Dear Car Talk:
I'm a 70-year-old woman with a 2016 BMW 228i xDrive coupe, base model. The current tires are the Continental run flats that came with the car.
After 28,000 miles, the front tires are bald. The rears still have some tread, but I need to replace the tires and have a few questions.
How do I determine if I have "staggered" tires or not? I assume not, but the guy at the tire store asked.
I've always liked Michelins, and they have both Y-rated tires and V-rated tires. Which do I need?
Do you still recommend rotating the tires? Some places will do it for free if I go back there regularly. Only front to back, or cross them in an X pattern?
Sorry for so many questions! I'm grateful for your reply. -- Caren
I'm tempted to do what my kids do to me, Caren. When I text them a series of questions, they just answer the last one and pretend they never saw the others.
First of all, you're right that you need four new tires. You have an all-wheel drive car, and in order to avoid doing harm to your center differential, you need four tires that are all the same diameter. Worn-out tires will have a smaller diameter. So you need four new ones now.
How do you know if you have staggered tires? The easiest way is to look at them. On the sidewall, you'll see the tire's measurements. The number to look for is the tire's width. That's a number given in millimeters like "195" or "225" and you'll find it inside a string that looks something like "P225/55R18."
If your rear tires are wider than your front tires, your tires are considered staggered, and you'll need to buy two wider tires for the rear wheels. But you don't have staggered tires (we looked it up) on your base model 228i.
The letter (Y, V, etc.) is the tire's speed rating. And unless you're a closet Lightning McQueen, Caren, you don't need to spring for Y- or V-rated tires. Y-rated tires are good up to speeds of 186 mph. V-rated tires are good up to 149 mph.
While there's no harm in having tires that are rated for a much higher speed than you'll ever drive, you'll pay extra for those exotic tires. An H-rated tire (130 mph) will be more than adequate for your purposes. And if you like Michelins, they make very good tires, in our opinion. But you can buy anything that's the same size as the tires you're replacing.
Do a little research, though. Check Consumer Reports or Tire Rack and find yourself a highly rated tire in your size rather than just accepting whatever the local tire shop has lying around.
Once you get your new tires, we do recommend rotating them. Especially if it's free!
Your current front tires wore out faster than your rear tires. That's typically what happens because front tires do most of the braking and all of the steering. But because you have all-wheel drive, you now have to buy four new tires even though only two of your tires are completely shot.
If you rotate your next set back to front every 5,000 or 7,500 miles, they'll wear out more evenly, and the whole set will last a little longer. And as long as they're not staggered, you can move them front to back or crisscross them. Let the spirit move you.
Happy motoring, Caren.