Tires: all season or summer

Car: 2006 Mazda6s with 35K miles bought used from a rental company at 19K miles.

Tires: from what I’m reading on the sidewall, Michelin XSE tires P215/50 R17 93 V. (I know very little about tires)Took it in for servicing today and the mechanic said the tires were down to the wear bars. Since he didn’t try to sell me tires, I’m assuming no boat payment was involved,although I will check myself.

1) Isn’t 35K a little soon to be buying tires?

2) If I do need new tires, what kind? I live in the Central Valley of CA (hot and dry in the summer, rainy/foggy in the winter, snows, maybe, once every 20 years, hard freeze (down into the 20’s) once every several years, hails maybe once every couple of years, if that. Do I need all-season tires when this car is unlikely ever to be driven in the snow or ice, or will summer tires do? Any disadvantages to all-season tires? My driving is a mix of highway and city driving. Since this car doesn’t take snow chains, and the CHP requires snow chains on mountain passes when it snows, I am unlikely to take this car into snow country in the winter, but that’s another story.

3) Best places to get tires? has a list of recommended installers. Do these tend to be OK? Any other recommendations?

You can buy summer or all season tires. There’s really not much difference. These “names” are almost meaningless. The 17" tires on your car (215/50 R17) are basically “high performance” tires, and it’s not unusual at all for them to wear out at 35K miles. Once you get into a 50-series tire this is what you live with.

There are LOTS of places to buy tires. is a great resource. You can shop multiple brands, and find lots of customer feedback on the TireRack website.

There are brands that TireRack doesn’t carry, however, and some of them are certainly worth looking at. If you have access to Consumer Reports magazine or website, you might find some very useful information there. They test tires on a regular basis, and it’s sometimes surprising which brand comes out on top.

I can tell you this from personal experience. I bought a set of Bridgestone Turanza tires a few years ago for my Subaru Legacy, and they have proven to be the BEST tires, overall, I’ve ever owned, and I’ve been driving for 40 years.

My Bridgestone Turanza tires are quiet, they have a comfortable ride, and I have yet to detect any tread wear whatsoever. In addition, they offer excellent traction, wet or dry. I’ve even driven through snow on these tires, and while they don’t match the winter tires I usually install when there’s snow on the ground, they got me where I needed to go with no problems.

I like to research online but buy from local dealers. I found a local tire shop that will still let you hang around in the shop with them while they work (their insurance company must HATE this), and they always use a torque wrench to do the final tightening of the wheel nuts, which is the correct way to tighten them. So many places over-tighten the nuts with an air gun, and then you can’t get the nuts off if you need to change a tire.

Do some research, shop around, and talk to friends, coworkers, relatives, etc. Ask what tires they bought and if they’re happy. You will have to live for a long time with the tires you buy. Shop carefully and buy what suits your needs.

DO NOT buy tires on price alone. If you buy the least expensive tire on the market you will most likely be disappointed in the long run. Tires are important. Everything your car does (acceleration, braking, handling, noise, comfort) depends on the tires you choose.

Buy wisely.

It isn’t too early to buy tires at 35,000 miles. You would miss all the fun with really high mileage tires. Sam’s Club has free extended warranty for as long as you are a member and a good selection of tires with MARKED PRICES. I love that part. I pick the smoothest looking all-season tires I can find. I stopped being a nit-picker long ago except where prices are concerned. I just want a little extra traction without a lot of extra noise. I bought a set of Hero tires for an Echo and they go pretty good in snow. Maybe Pep Boys has some.

Semi-follow-up: Did some research on, and am now strongly considering a set of Yokohama Avid V4S tires. Any thoughts?


If you like your mechanic, buy tires from him. He will appreciate the income and will probably do well on price. If in doubt, check his prices. Tires that are not all-season are rare unless you are in a performance category. They just don’t make them any more. You can choose an all-season that is rated better on other issues and not so well for snow and ice. Other issues being noise, dry traction, wet traction, sidewall stiffness…

If they are down to the wear bars, (easy to see) or close to it, it is time. 35K is not too early. OEM tyres are usually not the best, and who knows how hard a service they had on that rental.

I have never heard of summer, tyres. Most are all season and that should be your starting point. I do highly recommend winter tyres (on their own wheels) for those living in the snow belt. This are far different and better than the old snow tyres.

The Yokoham Avid are excellent three seasons which fits your bill quite well. They are marginal in winter conditions but that does not apply to you.

If you like your mechanic, buy tires from him. He will appreciate the income and will probably do well on price.

I like the guy I take my vehicles to for the repairs I don’t want to do and for things like inspections and alignments…But I will NOT buy tires from him. His prices are outrageous compared to most tire places. A couple of years ago I was there getting an inspection. Told me my tires passed, but should be repalced soon. Quoted me a price of $700 for all 4. I bought the EXACT SAME TIRES for under $400.

Excellent post McP, as usual. I’ll add that in addition to Tirerack, 1010tires also has a good consumer feedback section. has a good primer to learn more about tires in general.

I also want to compliment the OP for being prudent about this. This truely is a safety issue.

Thought that may have been mentioned…Get a tire gauge and don’t wonder about when to replace your tires. It’s just as important to have deep tread for rain (hydroplaning) as it is for the snow belt; though obviously tread design will differ.

If you like the prices at Tirerack, then check their installation deal. You prepay tirerack for installation and they drop ship them to a local garage that you select from a list on their site. That way you don’t have to have the tires shipped to your house and schlep them to someone and pay who knows what for installation. I also recommend calling around to find out what other places would charge, complete with installation for the same make and model tires. Make sure to compare tirerack’s price with shipping and installation to the local. I found my local guy was within a dollar or two per tire, so I had him order and install them. This way I have a local place if problems develop.

Tires are a commodity. Many places can sell you the exact same tire, so shopping price is the way to go.

I like all season tires. I bought them when I lived in Florida. They are better in snow or wet roads than summer tires, and wear almost as well. Lately I have been impress by Kumho tires for quality, price, and tread life. Tire rack is a good place to compare prices (add in shipping).

If you like the prices at Tirerack

When you add in shipping I can usually beat Tirerack prices. And then I’m dealing with a local dealer…not someone over the internet.

When you add in shipping I can usually beat Tirerack prices. And then I’m dealing with a local dealer

I pretty much said that.

In fact I suggested that the OP compare the prices including shipping to make it a fair comparison. I’d still suggest calling around to several locals for prices. Just because on is higher doesn’t mean the others will be.

TireRack sells a number of what they call “summer” tires. They are “not intended to be driven in near freezing temperatures, through snow or on ice”. This sounds like Scrabbler’s climate.

More follow-up: I got a tread wear gauge and used it: At least three of the four are worn, so I guess it’s time for new tires. Bad news is, the wear was uneven–sometimes the same tire varied between 6/32 and 1/32, or less. The fronts were really bad on this–it appeared the middle tread was worn more than the outer tread, which, if I read the internet correctly, would indicate overinflation–but I’ve always kept it within a few pounds of the recommended pressure (door jamb pressure, not sidewall). Wondering if I need a new tire pressure gauge, alignment, or something more expensive.

Maybe borrow a dial type air pressure gauge and test it against yours first.

I never put more than 2 psi more in my front tires than the rears.

You’re right in your thinking the tires are overinflated when worn in the center.

Uh, it’s a bit more complicated than that.

Drive tires tend to wear in the center and steer tires tend to wear in the shoulders. So don’t be fooled into thinking that a tire that is worn uneven is either over or underinflated. It might just be end of the vehicle they are applied to.