When Is the Best Time to Buy Tires?

With gas prices still high, many drivers are searching for the best time to buy tires. Here's what a tire expert says about when, where and why you should buy tires for your car.

From keeping them properly inflated to ensuring they have enough tread, your car’s tires are critical not only to safe driving but also to saving on gas. Tires are a vitally important safety feature on your car, as they’re the only part of the vehicle that touches the road. It’s important to know when the best time to buy tires is, so that you have the right tires for the season, weather and type of driving you do most often. Believe it or not, there are car gadgets that can make driving safer too.

To find the best time to buy tires, we spoke with Will Robbins, director of consumer product strategy at Bridgestone Americas. Robbins shares his expert opinion on the top signs your car needs new tires, tips to help you save money the next time you buy tires, the difference between old and new tires, and the best time to buy tires. Are you ready for a vehicle upgrade, to live free on the road or simply take more comfortable road trips? Find out the best time to buy a new car and the best time to buy an RV too.

How you will know that you need new tires

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, vehicles with worn-out tires are three times more likely to be involved in a crash than tires with sufficient tread depth. Thankfully, measuring tread depth is easy for anyone to do with the penny test. Turn the penny upside down and dip it into the tread of your tire. If you can see the top of Lincoln’s head, you need a new set of tires. If the tread is between his eyes and the top of his hair, you need to start planning for the best time to buy tires.

It’s also recommended to work with a trusted tire professional to check your tires regularly to make sure they are wearing evenly.

Signs your car needs new tires

Here are the top signs your tires are wearing down:

  • Tread depth: Robbins suggests using the penny test as outlined above to check the tread depth, making sure it’s at least 2/32 of an inch deep. This one-second tire test could save your life.
  • Irregular wear: Check to see if your tires are wearing evenly all the way around, without any visible irregularities.
  • Sidewall damage: Examine each tire’s sidewall to ensure there is no visible damage.
  • Out of rotation: Tires should be rotated and balanced as outlined in the vehicle manufacturer owner’s manual, typically every 5,000 to 7,000 miles.

Finally, Robbins notes that it’s recommended to have your tires inspected by a professional every five years, to determine if a tire is still road-worthy.

When is the best time to buy tires?

Because they are the only part of the vehicle that touches the road, tires are a critically important safety feature on your vehicle. Robbins points out that tires are sophisticated pieces of technology, tasked with carrying the full load of your vehicle. Tires are responsible for transporting you, your kids, pets and family safely every single day. Therefore, it’s important to know the best time to buy tires, and then make that pivotal purchase the moment you need them, without waiting.

Drivers in winter climates typically make the switch to winter tires in October or November to get their cars ready for winter, then convert back to all-season or summer tires in March or April. Retailers in colder climates often align promotions with these months, which would end up being the best time to buy tires. Additionally, retailers will sometimes offer promotions ahead of the busy summer travel season, as they know drivers are prepping their vehicles for more time on the road.

Best time of year to buy tires
March, April, October and November

Worst time to buy tires

Remember that the best time to buy anything is usually before you’re in desperate need. This means that the worst time to buy tires could be when you delayed checking the tread and examining the sidewalls, and you suffer a tire blowout on the side of the road. Without the ability to shop around and wait for the best time to buy tires, you will ultimately spend more out of an urgent need to replace your damaged tires.

Tips for buying new tires

Robbins urges drivers to focus more on buying the right set of tires for their vehicle, personal preferences and individual driving habits than saving money on tires. This will ensure optimal tire performance, lifespan and safety. In addition, you’ll want to:

  • Make sure you actually need to buy new tires. With a quick visual inspection, you should be able to see excessive tread wear, damage to sidewalls, discoloration or bulging.
  • Buy a full set of matching tires. When you find the best time to buy tires, buy a whole set instead of replacing just the tire or tires that are worn or damaged.
  • Check your spare tire. Buying new tires is the perfect time to have your spare professionally checked out and, if necessary, replaced as well.
  • Maintain your new tires by regularly checking for proper inflation, or else you might find yourself shopping for new tires again!

Used tires vs. new tires

Bridgestone strongly advises against purchasing used tires because of the known safety concerns. A damaged, improperly repaired or used tire can cause a wide range of incidents that can not only total a vehicle, but cause injuries. Even minor damage to a tire can cause serious problems, including tread separation and sidewall blowout. Here are the tires car experts buy for their own vehicles.

Where can you buy tires?

New tires can be purchased from many different places, from dealerships to AAA locations, big-box stores, local auto body shops and online retailers. It’s best to find a local retailer you trust and have a good relationship with, because tire and automotive care is critical to safe driving. They can also help you understand what the numbers on your tires mean.

The best retailers for tires

While prices and specials will vary from retailer to retailer, these are consistently the best places to go for great tires at the best prices:

  • Costco
  • Sam’s Club
  • Discount Tires
  • Tire Rack. The internet tire giant has relationships with local independent tire centers that will accept shipment of your new tires and perform installation at a pre-negotiated rate.

FAQ

When should you buy tires?

The best time to buy tires is before you are in desperate need of them. This will allow you to shop around, wait for holiday specials and get the best deal possible on tires. Waiting too long to replace your tires is one of the driving mistakes too many drivers make.

Do tire prices go up in winter?

It all depends on the retailer. While some will have winter sales on winter tires, others will see the surge in demand as a time to actually increase prices.

When should I buy all-season tires?

According to Bridgestone, all-season tires offer the average driver a perfect blend of capabilities that provide acceptable performance in wet and dry conditions, and even traction in snowy conditions, meaning there is never a bad time to buy all-season tires.

Now that you know the best time to buy tires, check out the best time to buy a house.

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Jeff Bogle
Jeff Bogle is an Iris Award-winning photographer, avid traveler, and English football fanatic who regularly covers travel, culture, cars, health, business, the environment, and more for Reader's Digest. Jeff has also written for Parents Magazine, Esquire, PBS, and Good Housekeeping, among other publications. He is the proud dad of teen daughters. You can follow his adventures on Instagram and Twitter @OWTK.