Tires, as it turns out, are a lot more important to your automobile than many car owners think. They’re certainly important to how your car looks and the way it drives, but even more so than this, they’re important to your ability to drive your car safely and have it respond to your commands the way you need it to. The wrong kind of tire, or a tire that’s being used well past its expiration date, can result in a seriously dangerous situation for you and the other drivers on the road around you.

Shopping for new tires, as it were, can be confusing enough to discourage many car owners from taking care of this responsibility on time, so we’ll discuss some things to keep in mind that’ll make your experience a lot easier. Being prepared ahead of time and knowing what you should be looking for and what to avoid will make your tire shopping trip as quick and efficient as it needs to be, without you feeling uncomfortable or getting taken for a ride, as they say.

Your first line of defense is finding the specifications for your vehicle. You can look this up with incredible ease in the owner’s manual, or find the information online — it’s likely readily available on the car manufacturer’s website. Included in formation should be numbers concerning things like the size, the load bearing ability, and a recommended speed rating. Jot all this information down and have with you or simply know it when you set out to buy your cars, so you can pick the right tires in half the time.

Different driving conditions require different types of tires, so this is something you should seriously consider when you’re getting ready to make your purchase. What’s the climate like where you live? Do you consistently deal with wet roads? If you have a drier climate that doesn’t see much rain or snow, you can get summer tires — there are also all-season tires and winter-specific tires for those who spend their time in these kinds of specialized climates.

Another important thing to consider is how long the tires you’re going to buy will stay good. There’s no sense in buy tires that aren’t going to last you as long as the factory ones did, and maximizing your tire’s life span means minimizing your expenses. Lucky for you, there’s something called the UTQG — the Uniform Tire Quality Grading. This will give you a great idea as to how long the tires you’re looking at will last, so you’ll know to make the best investment.

Every tire has a speed rating, as well, and the higher ones cost more money as they’re designed to withstand a higher degree of wear and tear. Even if you live in a rural area with a higher speed limit, odds are you’re still not going to be using your tires to go faster than 130 on any kind of regular basis (or hopefully at all). The “H” rating lands right around here, and will cost you less than the other ratings.

Additionally, you can take into consideration things like your driving style, comfort level, and the simple cosmetic factor of how the tire looks. But in terms of functionality and safety, it’s easy to see that you don’t need to have grown up around a tire machine to know how to make the best possible decision on new tires for your car.