Vehicle Maintenance for Female Freelance Professionals

Tires and rims


What you need to know but were never told, and didn’t think to ask.

Owning your own company as a freelance professional means that you alone are responsible for the maintenance of your car, your house and every other entity that requires your attention. Lucky you if you have someone who will take care of this for you, but you should know that it is important to know how to do it, even if there is someone to do it for you. Today, I’m getting tires on my car and it is a relief to know that I put them on in the Fall ahead of the expected rain next week. (For those of you who live in Northern California.)

I called several tire companies and the first tire company told me it would cost $879.00 for four new tires on my car because I had a staggered fit and that it would take longer to fit my car for new tires. (More about staggered fit later.) They also told me that because of the service I needed, it would take longer but they offered a roundtrip shuttle service.

The second company I called regarding the exact same tire, itemized my front tire cost and the rear tire cost for a grand total of $576.00 and would only take an hour. Obviously I went for the second tire company.

Knowing what to ask can save you a lot of money.

Have you ever wondered what tires you have? Have you wondered how to determine what tires you need?  Or what to ask for when you need new tires? Each tire on your car has a number that specifies what car it will match.

Tire example

The first set of numbers relates to what is known as “Tire classification”. If there is a letter in front such as P, it indicates a passenger car. If there is an LT it indicates Light truck. If there is no number it indicates European metric tire. (In my case, which is the example I am working from, there is no number, which means European metric.) Yes my car is a European model.

The second set of numbers indicates the “Section Width” of the tire. This number is measured in millimeters and is measured from sidewall to sidewall.  See the photo to learn where the section width is placed on your car. Look for number 245 in the example.

The next set of numbers is called the “Aspect Ratio”. This number indicates the height of the sidewall. Look for number 40 in the example.

The “Letter”  indicates the radial tire construction, and is usually in between the Aspect Ratio and the Wheel Diameter number. Look for the letter R in the example photo.

The “Wheel Diameter” is self-explanatory and indicates the wheel diameter in inches. This number is usually the last number in the group. In the case of my car I have what is known as “17’s”, because my wheel diameter is a seventeen.  Look for the number 17 in the example photo.

Now that you are vehicle maintenance savvy, there is one more thing you should know…

If you drive a sports car it is common that you car may have what is known as a “Staggered Fit”. This means that your front tires and rear tires are different sizes. If you are planning on replacing your tires, you will need to check prices based on the tires in front and the tires in back. Take a look at your car and see if you have a staggered fit.

Another thing to note, if you have a staggered fit, is alignment and rotation is completely different for you, compared to a standard car. In the case of a staggered fit rotation, they take the rear tires off and switch sides for more even wear. The technician does the same for the front. On a standard car the tires are rotated and switched to different sides and moved from front to back, and back to front.

I won’t go into tire brands but a few questions to ask when looking for new tires are asking about tire tread. Some tire treads are noisier than others, and if you drive a luxury car, noisy treads can be just that, noisy and bothersome. If you drive a sports car and are an aggressive driver, noisy tires might not make that much difference to you. But the noise makes a huge difference to me because I drive a lot from location to location and some of my best thinking is done in the car. Besides who wants noise when you sing driving down the highway?? Yes I do sing while driving, Green Day, The Ramones, Beyonce and lots of other artist too! Anyway, I digress. Back to learning about tires.

Make sure you ask if the tire has a warranty and how long the warranty lasts. Also check to see if the purchase of your tires includes free rotation and alignment. Some companies include this, while other tire companies charge for this service. Free means you are saving money for other things! I love free!

My best advice is to do some research on the different brands that fit your model of car before you go in to have your tires replaced. Many tire companies choose an expensive tire that is standard issue for the car if you don’t ask for a particular brand. As a woman I often have technicians tell me what I should get because they believe I don’t know. The old adage about “Knowledge is Power” is true. So being knowledgeable about your tires pays off. Besides, couldn’t you use that extra money for something else? I’m going on vacation with the money I saved. So stay tuned for when and where!


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