Tire Selection Confusion

We need to purchase tires for my wife?s 2005 Acura TSX. She commutes 40 miles/day to Boston and averages about 33 mpg with mixed driving. First, we were wondering if we should purchase dedicated snow tires/wheels for here car now and then regular all-season tires in the spring to replace her current all-seasons. Second, how in the world do you know how to select a tire? I have gone to the “Tire Rack” website to do research, but there is a lot of information which is not particularly helpful. Is there a way to determine if a specific tire will decrease your gas mileage, wear poorer than a different tire, or even affect the ride of your car? An example is people saying they switched from the OEM Michelin Pilot HX MXM4 which wear well, but ride like a “tuner car” to Michelin Primacy MXV4 which ride more “comfortably”. Is there a way to know this stuff before you buy or do you simply need to go by car owner reviews or the 19yrold punk at my local tire shop?

Any help will be appreciated even in the form of a redirection to a webpage with more information.



The current issue of Consumer Reports has a very thorough test of tires–both all season and winter tires–and should be very helpful to you.

Rather than relying on the “19 year old punk at the tire store” (your terminology) or on random recommendations, you can see the results of CR’s methodical, unbiased testing procedures. It also has a good discussion of many issues related to tire purchasing, including whether to use the same speed range as the car’s original tires or whether it is okay to use a tire with a lower speed range.

Get thee to Barnes & Noble, or a good newsstand for this issue of Consumer Reports and you won’t be confused any longer.

“19 year old punk?!”, Why would you describe some young person that way, who is trying to help you?
Various car magazines run articles comparing tires. Consumer Reports Magazine does, also. Try these sources.

“19 year old punk?!”, Why would you describe some young person that way, who is trying to help you?

Maybe you’re just not familiar with New Jersey. I think VDC is :wink:

I remember having a bit of that “19 year old punk” attitude in me in my younger years. Back then, certain things about cars were true because a friend’s older brother Jack said so. And Jack knew everything about cars because he worked at Dave’s Corner Auto and drove a hot car with good looking girls in it. So he had to know everything.

I second the CR recommendation, just read the article this morning, it’s very good. I noticed that the top rated tire in every category was a Michelin. Also, were you happy with the OEM Michelins? If so, get them again. Your judgement counts for a lot. You need to decide on your priorities. If it’s gas mileage above all else, I keep seeing Michelin ads for their high mpg tires, they’d be worth a look.

“Get thee to Barnes & Noble, or a good newsstand for this issue of Consumer Reports and you won’t be confused any longer.”

Or the public library. Every one I’ve been into has a CR subscription. You can even find the specific issue with the tire test in it.

Did you look at the customer survey results at Tire Rack?


According to the Grand Touring survey, the Pilot is about the last tire you want and the Primacy is the first.

Tire research can be confusing. Tire rack reviews are useful, but not scientific and offer no comparisons. While owner impressions can lead you away from bad tires, they don’t necessarily lead you to the best tires for you and your car.

Personally, I’ve had several bad experiences with Continental tires, so they are out for me. Cooper tires are good tires for reasonable prices. Michelin tires are pricey but I’ve been very happy with the one’s I’ve owned. My OEM Firestones were shot in 23K miles on my '03 Civic. The next set were Michelins and at 90K they are due for replacement soon. I do run snows for about 3K miles per winter so I got 50 to 60K miles out of the Michelins.

My T’bird came with Michelins OEM and they are very expensive and only last about 30K on that car. I might try another brand, but I might give up a quiet ride so perhaps I’ll stick with Michelin’s.

If you are happy with the OEM tires that came with the car consider replacing them with the same tire. Then you’ll have similar performance so no worries. Getting the snows on wheels is a good idea for a Boston commuting car. I have Nokian winter tires that are wonderful. Expect more tire noise from a winter tire and less grip in dry weather.

Before making any decisions, check out Consumer Reports. Their reviews are great. The only problem is they are limited in the number of tires they can test. With all the different tires, sizes, cars, and driver preferences buying any tire is a bit of a leap of faith.

Personally I don’t think snow tires are needed in the Boston area. Wife has NEVER owned them on her Honda’s or now Lexus…and never even a hickup when driving in snow. We just don’t get enough snow to justify them.

Actually I agree with the 19yo punk comment…but you’ll only find them at the tire chain stores. Find a good local tire shop and you’ll get much more knowledgeable people. If you’re near Nashua NH…try Nashua wholesale Tire


I’ve been using all season radials to commute for as long as they’ve been common, much of it between NH and Mass without any problems. Last year I ran a new set of all-season Hankooks and was very happy with them. I just put a new set on.

1010tires, tirerack, and other sites have excellent consumer feedback sections that you may want to peruse. CR just did a review, but I think 1010tires and tirerack have a far more comprehensive database for this specific subject.

I too have used nashua wholesale a few times. They do a great job at a good price. You’ll not be impressed by the building, but don’t let that scare you off.

Still, most 19 year olds don’t even know Jack. :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:

Tire shopping has become a nightmare. There must be 6000 different tire types/brands now being sold in the U.S. Whatever the local tire store has in stock is always “the best tire for your car”…Twenty global manufacturers churn out 600 different “brands” in the never-ending battle for a price point and shelf space…Snow tires are nice to have WHEN YOU NEED THEM but 90% of the time you will be driving on clear, dry, roads…Snow tires can be tedious under those conditions and they WILL reduce your fuel mileage…Most FWD cars do just fine on M&S rated all-season tires. The more aggressive the tread, the noisier they will be, and tread life tends to be less. All tires are rated for Traction, Temperature and Tread wear. You can use those ratings as a starting point when selecting tires. Most tires stores will throw in a free mount and balance before they will let a sale walk out the door…That can save you $60…

Not a lot of 19 year olds are named Jack anymore, so it’d have to be an older family member or friend. :smiley:

You can begin by using the UTOG information on tire sidewalls. The NHTSA has proposed that a fuel mileage rating be added to this information.

As for now, if you want good fuel mileage tires, a recent bit of shopping revealed that Chevrolet Cobalt XFE is using Continental Touring Contact AS tires for their low rolling resistance. I had trouble too with Continental Tires long ago when they still used rayon instead of polyester. The rayon would lose its strength in about 5 years and flat tires were the result. The Cobalt XFE model has several modifications done to enhance fuel mileage to 37 highway including a computer program revision, low rolling resistance tires, electric power steering and a manual transmission. Michelin has a low rolling resistance tire model. Possibly other brands do also by now.

Consumer Reports tends to magnify what are mostly insignificant differences among tires. After all, they need a story with impact in order to sell magazines.

Tires are, for the most part, a commodity type product. Unless you have a special want such as low rolling resistance, snow tires, sports car road adhesion and the like, tires is tires. Also, they have to be safe as hungry trial lawyers are always salivating. Yes, there are occasional but temporary exceptions.

I would recommend Continental Extreme Contact DWS if you want snow traction in an performance all-season. They really work.

The other choice my wife has but were pricey are the Nokian WR G2. Nokian markets an all-season but also winter tire. They are a wonderful tire. If you live near NH John &Sons tire in Manchester NH is substaintially cheaper for them.

SELLING tires is just as confusing as buying.
Ford dealers have a tire program with multiple manufacturers and in the p215/50-R17 size alone there are 53 different tires to pick from ! ( 12 brands )
Which to stock ?
Which to sell if the customer’s is different ?
( this is where the observation that ‘what’s in stock is right for your car’ comes from. )

I also vote for Consumer Reports to do your research.

Consumer Reports is not experts in testing anything.

I would suggest calling tirerack.com as the sales help is very knowledgeable and will let you know if they have not tried a particular product. They have a test track for sales folks to try tires. The review by users are mostly junk.

Tire shopping? Confusing, isn’t it?

First, you have to realize that because road surfaces are different, the rubber in a particular tire will react differently in different oarts of the country - There WILL BE contradictory information.

Second, most folks are less that experts - and their reviews are going to reflect that.

So who is in the best position to make a recommendation? That 19 year old punk!

He’s sold a lot of tires and he knows who has been returning with complaints - and that means more work for him! He’s going to be tuned into the local traction and noise situation and what works - and what doesn’t work - on the road surfaces where he is - something a Consumer Reports and a Tire Rack can’t do. He’s probably boned up beforehand on what’s available. Yeah, his shop doesn’t carry every brand and every tire line, but if he thinks the tire is going to perform and he can sell it for a profit, he’s going to stock it!

We live in upstate NY and have another home in the central Adirondack mountains. We have only all season radials on our vehicles, and find that they are fine. If it gets bad enough that they won’t work, it’s time to stay where you are until conditions get better (never had to do this yet).

We have had the best luck with Michelin tires, and BJ’s Wholesale sells them at just about the best price around - and it includes lifetime free rotation and flat repair. Look for the tire wear indicatior estimate for your tires, and remember tha tthe way they get more mileage out of a tire is by making the tire compound so that they produce a “harder” rubberthat will wear better, but is less “grippy” then a softer compound that will grip the road better. If you drive like Dale Earnhart, then go for the softer compound and expect to replace the tires more often. Snow tires have a very soft compound for winter temperatures, but will wear fast at higher temps. My wife and I don’t drive hard, so the higher mileage tires are fine for our driving styles. I just put a set of tires on my wife’s car that are Michelins with tire wear number ff 800. The tires are from BJ’s and are hydro-something - Ican’t remember the exact name. They are supposed to be very good on wet roadways, which your wife will encounter many times more often that tough snow conditions. I felt these were best for the woman that has put up with me for over 40 years.

Thank you all for your suggestions. I knew the comment about the younger fella at the chain store I visited would rattle a few cages, but you would have had to meet the kid to understand; uninformed and not a care in the world…

I’ll check out the CR article and look for a small local shop.