By on November 27, 2015

 

tires. shutterstock user m.mphoto

TTAC Commentator gtemnykh writes:

About 5,000 miles ago, I installed new General Altimax RT43 tires on my 2012 Honda Civic LX, a well-regarded tire according to most sources. Everything was great when I first had them installed: No noticeable increase in noise and much better wet grip.

It was only several thousand miles later that I noticed tire noise. It’s loudest between 40 and 50 mph and sounds like I’m riding around on snow tires. At highway speeds, it’s less noticeable or not at all.

My question: Have you heard of tires starting out more or less quiet, only to later get louder as they approach 5,000 miles?

They seem to be wearing evenly and are properly inflated. I don’t recall hitting any potholes hard enough to knock the alignment out of whack. It’s definitely not a wheel bearing sort of sound. Spinning the wheels by hand, everything is perfectly smooth and silent, so I really doubt it’s a mechanical problem. To add to the confusion, I put the same exact RT43 tires on my girlfriend’s 2012 Toyota Camry SE (17 inch) and they have been nice and quiet.

Could it be that the Civic is just so lacking in sound insulation (especially around the wheel wells) that a fairly slight increase in road noise is amplified and extremely noticeable, while a better-insulated Camry quells the drone?

Second phase of my question: I’m debating whether I want to pony up for some high-end Michelins. Discount Tire offered me $47 trade-in per tire for these low-mileage Altimaxes. It’s be about $400 with installation to switch to Michelin Premier A/S tires. Or I can just continue what I’ve been doing and turn up the radio a tad.

All of this also comes in lock step with a promotion at work. I’ve been constantly perusing the internet for a dream commuter car, one with an emphasis on a quiet, smooth ride — and some power would be nice — but without totally ignoring fuel economy. Off the top of my head, a Cruze Eco with the six-speed manual could be a nice, cheap upgrade, but not much of a step up in power. At the high end of the scale, a lightly used 2013+ Toyota Avalon checks all of the boxes.

So, you could say noisy tires are making me want to buy a new car. But, I’m also a fairly disciplined/frugal guy, so part of me staunchly holds on to the Civic and its noisy tires.

Sajeev answers:

Noisy (BFGoodrich G-Force Sport) tires are the reason I abandoned the stock 15-inch rims on my 1988 Cougar for 17s with more choices in summer tires. Why? While they were just dandy initially, the howling tire noise drove me bonkers after 6,000 miles — or at least bonkers enough to do the upgrade and have more than one choice in sticky summer tread.

Bad tires happen and there’s little recourse. To troubleshoot, find the loudest tire currently fitted to your car (I know, kinda tough) and replace it with your spare. Inflate spare (it’s low, I promise), drive around and see if the pitch/tone of the road noise changes. If so, you need new tires. I was somewhat hesitant to spend the cash to upgrade to better (so to speak) tires, but that disappeared the moment the new rubber was dead silent on the highway.

The tire trade Discount Tire offers sounds pretty decent and is definitely a big help in terms of convenience over trying to Craigslist your old tires to recoup some of your initial investment.

[Image: Shutterstock user m.mphoto]

Send your queries to [email protected]com. Spare no details and ask for a speedy resolution if you’re in a hurry…but be realistic, and use your make/model specific forums instead of TTAC for more timely advice.

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80 Comments on “Piston Slap: Spare Me Your Noisy Rubber!...”


  • avatar
    Sjalabais

    I live in a region with >3000mm average precipitation per year, so I generally opt for Uniroyal Rainexpert. I’ve had all three of them, and recently purchased a new set for my Honda (summer sale – right before I put on my studded tires).

    Rain tires have a not very efficient pattern, which creates two drawbacks:
    1) More noise.
    2) Shorter profile life.

    I changed tires from Michelin Energysaver, which happen to have been on all the cars I’ve bought used. Now with the Rainexpert3, it is the first time that tire noise actually was less after I changed from Michelin’s famously low rolling resistance and low noise tires. But the difference was, and has always been, minimal.

    When it comes to tire brands though I am pretty conservative. I wouldn’t really consider many brands apart from GoodYear, Continental, Nokian and Uniroyal. “General” has no good ring to me. Even though the first Chinese tires are starting to get good reviews; there might be some good budget options coming up from the Communists.

    • 0 avatar
      MBella

      General isn’t a Chinese brand. It’s an American tire company now owned by Continental. Tires are made in the same plants that produce Continental tires. That being said, I have been less than impressed with some of their more recent offerings. I wonder if Continental is trying to space them out a bit from their own brand.

      • 0 avatar
        Sjalabais

        Ok, thank you! I only remembered the name from dismal performances in the yearly tire tests run by automotive associations. It would be interesting to know how exactly Continental implements cost cuts for their budget brand.

        • 0 avatar
          Lack Thereof

          Their “performance” oriented tires are pretty much all junk, but their Altimax Arctic snow tires and Altimax RT43 all-season tires do well on Tire Rack’s comparison tests, and the all-season has an impressive treadwear rating.

          I’m running RT43’s on my seattle-area DD, and find them to compare favorably to the the original Eagle GT’s. Don’t have any “good” tires to compare them against.

          I didn’t notice any increase in noise when they wore in.

    • 0 avatar
      Scoutdude

      A “rain tire” does not have to be noisy. The noise can be abated with good tread design. If you look at high end tires you’ll see that the tread block size varies all the way around the tire. That combats hum that will develop with blocks that are all evenly sized and spaced. Also they don’t have to be a short wearing tire but many tires sold as summer tires are of a performance grade that has inherently shorter life to achieve the desired level of performance.

    • 0 avatar

      30 k year, you eat tires.

      I have learned to buy tier 1 tires. The cheap tires don’t last as well (exception to follow). I had Coopers on the MDX…ow. Don’t do it. Conti LX 20 is way, way better….

      Roadforce balance, by someone who knows how to use the machine. This one alone will dictate how well they wear, and keep them quiet later in life. My RF balanced tires wear perfectly and are less likely to cup. Cupping is a shock related phenom, so make sure your shocks are OK. Bad struts will reduce tire life too. Oh, are your rims straight ? Lots of shops will just put weights on but not fix or notice the problem.

      Fresh tires should have a wheel alignment done.

      Tire pressures are key. Check them every two weeks. A cheap Sears air compressor is MVP here.

      There is always a road surface that will make you howl. Don’t be too specific.

      I have a set of Michelin Pilot A/S 3. Grippy and Quiet when new, now grippy and noisy..on the wear bars. Some tires don’t age will.

      My other car has a set of Hankook Ventus. Cheap tires, but still pretty quiet even just above the wear bars. I’m considering another set, unless go Conti DWS.

      I’ve seen a lot of “no brand” Chinese tires on cars lately. Unless you are giving back a lease car and need to buy tires I’d never do it. Even then, I’d feel bad.

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        I don’t even know if I got 20K out of the Coopers I had on my car (and I made sure to buy the ones stamped Made in USA). I used to be able to get Chicom specials on my Saturn for 55/tire *with* mount. If I got 20K than I was amazed but I didn’t care if I did or not as I’d typically just replace the front ones unless the rear ones needed it and didn’t rotate. For $110 bucks every 18-24 months or so, who cared. When I bought the Coopers, 116/tire + mount + tax + fees + middle finger (NTB) I think it ended up being around $160/tire. F that noise.

        • 0 avatar
          gtemnykh

          For what it’s worth, these RT43s that I put on are made in the USA, the ones in the Camry were made in France, curiously.

        • 0 avatar
          CJinSD

          A friend of mine insisted on putting Coopers on his Mercedes CLS. He had some story about them being American and independent that sounded naive. Sure enough, they were stamped Made in China.

          I’m with speedlaw on this. How many miles does the car have? It it is over 70K miles, the rapid pattern wear could be due to worn shocks. Otherwise, it is probably an alignment issue.

  • avatar
    RangerM

    When I got my ’93 Ranger new in 3/93, it was fitted with Firestone FR480s (IIRC). When those wore out, I replaced them with the same model/size tire, and the new ones were noticeably louder. I don’t know if they changed formulations between the time my truck was new and the time I replaced the originals, but I was less than happy. I never bought those tires again. I think the next set were Bridgestone, but that was a long time ago.

    I don’t know a sure-fire way to avoid this, other than listening to others’ experiences.

    Here’s one thing I’ve noticed over the years, however. For some reason, I’ve got more nails in Goodyear tires than any other brand. Could be random chance, but it’s been my experience. I’ve avoided them ever since my last set. Haven’t had to remove a nail from a tire, since.

  • avatar
    Waftable Torque

    I have the Premier A/S on one of my sedans. It’s quiet, has very good dry and wet traction, and handles very well for a performance all-season. I have separate winter tires, so I don’t know how well they handle snow and ice.

    I’d avoid the V-rated ones if you want a more comfortable ride, and there’s a surprising amount of rolling resistance that I just don’t get with other Michelin tires.

    I stick with Tier 1 tire manufacturers now, to minimize the problems you’ve described with the Generals.

  • avatar
    HerrKaLeun

    I had those Altima tires on my Mazda 6. Worst tire ever,worse than stock. Totally worn down after 25K miles and I’m a conservative driver.
    Ride was so bad I thought my entire suspension was shot and I was considering a new car. But bought new Continental tires and now my car is like new.
    I also noticed the Altima only had 440 or so tread rating.

    Road noise: my 2013 CRV has stock Bridgestone tires and when changing pavement I can clearly tell 50% of noise are the tires. Can’t wait to wear them out and get Michelin/Continental etc.

    Always use premium brands. That half squarefoot of tire is the only thing keeping you on the road.

    And go to tire rack and have them shipped to your store. They even sell you wheels with tires and you can sell yours on Craigslist. I changed from 17″ to 16″ (snow) and sold my old wheels on Craigslist.

    Never buy bad tires. You can make a BMW 5 series the worst car with bad tires.

    The local tire stores only push their major brands and are expensive. Tire rack really has better selection and prices. In my are Firestone (owns tiresplus) is big and they have god prices on Firestone tires, but are expen SD I’ve with other btands. Obviously Firestone is right down there with Chinese no name tires.

    • 0 avatar
      Sjalabais

      I travelled across the country once ready to buy a ’98 Volvo 940 from an enthusiast; these cars are collector’s items over here already. When I arrived at the airport, we had a great chat, very nice guy. The first thing I noticed on the car though: F* Chinese thrift store tires, mounted against their intended rotation. Took a plane home again.

    • 0 avatar
      burgersandbeer

      I would at least get quote from a tire store before using Tire Rack. I’ve always done Tire Rack in the past, but at the last replacement I ended up with what I believe is a radial pull. If things don’t go smoothly, it’s a lot easier to deal with at a local store. Could be worth it depending on the price premium.

      • 0 avatar
        HerrKaLeun

        Good point. For my wheels and Continental tires mounted and shipping tire rack was 920. Local store asked for 905, but was Firestone garbage tires. Their Continental or other Tier 1 tires would have been almost 1200 with the wheels.

        Interestingly the local store used the same type of website like tire rack where you see your car in color with the wheels you select.

    • 0 avatar
      GS 455

      Actually the General Altimax RT43 gets excellent reviews by Tire Rack testers and in their user reviews and very good reviews from Consumer Reports. Also it’s tread rating is 600-700 depending on size.

      • 0 avatar
        gtemnykh

        GS, the very positive tirerack reviews are what won me over. They did a comparison of touring all season tires and the RT43 came out on top, before price was even factored in. As others have mentioned, the Civic’s poor wheel well insulation is likely the true source of problems. The Camry has those felt looking liners in the wheel wells, the civic just sheet metal.

    • 0 avatar
      rocketrodeo

      Since Bridgestone owns Firestone now, the tires are a lot better than previous, and most of BS’s technologies carry over into comparable Firestones. Recently discovered they will order in nearly any tire, as we got a set of Pirelli P7s for our CD4 Fusion from the local Firestone store at a very comparable price to mail order.

    • 0 avatar
      Bill

      As mentioned, it is worth getting a quote from a local store before automatically going the Tire Rack route. I just bought a set of Continental ExtremeContact DWS06 tires from Discount Tire. They wren’t even listed on Discount’s site in my size, but when I called they were able to order them in for the same price as Tire Rack.

    • 0 avatar
      Mike999

      Honda Insight here.
      1) Honda’s don’t have a lot of road insulation noise suppression.
      2) The standard tires on the Insight were LOUD, and gave the car bad reviews, I almost wonder if Honda Wanted Bad reviews of the Insight.
      3) Replaced with Bridgestone Ecopia’s. This is a high fuel saver tire with a high tread life, so it’s a heavier tire and it rides a bit worse, BUT, it’s damn quiet, and handles well. And it does return slightly better mpg.

  • avatar
    zip89105

    Michelins can be noisy too. On concrete my LTX MS2’s sing, but they’re quiet on asphalt.

    • 0 avatar
      slavuta

      This is correct. Also, if you keep car long and don’t drive a lot… in other words, if you don’t use up your tire in 5 years, don’t even go for Michelin. They have cracking problems.

      Regarding original question, generally – this is normal that with wear, a tire loses its original performance, including braking, noise, traction, everything. The only one that should go up is fuel economy. As tread wears off, there is less rolling resistance. This is why I never look for low res. tires – they basically have harder rubber with all of its consequences.

  • avatar
    MBella

    I took a gamble on a set of Sumitomo HTR Enhance for my wagon based on a conversation I had with Rudy from Tirerack on the Miata forum. I wanted ContiProContacts, but they were 3 times the price in my size. I was going for ride comfort and low noise, willing to sacrifice performance and handling. I was very surprised with how good they’ve been so far. Low noise, and good ride quality. The grip is decent to which I didn’t expect. I installed my Nokians a week before our massive snow storm last Saturday, so I can’t comment on winter traction. You don’t necessarily have to shell out big money for decent tires. Just know what tire traits are important to you and which you are willing to compromise on. Do your homework. There are plenty of high dollar Michelins that would drive you crazy with their noise.

    • 0 avatar
      bball40dtw

      I went away from my normal Michelin/Continental buying habits when I purchased new tires this year. I bought Pirelli Cintuarto P7s because they were highly rated and cheaper than the equivalent Michelins. Tirerack is truly an awesome place to do research on tires.

      • 0 avatar
        denvertsxer

        +1 on both the P7s, and TireRack for research. I buy locally at Discount Tire, however.

      • 0 avatar
        pourspeller

        I just put the P7s on my 2013 Kia Optima about 1,000 kms ago and so far they’ve been excellent. Quieter than stock, handle better in both wet and dry and have a good reputation for snow (for an all-weather tire). I had Michelin Pilots on my last car, which were great, but the tread seemed to be wearing relatively quickly. I put Continental PureContacts on my wife’s Mazda5 two years ago and they have been excellent as well, showing little wear. I checked all of these tires on Consumer Reports and Tire Rack before purchasing. All are highly rated by both C/R and consumers at Tire Rack and they’ve all served me well. I also got eight quotes for the P7s, with a price spread of $250 between the lowest and highest. Cheapest ended up being a local shop three blocks from my house. Score!

        • 0 avatar
          bball40dtw

          That is a huge price spread. I only checked three places, and they were all about the same price.

          • 0 avatar
            pourspeller

            I’m in Canada where tires tend to be more expensive, from what I’ve seen. Most quotes were within $100 of each other, with a couple of outliers on either end. Some places had higher prices for install/balancing/valve stems, so it wasn’t just the tire cost.

        • 0 avatar
          Scoutdude

          You definitely need to get an out the door price quote. Nowadays the price for the mount and balance can vary significantly.

          A couple of tricks I’ve seen played, quote a lower tire price and charge more for the mount and balance and say that price in “no carry outs”.

          I also see a lot of tire dealers that charge different mounting pricing depending on the wheel size. I’ve seen as much as a $10 per difference between say a 15″ and a 20″. I can understand charging more for say a 35″ truck tire than a tire for a passenger car.

          Charging separately if the tire has a tire pressure sensor is another good game they like to play.

          My favorite however is the “free mounting” which is just that and once they line item you $3.50 for the valve stem and their balance price it is as much or sometime more than the other guy’s mount and balance with stem pricing.

      • 0 avatar
        rocketrodeo

        Similar story here, just put P7s on our CD4 Fusion. I use a local Firestone for tire rack installs. This time they asked for the opportunity to match TR and did; brick and mortars are doing a lot better job competing with mail order these days. Added benefit for me is the nationwide warranty and the lifetime balance/rotate, and they store my snows-on-steelies. I also got a lifetime alignment for the Fusion which, for a 4 wheel alignment, is a great deal at $199, with added discounts usually available that bring it down another $25 or so.

        I have that alignment deal for my Ranger as well, which I have now used at least a dozen times in the past 11 years I’ve owned this truck. I got a screaming deal two Black Fridays ago at Firestone for a $650 set of Bridgestone light off-road tires, which were $450 installed out the door.

  • avatar
    ttacgreg

    Straying a bit off topic ere. It fascinates me that very often (mostly) objective Consumer’s Magazine, and the entirely unscientific crowd sourced ratings generated by users’ feedback at Tire Rack end up agreeing on the best tire.

    My most emphatic experience with noisy tires were the OEM Firestone FR7xx’s (780?) on my 2000 Corolla. Coarse roads at highway speeds generated thunderous road noise. I bought the at the time highest rated tire for quiet at Tire Rack, Yokohama Avid Tourings, and the difference was very, very noticeable. The Corolla was still loud on coarse pavement, but not deafening.

    • 0 avatar
      MBella

      The problem with official tire tests, even the ones performed by tirerack is the fact that the tires are new. You can have fantastic reviews on a tire that’s just been broken in, but in 20,000 miles might be garbage.

      • 0 avatar
        05lgt

        So very true. I’ve stopped buying the tire I like best new because after 5k it’s not so good.

      • 0 avatar
        30-mile fetch

        I’ve tried to balance the official tests on Tire Rack with the consumer reviews, for that very reason. I’ve noticed a fair amount of those consumer reviews describing the excellent initial performance declining after the first year or so.

  • avatar
    Toad

    Top tier tires can make an amazing difference in noise, handling, and ride quality. Paying a little more for Michelin, Bridgestone, or Continentals is usually money very well spent. When I replaced the Goodyear OEM tires on my Durango with Michelins the difference was very noticeable and made me wish I had made the move much sooner.

    Don’t assume that tires made in the same factory or buy the same owner/conglomerate are comparable. Rubber compounds and tire construction can vary a lot, and slight differences in tread design can make a big difference in overall quality.

    Costco is always a good source for tires; their prices are hard to beat and since they guarantee your satisfaction you are probably going to end up with tires you are happy with.

    • 0 avatar
      Lorenzo

      Cars with better noise insulation can make a huge difference too. I had great wet grip Dunlops on my old Altima and they were noisy. I bought a used 2005 Buick Lesabre with the same tires already mounted, and it was MUCH quieter. It’s not just the tires. Discount Tire will probably have no trouble reselling those tires to the owner of a car with better noise insulation than the Honda.

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    This is a very current subject for me, as I’m considering new tires for my Optima Hybrid. It currently has Continental PureContacts on it, which I think have gotten louder over time. The OEM tires (Hankook Optimo 426) were awful. But as others have noted, I had the same Continentals on my former Leaf, and they were quiet to the end.

    Tire noise on an EV or hybrid is a Big Deal, since you don’t have as much drivetrain noise available to mask noisy tires.

    My son’s Sonata has the same Altimax RT43s mentioned by the writer, and he hasn’t noticed a noise difference as they’ve worn.

    I may go back to Yokohama Avid Tourings; on a previous minivan they were very quiet and fairly long-lasting.

    • 0 avatar
      Scoutdude

      Having Low Rolling Resistance tires is also a big deal on a Hybrid or EV as they were undoubtedly fitted with those from the factory. On our car we saw a significant drop in MPG when the LRR tires were replaced with standard tires.

      • 0 avatar
        bball40dtw

        Yeah, my winter tires certainly don’t help MPGs. There is a noticeable drop from the LRR three season tires.

        • 0 avatar
          Scoutdude

          We had less drop moving to our non LRR winter tires than from the non LRR summer tires. In our case that is likely because I -1″ the winter tires so they went from a 225 to a 205 width which should have lower drag all other factors equal.

          • 0 avatar
            bball40dtw

            I went -2″ on my winter tires. The drop is noticeable (2-3 MPG), but the trade off is worth it. In the end, there is notice to really complain about.

            I see an increase in fuel economy on my wife’s MkT with -3″ winter tires/wheels. They weigh way less than the 20″ OEM wheels and tires.

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    Separate but related subject:

    A set of four tires may not have the same exact diameter, even if they are the same make and series.

    I have had several cars lately whose suspension turned out to be sensitive to tire diameter, after a long investigation. Here’s what I went through:

    1. New tires mounted, car now pulls to the right (for example). This is a common problem in the US with cars that drive on the right, and with the crown in the road.

    2. Alignment check, found to be perfect.

    3. Inflation is per spec.

    4. With the tire off the ground, carefully and precisely measure the tire’s circumference with a tape measure, pulling it tight around the centerline of the tire. Write down the results for each tire.

    5. I have found tires can vary as much as 3/8″ in circumference, which is about 1/8″ in diameter. The difference is usually less, like maybe half of that. Doing the math, if your tires rotate 800 times per mile, that means the 1/16″ diameter smaller tire is trying to travel about 4 feet less per mile – but it can’t, because it’s attached to the car. This means your car is effectively dragging this tire (or pushing the largest one) 4 feet per mile. This results in dramatically higher tire wear, poor steering alignment, and more wear/noise in the drivetrain.

    6. I then move the largest tires to the side which previously pulled. Problem solved!

    In racing, this issue is solved by shaving tires to all be equal.

    • 0 avatar
      rpn453

      This has happened multiple times?

      My only experience with a tire that pulled resulted in a warranty replacement. No hassle at my usual tire shop. They said it’s fairly common.

      My neighbor had one too, but every time he took it in to Canadian Tire they just put it on the back and now he has one worn-out tire, two decent ones, and one that looks like new. I’d have demanded a replacement.

      This Tire Rack article suggests that any tire which causes a pull is defective and should be replaced:

      http://www.tirerack.com/tires/tiretech/techpage.jsp?techid=12

      • 0 avatar
        burgersandbeer

        Staggered tires make Tire Rack’s recommended testing procedure impossible. You can make an educated guess if the direction of pull changes when you swap sides, but it is hard to be certain replacing that tire will fix it. The pull is caused by the difference between the two tires, so rather than one tire being defective, it’s possible both tires are slightly out of spec.

        The tire store that tried aligning my car recommended replacing both tires to be sure, but Tire Rack could only get Bridgestone to approve one replacement. Replacing the one tire didn’t help. I got sick of spending time trying to resolve this and decided to live with it, figuring the tires won’t last long anyway. Here I am 30k miles later, and they have inexplicably failed to wear out (RE970s). Getting close, but they are between 4/32″ and 5/32″.

        Tire Rack is an excellent source of information and this is admittedly not their fault, but it would have been more efficient to get to satisfactory resolution with the local guy.

      • 0 avatar
        SCE to AUX

        @rpn453: Yes, most notably on a 2002 Passat and a 2012 Leaf.

        Both went to the dealer for an alignment check, and still pulled. The tires were just fine, but slightly different in size. Moving them around as I described solved the problem.

        The only defective tire I’ve had in 36 years of driving showed a noticeable warp in the sidewall where something went wrong in its structure.

    • 0 avatar
      Funky

      Thank you for mentioning this. This, I think, might explain an issue I experienced with a vehicle on which I recently put new tires. Tire pressure is acceptable, alignment is within spec, suspension and steering components appear to be OK (supposedly); but car pulls to the right as soon as new tires (Continental) were installed (same as new OEM tires which did not cause same issue).

    • 0 avatar
      White Shadow

      Unless you drive a vehicle with full time fully locked axles (you don’t), then you’re not dragging or pushing tires of different circumferences. The differentials allow for those small differences without any negative effects. Besides, the only time you’d ever not have differential action in your vehicle is if you were driving on 100% straight on 100% straight roads with 100% matched tire circumferences. I don’t know about you, but there are lots of turns/curves/bends in the roads around here….so my tires are often turning at different speeds as they take different arcs.

  • avatar
    Mikein08

    Before buying any tires, you should be sure they are all the same
    diameter, or don’t buy them. This is rather hard to do when buying
    on the internet, which is just another reason to buy from your friendly
    local tire store.

  • avatar
    mason

    When you say tires are inflated to correct pressure are you using your vehicles recommended tire pressure or what is printed on the sidewall of the new tires?

    It amazes me how many people default to the max psi of what is on their sidewall. (Not saying this is you, just in general). This almost always results in a grossly over inflated tire as the tire is now aired up to its max carrying capacity rather than the actual weight of the vehicle.

    Quick little formula for anybody that’s interested and doesn’t already know, but to do this you need to know the specific weight of your front and rear axle. This can be done at a certified CAT scale which are found at many truck stops for about $10.

    Single Tire axle: (Axle Weight / 2) / Tire Capacity weight x Tire Max Pressure = Inflation Pressure

    So a quick example of my truck as I am constantly changing rear tire pressures based on load:

    Rear axle empty weight: 3260 lbs

    3260÷2 (tires per axle): 1630 lbs (this is the weight on each tire on the rear axle)

    1630÷3195 (3195 is the max rated weight of my tires): .51

    .51×.80 (max rated tire pressure of my tires is 80 psi): .408 or 41 psi.

    Now in contrast to my front axle,

    4700÷2= 2350
    2350÷3195= .74
    .74x.80= .588 or 59 psi.

    So as you can see, a “one size fits all” tire pressure may work on some passenger vehicles but not all.

    • 0 avatar
      Scoutdude

      That is not a bad rule of thumb for a lot of tires but it can calculate some seriously wrong pressures with others.

      There are a quite a few Ultra High Performance and better tires passenger car tires that say the max pressure is from 41psi up to 51psi. However for those tires the max load is determined at 35psi or 36psi and pressures above that do not give the tire more weight carrying capacity. That head room above the pressure the weight rating is generated at is for performance purposes. IE cranking up the pressure for an extended high speed drive or when you hit the track or autocross to up the steering response and limit the tire rolling over.

      Note not all passenger car tires that have listed pressures higher than 36psi are that way. There are some Extra Load tires out there who’s max load is at the max 41psi listed on the sidewall.

      The other thing to keep in mind that 24psi or 26psi is considered the minimum inflation pressure for most passenger car tires.

      Now when you through in true truck tires that is a whole ‘nother story.

      This is a good resource on determining the proper inflation pressure. It is mainly written to determine if a give tire is a suitable replacement (IE Plus sizing) and the new pressure but it also works if you know the axle weights of your vehicle and tire size/load index. http://www.tiresafety.com/images/Tire%20Replacement%20Manual.pdf

    • 0 avatar
      SCE to AUX

      I use exactly what the car sticker recommends, unless I’m running non-standard width wheels.

  • avatar
    tubacity

    When buying in 2011-12 tried the Civic. Had more noise than others in the price range. Felt cheap, and noisy. Maybe it is just a noisy car. Bought something else.

  • avatar
    mchan1

    It’s funny that many auto makes don’t really address NVH for their vehicles except for their luxury brands, if a brand exists.

    You’d think that the auto makers would actually put in some decent noise insulation in Today’s vehicles and some decent tires to remove some NVH but don’t. Sure, the tires may have traction but is terribly noisy then it gets worse as the tires age.

    Currently have Continental ContiproContacts in my newer vehicle and don’t like them. It has decent traction since it’s new but it’s noisy as heck except on newly paved roads where it’s quiet. I absolutely Hate Continental Tires as its tires tend to wear relatively quickly, lose traction as it ages and is noisy as hell! Had them on my old car and it’s included on my newer car. These newer tires better perform well in its first upcoming winter!

    I thought Goodyear tires were bad years ago but its tires got better. Replaced the old Continentals with the GY Triplethread tires which were relatively costly but it had very good traction, good wear and made less noise!
    I like Dunlop and Cooper tires, too, but harder to find in my area.

    May try either Bridgestone or Michelin tires next at a nearby Costco when the time comes for tire replacement.

    Never will I buy Continental tires with its terrible tires!
    From my experience, I find it amazing that many people like them, at least for everyday vehicles from Honda/Nissan/Toyota/Ford. Those tires are not worth the money or consideration!

  • avatar
    30-mile fetch

    This is one reason why road noise insulation is an important factor in my car buying process. A quiet car probably won’t be as sensitive to the tire choice, and there are enough factors to balance as is when choosing a tire.

    This article reminds me that I’ve found tire research to be a bit frustrating, even with gold mines like Tire Rack. Or perhaps because of it. Their consumer-rated criteria that gives such a nice robust data table for performance doesn’t always match the Tire Rack staff test results. There are consumers noting serious performance loss after 10 or 20 thousand miles from tires highly rated in tests. After wading through this, I ended up with well-rated Pirelli P4s that have been fine, but frankly not that much better than the poorly reviewed stock Hankooks they replaced.

    I made it easier on myself with the snow tires this year. 1) what’s Discount Tire got in my car’s size that isn’t studded? 2) Hey, this one has a $70 discount. 3) Did it suck in Tire Rack reviews? Nope. Good, I’ll buy those.

    • 0 avatar
      Quentin

      The worst tires I ever bought had amazing reviews from TireRack: goodyear wrangler silent armors. The tire shop had a hell of a time getting them to balance and eventually replaced the one tire after the 3rd time of being unable to balance them. They were way heavier than the OEM tire and the traction wasn’t noticeably improved. They looked nicer than the OEM tire, but that was the only advantage. IMO, the reviews were a result of a bunch of people that dropped $1k on a good looking tire justifying their purchase.

      I very much use your method for tire buying now. We had a huge piece of metal kill a tire on the Rav4 late this summer. We were far enough along in the life of the tire that I had to replace all 4. I hopped on Consumer Reports and Tirerack, found that the Michelins (with high treadwear) were well rated, and paid. Done. We’ve put 5k on them and have been pleased. If I get the 70k miles they are rated for, I’ll be very, very happy with them.

      • 0 avatar
        MBella

        I wouldn’t trust any shop that “can’t balance” a tire. I’ll balance a triangle for you. Road-force is another matter, but most shops don’t have road-force balancers to check anyway.

        • 0 avatar
          danio3834

          Some tires are so bad they can’t be balanced. Right from the factory. You can road force and match mount most of them, but some are too far out. Especially if lateral runout is excessive.

          • 0 avatar
            MBella

            They might have excessive road-force and cause a vibration. That’s different, and my point. You can balance anything, including a triangle if you know what you’re doing. If the 16 year old kid at your tire shop can’t balance a tire, he doesn’t know what he’s doing.

        • 0 avatar
          SC5door

          I see tire rejections on a daily basis right from the factory; nothing is impossible.

          • 0 avatar
            MBella

            I’m not arguing that there are no faulty tires. Far from it. I’m saying that “We can’t balance your tires” isn’t something valid. Out of round tires can be a very real issue, but not because of imbalance.

  • avatar
    scottcom36

    *I wonder if the 2012 Civic is noisier than others. I think they added some sound insulation with the “emergency” refresh for 2013.
    *I have a 2015 Civic and it was quiet when new. Now (after 10,000 miles) the Affinity tires are humming noticeably. I wonder if rotating them will help. Are the tread blocks all higher one way and lower the other? I’ll mark the tires when I put my snows on and put them on backwards in the spring, see if that will even them out.
    *Interestingly, the General studded snows on my F-150 are remarkably quiet.

  • avatar
    gtemnykh

    Late to my own party, I’ve since put on another 6k miles on the car and I guess I’ve just gotten used to it, so consider it a non-issue. Another poster mentioned it, but both on the Camry and the civic the new altimaxes transfer more of the road surface to the car, but not obnoxiously so IMO. Wet traction continues to be fantastic. Overall I’d say I’m fairly satisfied, especially given their price and my priorities (improving wet traction over stock Firestone LRR tires). Having said that, buying tires again I think I’d pony up for Michelins.

  • avatar
    Scoutdude

    If low noise is a priority then you really want a top tier tire. Good tread design balances the performance and noise throughout the life of the tire. The problem is that it has to be tweaked for each different size of tire as the width and diameter changes the number of tread blocks needed. A lower tier brand is less likely to tweak the exact sizing and spacing of the tread blocks to minimize noise in each particular size.

  • avatar
    Big Al from Oz

    Road noise from tyres is all about harmonics.

    Since the eighties in particular tyre manufacturers have been using computer generated lug patterns on tyres to cancel out road noise. This feature is most evident on off road tyres. Look at the length and size of the lugs. They all vary in size and are sequenced by size and shape to reduce the harmonics of road noise.

    You will also find many of the cheaper tyres available today were the “ducks guts” in tyres a decade or so ago. Supacats and Computacats come to mind of a major tyre manufacturer continuing with a tyre for a couple of decades.

    Also, go out onto any building site and look at the paint they are using. We call it trade paint. The paint is cheap and was the best of the best a decade ago. The same for engine oils or for that matter any lubricant.

    People will go out and spend a fortune on tyres, oils, paints, etc because of marketing spin. Does the inflated prices of these so called cutting edge products offer a wise use of money?

    Reserch carefully first the “older” product you are buying.

    Tyres, I have found the best off road tyres for value are from a brand called Maxxis. I have them for around 75 000km on my Sorento and that was driving at speeds of over 140kph for sustained periods.

    Now I’m running 17/265/75 BFG T/A ATs. They were expensive when I bought them in the Outback $395AUD each! But they are 10ply, uncomfortable and don’t fail.

    I had the standard Dunlop Grand Treks, but the side wall guillotined in some relatively easy off roading. They were 4ply with 2 ply side walls.

    Look at what you expect from your tyres, then buy. It might cost a few dollar more to get the correct tyres to suit your application. But remember there probably is as good an alternative cheaper “non” brand tyre to suit your needs.

    Research first, also believe half of what you see and nothing of what you hear. No one wants to admit they wasted hundreds of dollar on incorrect tyres.

  • avatar
    S197GT

    i’d get an alignment done. request the before and after printouts.

    had some work done on our bmw at a reputable indie shop; including an alignment.

    for whatever reason a year later i notice that right rear tire looks like it has a little too much toe. was it just me? let it go for a bit.

    finally i sprung for an alignment at the dealer… turned out to be less expensive! ($120 at dealer, $150 at indie)

    rear toe was off and a few other small adjustments were made.

  • avatar
    Big Al from Oz

    Road noise is more about harmonics. Yes, shock mounting and isolating devices are significant as well as sound deadening, even a separate chassis reduces road noise.

    If one looks at a modern tyre, that is a tyre from the 80s onwards you will notice the lugs are of different sizes. This is for noise cancellation purposes.

    Off road tyres are the worst offenders of noise due to the aggressive tread patterns used. But off road tyres are the easiest to notice the difference in the size of the lugs.

    As for the cheaper no name brand of tyres. They are generally the older forms and moulds of previous cutting edge tyres. Some of these tyres can provide good performance for their price. But research first!

    Scoutdude’s comment is important. One must realise the most important interface between a vehicle and the surface it rides on is the tyre. Terrain and surfaces vary significantly and the tyre has the most demand placed on it. No other component will need to be as flexible (no pun intended) as a tyre in offering service.

    Remember always check tyres pressure and tread, sidewall for damage. A poor tyre or incorrectly chosen tyre can kill………..quite easily.

    • 0 avatar
      Scoutdude

      Most high end tires do spend a lot of effort in tuning the tread block and void sizing/spacing for each particular size to prevent harmonics, however the cheaper the tire the less likely they put much effort into that.

      Like most things in life you get what you pay for and cheap tires are usually not a good value in the long run. On the other hand it doesn’t make a lot of sense to buy a tire that is supposed to last say 80K-90K if you are planning on getting rid of it soon or you only drive 5-6K per year.

  • avatar
    rpn453

    The only noisy tires I’ve ever experienced were the result of abnormal wear. After a new inner tie rod and a proper alignment, I just took a palm sander with coarse sandpaper to the cupped edges of the two bad tires’ treads and smoothed them out. They were fine after that.

  • avatar
    WheelMcCoy

    Wow, new tires getting noisy as they approach 5,000 miles. I’ve read about and experienced growing tire noise, but that was at 20,000 and after a tire rotation. Rotating tires usually accentuate any irregularities on the tire surface, but the noise attenuated after driving some more which evened out the wear.

    It may very well just be the nature of a 2012 Honda Civic. I recall that year wasn’t a very good vintage, although the following MMC made things a bit better.

  • avatar
    Scoutdude

    One thing to keep in mind when reading the reviews on TireRack and other places is that for many of those tires that were reviewed with higher miles on them it was right before they were replaced. If they were the OE tires you have to keep in mind that a lot of the OE tires are not the same as the replacement tire in that same size.

    A great example I found years ago was with the BFG Long Trail that both Ford and Toyota used on their trucks and SUVs at the time. Toyota drivers complained heavily about the short life while the Ford drivers raved about how they lasted so long. Looking them up on TireRack, using their “show OE tires” function it showed that the tires that Toyota spec’ed out left the factory with 8/32″ of tread while the Ford tires left the factory with the full 13/32″ of tread used on the tires intended for the aftermarket.

    Personally I don’t know why the tire companies agree to that. The vehicle mfg saves a few $ per tire but when the consumer goes to replace them they pick a different brand because of the poor life of the OE tire.

    • 0 avatar
      MBella

      Toyota and Ford probably also had different compounds, and goals for the tires. In ContiProContacts, there are something like 16 different compounds used for different manufacturers. Each tuned for a specific goal. If I was to guess, I’d say the Toyota version in the your example are quieter, and have less tread squirm.

      • 0 avatar
        Scoutdude

        The point is that the OE tires are not necessarily the same as the tire that is built for the aftermarket in the exact same model and size. Here is an example looking up the tires for a 2013 Camry and looked at the OE tires. http://www.tirerack.com/tires/tires.jsp?tireMake=Firestone&tireModel=Affinity+Touring&partnum=065SR6AFT&vehicleSearch=true&fromCompare1=yes&autoMake=Toyota&autoYear=2013&autoModel=Camry%204cyl&autoModClar=LE You’ll note 2 different 205/65-16 the OE one with 8/32″ and one intended for the aftermarket with 10/32″.

  • avatar
    nrd515

    My 2000 Sierra 4×4 came with those awful Firestone “Wilderness” tires that were supposedly the most fuel efficient truck/SUV tires made at the time. They were very odd in a lot of ways. The main complaint I had with them was they took a truck that drive pretty well(With better tires, and for a truck) into a jellyish mess that needed constant correction to stay in lane. Even pumping them up to the max pressure ratings wouldn’t firm them up. The Wilderness tires, in other sizes were the culprits in the Ford Explorer mess, so I decided to replace them with Michelins. The Michelins came in two tread types. One was “passenger” and the other was “passenger/off road”. I wanted the passenger tread, but the tire place couldn’t find a 4th one, so they knocked off $5 a tire if I took the other, so I did. They were great tires, I put over 50K miles on them and they still had over half the tread left. They had a good ride quality, and were just great, but from day one, they were howlers, and for about 4 months, they got louder every day. Louder than the old nasty Desert Dogs that came on my 1977 Macho Power Wagon! I didn’t think it was possible to get louder street tires than those! I did take my knife and remove some flashing between the tread blocks, and it helped a little, but those tires made upgrading the awful sounding and weak stereo a priority.

  • avatar
    APaGttH

    I put Yokohama YK580 tires from Discount Tire on my van about 4-1/2 years ago. I’ve put on close to 60K miles and I should get the 80K miles the warranty said I would with tread to spare.

    I’ve been happy but just in the last couple of months they’ve gotten loud. They have been outstanding in the rain and what little snow they’ve seen. A solid no-season tire.

  • avatar
    RideHeight

    Are bald tires quietest of all?

    If so, we must have many hundreds of tire-noise cognoscenti around here, especially on and near the reservation.

  • avatar
    geozinger

    I had a set of the Altimax HP (H-speed rated version) on my G6 for about 2.5 years (or ~40K miles) on recommendation from Tire Rack. The major consideration I had at the time was for wet/snow traction along with speed rating and price. They replaced a set of OEM Firestones which were OK, but seemed to wear quickly, IIRC were FR480s. I initially liked the Altimax, but found that their rim protector bead interfered with my plastic wheel covers. And, at the end of their lives, they were getting noisy and losing traction, but that has been my experience with many tires over the last 3.5 decades of my driving life.

    This time around, I decided to buy a set of Kumho Ecsta ASXyyy (yyy= some numbers that I can’t see from here) on recommendation from Tire Rack again. This time, the major consideration was price, along with traction and speed rating, as the car is getting older and we don’t drive nearly as much as we did at one time. These V-rated Kumhos have been delightfully quiet, considering that the T-rated OEM Firestones were fairly noisy, which I didn’t expect. That the H-rated Generals would be noisy was my expectation, based on my experience with various manufacturer’s H, V, and Z-rated tires. But I only have about >10K miles on these tires as I bought them last Christmas time and they are rated for 40K miles. Check back with me in another year or two.

    I like the info I get from Tire Rack, but I have three cars and get all of my tires from Discount Tire. The folks at my local store know me and I get good service from them. In addition, my daughters get their tires there and I have peace of mind knowing they can get their tires fixed anywhere in a wide geographical area from our hometown. There’s a reason why I don’t mind paying a little more for local service.

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