Ask The Best And Brightest: Best Economical All-Season Tires For A Saturn SL2?

Edward Niedermeyer
by Edward Niedermeyer

Doug writes:

My girlfriend drives a 1998 SL2 with 185/65/15 tires. One of the four tires has started to dry rot enough that I have to add about 5 psi every two weeks to keep it near it’s neighbors. FWIW the sticker recommends 30psi front and 26psi back but I’ve found the car rides better if I inflate to ~35psi front and ~32 psi rear. The difference is especially noticeable going over speed bumps which are common in my neighborhood and around town. The reality is that the car sees regular use but in mileages that are low enough that dry rot will end a tire before the tread is gone. I don’t need super long tread life. I am however concerned about it being a truly all season tire. Snow depth here is a non issue but dustings of snow, ice, heavy rain, light rain, frequent rain, did I mention rain, oh and dry roads are common. Seriously we are in the SouthEast but East Tennessee is full of hills and valleys.

The car has Firestone Affinity LH30 tires on it that the first owner had put on at the Saturn dealership. I’ve purchased Falken Ziex ZE-512 tires for another car and didn’t notice anything bad about the set I got. I did however see more recent reviews of that tire being very hit or miss. Maybe old stock or just quality control issues? Falken Ziex ZE-912 is supposed to replace the old 512 design but has had “OMG don’t buy this tire for Winter use” reviews all over the place. I can rotate the tires regularly and will keep the pressure up but we just don’t live in an area where it makes sense to buy winter only tires. I’d also like for rolling resistance to be low but if the tires are cheap enough to offset the fuel cost I’ll consider most any option. initial cost: matters MPG effect: may matter? dry traction: matters wet traction: matters snow/ice traction: just can’t be a disaster waiting to happen tread life: not so much So how about something like the Goodyear Assurance Fuel Max? Do I go with the previous choice of Falken Ziex ZE-512? Do you have a better suggestion?

Edward Niedermeyer
Edward Niedermeyer

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  • Chops Chops on Oct 06, 2009

    A few things to think about when using TireRack, and Consumer Reports when researching tires. I had the opportunity a couple of years ago to discuss the "customer survey ranking" with one of the guys in the TireRack testing department. He noted that at about 1 million reported miles for a given tire, the ranking moved very little, which indicated the ranking was a reliable indicator for the different categories, i.e. wet, dry, snow, ect...Also, if your interested in real performance, handling, or comfort, remember that dry and wet objective testing is only 1/3 the overall score. Subjective scoring is about 2/3rds. At Consumer Reports, they remain, as always, a black box on how they arrive at their ratings. This is to prevent anyone gaming the system, but it also prevents buyers from discerning what is important for themselves. Maybe you favor wet over dry, but the CR method won't let you see behind the curtain.

  • Slow_Joe_Crow Slow_Joe_Crow on Oct 07, 2009

    I run my 97 SL2 on Formozas from Les Schwab and got about 4 years on a set with no particular rotation schedule. At the speeds I drive they do OK in the rain and moderate snow, but for the really bad ice and snow I either stay home or use studded tires.

  • Carrera I live in Florida and owned summer tires once before on a Corolla. Yes I know, it's a Corolla but it drove much better ( to me) with those on. I would have bought them again but replacement time came during the beginning of the " transitory inflation" and by then, I found all seasons that were much cheaper. Currently I own a slightly more performance oriented Acura TLX -AWD and when the OEM all season Michelin wear out, I will replace them with summer Michelins. Often times, a car comes alive with summer tires but I understand why people don't buy them above South Carolina. I lived in Canada for 5 years and just thinking about swapping twice per year made me anxious.
  • Steve Biro I don’t bother with dedicated summer or winter tires. I have no place to store them. But the newest all-weather tires (with the three-peak mountain symbol) are remarkably good year-round. The best of them offer 90 percent of the performance of winter tires and still fall mid-pack among summer ultra-high performance tires. That’s more than enough for my location in New Jersey.
  • Carfan94 Never, it doesn’t get cold eneough here in TN, to switch to winter tires. But it gets cold enough that running Summer tires year round is impractical. I’m happy with my All seasons
  • Analoggrotto Anyone who has spent more than 15 minutes around a mustang owner would know this will be in insta-hit.
  • Akear If this is true then they won't go out of business. Good for them!