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Here are five ways to save money on your next tire purchase

When your tires are worn, replacing them is a necessity. After all, your tires are your direct connection to the road. New ones can be expensive. They’re definitely something you don’t want to skimp on, though — after all, dependable tires keep you safe. Luckily, there are lots of ways to save money on this important purchase.

1. Make Sure You Need New Tires

If you rely only on your odometer or the tires’ mileage rating, you might be assuming you need new tires when you don’t. Depending on your driving habits, vehicle weight and usual road conditions, you may or may not need tires at the suggested replacement time.

Try the penny test to check your tires’ treads. Place a Lincoln penny upside down in the tread. If the top of the president’s head is visible above the tread, it’s time to replace your tires. If Lincoln’s head is below the tread, your tires are still in good shape, and you can put that money toward European cruises, a remodeled kitchen — or back in the bank for when you do need new tires.

2. Buy What You Need

If you drive on rough or snow-covered surfaces, you will need all-terrain or snow tires, at least for part of the year. If most of your driving takes place on smooth pavement without extreme weather conditions, all-season tires may be all you need, and you can avoid the cost of specialty tires. Check your vehicle’s owner’s manual and talk to local tire dealers to see what is best for your car and driving conditions.

3. Time Your Purchase

While you shouldn’t put off replacing worn tires just to save money, you can try timing your purchase for spring or fall to catch tires on sale. October and April are popular months for tire sales. Why? Fall is when many drivers think about winter road safety, and spring sales encourage drivers to replace tires before summer road trips.

4. Look for the Lowest Price on Your Brand

If you know what type and brand of tire you want to purchase, take time to shop around before you buy. Dedicated tire stores may charge less than auto dealerships and repair shops. You may also find deals at warehouse clubs or other retail stores with auto service; these stores might offer lower prices, so you will shop while you wait for your car.

Have you ever considered buying tires online? Some shops will allow you to have your new tires shipped to them for installation. You might find a better price online than a local shop can offer. If you’re not familiar with buying tires through the internet, check company reviews and ratings to make sure you’re dealing with a reputable company. Keep in mind that shipping costs may be high; figure it in your total price so you have an accurate estimate.

5. Take Care of Your Tires

Do you want to avoid buying tires too soon next time? Maintain your new tires, and they will last longer. Check the pressure regularly, especially after a cold snap — air contracts when it’s cold and can cause tire pressure to drop. Underinflated tires increase friction because more rubber is in contact with the road, and tires can overheat, and wear out faster. Overinflated tires will wear out too quickly in the center.

Rotate your tires every 5,000-10,000 miles to maximize their lifespan. The tread will wear more evenly with regular rotation and prevent the front or rear tires from wearing out prematurely. Having your tires rotated means they will

also be inspected and properly inflated on a routine basis. You can schedule your tire rotation and oil change at the same time to help you remember (and accomplish two things at once).

While new tires may not be the most exciting purchase you make, they are important to your safety on the road. A set of quality tires that are well maintained will keep you driving smoothly for years.

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