I need to buy new tires for the fisrt time

I am a young female and this is my first time buying new tires for my car a 2005 Honda Element. I would like some advise on what to look for and what a good price range is for quality tires. I called a got a few quotes from some local tire retailers and they were all for uniroyal, lamanz, continental brands…all supposedly from 40,000 to 60,000 miles…and all around the prices of $405 to $600 for a new set. Being that I dont really know anything about tires, none of this really meant anything to me. So I would like to know what you guys think is a good quality tire that will last me a while and also not brake the bank? Thanks!


I checked the tire size for your Element. The original tires were 215/70R16, but you ought to check yourself. Certain fancier Element models use larger sizes as part of an option package.

The prices sound about right, since that size tire typically sells for about $100-$125 each. Note that some quotes, the low ones, might be only for the tires themselves but other quotes include the mandatory valve stems, balancing, disposal fee and tax. You can’t go just by a lowball figure.

Which ones to get? Shrug. Some people obsess over finding the “best” tire for their vehicles, the perfect match. Others simply get whatever reputable brand, middle grade, is on sale. That stategy has always worked well for me.

If still in doubt, keep it simple get the same ones that came with your car.

If it was me, I’d go to Costco or Sam’s and get the tires that fit the car. I think you’ll have a better chance at getting good tires at a good price.

Most tires are not made to do everything well. There’s usually compromises involved so most tires will do most things at least fairly well.

I would think about what type of driving you do and the conditions you face on average and base the tire purchase on that.
Each tire is assigned a UTOG rating and this determines treadwear, temperature rating, and traction.
Treadwear is assigned a number (400, 500, etc.) and the higher the number the longer the treadwear. Temp is given an A, B, or C as is traction, with A being the best.

If one puts a lot of miles on each year with a lot of highway driving then one might want a tire with a high treadwear number, etc. A lot of snow and rain slick roads or curvy roads might lead to a tire with a softer compound and better traction, etc.

You can go to tirerack.com and much of this will be explained there very simply. Depending on the type of tire you want you may find a great tire on their site. Tirerack will ship the tires (about 12 bucks a tire) to an authorized installer near you who will charge you a fee for mounting/balancing. With some tires, the tirerack price may be much cheaper even after factoring in shipping/mounting than the cost at a local tire store for the same tire. It depends.
(Tirerack is quick; they usually have the tires to you in 2 days.)

Maybe you don’t want to get this technical about some round rubber things, but the UTOG rating is something other than price that I always figure in with a tire purchase.

Everybody will have their own opinion on tire brands but I have had the best luck with Goodyear and thats all I buy now. They have various qualities available with a good blend of service and price. They also usually know what they are talking about. Avoid Sears, farm stores, Wal Marts etc. in my humble opinion.

lmontoya, I’m going to suggest you check out the tire rack at their website: www.tirerack.com if you want to learn a lot about what’s good and what’s bad. They survey people who purchase tires from them for opinions, as well as perform their own tests on tires.

For me personally, I find Michelin to consistently make the highest quality tires, and I also find that they perform well over the duration of their life. They are also usually the most expensive, but you tend to get what you pay for when it comes to tires. If you drive in snowy conditrions consider a Michelin LTX M/S and if you want something more affordable and spend more time in warm climates consider a Goodyear Fortera Triple Tred. Avoid Cooper, General, Firestone and off-brands like the plague.

Good luck.

Most tire for your vehicle will last 40k-60k or longer dependent on your care for tires(rotation) and type of driving.

There is a post stating it does not matter. It really does on tire selection if you encounter snow and ice. This is where tire selection becomes more critical as the term “all-season” is a real loose term.

I will say that Kumho and Cooper tires are relatively inexpensive and good performers. The key is to shop around. You will find a swing of $400-$600 for the same exact make model of tires.

You’re smart for wanting to do your homework first. As other posters have mentioned, www.tirerack.com is a good source of info. I plan on ordering some tires from them for my 93 Caprice. For some reason, white walls are getting hard to find :).

I bought my last set of tires (Uniroyal Cross Country) from BJs. The tires are quiet on the road and have enough tread for light off-roading in my 2000 Blazer. The tire price included mounting, balancing, Road Hazard, and lifetime tire rotation. I went back last week for a rotation and was impressed by the service. The tires were individually balanced and the tech used a torque wrench to tighten down the lug nuts. Note - improperly or over tightened lug nuts can cause brake rotor warping ($$).

Some places might seem to have good tire prices but charge for mounting, balancing, valve stems, tire disposal, Road Hazard, etc. These charges add up and can be significant. As for Road Hazrd, if it’s included in the price (like BJs) I’ll take it, if it’s additional I’ll turn it down.

Get an itemized estimate for the tires before going forward with the installation.

Good luck,

Ed B.

I, too, suggest tirerack.com. Great site!! You can read reviews and see ratings on different tires. They’re really convenient and easy to work with. Shipping is fast and prices are good.

I ordered some Bridgestone Potenzas from them, and I am very happy with the tires.

Start at tirerack.com and look at some old Consumer Reports issues about All Season Tires. I have been buying my tires from Costco recently, due to single pricing and their relatively fast service. The Sam’s Stores are so much more slower when you have to go back to balancing and rotation that I lean towards Costco every time. I have also had Costco not bat an eye when I needed a pro-rated adjustment due to poor tread wear, whereas other stores will do nearly everything they can to blame the driver on this issue.

The last set I got were BFG Traction T/A’s for my wife’s Subaru. We place a high value on ice and snow performance, and they did well this winter for us. They seem to be a very good tire (60K tread wear warranty) and don’t break the bank. They are also available thru Walmart and Sam’s, I believe, as special order.

If you are happy with your existing tires, you can also choose to find an exact brand and model replacement.

As many have noted, TireRack is an excellent resource to educate yourself about tires.

When you compare prices, make sure all prices include mounting and balancing, which can run up to $20 a tire.

When the time comes to buy, if you are a Costco or Sams member, you will find that they both carry a limited selection of quality tires (i.e. they have done the homework for you) at prices that are hard to beat. Failing that, I have never heard anything but positive feedback on tires from Les Schaub (spelling?).

Some shops fill the tires with nitrogen. That is a good thing, but not necessary, and worth only a few cents per tire if they want to charge you for it. If a shop wants to charge several dollars per tire to fill them with nitrogen rather than ‘air’, don’t do business with that shop.

Also, look at the treadwear on your tires. If they are uniformly worn, you don’t need an alignment now. If they are worn more toward the inside or outside edge, an alignment now will make the new tires last longer.

If you’ll provide us with the type of driving and area of the country, we can recommend some specific brands and models.


Treadwear ratings have been discussed here. I shop using treadwear ratings, too.

Please note that each tire manufacturer uses their own ratings to compare tires in their own product line-up. A 460 rating used by brand A may not wear as long, under the same conditions, as a 460 rating given to a tire in brand B’s line, for example.

The idea here is to use the ratings to compare tires within a given brand, but not to compare tires from one manufacturer to another.

Thank you for your time.

You need to rank your desires. Include wear resistance, road noise, speed rating, and ride comfort. Then review the ratings at tirerack.com to see what tires fit your criteria. We can help you sort through th einformation if you like.