Smart Motors: Winter’s on its way. Are your tires going to last through the season?


Jim Geisking

Geisking Public Relations

[email protected]


MADISON, WI – It raining and you’re in your car waiting for the traffic light you’re stopped at to turn green. After a few moments it does. You step off the brake and on to the gas pedal. Your tires spin on the wet pavement, but it takes a second for them to catch traction and propel you forward. You cringe. Is this a sign you need new tires?

If you’re like most people, you hate the thought of vehicle maintenance and upkeep. You just want to get in the driver’s seat and go, not worry about pesky things like oil changes, engine tune-ups and purchasing new tires! What do you know about it? It’s a completely foreign concept to you and you’re always afraid of making the wrong – and possibly very expensive – decision.

The good news is that a little know-how can go a long way when it comes to replacing a set of tires. The simplest thing you can do is ask a qualified and trusted auto shop service technician what he or she would recommend.

“Excuse the pun, but we would never steer you in the wrong direction,” saysRob Jordan, Smart Motors’ Operations Manager. “If you give us a few basics about your driving habits, we can help you make the right choice for your needs.”

Jordan says that most tires need to be replaced about every four to six years, although high mileage and prolonged exposure to the elements will shorten your tire’s life expectancy. Regardless of when you need to replace them, you basically have a choice between three options: all-season, summer (a.k.a. high performance), and winter tires.

“For most drivers in the Madison area, a good set of all-season tires are the way to go,” says Jordan.

All-season tires come in S- and T-speed ratings. They grip the road well under most weather conditions and are long-lasting. They are the most common tires found on mainstream cars and SUVs. Truck owners have a similar option with either all-season or all-terrain truck tires.

Driving enthusiasts who prefer sports cars and performance sedans are likely to forego all-season radials and instead opt for summer or high performance tires.

“Summer tires are excellent for dry conditions,” saysJordan. “They handle beautifully as long as there aren’t any adverse weather conditions to contend with. But they certainly aren’t for everybody.”

Jordan recommends that summer tire owners should also invest in a set of winter tires if they want to drive their vehicle year-round. He says that what winter tires lack in performance handling they more than make up for in safety in rain, sleet and snow.

“People who live in rural areas and have a long commute to work on roads that often get covered in snow and ice should probably swap out summer or even all-season tires with winter tires before the first snowflake falls to be on the safe side,” says Jordan. “They shouldn’t really think of it as an added expense. It’s an investment. Switching between two sets of treads means both sets of tires will last longer, which could save you money in the long run.”

Aside from these different types of treads, Jordan says it’s important to know the size tire you need so your vehicle’s handling and safety isn’t compromised by ill-fitting radials. You can locate your vehicle’s recommended tire size by consulting your owner’s manual, or it’s also printed on the decal located inside the driver’s side door jamb.

“Most people don’t know what they’re looking at when they see the cryptic set of letters and numbers indicating their tire size,” saysJordan“It will look something like ‘P215/60R16.’ But as long as you have that information, you can order tires anywhere.”

Lastly, Jordansays you need to decide how many miles you want your tire to last. You may have an option between 45,000-mile tires and 80,000-mile tires. The 80,000 set is almost certainly going to run you a higher price, but if you can afford it you can afford to not have to worry about replacing your tires again for quite some time.

About Smart Motors

Smart Motors was founded in 1908 by O.D. Smart and is one of the nation’s oldest automotive dealerships, is the mid-west’s largest hybrid dealer and one of Wisconsin’s largest volume Toyota dealers. Located at 5901 Odana Road, Smart Motors is Wisconsin’s only two-time President’s Cabinet Award recipient from Toyota Motor Sales for superior customer service & sales volume.  For more information visit