What Are The Different Tire Options Available For My Toyota?
Theoretically, shopping for tires should be easy – if you’re just swapping out your old ones for more of the same. But when you want to explore the different tire options out there, things can get difficult. There’s a fair amount to take in and understand, from deciphering tire sizing and standards to figuring out the best tires for every situation.
That’s what we’re here for at Lancaster Toyota. With some of the brightest tire experts in the Lancaster region, we are ready to help you find the right tire for your vehicle and your driving preferences. So let’s dive into where the rubber meets the road!
Making sense of the letters and numbers.
For the average driver, the tire size formula doesn’t make much sense – and we totally understand that. That’s why we have our tire geeks here at Lancaster Toyota to help you understand all of your tire options and find the right fit for your car, your lifestyle, and your driving habits.
A common tire you might see will have stamping on the side. It looks like a jumble – it may read something like P215/65R15 90H. For the normal person? Not exactly easy to understand. However, it breaks down to a point that any layman can understand.
Tire Type:The “P” represents the tire type, in this case, passenger. LT means Light Truck and refers to pick-up trucks up to 1-ton load capacity.
Width of the Tire:“215” means 215 millimeters width.
Aspect Ratio:The aspect ratio is the ratio of the height of the tire’s cross-section to its width, expressed as a percentage. In this case, the “65” indicates that the sidewall distance from the wheel rim to the outside of the tread is 65% of the width, which is 215 millimeters. Taller tires will have larger ratios, while low-profile tires generally sit under an aspect ratio of 50.
Construction:“R” stands for radial, can also be D for diagonal or B for bias belt.
Rim Diameter Code:The diameter of the tire rim that the wheels will be used on – in this case, the tire should be used on 15-inch rims only.
Load Index:Corresponding to the ETRTO standard Load Table, this is the short code for the maximum standard load for the tire. In this case, it is 90, which translates to 1,300 pounds. The load ratings for all four tires should be added up to find the total load capacity of the tires on the vehicle – with four tires like this, the weight of the vehicle and all passengers and load should be limited to 5,200 pounds.
Speed Rating:The final letter pertains to the speed rating of the tires, or the maximum speed that the tire can be expected to handle in ideal conditions. Spare tires and winter tires generally have lower speed ratings, in the range of M to Q, while high-performance tires are in the V-Z range. In this case, H means a maximum speed rating of 130 miles per hour in ideal conditions.
Matching tire to purpose.
Unless you’ve ordered specific performance or off-road rubber for the new vehicle you’re picking up from Lancaster Toyota, your ride is coming from the factory with all-season tires. They’re a great mix of fuel efficiency, good tread life, year-round performance, and a quiet and composed ride.
That being said, being good at many things often means not being great in any particular area. That’s why drivers have a number of options to choose from.
With tread rubber compounds formulated to stay flexible in colder weather, unique tread depths and patterns, and more biting edges than normal, these tires are built for superior control on icy and snowy road surfaces.
Softer rubber, wide measurement, and relatively light treads create plenty of contact area and grip for on-road driving that requires ultimate control.
Wider tread and larger rims allow for the addition of larger brakes, and greater cornering stability. However, thinner sidewalls allow for a greater possibility of deflation or wheel damage from road hazards, and the ride is likely to be a little bit stiffer.
A stiffer build to take on the dangers of rough terrain, stiff knobs to dig in, and deep treads to wade through mud make these the go-to when you’re headed for adventure. They forfeit road performance and comfort, and can wear faster when used on the pavement too much.
Mud Terrain Tires
Sacrificing the full off-road capabilities for better on-road ride and control, these are great for the adventurer who still needs to make that morning commute.
Grand Touring Tires
Built for comfort, these take on the bumps and potholes the road has to throw at you. However, they still provide some of the performance aspects found in low-profile or high-performance tires – think of them as the balance between all-season and performance tires.
Think about what you want the tires for, and how much time you want to spend with your vehicle in the shop. Do you really need off-road tires if you just spend one or two days a year rolling through the fields to park for the local fair? Do you want to spend the time to swap out tires between summer and winter? Are you prepared to have to be extremely cautious taking high-performance slicks out in the rain? These are answers you’ll need to think on.
To mix, or not to mix?
It might sound like a good idea to go with the cheapest available tire at the time, or to just replace a single tire that needs replacing. It’s the least expensive way to get back on the road, quick.
Don’t be tempted.
Whether you’re doing heavy city traffic or long highway miles, your tires wear over time. They will wear unevenly. Having two different tires on the same axle will lead to different handling characteristics, and your vehicle won’t perform as it should.
You should avoid mixing tires with different tread patterns, different construction, or different purpose – for instance, don’t mix run-flat and non-run-flat tires, and don’t mix winter, summer, and all-season tires together. Staggered sizing should be avoided, and done only if that is how the vehicle came from the factory to begin with.
Even with everything else the same, we also advise against mixing manufacturers. While we have full confidence in all the brands we stock here at Lancaster Toyota, they do have slight differences from one to the other, ranging from wear rate and patterns and handling capabilities to small tread difference. Go with one brand and stick with it.
Go with what you got.
All of this have your head spinning?
Quite often, your best bet is to just roll with what your vehicle came with. Vehicle manufacturers aren’t shipping cars off the line with bad rubber – they want to send out a product that is the best fit for their vehicle, and for the driving they’re expecting out of it.
Our team of experts here at Lancaster Toyota can help you to sort through the different tire options, and find the right fit for the vehicle you have, the weather we deal with throughout the year, and the type of performance you are looking for. It’s what we do, and what we’re good at.