Tires certainly look simple - black and round - but they are highly engineered technical wonders designed to work in concert with a vehicle's braking and steering systems. However, knowing which type of tire to get can be kind of tricky. For instance, there are high-performance (HP) tires, as well as ultra high-performance (UHP). How different are they and how can you tell which one will work better for you?
"It's a good question and one I get all the time," says Andrew Briggs, director of marketing and product planning for Yokohama Tire Corporation.
Briggs says both UHP and HP tires provide excellent traction and control for sporty sedans like Mercedes-Benz and Lexus, as well as sleek sports cars like Porsches. Performance tires can also be categorized into summer and all-season types. Summer tires provide great handling in dry and wet conditions, while all-season tires are designed to perform in a wide range of weather, including moderate winter conditions and cold temperatures.
Once a consumer selects the tire that best meets their need, Briggs contends that keeping the tires properly maintained and being a smart driver can make a great choice even better. Here are some of his tips:
- Keep your tires properly inflated. You can lower your gasoline bill and get additional miles out of your tires by maintaining correct tire inflation pressure. To maintain proper inflation, check your tire pressure regularly and with a reliable tire gauge. Be sure the valve stems have a plastic or metal cap to keep dirt out and seal against leakage. Be sure to check also when the tires are cold (at least three to four hours after the vehicle has been driven).
- Tire alignment should be checked once a year. Misaligned tires can reduce tread life and fuel economy.
- Taking off from a stoplight like a rocket and then slamming on the brakes to stop uses gas at a much faster rate. Accelerating less and slowing moderately can increase fuel efficiency by more than 30 percent. Also, many traffic lights are timed for efficient traffic flow, so you'll hit more green lights in a row by maintaining the speed limit.
- Slow down. All vehicles lose fuel economy at speeds above 55 mph. Driving 55 mph instead of 75 mph can reduce fuel costs by up to 25 percent. Driving 65 mph instead of 75 mph can save up to 13 percent
- Turn off your engine if you're stopped for more than a couple of minutes. Fuel efficiency savings of up to 19 percent are possible by not letting your engine idle too long while stationary.