Next time you are in the market for new tires, consider your dealership.

While that connection may not come to mind immediately, it probably should. Auto dealers are in the vehicle business, both selling and servicing them, so it's hardly a reach that dealers would sell and service the only items on your vehicle that actually contact the road.

Competitive on price with aftermarket tire stores, dealers also offer every service you can find in the aftermarket. Dealers stock a big selection of new tires from numerous tiremakers. Technicians at dealerships know the vehicles their dealership sells because that's what the techs usually work on. They have access to the latest technical and service bulletins and know what tires those vehicles should - and shouldn't - have. And when techs handle any repairs or servicing, including basic lubrication and oil changes, tire condition always gets checked.

Rotation and proper size

Tire rotation is recommended every 6,000 miles or so to extend tire life by helping prevent uneven wear. It's especially necessary in front-wheel drive vehicles because those tires handle a vehicle's steering and acceleration, which means front tires wear faster. Dealers also avoid side-to-side or "cross" tire rotation when their experience shows that the practice causes the vehicles their dealership sells to pull to one side.

There are so many types and sizes of tires today, including p-metric sizes, it's easy to make a mistake and buy tires that shouldn't be on a particular vehicle. And the wrong tires can be a safety issue, especially on larger wheels that give tires less space to do their jobs. That's why certified, trained dealer technicians make sure the vehicles they handle receive the right tires.

Alignment and balancing

Misaligned wheels mean poorer handling and tires that wear out faster. Motorists should have a vehicle's wheels aligned and balanced about once a year. If you haven't had this done recently, it's a good idea to do it soon because there should be fewer potholes that can misalign a recently aligned vehicle now.

When dealer techs do alignments and balancing, they put your car on rollers to simulate real-world performance and use equipment that measures lateral and radial force variations on tires. It's important to take these variations into account because proper alignment and balancing ensures that the finely tuned suspensions of many newer cars - as well as the wheels and tires - continue to work as they should.