 200 would wear twice as long on the government test course under specified test conditions as the monitoring tire. Since the testing is done by manufacturers, it would not be a safe assumption to assume the treadwear grades would be directly proportional to your actual tire mileage. The relative performance of tires depends upon the actual conditions of their use and may vary due to driving habits, service practices, differences in road characteristics and climate.

Tires are graded on traction and represent the ability of the tire to stop on wet pavement. Similar to the Treadwear measure the test is done under controlled conditions on government specified test surfaces of asphalt and concrete. From highest to lowest, the grades are AA, A, B and C. It is important to note that the testing does not take into account cornering, hydroplaning or acceleration.

The temperature grading represents the tire’s resistance to heat. From highest to lowest, the grades are A, B and C.

Breaking in your tires

The tires of today are very complex and comprised of layers of rubber, steel and fabric. To reach the maximum performance characteristics of your new tires, these compounds require a break-in period which ensures the proper ride. When tires are cured or hardened in the mold, the rubber compound releases a lubricant that ensures it will not stick to the mold. This lubricant stays on the surface of the tire through its journey to your local Kal Tire, and even through the first few hundred kilometres of driving, until it is worn away. It is crucial as you drive on your new tires for at least the first three hundred kilometres that you drive more cautiously, with easy acceleration, cornering and braking as the tire wears in, removes the lubricant and, more importantly, as you get used to tires with new tread on them. It is important to note that tires with low tread depth respond more quickly when driving to new tires, due to the tire squirm created from new deeper lugs. So don’t be surprised if you find your new tires are slower to respond as your previous, worn-out set.



Different types of Tires

Selecting the right tires for your vehicle is an important decision. Understanding the difference between the different types of tires available will help you choose the best tire for your driving needs and safety. Here’s a quick reference guide that explains the different types of tires available.

All-season Tires:

All-season tires are among the most cost-effective tire types available. They provide a smooth ride, long wear and adequate traction on dry and wet weather conditions. They are not however, recommended for use in snow-belt areas.

Touring Tires:

Touring tires feature enhanced performance blended with excellent ride and handling characteristics designed for many of today’s late model luxury vehicles. These tires feature slightly lower profiles and wider tread for improved handling and stability. They are available in all-season and summer treads.

All-weather Tires:

These state-of-the-art tires have revolutionary tread designs and rubber compounds that provide maximum safety in all applications encountered in ever-changing weather condition. A true four-season tire. These tires provide high mileage and carry the severe weather emblem exceeding new government snow conditions regulations. All-weather tires eliminate the need for costly seasonal tire changeovers.

Performance Tires:

There are three categories of performance tires: Performance, Hi-Performance and Ultra Hi-Performance. The first is the cosmetic or specialty performance tire. These are designed to enhance the look and low speed traction on vehicles such as muscle cars, street trucks, and vans. Most tread patterns are an all-season design which provide good wet and dry traction.

Hi-Performance Tires:

High-Performance tires are original equipment on many of today’s late model cars. These tires are designed to extend high speed handling and stability. Their lower profile, stiff sidewall and wide foot print, provide improved cornering response, lower rolling resistance and increased tread stability. They’re available in all-season and summer style tread designs in H and V speed ratings.

Ultra Hi-Performance Tires:

Ultra Hi-Performance tires take material and tire design to the max! They are designed for today’s most sophisticated sedans and sport cars. Their low profile designs deliver the ultimate control and response at speed. Their sticky tread compounds enhance performance, but the trade off is they can wear out quicker. These tires provide a smooth quiet ride.

Light Truck / SUV All-season Tires:

Light Truck all-season tires come original equipment on many of today’s vehicles. Their tread pattern design provides a smooth, quiet ride while delivering adequate traction in most conditions for everyday use.

Light Truck / SUV All-Terrain Tires:

All-Terrain tires are a “notch up” from all-season tires in off-road conditions. These tires are designed with a more aggressive, open tread design which provides additional traction in ‘off-road’ applications, such as mud and deep snow. Their larger voids (large spaces between the lugs) expel the mud and snow, providing additional traction. The tread compounds used makes the All-Terrain tire tougher and more durable in aggressive working conditions. The trade off over all-seasons is the slightly more aggressive ride with the All-Terrain tire. Most consumers accept this in order to get the additional traction.

Mud-Terrain Tires:

Mud-Terrain tires provide extreme traction in off-road conditions, while still providing an acceptable ride for highway or on road use. Their massive tread blocks provide the ultimate grip in mud, sand bog or rocky conditions. Mud-Terrain tires have the largest, deepest tread designs. Their tread compounds and reinforced side walls are designed to expel rocks, sticks and foreign materials. They are available in the tallest and widest sizes for increased flotation and axle clearance. These tires are not suitable for winter driving unless they have been siped and studded.

Winter Tires:

Winter tires provide the best traction for a wide range of winter conditions such as snow, slush, ice and freezing rain. Not having winter tires could jeopardize safety if serious winter conditions suddenly develop. Today’s winter tires offer state-of-the-art designs and compounds. Winter tread compounds are highly siped (small slits that expel water and provide extra traction) and are made of microfilment compounds that stay pliable in cold weather. This combination provides superior traction without the need for studs. Because of this significant traction, . . . only sets of four winter tires should be used.

Winter Performance Tires:

Winter Performance Tires are now also available for those who need enhanced winter traction and as much responsive, high-speed handling as possible. Performance winter tires are available in ‘H’ and a few ‘V’ rated patterns. Winter Performance tires also have similar siping and compound materials that regular winter tires have, keeping them pliable in cold winter conditions. These tires are available in up to 18″ sizes to fit most of today’s late model luxury and performance vehicles.


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