Quality of Les Schwab tires

Beginning in 1909, The Falls Rubber Company manufactured Falls brand tyres and Evergreen tubes for the fast-growing market of motorised buggies and Model A’s. At that time, Falls was one of the more than 40 companies in the state of Ohio engaged in the rubber business.

For 25 years the company operated a single factory in Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio, near Cleveland. Eventually the Falls brand was applied to inner tubes as well as tyres. One of the unique elements of Falls products was the “vulc-annealed” process used in tyre production. The term was contained in the company logo and referred to a special slowcooling process after curing which prevented Falls tyres and tubes from becoming brittle.

In 1930, The Falls Rubber Company was purchased by The Giant Tire & Rubber Company and The Cooper Corporation, both located in Findlay, Ohio. The firms were joined under a holding company called Master Tire & Rubber Company, but they continued to run separately. Mastercraft was a brand of Falls tyres used by the company since its beginning. Perhaps this strong, merchandisable name was the inspiration for the Master Tire corporate name.

In 1946, Master Tire was changed to Cooper Tire & Rubber Company in recognition of the largest of the company’s three brands. Each brand continued to be marketed separately, although the company consolidated all other operations.

In 1995, the word “Falls” was deleted from the logo and “Mastercraft Tires” became the tradestyle for the brand.

Today, the Mastercraft brand is a rapidly growing product line for the Cooper Tire Company. Targeted to large wholesale distributors and retailers around the world, Mastercraft Tires are becoming well-known for their quality and value.

In the mid-70s, the Mastercraft name was not on the sidewall of Falls tires.

Again, you are right, I am wrong.

Back in the '70s, Arthur Bell, a NYC newspaper reporter, referred to me as “the man who remembers everything”. Fast forward to the 2000s, and two different Deputy Attorneys General for whom I worked used the same words to describe me.

I am “cursed” with the ability to recall virtually everything that I have ever seen or heard, and I frequently wish that I could forget some of it.

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I had no idea what I was up against. I can’t remember if it rained today. When I saw “Tyre” though, I thought of our poor departed brother Mr. Meehan. You must remember him?

Kumho is a decent brand on a budget. Tirerack gave them positive reviews. If that’s not cheap enough, check out Kenda. Asian made but with an excellent reputation among ATV enthusiasts. Distributed by Cooper. CarX sells them, probably other places as well.

I remember Mr. Meehan. At the time I was JRD.

At least one person can remember the OP’s question. Tomjay didn’t asked about bias ply tires from 45 years ago.

Hankook and General are other options, there are few tire manufactures offering 13 and 14 inch tires in the United States.

Yes, like you, I think of Joseph Meehan whenever I see “tyre”. The poor guy succumbed to the physical effects of dementia or Alzheimer’s disease (his obituary wasn’t very specific), but he seemed pretty sharp when he posted in this forum.

May he rest in peace.

Maybe this is a good time for my lecture on tire brands.

Typically a tire manufacturer has a primary brand - usually contained in the name of the corporation. That primary brand usually gets all the bells and whistles and a bulk of the advertising.

They usually have a secondary brand, which doesn’t get the attention to detail that the primary brand does, but is priced lower and is usually a good value. The quality level may or may not be the same as the primary brand.

Some tire manufacturers have an in-house private brand - one they don’t advertise, one that might or might not be of the same quality as the secondary brand, but is sold to dealers at an even lower price.

Some distributors and some tire dealers have their own private brands that they farm out the manufacturing to someone else (In other words, they don’t manufacturer the tire themselves.) These may or may not be made with the same materials the manufacturer usually uses, and may or may not be of the same quality level. It depends on what the tire dealer or distributor wants. These brands may or may not be advertised by the distributor/dealer. The actual manufacturer may change over time - and even within a given timeframe be manufactured by more than one manufacturer.

Then there is the quirk of the same make and model sold to different outlets - say, a tire dealer and a big box retailer. It is possible to manufacture the same tire at different plants, so the materials will be slightly different (and possibly different overall quality) - AND - it is possible to manufacture the same make and model within the same plant with different materials and at different quality levels and send those to the different outlets. I don’t know of anyone who does that, but it is possible. However, I do know that the same make and model manufactured at different plants do indeed make it to different outlets - and I do know that the same make and model from the same plant with different quality levels are sent to different outlets.


This is similar to what I was told by a tire designer/engineer, the difference being that while the design may be different, the quality is dictated by Corporate and remains the same worldwide.

i.e. A Sears Allstate tire, sold to Sears by Kelly Springfield and built by a Goodyear plant in Texas would be of the same quality of any tire made in any Goodyear plant worldwide. (Sears Guardsman tires are currently being made by Cooper).
Likewise, the quality of a General tire, built by Continental in plants located in France or Serbia.

Is the difference in quality level substantial and intentional? The UTQG might be for the highest quality version of a tire, but the lesser versions might be substantially different. If so, how can we protect ourselves from this problem?

Les Schwab sold out to some hedge fund company back in 2020. Some kids I knew who went to work for Schwab in the early 2000’s said the whole place went to hell when Les died so not surprising that they sold out.

From the resident tire expert, seems like for novices, if you want to be sure, you stick with either the primary brand or if you want value, the secondary brand. After that it sounds like hit and miss. So $250 versus $100 each probably means you somewhat get what you pay for.

Edit: I should have said “us novices” meaning me. I know nothing about tires and don’t wish to know so just rely on my buddy the dealer and Capri of course.

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I was pretty sure the word “quality” was going to result in some confusion, so allow me to explain.

First is" Design Quality" - that is: What was intended to be produced and how well did the design meet the target. This not the normal use of the word “quality” in any manufacturing sense, but seems a common usage in the marketplace. A tire example would be the UTQG ratings. I never use the word this way.

The next is what is known as materials and workmanship - a phrase you will find in most tire warranties. In the above, I refer to that as “materials”. Again I never used the word “quality” to mean that.

And the last is consistency from individual product to individual product. This is what most manufacturing people mean when they talk about quality. A good tire example is “Out-of-Round” - what we in the tire industry call Uniformity.

So the question that was asked was about the differences in quality levels for the same make and model at different outlets - remembering that I am using the word quality to mean consistency - and the answer is that you can NOT protect yourself from that, except to complain at the retail level when there is a problem - which is why there may be this difference in the first place. In theory, the reason these differences in quality exist is because the expectations differ at differing outlets.

The only reason I would not buy a Les Schwab tire is if I was going a long distance from home. For a strictly local driving pattern I would if the price was suitable to me.

That said I could go online , find tires and make an appointment in less time then it takes to read this thread.

I wouldn’t equate quality with consistency as some tires are consistently bad.

Does it have a DOT code? What is the warranty? Private labels are used to keep you from price shopping.

Do you really think a large chain like Les Schwab is going to sell tires with out a DOT marking ? Also their web site shows really good support and service for the tires they sell . The only disadvantage is that they just do not have a wide spread network . For local use only I see no reason not to buy them .