Select Tires For A Street Rod

High-performance tires may sacrifice longevity for handling.

The right tires can make all the difference in the acceleration and handling of your street rod. Tires that are specifically designed for racing may not be the best choice if you drive your street rod every day. Likewise, if you want to seriously test the potential of your vehicle, all-weather tires may hinder performance. Select tires for your street rod that not only fit to the vehicle’s wheels, but that also deliver the type of handling and longevity that you desire.


1. Measure the width of your street rod’s wheels. Do not confuse the width of the wheel with the diameter of the wheel. The width is measured as the distance between the front-face and back-face of the wheel. Your street rod’s wheel width will narrow down the range of tires that are suitable for the machine.

2. Measure the diameter of your street rod’s wheels. Treat the front-face of your wheel as if it were a circle, and measure from side to side, going through the center of the wheel. If, for example, your wheel is 17 inches in diameter, you will only be able to use 17-inch tires.

3. Analyze your driving habits. If you use your street rod for everyday driving, you need to select a tire that can handle multiple weather conditions. If your street rod is strictly for racing and performance use, you should select a tire built for speed and handling. For example, if you drive in snowy climates, pick a tire that has deep tread coupled with metal road spikes in the rubber. A climate that is wetter will need a tire with deep tread carved in a “V” shape around the tire.

4. Calculate the approximate number of miles you plan to drive each year in your street rod. If you do not plan to drive the vehicle very often, you can choose a tire that, despite its lower mileage life, delivers maximum performance. The mileage ratings are on the label of the tire when you are choosing it in the store or online.

5. Research the “load weight” of your street rod. You must select a tire that can handle the “load weight” of your street rod so that your chosen tires do not fail during normal use. The “load weight” is often found in the owner’s manual of the vehicle, and will be available from the vehicle’s manufacturer.

6. Take the information you have gathered about your tire preference to a tire salesperson in a store of your choice. For example, based on the preceding steps, you might inform a tire store that you need a high-performance tire that can last at least 40,000 miles in a wet climate. Based on your information, you can narrow down the brand and tire choices for your street rod.