Do OEM recommended tires make sense? Audi "AO" tires. 2018 Q5


Yes! OE (Original Equipment) tires are different than Aftermarket tires. They were designed to the vehicle manufacturer’s specifications, and the things a vehicle manufacturer wants in a tire is different than what a normal consumer would want in a tire. Usually this means the tire is designed for better rolling resistance because fuel economy is something an OEM is interested in, and they get that by sacrificing wear and/or grip, because an OEM doesn’t provide a treadwear warranty on the tires (with a few exceptions.)

On the other hand, a normal consumer wants a tire that wears well (with a few exceptions). Also, a consumer might have a different take on the ride harshness vs handling crispness tradeoff.

But if someone is happy with the tires that came on the car, why not use the OE tire? But if someone wants a different compromise, then search through online reviews for what works for you. Just remember that treadwear, grip, and fuel economy are tradeoffs as is ride harshness vs handling crispness.

CapriRacer hit the nail on the head, it all comes down to personal preference.

One vehicle came with wonderful “sticky” tires that in dry weather gripped like a gorilla and could easily handle 125+ mph but wore out well under 20,000 miles and cost a mint to replace…
But since I drive in all sorts of weather, don’t typically drive at 125+ MPH and didn’t feel like raiding my kids’ college fund on annual replacement I switched to an alternative that better fit my needs.
Similar “real world” performance, half the cost, more than twice the life and interestingly made by the same tire company.

Here’s the problem I have with that. Almost every single vehicle I’ve owned…I’ve bought aftermarket tires that were NOT the OEM recommended tire and they easily outperformed the OEM tire in every category (Handling, braking, gas mileage, ride comfort). Some were night and day differences. More then once I replaced the OEM tire long before the tire wore out because how bad the tire was. The Bridgestone OEM tires that came on my Pathfinders were total crap after less then 10k miles. Replaced them with either Cooper or Michelin tires and far far better performance in every category.

The other problem I have is…there’s not just one OEM tire. My Highlander came with at least 5 different tires from 2 different manufacturers. It was the luck of the draw as to which tire you got.

I really don’t know how auto manufacturers could get their design of OEM tires so wrong so many times.

+1 !!
The Bridgestone Re-92 tires that came from the factory on my '02 Outback were crap from day one. They were so incredibly bad on winter road surfaces that I opted–for the first time–for Michelin winter tires. And, I wound-up replacing those crapola Bridgestones long before they were worn out. The replacement BF Goodrich tires were a bit noisier, but they had better traction and better handling. The ride quality seemed to be the same.

The OEM Continentals that came on my '11 Outback were essentially impossible to balance properly. There were so many owner complaints that Subaru forced dealerships to install Hunter Roadforce balancing equipment, and that helped a lot. Those Contis were never very good, but at least Roadforce balancing made them a bit easier to live with. However, just like with the Bridgestones on my previous car, I opted to replace the Continentals long before the tread was worn out. The replacement Michelin Defenders were far superior to the Contis in every way. When it was time to replace the Defenders, I chose Michelin Premier tires, and I like them even a bit more than the Defenders.

OEM tires can be decent, however. My father’s '63 Plymouth came with Goodyear Power Cushion tires, and they didn’t need to be replaced for ~40k miles. His next car–a '66 Ford Galaxie–came with BF Goodrich Silvertown tires which were worn out by 16k miles. The tread was worn evenly across the width of the tread, so it wasn’t an alignment problem. Those Silvertowns just had very short tread life.

If I could afford a car like that I would have traded it in before the tires wore out.
If I couldn’t afford a car like that the lease would have run out anyway.

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Here’s the problem I have with your “that”. Sometimes the manufacturer considers cost as one of the most important factors. They develop minimum specs for tire performance and then buy from the lowest bidder that meets those specs. Often they buy from two or more manufacturers simply to have a backup supplier in case there is a problem with one of them (can you say “strike”).

The minimum specs for handling, braking, ride comfort and fuel economy may differ a lot between Nissan/Toyota and Audi. Since an Audi costs so much, they can afford to have higher standards. For the average vehicle, there can be a lot of tires that easily exceed the minimum specs, but for high end vehicles, that market narrows considerably.

But even in the high end, there are equal or better options, especially after the vehicle is a few years old and tire technology has marched on. In addition, the customer may have specific needs. For example, an audiophile or musician who installs a $10,000 audio system in their vehicle may want the absolute quietist tires available regardless of any of the other specifications. And don’t get me started on the off-roaders who buy a brand new vehicle and immediately stuff $20,000 worth of suspension mods, wheels and tires in the first month/100 miles.

I have OE Goodyear Assurance All Season tires in my 2017 Accord EX-L. There is plenty of tread life left at over 46,000 miles. I probably will not replace them with the same tires because they are noisy. I’ll look at on line reviews from CR, Tire Rack, and any other third party reviewer that I can find. I like the Tire Rack reviews because they are typically a comparison of about five tires in the class I’m interested in. If the top two tires are roughly equivalent, I’ll usually pick the less expensive one. I also look at the customer reviews, but I wonder how they can compare the tires they have to the myriad of tires they’ve never owned to get their ratings. I suppose the owners can compare to the tires they had 50,000 or 100,000 miles ago, but memory gets iffy past the tires I just replaced.

plus, any new tire is going to feel better than the worn out one’s that they have been driving on. but I guess some reviews are better than none.

Yeah, but my tires have been very noisy since day one and still have an amazing amount of tread left. I think they will easily last another year. That’s OK, just turn the radio up. :blush:

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That could be, but that’s not CapriRacer’s argument.

Notice that there are no tires labled Subaru spec or Nissan spec in any tire manucturers offering.

But there are Audi spec, BMW spec, Mercedes spec and Porsche spec tires from various European tire manufacturers.

So why would anyone be surprised that any Nissan or Subaru came with 3, 4, or 5 brands of tires? They clearly don’t spend the time and money like the high end Euro brands do so it isn’t a surprise that there are better tire choices for these cars.

Just for my own education—does Audi really recommend a specific tire, or is it the dealer? Perhaps buried in my owners manual Ford might recommend a specific brand&line of tire, but I doubt it. I know I do not like the tires on it when delivered. They rate in the 7s in nearly every category on tire rack. Looked them up when I discovered how squirrelly they were in the rain. I plan to keep them another year or so then replace with a better tire.

Audi doesn’t have any remarks in the owners manual that I have ever seen. When you look at the tire sidewall for size, make and model of tire, there will be a mark AO indicating Audi spec. When you shop for the size on Tire Rack, there will be matching sizes from, say, Continental and Michelin and Dunlop other Euro brands that show maybe 2 or 3 or even 4 identical sizes. One with no extra comment, one with Audi spec, maybe one with Mercedes OE, maybe one with BMW OE. As CapriRacer and I both posted, the tires are different. If you like what you had, why not continue?

One BMW project I worked on, the car spec’d tires from Michelin, Dunlop and Continental. All met BMW specs. All rode and handled quite differently. Dunlops were noisy, firm and very grippy. Michelins were quiet, smooth and less grippy (less maximum handling). The Contis were in the middle of everything. All OE spec but very different performance.

What Audi (and all the other vehicle manufacturers) do is SPECIFY a tire for their vehicles as they come from the factory. They do NOT recommend a tire beyond that (with a few exceptions). What we are discussing is HOW that is interpreted by various people including vehicle dealers.

And just an FYI, just because a tire doesn’t appear to have a mark indicating it is THEE OE tire, that doesn’t mean that there isn’t one (a mark or a specific tire). Sometimes the marks are small and inconspicuous. For example (the one I am familiar with) Ford requires a number appear on the sidewall. It is usually on a small plate about 1/2" high. I am aware of other vehicle manufacturers that require some sort of designation as well, it’s just that SOME of the marks are quite visible and easy to identify. Some, not so much!

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Tire design is a lot more important for a higher end sports car then it is for your everyday commuter car.

Just because there’s more than one tire manufacturer that comes on certain models doesn’t mean they are not designed for that specific vehicle.

The Goodyear Assurance tires on my Accord must share a significant number of features with the non-OE Assurance tires. How close are the non-OE tires to the OE tires? I imagine that it varies, but at some point, it seems like they are completely different tires and should be branded that way.

Make sure they are foam lined. For that nice ride.

I was thinking of getting a Mustang Mach 1with the Handling Package (for 6-speed manual cars only). This adds 19x10.5-inch front wheels and 19x11-inch rear wheels, with Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 summer tires, sized 305/30 front and 315/30 rear. from what I have been reading they wear really quick and are basically a track tire that can be used on the street. I was wondering if you knew of replacement tires in that size that gets a better tread wear. or even an all-season tire. It will be driven in Florida most of the time. I have read the MICHELIN PILOT SPORT 5 TIRE is coming out. any idea if that size will be available.
thanks in advance for any info you can give.

I see this is directed towards me and not a general question for the group.

First, my expertise is in how tires do what they do. I do not have access to any comparisons beyond what is available to anyone with an internet connection. Besides, there are literally hundreds of makes and models of tires, so it is impoosible to keep up. I don’ t even try.

I suggest you go to Tire Rack and look over their reviews.

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Given my screen name is Mustangman…

Why buy a Mach 1 with the Handling Package and then neuter the car with hard, long wearing poor handling, all season tires? And in hard to find expensive sizes as well. Even without the handling package the tires are different sizes but at least they are more common sizes.

Plus, unless you are going to join me at Sebring’s racetrack, handling in Florida is wasted. Flat, straight road, no sweeping turns and most everyone slows way down for even the most minor bend in the road. Seriously, a Corolla on 5 year old 650 treadwear tires would never even squeal.