So, you want to purchase new tires. Maybe a mechanic told you that your tires were worn out, or maybe you picked up a nail on your way to work. Whatever the reason, you need new tires. But if you’re not sure where to begin and what you should know, we’re here to help. At Cooper we know that buying tires is a confusing and sometimes stressful process, so we’ve put together a list of questions that can help guide you in the process to finding the tires that are right for your needs.


Do I Need New Tires?

Are my tires too worn? The Penny Test and other considerations.

If you are wondering if your tires are worn but don’t know how to check them yourself, the easiest way is to perform the penny test. The tread on your tires should be more than 2/32 of an inch deep. To check, insert a U.S. penny into the tread of your tires with Lincoln’s head facing down. If the top of Lincoln’s head is covered by tread, there is at least a minimum acceptable amount of tread. If the top of his head is visible at any point, your tires are worn out and need to be replaced.

However, even before the tread is worn, tires should be regularly inspected for cuts, cracks, splits, punctures, bulges and uneven wear patterns. Uneven tread wear can include more wear on one tread edge than the other, a rippled pattern of high and low wear or even exposed steel wire within the tire. These are serious conditions that need to be checked by a tire professional, who can help you to determine if a new tire is needed.

Be sure to check the age of your tires too. Cooper® recommends that all tires, including full-size spares, that are 10 or more years from their date of manufacture, be replaced with new tires. In some cases, a vehicle manufacturer may have a recommendation for tire replacement earlier than 10 years. If so, you should follow those vehicle manufacturer's recommendations for their vehicle.

Check Your Tread Depth

Tire Size

Know the size of tires that your vehicle requires.

So, you’ve decided you need new tires. Much like shoes, tires come in many shapes and sizes, and it is critically important that you know the right size of tires for your vehicle. Finding your tire size is fairly easy. You can find the right tire size for your vehicle by using our online tool or you can find the tire size by consulting the information placard which can be found on the driver’s side doorjamb, glove box or fuel door. Another place to find this can be in the vehicle manufacturers’ manual.

The placard contains not only your tire size, but all technical specifications relating to your tire including the load carrying capacity (the maximum weight or load allowed for a tire), speed rating (the maximum speed allowed for a tire) and recommended inflation pressures.

The new tires must have a maximum load carrying capacity equal to or greater than the maximum load carrying capacity specified on the tire placard on the vehicle. In addition, refer to the tire placard for the recommended inflation pressures of the tires. These pressures must be maintained as a minimum. Do not exceed the maximum pressure indicated on the tire sidewall. Tires which are loaded beyond their maximum allowable loads will build up excessive heat that may result in sudden tire destruction. If the vehicle tire placard and/or owner's manual specify a particular speed rating for the tires, the new tires must have the same or higher speed rating to maintain vehicle speed capability.

If you don’t have the information handy to determine your tire size, our tire guide can at least help you narrow down the choices by car/minivan, SUV/CUV or truck/pickup truck. And you should always consult a tire professional to have all your questions answered before making any tire purchase.

Know Your Tire Size


Determine your needs based on the weather.

In this step you can significantly narrow choices by determining if you want dedicated winter tires, dedicated summer tires (usually for sports and high performance cars and are not meant for cold weather or snow), or all-season tires.

Some tips to determining the difference between all-season and dedicated winter tires: if you live in an area that sees all four seasons, and the winter snowfall is light, all-season tires might be a great option for you. However, if you live in an area that routinely experiences extremely cold temperatures and/or heavy snowfall, you should consider having a set of dedicated winter tires. Learn more about winter tires here.


Driving Style

Think about your driving style.

There are many factors to consider when selecting tires to fit your needs, such as ride comfort, handling, traction, performance and price, to name a few. The options can be overwhelming, but you can narrow your choices significantly by identifying the factors most important to you.

Some typical questions to ask:.

  • Do you have a long commute or take a lot of road trips? If so, you’ll want to consider the expected mileage of the tires, ride comfort, fuel efficiency and if the tires are quiet.
  • Do you have a sports car or do a lot of spirited driving? Tires that focus on handling and are developed for high performance cars may be what you need.
  • Do you drive in a lot of rain? You may want to consider the wet braking distance of the tires.
  • Do you do a significant amount of off-road driving? If you only occasionally drive off-road, say down a dirt trail to go camping, then all-terrain tires might be a good option. However, if you spend a significant amount of time crawling over rocks and through mud tackling adventure, then dedicated off-road tires may be what you need.
  • Consider the mileage warranty. Mileage warranties can be an important consideration when comparing tire options. Learn more about our mileage warranties here.


Driving Style

Find a Retailer

Find your Cooper Tires retailer.

Now that you have done your research and hopefully found the right tires for you, it’s time to find the right tire retailer. Cooper® has certified retailers that can be found in your area by using the Find a Retailer tool.

Be sure to ask if services such as mounting and balancing of the tires or routine tire rotations are included in the price they quote you. And remember, if the tires you selected are not immediately available, you can always have the tires ordered. It may even be helpful to call ahead, if you know what tires you need.

When visiting your local tire retailer, being prepared by following the above steps helps ensure you are getting the right tires for you, and that is what matters.

Visit a Tire Retailer


Maintain Your Tires.

Now that you are a new proud owner of a new set of tires, it is important to maintain them. The four tires on your vehicle are the only parts to come in contact with and keep you connected to the road. For safety and good performance, you must properly care for, maintain and inspect your tires. Here at Cooper® we want you to maintain your tires in order to receive optimum performance, to get the full life from your tires, as well as to help keep you safe. For more information on proper tire maintenance and tips, take a look at our guide.

Some final thoughts:

  • New is best! - Cooper recommends that you never purchase or install used tires. Not all tire damage that can lead to tire failure is outwardly visible. Such damage can eventually lead to tire failure. Used tires, especially tires with an unknown history, should be considered dangerous.
  • Buying all four is the safest! - When replacing tires on a vehicle, it is recommended and preferred that all four tires be replaced at the same time. However if you can only purchase two new tires at a time, the new pair should always be installed on the rear axle for both front and rear-wheel drive vehicles. Many people assume that new tires should go on the front, especially if they have a front-wheel drive vehicle; however, this is not correct.


Maintain Your Tires