CarTalk.com Blogs Car Info Our Show Deals Mechanics Files Vehicle Donation

Tires, Tires, I'm tired of tires

How do you make a decision on tires. It feels like shopping for mattresses.



I’ve identified the size I need, and a few vendors, but pricing ranges from $85 per to $200 and more.



What’s the difference?



Wear, ride, and traction are identified as key factors, but don’t seem to help much in choosing one price over another.



Any advice on how to make an efficient decision on which tire to purchase?



Thanks

If you are pleased with the tires currently on the Lexus you might just buy the same tires at the best price you can find. Otherwise, Tirerack.com is a good website for information. What is important to you? Wet traction? Smooth ride? Low road noise? Low rolling resistance? Tirerack.com has all these characteristics and more rated for each tire. Then there are user reviews too.

buy a name brand tire such as Michelin, Goodyear, BFG, Continental.
Many now are “fuel saving” tires with lower rolling resistance ,example Goodyear assurance fuel max. shop around and be sure to look at tirerack.com. many times you can purchase the tires at much lower prices even though you pay for shipping, you normally do not pay sales tax or state tire fees. they also list approved installers with their pricing for getting them mounted and balanced. good luck
HAPPY THANKSGIVING

Price points and shelf space…The cheapest tire in the store will be a Chinese made tire with an unknown brand. It is there to to allow low-ball advertising and create floor traffic. The highest priced tire is there to make up for the low profit margin on the bottom-line tire. So look for a private brand tire one notch above the cheapest one…You can tell by looking at the tread pattern how the tire is likely to perform on slick roads…The projected tread-wear rating is always listed on the tire and the label. Today, 300 is poor, 400 is average and 500 is above average. Try for a traction rating of “A”…

learn what “all-season”, “touring” and “high-performance” mean…Google “tire plant codes” to learn who made private-brand tires. Don’t take the salesman’s word for it…

Look on the websites, Sears, Tirerack, call a few shops. Get estimates for out the door with balance, disposal and all the other junk fees they add. Write them down. Bear in mind that they usually need replacement after 5 yrs, so if you don’t drive 60KM in 5 yrs not worth the money over a 40K. Usually your car would have “minimum” requirements for speed rating etc and that is for the most part more tire than you will really need.
AS Caddyman said, I usually go one notch higher than the cheapest tire, so far not much trouble.

Thanks Caddyman (and others that replied).
This is helpful, especially the numerical rating opinion.
I had tried tirerack and will spend more time there.
Much appreciated all.
Happy Thanksgiving.

Look around where ever you like and then purchase your tires through discounttire.com They have free shipping and will match anyones price.

Two hundred dollar tires may be a waste of money. I recommend the eighty-five dollar ones. Many expensive tires give you nothing but a bigger bill.

Dont listen to the Dodge Van guy, he drives a Dodge Van… On your RX the Michelin product line will continue to give you the ride quality that you are used to, let’s face it… that’s why you bought it. Another lower cost alternative is in a Sumitomo tire, Merchants, Tire Kingdom and Big O sell this line, it is an all season v speed rated unit, road noise is alittle bit more than the Michelin but it will fall into the lower price range, they run specials at buy 3 get 1 and stuff. When purchasing seek out and all season non-directional v or higher speed rated unit.

Its a fujismamoto, its good… it has Sony guts.

You have a premium vehicle.

I would stick to Goodyear, Michelin, Bridgestone, or Continental. There is excellent competition with those brands and you will find good discounts with calling around. I would stay away from most expensive tire unless rated extremely well. I would go middle ground.

Inexpensive tires can be decent however the typical case is loud after the initial 10k miles or short tread wear.

Tread wear ratings are meaningless. I recently had a set of low profile factory(treadwear 160AA) Bridgestone RE92a’s last nearly 50k miles on my wife’s Subaru. The Bridgestone RE960’s on my Subaru WRX were rated 400AA and warrantied 45k miles which they lasted.

Don’t buy the cheapest tires or the cheapest parachute. I’ve had the best luck with Michelin. If you are in the northeast, BJ’s Wholesale Club has them for a good price. Consumer Reports recently rated tires, and the Michelin Hydro-something came out on top. I have had the best wear from Michelins as well, BUT, the trade-off is that they may not corner as fast as a softer, grippier tire. Racing tires wear out fast because the rubber is softer than on a normal tire so they can corner at higher speeds. This is why some “high performance” tires for sportier cars wear out so fast. But if you don;t take corners so fast that the car leans noticeably, you don’t need them.

Good one. Bonus points if you guess what I my real vehicle is…

Tire shopping does make one feel like they’re in a maze at times but I’m in agreement about maybe going a step or two up from the cheapest tires.

Also agree that tire wear ratings can be kind of iffy at times. My daughter in law went through a new set of tires in about 20k miles (easy driving too) and those tires had a wear rating of 600.
No suspension or alignment problems at all; all four just worn down to the wear indicators.

I’ve been through a lot of tires over the years and the best ones for me have been Bridgestones. They seem to wear well, run pretty quiet, and maintain good traction.

Close, GMC Sierra but same tire requirements as a Dodge.

I like Michelin tires. I buy them on sale when I can. Whatever, right?

But anyway, one thing I’d like you to consider when you are buying ANY costly item, consider the difference in total price versus the price of the item. By this I mean, if you are buying a refrigerator, you will probably spend at least $800 to get one that will fit your basic needs and last maybe ten years. For another $400 dollars you might buy one that meets most or all of your needs and many of your wants, adds value to your home and will last as long as you own your home. That’s the cost you need consider, the $400 extra dollars for a superior product, not the $1,200 total cost. The first $800 is spent either way.
Tires are a great example of this principle. Your initial investment for very good tires is only the difference between the cost of cheap or mediocre tires versus the cost of much higher quality tires. You have to buy tires now. You will spend easily up to $400 for four decent tires that you will likely replace in another four years, or you can invest $200 more for a very good set of tires that will last (if rotated and properly inflated) as long as eight years. Notwithstanding the difference in stopping distance, cornering, handling in wet weather, etc., just wear justifies the extra expense.
One last thing, when you buy a tire, look at the last three digits on the tire code, which indicates age. The first two indicate the week in a given year that the tire was manufactures, and the last digit is the year. So that 019 means the tire was made the first week of 2009. Always buy as new a tire as possible, and never buy a six year old tire.

Despite the Ford debacle of recent years, I’ve had good luck with Bridgestone/Firestone tires too. You might check them out. They are quality tires and are a little cheaper than some others. I would avoid General tires. Cooper seems to make some pretty good cheap tires. I’ve heard Kumho makes some decent cheaper tires too, but haven’t tried a set. As others have mentioned though, why go with the cheapest? You will have to live with these things for 50K miles most likely, and a better tire will be more pleasant to drive on, and possibly could save your life in a panic situation.

If you go to tirerack.com and/or search the web, you should be able to find reviews of various brands of tires that have been reviewed by people that have your model of vehicle. A tire that works well on one vehicle may be terrible on another with different handling dynamics.