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When Rubber Meets the Road: What to Consider When Buying Tires for Your SUV


If you own an SUV, you know just how expensive tires can be. That’s why you don’t want to replace them prematurely or wait until you experience a blowout. Here’s what you need to know about replacing your tires and how to choose the best ones for your vehicle.

Check Your Wheel And Tire Size

Your tire and wheel size is listed in several places:

● On the driver’s side door jamb.
● On the glove box door.
● On the gas tank hatch.
● On the tire itself.

Tire sizes are denominated in letters and numbers. The first letter in the series of letters and numbers indicates whether it’s a passenger or commercial vehicle tire. The second number is the width of the tire.

So, a tire reading “P255” means that it’s a passenger vehicle and the width of the tire is 255 millimeters. The measurement of the width is always measured from sidewall to sidewall.

Immediately following the width will be a forward slash and the aspect ratio of the tire, along with a letter designation its construction. The aspect ratio of a tire tells you how tall your tire’s profile is. They are always measured in percentages.

So, an aspect ratio of 70 means that the tire’s height is 70 percent of its width.

Lower aspect ratios, in the 60 series are generally higher performance tires compared to a 75 series.

For vehicles like the 2016 Kia Sorento, tire aspect ratios tend to be in the 60 to 65 series, reflecting the sporty nature of SUVs.

Next up is internal construction. Usually, this is designated by either “R” or “D.” “R” refers to “radial” tires while “D” refers to “diagonal” or “bias ply” tire construction. Radial tires are found on most vehicles and it means that the tire’s internal ply cords are oriented in a radial direction. One bead over another, facing perpendicular to the axis of rotation. It’s a sturdy construction, which is why it’s used.

The diameter of the tire is measured in inches, and it refers to the size of the rim or wheel that the tire is mounted to.

What About Bolt Pattern and Rim Offset?

The bolt pattern refers to the orientation and number of bolts that hold the wheel onto the wheel hub. This is important to know if you intend on changing wheels out from the stock configuration. Otherwise, you will reuse your wheels and their existing bolt pattern.

Rim offset refers to the difference, in millimeters, from the centerline of the rim to the suspension compared to standard wheels. Again, this is only important if you intend to change out the wheels, either because they need replacing or you want to upgrade your wheel and tire package.

Buying Discounted Tires

There’s a healthy market for retreads and used tires, believe it or not. Used tires might sound like trouble, but they’re really just tires that are pulled from vehicles that have been in automobile accidents or from junked vehicles.

Tires are inspected and cleaned to ensure that only usable tires are resold. Often, these tires are purchased for a small fraction of their retail cost. If you purchase them from a shop, they may cost up to half the normal retail cost of the tire, and the tire tread life is often guaranteed to be better than 50 to 75 percent, depending on the mechanic.

Kyle Marshall earns his living maintaining and servicing vehicles. He has a real passion for cars and is always acquiring new knowledge about features and innovations, which he likes to pass on to an online audience. He is a frequent contributor for a number of relevant websites.