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2005 Toyota Highlander tires

I purchased a 2005 Toyota Highlander new which now has just 18,000 miles on it. I just had to replace all four tires. The tires were rotated annually and wore evenly. Is it normal to replace tires this soon and with so little mileage? Who decides what tire to sell the vehicle with…the dealer or the manufacturer? If the vehicle was sold to me with cheap tires do I have any recourse?

Well, for one, the tires are put on at the factory and the stock tires that come with new cars are often pretty crummy. Your recourse is to buy better ones when you replace them.

This vehicle is basically just an overgrown front wheel drive car, and that kind of suspension and drive train does tend to run through tires a little faster. Also, make sure you’re rotating the tires based on the mileage suggested in the owner’s manual. Since these days most rotations only move the tires front-to-back, if you’re rotating too frequently, you’ll just be rotating them back to where they were before, which defeats the purpose of rotating them in the first place!

Stock tires do seem to be on the low end of scale on most new vehicles. You rarely see Michelins on new vehicles. The names on the tires are often unheard of and are not name brands. I had a new 2002 GMC Envoy that wore out a new set at the 6K mark. They were the “run flat” tires and I paid extra for them. They rode fairly rough from the day the vehicle was delivered. My wife’s Pontiac Vibe needed a new set on the front at around the 12K mark. The rear tires looked almost new. I now specify which tires I want or the deal is off. The dealers can install any brand that you want.

If you went to a tire dealer that sold that brand of tire, they would have done an adjustment and you would have paid less for the replacement tires if they had the treadwear warranty that covered wearout for more miles than it took to wear them out. Your vehicle came with the paperwork on your tires.

The vehicle manufacturer makes the decsion as to which brand and model of tire is mounted on the vehicle at the factory. The prime motivators for their choice of tire are a low price, a soft ride, a low price, good gas mileage, a low price, a low level of road noise, and…did I mention a low price for the tire?

The result of the manufacturer’s factors for vetting of tires is that long tread life is rarely–if ever–a priority. And, while this tendency toward cheap tires is widespread among car manufacturers, I have observed that Toyota in particular seems to use tires that wear out very quickly. The typical tire used on new Toyotas can be counted on to need replacement in the 20k–22k mile range.

What may have made your tires wear out even sooner is the probable use to which they were put. On average, your Highlander has been driven about 4,500 miles per year. This implies that the vehicle has been driven in mostly local driving, and believe it or not, that type of use does wear out your tires more quickly than highway driving. All of that local driving means that there has been lots of turning, as opposed to the “straight-ahead” wear that occurs during highway travel. The more turns that a tire has to make, the more wear that the tread will experience.

It is good that you rotated those tires annually, but I also hope that you are using the “Severe Service” maintenance schedule for your car. If you are servicing it on the basis of odometer mileage, rather than on the basis of elapsed time, then the mechanical systems are being subjected to excess wear and tear from inadequate maintenance.

But, to return to the original topic–Toyota makes very good quality vehicles, but I find their choices for OEM tires to be appalling.

No matter what vehicle I’ve ever bought…the OEM tires NEVER lasted more then 30k miles. Subsequent tire purchases usually lasted 50k+.

The only OEM tires that ever lasted a long time were the ones on my wifes Accords. They were Michelin…and lasted 70k+. We just replaced the tires on her Lexus and she got less then 40k miles.

Some reasons for rapid wear are poor alignment, poor inflation habits or driving conditions. 18k is shorter. Usually OEM tires last around 30k-40k if all-season.

The manufacturer chooses the tires usually to give the quietest and most comfortable ride possible while delivering the highest MPG. Tread life is usually not a top consideration in the equation.

The only OEM tires that seemeded to last for me and it was painful were ones called Bridgestone RE92a’s. My wife had these 160 rated (very low) tires on her Legacy and managed to get 50k with plenty of tread left. The problem was they had poor wet traction and turned hazardous in winter conditions. Decent all-season tires though on dry roads and quiet for an ultra low profile tire.

I have never seen a car manufacturer use something else but a name brand OEM tire. Not sure what you are talking about. Used cars they place no name brands on usually though at dealers.

I also suffered through about 30,000 miles with Bridgestone Potenza RE-92 tires.
Awful on wet roads, downright dangerous on wintery road surfaces. As andrew implied, the relatively long tread life on these tires was an additional curse.

As soon as one of them had a puncture, I didn’t even try to find out if it was repairable. I used this as my excuse to ditch those crappy tires and “upgrade” to cheaper B.F. Goodrich tires, which are superior in every way.

"Honey, someone just slashed all our tires on our new Subaru. We need new ones."
Also, look what Mazda is putting on their CX-7 suv:

Of course they are “name brand” tires. However, they are name brand tires with very poor tread wear ratings, and other poor characteristics which may include factors such as poor winter traction, poor resistance to hydroplaning, etc.

Take a look at the ratings on the Bridgestone Dueler that Mazda is placing on their CX-7 model.
In a post several spaces below this post, bscar has provided a link to the Tire Rack ratings of that particular crappy name brand tire.

I do believe the RE92 tires would actually be a step UP from those tires.


Maybe this is part of the reason there’s so much safety equipment on newer vehicles. They have to compensate for the crap tires they install.