By on July 7, 2017

Tires

Want a definition of irony that has nothing to do with rain on your wedding day? Well, here you go: The spectacular abilities of the modern performance automobile are about half due to electronic engine control and about half due to modern tire technology. That’s an estimate, of course, and one that might not be all that fair to the tires. Every time you hear some stupidity about how ECONOCAR XXX is three seconds faster around a reference course than SUPERCAR YYY, you can be reasonably sure that the times for the old car were set on “ultra high performance” tires that wouldn’t make the cut nowadays on a half-ton pickup.

Many of the ERMAGHERD lap-time specials out there are largely or entirely dependent on boutique tires for their performance. This is particularly true for the current crop of domestic rockets which often have a vehicle-specific fitment that shares little to nothing with other sizes of that particular sidewall labeling. (Your Honor, Exhibit A: The Kumhos on the Viper ACR.)

You would think that the buyers of those cars would understand just how critical it is to obtain fresh date codes of the original super-rubber every time they replace their tires. Nah.


Here’s a super duper secret for you guys out there who are trying to live like $50k millionaires: hang out at the dumpsters of prestige-car dealers that do a lot of CPO used-car sales. ‘Cause in order to CPO the cars, most of them are required by the manufacturer to fit equivalent rubber. So you get a shuffle like this:

* Brad and Karen lease a new Porsche/Benz/whatever;
* 15,000 miles into the lease, the manufacturer-specified tires are at the wear bars;
* The dealership quotes them $1,148 a corner for new OEM-spec tires mounted and balanced;
* Which represents more free-range cash than they have or will even have;
* So they go to Discount Tire;
* Which fits them with Nexen or Hankook or Kumho rubber for $375 a corner;
* And then they trade in the car early or return it at the end of the lease;
* And the dealer can’t sell the car CPO because it has slightly wrong-sized Nexens with an inappropriate speed and load rating;
* So they put on the OEM tires and charge it to the used-car department;
* And they throw the barely used tires away in the dumpster.

This happens thousands of times a year all across America. Come get your free tires, everybody. You’ll be able to keep your old Cayenne Turbo rollin’ on fresh Shanghai rubber as often as you like.

I’m always surprised by how many of my novice trackday students show up with major engine mods while pushing $159 tires. Then they wonder why they burn out their brakes in the second session getting down from their enhanced straight-line speeds to the reduced corner-entry velocity.

Let’s talk about some of the times when we’ve cheaped out on tires — or when we haven’t, shall we?

Also, if your tires suck and you’re shopping for new tires, help support TTAC’s work by doing your research at TireReviewsandMore.com.

[Image: General Motors]

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177 Comments on “QOTD: Do You Skimp on Tires? Do You Care If the OEM Does?...”


  • avatar
    mikeg216

    Tires are the only thing that keeps you on the road in weather.. I’ll never ever cheap out on tires.. The tires I just put on my vehicle are probably worth more than the vehicle itself. But I’ll be able to stop and go and turn in any condition

    • 0 avatar
      golden2husky

      That made me laugh. My 92 Sable still sport Michelins. As does every other car in our fleet. So I get the tires worth more than the car thing. But cheap out on rubber? No way. What is your life and car worth? I’ll gladly deal with 30K replacement cycles for control.

  • avatar
    Arthur Dailey

    1) This leads us to renew the discussion regarding dedicated winter tires. Studies demonstrate that a dedicated winter tire provides superior winter control than AWD or 4Wd. Yet what percentage many SUV’s, pick-ups etc in winter regions swap tires in the fall? Or those who run ‘winter beaters’?

    Having a proper winter tire is far more important than worrying about’track day’ performance tires.

    2) What about stale dated tires? Even J.B. was guilty of running a Porsche on stale, dried out rubber.

    3) How much extra would it cost manufacturer’s to put a slight upgrade of rubber on the cars that we regular consumers purchase. I drove my new Pontiac Grand Prix SJ on the then radically new Firestone 500 Radials. And on 2 separate occasions had these tires, that were less than a year old and were kept at the correct pressure, blow out on me at highway speeds. Many newer cars have low resistance tires that increase mileage at the cost of control.

    4) Finally why would the dealer ‘throw out’ nearly new, if low end tires? Haven’t you ever heard of the used tire market. I have scored many deals by purchasing used tires.

    • 0 avatar
      PrincipalDan

      One of the local independent tire dealers (whom I deal with frequently) did a brisk used tire business, and likely sold a few of my tires used since I rarely wait until the wear bars are showing.

      I pulled up to their shop recently for a rotation and there was a sign in the window. “AS OF MAY 07, 2017 We will no longer sell used tires. This is due to a change in our insurance. We apologize for the inconvenience.”

    • 0 avatar
      operagost

      The Firestone 500s were notoriously poorly designed and defective. The same tires were fitted to my family’s mundane Ford LTD and it blew out at least two, with the third about to go. They were a special case. Of course, Firestone didn’t learn, since they did it again decades later with the tires on the Explorers.

      • 0 avatar
        Arthur Dailey

        Yep, I believe that there may have been some class action. And I was hoping that someone would mention the Explorer/Firestone issue.

        The Grand Prix had a badge on the dashboard that said ‘radial tuned suspension’.

        • 0 avatar
          JimZ

          that was a GM thing back then. Radials had markedly different handling characteristics than bias-ply and bias-belted tires, so it was a gentle reminder not to cheap out and put bias tires on these cars.

        • 0 avatar
          mason

          The OEM Firestone 275/70/18 on my Ram were horrible. At 25k mostly towing miles they were nearly down to the wear bars. Given my climate I generally shop for a mountain snowflake rated tire which aren’t the best known for longevity, given that I still expect 40k out of a set. I also rarely go to the wear bars but on the Firestone the seasons fell right to run them that far.

          Im currently on a set of Cooper’s that were off my cousin’s truck that was totalled in an accident 2 weeks after he bought them. Once these Cooper’s are wore down I’m going to try the Toyo Open Country C/T’s. Fairly new tire, commercial rated as well as mountain snowflake. Those are two big check marks for me.

          • 0 avatar
            JohnTaurus

            Mason, the oem Firestones on my close friend’s Altima were awful. Turns out, Firestone only makes that tire for Nissan. How much do you want to bet its cheaper than the lowest priced retail version?

            In other words, Firestone don’t give a phuuuuck about quality. Never have. They’ll gladly make you an especially awful tire if you bid low enough.

          • 0 avatar
            Vulpine

            Say what you will, but I’ve been very pleased with my four different sets of Firestone/Bridgestone tires. Of course, it does make sense to understand what you need under your vehicle because putting the wrong type of tire under it can be worse than putting the cheapest correct type on the rims.

          • 0 avatar
            87 Morgan

            Mason. I have the Toyo Open Country on my Suburban and have been extremely happy with them. Thus far they are wearing at almost 2x better than the factory Goodyear tires which were good for 35k miles and I am close to 30k on the Toyo’s and have about half to go.
            They are great in the snow and slush and do not create a lot of road noise. Expensive yes, but I highly recommend them if your plan is to keep your Ram.

      • 0 avatar

        It takes two to tango.

        Bad tires? sure. Bad car? Yes!!

        A blowout on a rear tire shouldn’t be enough to cause a vehicle to lose control and rollover.

        Ford managed to throw Firestone under the bus while escaping much of the blame they and their vehicles deserved.

        • 0 avatar
          JohnTaurus

          Yep, that’s why all the Explorers of that generation I still see trolling around on their 8th owner with 3 BHPH lot stickers on the liftgate are all upside down. Defective car.

          “When a tire blew, the vehicle would experience a sudden sharp jerk, and many drivers reacted by counter-steering in an attempt to regain control. This action would cause a shift of the vehicle’s weight, resulting in a rollover especially at higher speeds (many reports of rollovers were of vehicles being driven at speeds of 70 mph (110 km/h) and above). In a test simulating dozens of tire blowouts, Larry Webster, a test-driver for Car & Driver magazine, was repeatedly able to bring a 1994 Explorer to a stop without incident from speeds of 70 mph (110 km/h).

          “According to Forbes magazine, car experts and NHTSA claim that the vast majority of crash accidents and deaths are caused not by the vehicle, but by the driver, by road conditions or some combination of the two.”

          The Explorer was extremely popular at the time, given the rate if incidence of rollover considering that, there is no reason to believe its any less safe than comparable vehicles.

          Does being a BOF top-heavy truck make it prone to rollover? Well, yes, its call physics. Worse than others like it? No.

          You want safer SUVs that handle more like cars? There’s an Explorer for that now, it pretty much sucks, it drives like a fat heavy wagon, because that’s what it is.

          I’d rather have the pre-2002 Explorer/Mountaineer (or really, the modern Ford Everest). Maybe it won’t kill me 3 times before I get to the store. I’ll take my chances.

          If you want to complain about a Ford SUV that *is* prone to roll over (due to its narrowness and short wheel base), that would be the Bronco II. And no, the Explorer Sport was not a Bronco II.

          Park them next to each other, yes they share some body parts (forward of the A pillar) and some suspension, but it is longer and I believe the frame is wider apart, contributing to better stability. Of course, this has the opposite effect off-road, where the Bronco II excels due to the very things that make it prone to rollover, being tall, short in length, and narrow in width.

          • 0 avatar

            Are you asserting if a tire of a superior brand blew out on an explorer of that era that it would not experience the symptoms described in your response?

          • 0 avatar
            JimZ

            you’re asking him to prove a negative.

            don’t do that.

          • 0 avatar
            Stugots

            Hi John, I’m sorry to have to tell you this, but a good deal of the information in this post is incorrect. I’m an engineer who spent most of his career performing suspension development on trucks and SUVs. While it would take a small book to explain the technical details, in brief I can state that whether the vehicle is BOF has nothing to do with its propensity to roll over. The issue with the Ford Explorer was not necessarily the width of its frame rails nor the fact that it had a frame, it was the fact that Ford specified unusually low tire pressures to ensure a soft ride. The low tire pressures enabled a couple of bad side effects to come together in an unanticipated way. Sorry to have to share this information, but wanted the readers to have some accuracy around this issue.

          • 0 avatar
            gtemnykh

            Stugots that was my understanding as well. Ford spec’d something insane like 26psi, unheard of on an SUV unless you’re hitting the beach.

    • 0 avatar
      pragmatic

      For the last 20 years I’ve run dedicated winter tires. Not necessarily top shelf but either General, Cooper or Dunlop. Usually when replacing them (after 3 winters and 15K miles) the shop is surprised such deeply treaded tires are being removed. That is before they see the very deep treads on the replacement tire.

      Before the internet I’d get the store brand (Sears or Montgomery Ward). But never their bottom of the line always near their top. These were generally twice the price of their bottom of the line tire but generally 10 – 20% cheaper than the bottom of the line Firestone or Goodyear. Since on-line pricing has become available I buy middle of the road name brand tires from which ever local dealer has prices that are somewhat inline with the various on-line marketers.

    • 0 avatar
      SirRaoulDuke

      I can’t speak for all winter weather regions, but in the High Alleghenies of West Virginia hardly anyone ran winter tires. I did, and hell yes it made a difference. Then again, I literally had to drive up a mountain to my home. My tire dealer said they mostly sold winter tires to, believe it or not, Subaru drivers. My guess is these were enthusiast minded Subie drivers, or ones that really did live that “active lifestyle” they market to. Also, there are soooo many trucks up there, and a lot of people ran T/A KO’s, which are pretty darn good in snow anyway.

      I never buy winter tires here in Southern Indiana. We just do not get enough serious winter weather to bother. The whole place shuts down with a decent snow, anyway. Add in that I am a pretty damn competent winter driver and I don’t have an issue on all-seasons.

      My Hyundai has the damn low-resistant tires. I hate them. They are loud and do not handle well. They will be changed out just before winter, and will certainly need it, that gives me getting a year and a half out of them (I bought an off-lease car), that’s acceptable enough for me for a used car. That will put them at 40k miles, which I think is pathetic for a modern non-performance tire. Mom only got 30k out of the stock tires on her Nissan, very pathetic.

      • 0 avatar
        raph

        BFG AT/KOs are snow rated ( they have a snowflake and mountain branded into the sidewall indicating severe weather capacity)

        The dolts you need to be wary of are the guys running mud and rock crawling tires.

        Those damn things are nearly as useless as a summer tire in the snow.

      • 0 avatar
        PrincipalDan

        When looking for tires I specifically exclude the “low rolling resistance” tires as well. Dang near as bad as a “summer only” tire in most less than perfect conditions.

      • 0 avatar
        Lou_BC

        You really need designated winter (mountain and snowflake) tires if you live in a region that routinely gets below 7C or 44F. You can get by on a mud and snow designated tire in warmer areas. The “winter” tire rubber compound stays more pliable in colder weather.
        With that being said, I don’t skimp and run appropriately rated winter tires.

        • 0 avatar
          gtemnykh

          Yeah I embarrassed my brother in his XL7 on Cooper AT3s climbing a PA switchback fire road, me in my old Mazda MPV 4wd with Michelin snow tires (I pulled him up as I recall). Interestingly, Cooper has now created an AT/W, tread blocks look like AT3 but with lots of siping and a different rubber formula I’m sure.

          • 0 avatar
            Arthur Dailey

            And the Suzuki XL7 had a credible off road reputation. That is excellent anecdotal evidence of the effectiveness of winter tires.

          • 0 avatar
            gtemnykh

            For sure Arthur, they are underrated rigs IMO. It’s got all the right ingredients (BOF, solid rear axle, part time 4wd, good approach/departure angles and compact width). The XL7’s breakover angle is its weak point, and stock clearance is just okay. Also no stock engine skid plate unfortunately. But I’ve been in that trucklet when we’ve scrambled up some unbelievably loose and steep terrain with rock ledges, etc. In that scenario in the winter it all came down to tires. The MPV has about the same ground clearance, and aside from lacking a low range (which we didn’t need anyways in that situation), the 4wd systems were at parity.

    • 0 avatar
      jpolicke

      My dad had Firestone 500’s on a Galaxie. He came home wondering why the car was handling strange. It looked like an explosion at the tire factory – wires sticking out all over.

    • 0 avatar
      starskeptic

      I was sold on dedicated winter tires after trying a set – but I’ll tell you, there’s a reason studded tires are popular in central Oregon…

  • avatar
    zip89123

    I’ve never skimped on tires. I also don’t blame Brad & Karen, but I’m willing to bet Discount Tire won’t like being slighted by TTAC. I agree many out there purchase $50,000 vehicles only to bitch & moan that a replacement tire costs more than $100. I do care if the OEM skimps on tire selection, and at the first sign of hydroplaning those tires will be gone on my vehicles. In all honesty, I’ve never had a good set of factory tires on any vehicle I’ve purchased, and that includes Toyota, Dodge, Chevrolet, Ford, and Honda.

    • 0 avatar
      raph

      Whywould they be slighted? Tire sellers/installers are in the buisiness of moving tires which for the most part a cost sensitive issue with buyers.

      As long as the seller is meeting the service description on the tire and depending on the tire manufacturer this might just be the load rating and approximate size ( same section width or wider and about the same diameter pursuant to rim width ) as some manufacturers will allow a lower speed rating to be fitted.

      If anything it says more about the buyer ( provided the person behind the counter knows what they are doing and have some level of integrity ) than the operation. Especially when it comes to a trade in or end of lease. People by and large dont give two copulations about consumables when they are getting rid of a vehicle, especially if it isn’t specifically spelled out in the contract ( ie ” you must replace with this brand/model tire ).

      Porsche is sorta in that boat though since they have a specification that is to be met. Any tire fitted to a Porsche should be branded with an “N” which means it’s been designed and tested to Porsche’s specification and they are pretty exacting on that matter since it can be a warranty issue if a non Porsche rated tire is installed and the car suffers a mechanical failure.

      A non issue for a trade in I suspect since a salesman likely isn’t going to blow a sale on noncompliant tires but on a lease it could be sticky if you roll in on cheap rubber and it doesn’t meet the spec.

      It’s pretty rare for a vehicle manufacturer to install an off the shelf tire. Most of them are engineered to meet the manufacturer’s spec but they generally don’t push the issue with replacement tires ( Porsche being a notable exception ).

      • 0 avatar
        zip89123

        When Discount Tire versus Jo Blow’s Tires is specifically mentioned, it leans toward saying that Discount Tire will do something unethical to make a sale. I haven’t had that experience at any tire shop, thankfully, and while load rating may vary, none I’ve visited or purchased from will downgrade to a lower speed rating as they say it’s unlawful, and makes them legally liable. Load rating however has wiggle room for some sedans I’ve owned, but not for the trucks I’ve had. The unlawful part might be specific to CA & TX & NV where I’ve purchased tires that weren’t factory, and not where you’ve done business, thus I see your point.

        • 0 avatar
          quaquaqua

          The independent tire shops around me in Indiana are LOADED with crap tires. Discount Tire sells a couple off-brands, and even those seem to be far better than the Chinese tires at all the small shops. But the author wanted to specifically make fun of Korean tires, hence why he mentioned all of those brands, despite the average Kumho tire being far better than tbe average Good Year or Firestone. But this wouldn’t be TTAC without thinly-veiled racism!

        • 0 avatar
          Dave M.

          My tire dealers are Costco and Discount. In each circumstance (especially Discount) they made it clear that they would not vary from manufacturer recommendation.

          I’m running a set of Pirelli’s right now because I’ve always run Michelin’s but I’m unimpressed so once they wear out it’s back to Michelin.

          • 0 avatar
            phlipski

            A good friend of mine summed up Discount Tire perfectly – “I feel like I get the least amount of bullshit from Discount Tire relative to all other tire shops!”

            I’ve always been happy with Discount Tire and Costco. My experience with Firestone – both the tires and the stores has been terrible over the years. My experience with cheap tires is that in the long run they’re not that cheap – they wear out faster and the traction (or lack thereof) is problematic.

            I’ve got a 2012 Pathfinder which came with Bridgestone Radial Long Trail T/A’s which I despise for their slick boat ramp performance. However I’ve managed to get a screw in the sidewalls one tire at a time about every 12k miles. So now I keep replacing 2 tires every 24k miles and I can’t seem to get them all worn down enough to replace all 4 with a different brand at once! I also hate the idea of throwing away 2 tires with 80% tread life left.

          • 0 avatar
            Vulpine

            You do realize you could replace those tires 2 at a time, right? If you don’t like what you’re using, then replace both tires on one axle with a different tire (as long as they’re alike and are the right size, the compound differences should be the only issue and most people want the better tires on the power axle. Waiting to swap all four at one time is illogical. Swap an axle when you need to replace a tire and simply have the better tires put on, in the case of your Pathfinder, the drive axle. Then, when the older tires wear down, you can replace them with the same type as on the rear. Cuts your up-front cost in half and means you’re not spending $1K every time you want to swap tires.

  • avatar
    thats one fast cat

    This is, without a doubt, my number 1 pet peave. As a rule of thumb, EVERY car that I buy (always used – see my screed about depreciation being the biggest cost of car ownership bar none) always gets brand new, brand name, correctly sized and speedrated rubber

    • 0 avatar
      ToddAtlasF1

      Depreciation the biggest cost of ownership? You have never owned a Subaru.

    • 0 avatar
      Vulpine

      For me, repairs on used cars has been the biggest cost of ownership. Even with a $30K car brand new, ten years of ownership only cost me $15K. Ten years of owning a used car cost me more and it tended to spend at least one day a month in the shop and more than a few times three days or more.

      I never had that kind of issue with ANY of my new-bought vehicles but one… and that was was a Daimler-caused problem for which I just received a recall notice that I have a 15-year, unlimited mileage extended warranty from the factory to cover.

  • avatar
    PrincipalDan

    I like to consider myself a “value” shopper. What’s the best tire I can get for a price I’m willing to pay?

    I also like my independent tire shop that carries a plethora of brands so I’m not stuck with one manufacturer. Honestly the worst tires I ever had were some Pep Boys house brand that I bought when I was desperate and broke.

    • 0 avatar
      MBella

      Agreed. There are some good tires for a decent price. Some of the offerings Sumitomo have produced lately aren’t bad, and the price is very reasonable. Its best to do your research. There are good cheap tires, and bad expensive tires.

      I remember a used C Class back when I worked at the dealer. It had some new looking junk Chinese tires. The dealer lowballed him on his trade because the car shook and groaned like crazy. I got the car to fix it for the lot. Swapped wheels and tires with a loaner, and the car drove like normal. I had to do this another 2 times just because first the service manager, and then the sales manager didn’t believe it could be the tires.

      A Nissan Sentra that I had, came with a worn set of those Pep Boys Futera tires. Worst tires ever. I bought the car in September, and suffered with those until November when it was time for winter tires.

    • 0 avatar
      SirRaoulDuke

      I am a big fan of Cooper. I have had their tires in many applications (touring all season, performance all season, summer only high performance, and winter truck) and have been very pleased with the price/performance ratio. And in both performance applications I drove the tits off both cars. Great tires.

      • 0 avatar
        PrincipalDan

        Dear Ol’ Dad had some Cooper Cobras on his classic Mustang and hated them. I’ve bought some Hercules Tires (a captive brand of Cooper) and have loved them. Hercules cuts the sipes all the way to the rated tread depth of the tires (as does Michelin.)

  • avatar
    earthwateruser

    For my daily driver, I would rather buy cheap tires more frequently than expensive tires that..just…last…for…ever. Fresh tires ride nice and they are super quiet. After 30,000 miles, not so much. Give me a 35,000 mile Cooper or a General over a 50,0000 (or more) Michelin or Continental any day. I’m pretty sure the tires that came w/ my crossover are 80,000 mile tires! I’ve put 65,000 miles on it and I’m nowhere near the wear bars. But the tires are much louder than when they were new. The kicker is that they are still great in the rain so I can’t justify replacing them.

    For my weekend car, I would also rather buy cheap tires more frequently than expensive tires because I’m going to abuse the tires. Since it’s front wheel drive, I will probably go through 2 sets of fronts before buying rears.

  • avatar
    EX35

    have you ever been to a discount tire? they carry expensive tires too.

    • 0 avatar
      brn

      Exactly. Most tire resellers carry a very wide range of product. The sideways slam on Discount Tire is unwarranted.

      • 0 avatar
        brn

        While I”m at it…

        I’m also bothered by some other statements in the article. $159 tires are bad? I paid about $800 to put four tires on my current ride. Tires were about $165 each, plus additional fees, getting me to $800 (at a dealer).

        The tires I wound up with were Continental PureContacts. Top of the line? Nope, but TONS better than the OEM tires.

        That brings me to my other issue with the article, the implication that OEM tires are somehow superior. My car came with Michelin Pilot HX MXM4’s. Not bad tires, but pricey and freaking deadly in the snow. The Continental’s are not only better in every way, but less expensive.

        Screw OEM tires.

        I’ve a theory. OEM tire manufacturers provide tires to the automaker at a discount. They do so with the expectation that a certain percentage of owners will naively buy OEM tires at replacement time. They jack up the price of the replacements to make up for the discount they gave the automaker.

        OEM tires are generally a bad deal.

        • 0 avatar
          RoysRoyce

          You must be new to the Baruth worldview where buying cars brand new “just because my dad did” and other incredibly stupid, senseless money-wasting is wrapped in articles-as-therapy against those who value their money.

          • 0 avatar
            Vulpine

            “You must be new to the Baruth worldview where buying cars brand new “just because my dad did…”

            I buy brand new for one reason: Every single used car I have ever owned has cost me more than it was worth. Every single new car has given me years of trouble-free service and, admittedly sometimes with service, up to 160,000 miles or 12 years before I no longer trust them to carry me safely. I never got more than three years service out of ANY used car I ever owned.

            I’m not a trader, neither when I buy a car or buy a stock; I’m an investor. I expect to get my money’s worth out of the car either through long endurance or decent resale–usually it’s long endurance.

          • 0 avatar
            Dave M.

            What’s the value of peace-of-mind? How do you determine that? I buy only new as well. It’s ok if you and I don’t like the same things in life. No need to berate.

        • 0 avatar
          PrincipalDan

          “OEM tire manufacturers provide tires to the automaker at a discount. They do so with the expectation that a certain percentage of owners will naively buy OEM tires at replacement time.”

          The only quote I use from “Unsafe at any Speed” is (paraphrasing) “Detroit only cares if the tires are round, black, and cheap. As long as the last criteria is met the other two aren’t as important.”

          I’d say that fits all of the OEMs.

        • 0 avatar
          theonewhogotaway

          Unless you are driving a 2015 or 2016 Honda CR-V LX that uses the aforementioned Continental but in CrossContact LX20 version tires, which is one of the top rated SUV and light track tire across the board. (Higher levels had horrible *Stones)

          2013 Accord LXs had Continental ContiProContact as their OEM tires.

          Lots of German cars ride on Continentals as well.

          No need to know OEM tires, without research…

        • 0 avatar
          SPPPP

          I also recommend the Continental PureContacts. They are very good for the price. The feel is slightly different from OEM (Mazda spec’ed Bridgestones), but they are quieter, have good grip, ride well, and seem to wear well. I usually buy Michelins, but this set of Continentals have worked out well.

          Also, in reference to the OEM-spec tires … Sometimes the retail version of a certain tire is different from the OEM version. One common difference is that the OEM specs out a shallower tread depth for better mileage and lower cost. But that makes the tires wear out faster. When you go to buy replacements, the tires are full tread depth and more expensive.

        • 0 avatar
          joeaverage

          I did that with a Honda and Bridgestones. We’re good for the first half or so of their life. Then rough and loud despite being rotated and babied.

          When those wore out, I tried them again (what was I thinking???). Same unhappy result.

          Switched to Michelins after that and they were smooth and quiet until they were worn out – and that was a long time.

          Our most recent crossover purchase came with Continental tires on the front – probably 70% of their life left – and brand new ??? on the back. I think they might be Chinese or Korean.

          All four are perfectly quiet and smooth. I’m trying to justify changing them out right now for a matching set of Michelin Defender LTX tires but I can’t justify it yet. Maybe the tires on the car will get noisy or rough.

          Our other car has a set of Coopers on it. Came with the car. Can’t say anything nice about them. Noisy and rough. Admittedly they were cupped by a worn tierod end but after the repair I frequently rotated the tires to try to get the tires quiet again. I’ve worn them round and mostly smooth but never quiet.

          Car is going away soon as we shrink the family fleet a little.

  • avatar
    JimZ

    nope. not only do I not go for whatever is the cheapest Arisun junk off the boat from Hangzhou Zhongce Rubber Co., Ltd. I’ll try to get something which is a step up from the OE. my Mustangs both came with P-Zero Nero all-seasons, which were OK when new but hydroplaned dangerously by the time they had 30,000 on them.

    It’s “ERMAHGERD,” by the way.

    • 0 avatar
      frankev

      I had been ignorant of the ERMAHGERD meme until I looked it up. I found that Vanity Fair published an informative article on it a couple of years ago:

      http://www.vanityfair.com/culture/2015/10/ermahgerd-girl-true-story/amp

      I always learn so much from this website, and not all of it car-related.

  • avatar
    APaGttH

    Only in college did I buy the lowest common denominator rubber, and in hindsight I probably paid for it because the tires wore out so feckin’ fast.

    Since then it has been at least upper middle of the pack. When I restored the Isuzu Impulse I learned it is near impossible to find 14″/70 series tires that aren’t crap from China. But I didn’t give up and found some Generals – the best I could put on the car, that’s the way I went.

    Wife rolls Michelins, I wanted to put Michelins on the Holdenized 8 but the rear tire size was out of stock, so I went with high end Bridgestone.

    Back in the day when I autocrossed 008R from Yokohama. One time, back in the day, after “competition” was done in Solo and they were doing fun runs, we took the performance tires off and put the street tires on. Same driver, same car, same track, same general conditions. The car was a full 4 second slower with the change in rubber.

    You can’t cheap out on tires.

    • 0 avatar
      SemiPro

      Nowadays, if you are doing Autocross in a class that requires street tires, you will not be competitive unless you are using RE71Rs or Rival S tires. Tire technology overall has improved greatly but there are also so many tires are that are tailored for specific cars or applications.

  • avatar
    gearhead77

    I learned not to totally skimp on tires after a few early bouts of Walmart or Pep Boys tires. But it’s really hard to spend a lot more on a Michelin versus a fairly similar( on paper) Yokohama or BFGoodrich that might be sometimes $40 or more cheaper. But I’ve never owned anything where tire choice was truly critical. I have a set of Cooper RS3-A on the Mazda 5 and they are acceptable for the cost, but not enough to buy them again ( my BIL is a sales rep for Cooper though, keeping peace and whatnot)

    But I’ve never been impressed with most of the OEM stuff I’ve ever had, certainly not enough to buy the same tire. The Toyo Proxes that came with the Mazda were pretty good, but they wore quickly. But the 5 is a known tire eater, especially with “spirited” driving. A set of Yokohama summer AVS100 really changed the spirit of my 01 Focus over the Firestone Firehawks it came with in the day.

    Winter tires? Absolutely worth it to me.

    OEM it’s a business decision. My Cruze has Firestone FR710s, which is just an updated version of the FR680’s my 95 Cougar had. They are awful, but they must cost GM nothing. If I had to put tires on it, it’d be something slightly better, but not by much.

    • 0 avatar
      JimZ

      I don’t see buying a name-brand tire from the middle of the pack as “cheaping out,” so long as it’s the correct speed rating and desired performance category.

    • 0 avatar
      ttacgreg

      My 2000 Corolla came with Firestone FRXXX’s of some sort. The road noise was thunderous on coarse pavement. I shopped Tire Rack for the quietest tire according to their crowd sourced ratings, and got Yokohama Avid Touring tires. There was a very noticeable reduction in road noise.

    • 0 avatar
      SirRaoulDuke

      Funny, I thought the Cooper RS3-A was perfect on my Mazda3 2.3s. I got 50k miles out of them and drove in a manner that is neither legally nor socially responsible. And the 2.3 3s is also a tire eater.

      • 0 avatar
        slavuta

        Tire Eater? wow! Neither of my 3 Mazda3 was a tire eater. In fact, each made around 60K on original Bridgestones

        • 0 avatar
          gearhead77

          It’s well known on the forums ( from when people participated that is) that the 5 goes through tires and the early cars had suspension issues that really chewed up the tires. 15k is about it for me, but I drive it fairly hard too. The topography and roads at home are not kind to tires or brakes, even if you don’t drive “spiritedly”.

        • 0 avatar
          SirRaoulDuke

          The negative rear camber on the 2.3s is not tire friendly lol.

      • 0 avatar
        gearhead77

        I think they are decent, the RS-3A’s. This is actually my second set. They’ve worn well, they are still alright in heavy rain with about 50% treadwear. But they’ve gotten much louder and you know noise attenuation isn’t a Mazda strong point. I want to try something else before I go back to them. They are also made in China, which I try to avoid when I can.

  • avatar
    -Nate

    I’m pretty sure that reality dictates price as the # 1 factor in buying for most ~ that was certainly the case for me well into my 50’s .

    The upside is : it teaches you to be a better driver just as driving on dirt does .

    My Son talked me into buying Falcon LT skins for my old truck and I was amazed at how much more grip at speed in the twisty bits they have .
    I normally run Michelin Defenders on my passenger vehicles, they’re quite fine as I never track the car and have no problems out running the others on Road Rallies =8-) .

    -Nate

  • avatar
    JMII

    “I’m always surprised by how many of my novice trackday students show up with major engine mods while pushing $159 tires”

    Well until you really start pushing your car on a track your el-cheapo tires likely worked perfectly fine on the street. Plus spending on HP gives an immediate and long term smile, while tires are a consumable item so everyone knows they ain’t going last forever.

    Plus you have the irony that “good” tires actually wear faster because they have more grip. This causes people to complain about tire wear and seek a tire that last longer but actually performs way worst. Over my 3 years of tracking my car I’ve moved up several classes of tire. With more sticky rubber its like having traction control turned on, I almost can’t break the rear lose.

    Honestly I am amazed at how crappy some tires on performance vehicles are from the factory. However this makes sense as they are major comprises here: wet weather, cold weather, road noise, MPG, etc. For example my wife’s Infiniti has narrower tires then my Z despite the Infiniti having more weight and more HP. I’d say its under tired. Guess the OEM figures this vehicle will not be pushed as hard or that the fancy TCS or ESP nanny (VDC in Nissan speak) will sort things out. Another prime example are the Dodge Chargers/Challengers: I’ve instructed students in these things and the mere thought of applying the throttle is enough to spin the factory rubber. Its all cool to chirp or smoke the tires on the street but on the track these cars are almost undriveable due the high weight, big power and ZERO grip combination. No wonder rookies wrap such cars around lampposts and trees constantly.

  • avatar
    islander800

    How your car FEELS when it’s driven has EVERYTHING to do with the tires you slap on. This article reminds me of the time I replaced the original rubber on my ’86 Accord with Pirelli P6s.

    My garage thought I was kinda nuts, but the Pirellis completely transformed the way the car steered and handled. Suddenly, steering response was lightening fast and the car handled like it was on rails. It was a revelation how important really good tires are to driving performance. The only downside? They only lasted about 25K miles before they were toast.

    So it’s a trade-off: soft compound rubber lets you get the most from your car’s handling potential, but be prepared to change tires a lot more often. In my mind, it’s worth it. After that experience, it made me cringe when a work colleague bragged about the great deal he got on a set of discount high-mileage tires. Really?

    • 0 avatar
      golden2husky

      I’m with you. I’ll deal with short tread life for increased control any day. Somebody mentioned Michelin Defenders – not a fan as the extra long life rubber compromises grip.

      Those who buy cheap tires, unless they have no other choice, are being foolish and tight. My late father-in-law owned a repair shop and would tell stories of folks bringing in high priced German iron and the owners would balk at paying for replacement struts or premium tires. What is the point of owning a great car and hampering it with crap tires and worn struts?

  • avatar
    Vulpine

    To answer the headline question, in order:

    No, I don’t. In fact, I tend to upgrade when the original tires wear down.

    Yes, I do. I want to know those original tires are legitimately capable and unlikely to fail before they’re worn down. This doesn’t necessarily mean the brand chosen has to be a big-name brand; Yokohama, after all, was once an unknown, they just have to be properly rated for the vehicle’s class and designed performance.

    I’ll be switching the stock tires on my Renegade to Bridgestone Dueler Revo 2 when the originals wear out. Unless, that is, they’re replaced by a Revo 3 or better with good road and off-road traction.

  • avatar
    pb35

    I traded my 2012 Charger R/T back in 2015 and it needed tires at the time. I had to replace them because they were at the wear bars and the SRT that I ordered wasn’t due in for about another 6 weeks.

    I took it to my local tire shop and he quoted me 2 prices; one for a decent tire (don’t recall the brand) and a cheap Uniroyal option. I went with the better tires as I couldn’t do that to the next owner of my car.

    My XC90 rides on Michelins and when the Potenzas on the SS wear out I’ll be looking for a better tire than that.

  • avatar
    gtemnykh

    I don’t consider myself a tire snob in terms of brand (although I appreciate what Michelin is all about), but I just shake my head when I see one of the many generic Chinese brands that people install on their cars to save a buck. Personally I’ve honed in on General as a good combination of quality/performance/cost. Altimax RT43s on wife’s Camry, Altimax Arctic on the 4Runner for the winter, General Grabber HTS on the original wheels on my 4Runner, and now Grabber AT2s on my new set of wheels for the 4Runner. I bought the cheapest name brand snow tires I could find for my departed ES300, Firestone Winterforces. They were really gnarly looking things in terms of tread and as expected were a bit noisy (mitigated by the excellent soundproofing of the ES).

    I’ve noticed Nissan picked General Grabber “APT” for the OEM Titan Pro-4X tire, a fairly aggressive looking (key word looking) All terrain that I’m certain is actually optimized for low noise and low rolling resistance. Toyota and Nissan have done the same thing in the past (BF Goodrich Rugged “Fails” as they are called).

    The local dealers use some pretty cheap albeit decent brand tires on used cars, Firestones of some kind that made an Epsilon Impala unusually noisy and stiff over bumps, Fuzion tires on an Avalon that likewise made it comically noisy going down the highway.

    • 0 avatar
      Lou_BC

      @gtemnykh – The only complaint I had with the General Grabber AT2’s were the fact that they were a “stiff” tire that made my truck wander a bit when on rutted pavement. I just replaced them at a tad under 80,000 km. I wanted a winter rated tire so I went with a set of Wrangler Duratrac’s since I couldn’t find Grabbers on sale. They don’t wander in pavement ruts like the Grabbers but are noisier and softer. The ride isn’t as harsh. They are incredible off-road.

      The stock OEM tires were GoodYear SRA’s which are sh!t. Lasted 50,000 kilometers and were the most flat prone tire I’ve ever owned.

    • 0 avatar
      SirRaoulDuke

      Grabber APT sucks. They are crap in the soft stuff. Which is kind of funny because the Grabber AT 2 is pretty damn good.

      • 0 avatar
        gtemnykh

        My AT2s were fantastic on the OBX beaches last week, then again my all season HTS were every bit as good there, both sets aired down to 20psi. Gnarly tread is useless in the sand, it will just dig in and bury you. I didn’t get all the local NC-plated bro trucks that were rocking M/Ts. With the 3rd gen’s relative low weight (3800lb-ish curb weight) and relatively large tires and high clearance, it’s the perfect beach cruiser. A guy parking his newer F150 next to me almost dug himself in before gingerly maneuvering out. I was chatting with him later and turns out he only aired down to like 25psi. Combine that with the 5500lb-ish curb weight of a pre-aluminum F150 Supercrew and you can see where things would get tricky in the soft stuff.

  • avatar
    deanst

    I usually just buy the best tires available at Costco – probably more tire than I’ll ever need just driving around town. I did put on winter tires on one of my cars this year (in Toronto), and hated them. I know how to drive for conditions, so snow is no concern even with all seasons. What I hated was their performance when the road was bare – which is 90% of the time, even in winter.

    • 0 avatar
      Lou_BC

      @deanst – hard to beat Costco prices and warranties. I’ve gotten better deals lately at Canadian Tire and my local shop will beat anyone’s price by at least 5%.

  • avatar
    cdnsfan27

    My 14 Focus SE came with Continentals and when I blew one out, my fault, I replaced with the same because the are quiet and grippy.

  • avatar

    I parked next to a perfect e46 a few days ago.

    It had fresh LingLong tires.

    sad

    • 0 avatar
      gtemnykh

      Haha, every single time.

    • 0 avatar
      threeer

      +1 gazillion on this. WTF?? It amazes me that folks will spend large on a car and then when it comes time to replace tires just go out and buy the cheapest (usually Chinese) crap they can find. I am unique (that’s polite. Some call me obsessed) in that I actually do a fair bit of research and attempt to find out place of manufacture (USA gets first priority). Does that always guarantee the absolute best tire? No. But I’m pretty happy so far with what I’ve bought as replacement tires for my Cruze and Escape (and what I recommended for my mom’s Verano). When I see absolute garbage tires on a car it makes me wonder what else the owner skimped on. That might not be a fair assessment, but there it is.

  • avatar
    Stanley Steamer

    I have a very simple tire procedure that has worked out perfectly for my last 4 cars;

    Step 1: buy car
    Step 2: Have a set of Goodyear Assurance Triple Treads installed at best possible price.
    Step 3: Send in rebate form
    Step 4: Enjoy a few years of worry free driving, maintaining tire pressure as needed.
    Step 5: replace with same when worn.

    Using this method I confidently drive in ANY weather, have excellent handling, and have not had one bubble, puncture, or flat with this procedure.

    I cannot say the same for other Goodyear models, Dunlop, Michelin, and BF goodrich tires I have had prior to adopting this procedure.

    • 0 avatar
      mason

      I’m very impressed with the Assurance Triple Treads on the wife’s SUV. I haven’t measured them recently but they are closing in on 50k with adequate tread. Very predictable in the winter too which is huge for us.

  • avatar
    MrIcky

    I don’t skimp and I do care. Out of all the ‘upgrades’ you can do to a car, tires have the biggest real world effect. I can never understand why someone will spend thousands on CAIs, Strut Tower Braces, etc. but then get crap tires.

  • avatar
    dal20402

    Nope. Everything else the car does goes through the tires. So I buy high-end Michelin, Continental, Bridgestone, or Pirelli, depending on reviews and price. In my climate there isn’t enough snow or ice to justify winter tires, but there’s LOTS of cold weather (too cold for true summer tires) and rain. So performance all-seasons are the best all-around choice for a daily driven car.

    But for some reason I’m too cheap to replace bad OEM tires before they wear out. So I suffered through Eagle RS-As (dangerous in the rain!) for 35k miles on my G8 GXP and awful Yokohama Geolandars for the entire 25k miles I had my Forester. My old Legend currently has crap tires, from the previous owner, but I’ll replace them soon. My LS460 has Continental DWS06, which are truly excellent, if atypical (usually people put touring tires on these). The OEM Michelin Energy Saver A/S on the C-Max aren’t great, but at least they’re round and quiet.

    • 0 avatar
      gearhead77

      My neighbor is a cop and everything he’s had as his “company car” has Eagle RS-A’s on it. Crown Vic, Explorer, Taurus. I know those tires are ancient and mediocre at best. Worst tire I’ve experience in wet or rain from new might be Firestone Affinity. Ugh.

      • 0 avatar
        golden2husky

        I learned how to drive on Goodyear Blue Streak radials which I purchased used. These were cop car tires; going from bias plies to these was probably what made me a car enthusiast.

        Back in the 80s Goodyear came out with some fantastic performance rubber…Eagle GT, Gatorbacks…not sure why the company lost direction and began focusing on Grandpa tires…

    • 0 avatar
      ajla

      ” My LS460 has Continental DWS06, which are truly excellent, if atypical (usually people put touring tires on these)”

      Haha. I used the old ExtremeContact DWS on my Lucerne CXL.

  • avatar
    stingray65

    I wonder how many car buyers consider the cost of replacement tires when the buy high-performance cars or upgraded handling packages with 345/35-20 tires that wear out in 5,000 to 15,000 miles of semi-aggressive use? When the common tire size was 195/70-14 the difference between a cheap and premium brand was pretty minimal and the premium tire was often cheaper overall because they lasted longer. In contrast, there are very serious price differences between cheap and premium for today’s big sizes and sticky compounds, and the premium brands don’t necessarily last any longer but instead allow higher speeds that most people never use.

    • 0 avatar
      PrincipalDan

      I know my Mother-in-law will experience heart-palpitations when it comes time to replace the 20 in rubber on her GMC Acadia.

    • 0 avatar
      George B

      I chose 17 inch wheels an 55 series tires for both replacement cost and the ability to get the tire repaired or replaced anywhere out in the country.

    • 0 avatar
      golden2husky

      They may not see the higher speeds but those premium donuts make the car feel the way it does. Going to a lower spec just over the speed rating does not make sense; your car will feel different. But yeah, the price of replacement tires on some rather pedestrian models is quite eye-opening. Not looking forward to replacing the rubber on my C7….that is a near $2K deal. Then again, what is 25K of driving with a permanent smile on your face worth?

  • avatar
    sportyaccordy

    G37 is riding on crappy Nexen N5000 Plus tires, and the coilovers I ordered are supposed to arrive today. Pray for me. I didn’t want to change the tires on stock wheels as I’m planning to get bigger wheels, hopefully soon, which will need new tires.

    When I order my next set though I will check to see what the expire by date was. My first car was killed by my cluelessness about tires dry rotting.

  • avatar
    jpolicke

    $375 a corner? Nah, they’ll go to Mavis and get some $99 “Made in Vietnam” specials – the ones the sandal factory rejected.

  • avatar
    Car Ramrod

    I put Cooper Zeon RS3-A’s on my M5 once. They weren’t terrible, but they weren’t good either.

    I’d do it again too if I were 5,000 miles from the end of a lease. Why should I pay for the next guy’s tires?

  • avatar
    raph

    I’m a Michelin guy for the most part and its pretty hard to get me to do otherwise. If they have a replacement tire in my size ( fortunately on the GT350 they are the OE supplier ) If not I’ve considered a rim swap before to get the tire I want.

    If not I’ll go for a BFGoodrich or Bridgestone. After that maybe ( and big maybe )a Continental although I have no real experience with them. Suggest a Pirelli or Goodyear and we duel at 20 paces!

    In a pinch one time I tried Nitto and about the best I can say is that they hold air and ride okay.

  • avatar
    slavuta

    We were picking Lexus earlier this year. I told my relative – get one with [forgot brand], not Dunlop

  • avatar
    George B

    If you want cheap tires, head to the side of town where most of the signs are in Spanish. Here in Plano, TX $35 cash, no tax or extra fees, buys you a used tire mounted and balanced. Sort through the piles of half-worn examples of formerly expensive tires. It takes a little work to inspect the condition and date codes, but the whole process is faster and less frustrating than waiting at a tire shop and the tires are a better quality than the cheapest new tires.

    • 0 avatar
      slavuta

      I used to work near you-pull-it junk yard. Right upfront they had a big rack with tires. Usually you could find 2 matching pairs. $10 a piece. Now it is probably more than that. I remember good old days when $150 will buy you 2-3 years of tire service including installation.

  • avatar
    Ermel

    I don’t need to skimp on tires because my cars tend to be old, slow, and light by today’s standards. Both my Citroen BX GTi and previous Mk2 VW Golf 16V take tires that nowadays are being put on superminis.

    That said, for what it’s worth, my tire rules:
    – When tire buying time comes, check a test or two of tires of a similar size in a magazine; buy whichever one is best in rain. Rationale: on dry pavement, everything has more reserves than I care to use, and in snow, everything sucks anyway, which I can more easly compensate for because around here, snowy road days are maybe a dozen a year.
    – After tires have been bought, DO NOT EVER read another tire test.
    – No need to throw out tires after six years like the tire industry wants you to. A good, ten-year-old tire will still be better than a crappy new one. I just installed ten-year-old Pirelli P6 on the Citroen; they’re soo much better than the three-year-old Bridgestones I replaced. Admittedly, the Pirellis spent most of those years in a dry, cool, and dark place, tucked away leftovers from the Golf days just in case another VW might come into my life.
    – Winter tires are mandatory. They can, however, be used up through spring if they’re unfit for another winter. Usually, the latest I want summer tires is June, because then the annual Citroen BX meet comes around, and I want the car to look its best for that, which means alloys.

    I stopped skimping on tires after a TTO mishap that left me facing the wrong way on an Autobahn on-ramp with a dented fender, a smashed headlight, and the painful knowledge that it could’ve just as easily cost me the car, or even my life, if anyone had been following closely behind me. SUV bullbars are quite unsettlingly in eye height when viewed out of a Mk2 Golf.

  • avatar
    mrwiizrd

    I’ve usually just go middle of the pack in the search for the ever elusive “best value” tire, but since tire reviews are so subjective I think it’s pretty much impossible to sort out what’s what.

    My question to the group is do you check the date codes on the tires before you buy them?

    How old is too old for a brand new set of tires and have you rejected a set of tires because they were too old?

  • avatar
    Menloguy

    I’ve noticed that Toyota is fitting Kumho and Hankook tires to Corollas – I guess that means those brands have gotten good enough for Toyota?

    I am happy with the Goodyear Assurance Fuel Max tires on my Accord. They have saved me 2~3 mpg over the Michelin Destiny tires previously fitted on my car.

  • avatar
    Zackman

    Do I skimp on tires?

    I used to up to 20 years ago. I didn’t save anything, but I never knew how long I was going to keep a car.

    Now? Absolutely not. My 2012 Impala came with factory Goodyears, and probably due to my old commute, I got 100K out of them – no kidding. So I don’t think Chevy skimped on the tires, either. I replaced them with Pirellis last September.

    We also put Pirellis on our old 2002 CR-V, but sold that in February.

    • 0 avatar
      golden2husky

      100K in five years? Your commute seems as bad as mine.

    • 0 avatar
      87 Morgan

      Zackman, interesting. I had a company car 08′ Impala. Put 75 on it in 2.5 years. The factory Goodyear tires were awful. Memory serves I replaced them at 25k with a set of winter tires that I used year round. Goodyear tire have never been good to me for whatever reason.

    • 0 avatar
      Zackman

      My car had 113K when I retired at end of March. My secret? Very simple: Get on the highway, set cruise at 63, stay in curb lane and relax. Worked wonders for my stress and 100-mile-r/t commute.

      Glad that’s finally over.

  • avatar
    jkross22

    I can’t recall the last time I bought tires from anyone other than Tire Rack. Read reviews of those that bought for your car and pick the top 2-3 rankings and then pick between those based on price.

  • avatar
    PentastarPride

    I cheap out on things like breakfast cereal or generic/store brand cleaning supplies (dollar store window cleaner is just as good as a $5 bottle of Windex). I don’t, however, cheap out on tires. I tend to be a little frugal but I am perfectly content on spending $700-1000 on tires and the accompanying service and installation.

    It bothers me to see cars with “upgrades” totaling well over a couple thousand dollars yet have new “no-name” tires or tires that are beyond their useful lifespan.

    I think tires are a good investment, not so much for fuel economy but for safety and preventing unnecessary wear and tear on the suspension and drivetrain.

    Did I mention safety? I don’t want to have a blowout going 65-70 mph on the Interstate.

  • avatar
    geozinger

    I’m in the camp of replace the tires more often. I’ve only ever had one set of high mileage tires that I liked and those were Kelly Chargers from 30 years ago.

    I think the OEMs put on the cheapest tires they can, without regard to what it does to the car. Case in point: my 09 G6 came with those regrettable Firestone FR680s(?) from the factory. Not that a 4 banger G6 will be a road burner, but the car was awful to drive.

    After trying another brand, I bought a set of high performance all weather tires, Kumhos with a low treadwear rating. I think they’re only good for 30K miles, but they’re really grippy and surprisingly smooth and quiet for Z-rated tires. I’ve already gone through one set and am on my second set.

    One thing I tell my kids, is to never skimp on tires. They’re your only contact with the road, buy at least mid-grade tires. Also, whenever I see a fairly expensive car in a setting where it wouldn’t usually be, I always look to see what brand tires are on it. If it’s LingLong or some other no name brand, I know these guys are barely keeping up the payments on their whip…

  • avatar
    YeOldeMobile

    I bought a car seven months ago and it came with Bridgestone tits in decent shape. I ended up replacing three of them because 1 started leaking for no reason that could be found, 1 bubbled after hitting a pothole, and 1 had 2 feet of tread peel off while I was driving on the freeway. I don’t know if Bridgestones are cheap, but I won’t buy them again.

  • avatar
    YeOldeMobile

    I bought a car seven months ago and it came with Bridgestone tits in decent shape. I ended up replacing three of them because 1 started leaking for no reason that could be found, 1 bubbled after hitting a pothole, and 1 had 2 feet of tread peel off while I was driving on the freeway. I don’t know if Bridgestones are cheap, but I won’t buy them again.

  • avatar
    pprj

    Stick to Michelin. Forget all the rest.

    • 0 avatar
      Cactuar

      I came here to say that. Tried Goodyears and was disappointed, back to Michelin.

    • 0 avatar
      thelaine

      That, after many years of experimentation, has been my conclusion as well. Go to America’s Tire. Put on the most expensive freakin Michelins. Smooth, quiet, grippy, beautiful in the rain, tough and durable. No worries.

    • 0 avatar
      MBella

      Michelin has been very hit or miss lately. They have some good tires, and some terrible tires. Pilot Sport AS and AS+ were especially terrible. When I used to service Mercedes, it was the only tire approved in some of the SL sizes. It made it painful, because these cars had awful pulls, vibrations and noise that were all caused by low mileage Pilot Sports. Once they finally approved some Continental variants, our problems went away. The Pilot Sport AS3 appears to fix these issues however, and seems to be universally liked. My point is that brand doesn’t mean much. Research each tire you want to buy.

  • avatar
    Boxerman

    Oldest tires were about 25 years on an old yamaha I resurecetd, they looked fine , day 2 there was a big skid comming out of a relatively miled bend.

    The older the rubber the less grip it has, after 5 years its really suspect regardless of tread wear. Thius timeframe can vary depeding on sunlight, natural elements and temperatures the tire has been exposed to.

    On track I get about 12 heat cycles and 3 days, which for others is 1 day more than they run, by 6-7 heat cycles you can really feel the tires start to go off, and they take longer to get soft.

    On street my daily equinox can go 30k miles on tires and the other car maybe 10k miles. I figure that michelin rubber is usualy a good safe bet. Although i know the korean and some chinese rubber is considered excelent. Tire spec has a huge effet on everything from turn in to grip/handling/breakaway etc.

    Most “fast” street cars seem overtyred for their intended use.

    In the end it can be boild down to 2 things, tire wear, and tire age. The fast and the furious guy died on 9 year old rubber in a supoercar, there is a corelation.

    • 0 avatar
      mason

      LOL, I’m sure it had nothing to do with the corner they failed to negotiate at 90+ mph in a posted 45 zone.

    • 0 avatar
      joeaverage

      Can anyone tell me who makes Performer CXV Sport tires? I can find the distributor but I can’t figure out where they are made which implies overseas.

      So far they’ve been golden. Quiet, smooth and good traction.

  • avatar

    My Fit doesn’t have that many noticeable cost cutting items (like the cheap rear wiper that didn’t even last one relatively mild winter) but the OEM Firestones have poor grip even in dry conditions.

    • 0 avatar
      gtemnykh

      Ronnie our ’07 Fit had scary-bad wet weather grip (let alone slushy/lightly snowed on roads) on its OE tires. Same exact story on the “Fuel fighter” Firestones that came on my ’12 Civic LX, just plain horrible. I put General RT43s on the Civic, massive improvement in the wet at a cost of about 1mpg on average, and frankly some road noise. The Civic had almost zero wheel well noise insulation, my wife’s camry with the same RT43s is fine.

  • avatar
    jh26036

    I am a tire snob but enjoy the hunt for a good deal.

    Shocked at the compliments for Pirelli tires as every single one I’ve experienced wear super fast and are terrible performers. I am glad to finally put my OE Pirellis in the trash from my Abarth after 20k miles. Awful rubber.

    Every brand has good and bad stuff. I do my best to sift through the variety of reviews and take a leap of faith from Hankooks to Toyos to Michelins. I do avoid Chinese brands altogether.

    Like many here, total pet peeve when I see quality machines with junk rubber. I immediately judge the owners like manual snobs judge automatic owners.

  • avatar
    fiasco

    My wife would say I’m a tire snob; at one point I cared a bit more about brand (if it’s winter it must be Nokian).

    I’m squarely in value-mode now. Had decent luck with Coopers for the money, although my local dealer has backed away from them after treadwear issues. In addition, a coworker refuses to run them after eating a bunch of flat-rate time trying to get them to balance true in his former life as a dealer tech.

    Still, I love the WSC winter tires for our Sienna, the older WeatherMasters are OK on my Volvo, but I’ll likely go to General Altimax Arctics next time round, as I’ve liked them on previous cars (which is a design basically poached from Nokian engineers who went to Gislaved and then got bought by General). The summer Coopers have been OK as well, the CS5’s lasted better than anything on the Sienna, and the CS4’s will get about 35k on the Volvo. Got similar mileage on the RS-3As on my old Subaru (which admittedly had alignment issues).

    I stay away from the Chairman Mao specials (although some Coopers are Hecho en China), but am not afraid of a Kumho/Hankook/Falken if the ratings are decent.

  • avatar
    doublechili

    Phish had a song about this, called “CONTACT”. Lyrics:

    The tires are the things on your car
    That make contact with the road
    The car is the thing on the road
    That takes you back to your abode

    The tires are the things on your car
    That make contact with the road
    Bummed is what you are
    When you go out to your car and it’s been towed

    I woke up one morning in November
    And I realized I love you
    It’s not your headlights in front
    Your tailpipe, or the skylight above you
    It’s the way you cling to the road
    When the wind tries to shove you
    I’d never go riding away
    And come back home without you

  • avatar
    ravenchris

    I do not skimp.
    If the OEM does, I have less confidence in the product.
    I see the 2017 Sonata Eco with Bibendum tires, to me this indicates that this car is more soundly engineered.

  • avatar
    AK

    Definitely don’t skimp.

    Was initially annoyed that my car came with summer rubber (Focus ST) but I quickly changed my mindset and realized the benefit to having dedicated warm and cold weather wheel/tire sets.

    Considering that I have no desire to modify my car, I have zero qualms spending more on tires.

  • avatar
    pmirp1

    Part of the problem nowadays is proliferation of run flat tires. They are generally more expensive even while they last less and have harsher rides. I had them first on my Bangle Butt 5 series which had the sports suspension. 18 inch wheels with 245 meats all around. 400-500 hundred per for BMW level tires. I chose the Dunlups as the Goodyears were no longer available. Many people take the non run flat route which may be cheaper but they may impact car’s performance.

    I worked as a contractor at Michelin tire plant in Greenville SC. Their testing of tires is rigorous. If you can afford go Michelin. As others have said Costco has great prices. Glad my C7 has the Michelins. Michelin LTX on two SUVs. The Pirellis on the 2014 Mustang sure like to spin.

  • avatar
    Joss

    Do you skimp on tires?

    No. When I’m in the market for a new lease I’d go for the trim level with enhanced tires & brakes. Be it GTi, Si, Nismo or whatever.

    I live in the snowbelt and I do the winter tire thing. Not a huge mileage doer I won’t ride rubber over 5 years old.

  • avatar
    danio3834

    I’m all about having the right rubber for the job.

    For my Charger I have a set of Hankook iPikes for the winter
    A pair of Nitto NT05s for the track
    And the stock Firestones for every day use.

  • avatar
    CincyDavid

    I worked for the local Coca Cola bottler back in the 80s, and the fleet manager was a Michelin fan, to the point that company cars all got new Michelins, if they weren’t delivered with them from the factory. Where the take-offs went, I don’t know.

    My personal opinion is that Michelin was miles ahead of everyone else 40 years ago, but I’m not sure there is a real difference/advantage any more.

    My go-to brands are Firestone/Bridgestone,largely because I like the dealer and have had good luck with them, and I’m not opposed to second-tier brands like Uniroyal or Cooper. I tend to buy everything middle-of-the-line, from cars to appliances. I think the best value & bang for my buck tends to be smack-dab in the middle of the line.

  • avatar
    Big Al from Oz

    Great story Jack,

    The reality is most people buy the sh!ttiest and cheapest tyres on the market. They just can’t afford to buy decent rubber. Kids, life’s bills, etc makes it hard.

    The reality is people will buy or lease the most they can afford at the expense of decent rubber and maintenance.

    I do believe tyres are a compromise investment, like the vehicle you drive.

    For those who buy tyres to suit their demands buy a compromise. The easiest to comprehend compromise tyre is the tyre for the off roader.

    Most fit aggressive off road tread patterns, etc when they don’t require it. That is down right dangerous. A stupid way to compensate for a small d!ck.

    If you take a look at some sites the tyre selector asks questions like what percentage of time do you spend off road? What a silly question. If you off road 10% or less the type of tyre generally recommended is a highway treaded tyre.

    Now, how good will that serve you off road?

    I’ve had to resort to two sets of rubber. One an aggressive of road pattern and 10ply and a road tyre with a lot fewer plies for comfort and keeping more tread on the blacktop.

    I would recommend the same to the person with a high performance car, especially if you want to save some cash and provide comfort when you don’t want to hoon around.

  • avatar
    JuniperBug

    It’s possible to go too far in the other direction, too. There’s a contingent on the Miata forums that believes that if you don’t put 200 treadwear track tires on your 140 hp street car, you’re ruining its potential. In the meantime, even my 340 treadwear ultra high performance BF Goodrich Comp2s will corner hard enough to put my (twice as stiff as stock) suspension on the bumpstops on dry pavement, and require a 5,000 RPM clutch dump to squeal the tires from a stop.

    Once you get to that point, grippier tires will still be faster on the track, but you’re overwhelming the chassis, and things will get floppy and unpredictable at the limit. I prefer for my cars to be balanced. Besides, a little slip can be fun on a sporty car.

  • avatar
    Ryoku75

    Bumbling around reddit I found this:
    https://www.reddit.com/r/cars/comments/6lvl7d/guy_gets_rid_of_his_tesla_because_it_has_worn/?ref=share&ref_source=link

    A “thrifty” youtuber dumps $800+ into rims and painting the calibers a tasteful red, but tires are simply too much for his Tesla.

    As for myself, I value good tires above any silly “mod” for my cars, even moreso above fancy radios. I save money on them by sticking to wheels at 17 inches and below.

  • avatar
    I_like_stuff

    Where I live pretty much everyone has winter tires in addition to AWD/4WD. Lots of studded as well. Starting around mid October you start hearing that whirl sound studs make on the roads.

    One thing that annoys me is that the same new car can come from the factory with 3 or different tire options. I’ve taken the same car for a test drive with Tires A and then drove another one at the same dealer with Tires B, with a huge difference between them. And this isn’t a case of a different trim. Same car, same trim, same everything, but Car A has Goodyears for example and Car B has Michelins. But it’s something most buyers probably never even think about.

  • avatar
    Dingleberrypiez_Returns

    As long as its a name brand tire put on a boring daily driver, I don’t judge anyone who saves money by buying a lower priced tire. Truth is for commuting, it barely matters. That goes for Nexen, Hankook, Kumho mentioned in this article along with many other brands. Although for my own car, I’ll give it more thought, and I do admit that my best experiences have been with Michelins.

    What I do judge is folks who buy complete garbage tires with names you’ve never heard of. Like seriously, where do they find these things? I bought a set of BBS wheels with some Chinese tires I’d never heard of, they felt like they were made of plastic instead of rubber. They were kind of fun as a novelty, seeing as they had zero grip and could get you sideways or peel out with zero effort.

  • avatar
    newenthusiast

    I learned the value of proper tires with my very first car, and me down 75 Nova. I lived on a hill in PA, and my dad insisted on ‘snow tires’ in late October, which seemed insane to me. But the morning drive to school was vastly better on those chilly mornings. The ride home was compromised a bit though if it was too warm. But I was able to get that under-powered boat through almost anything with no issues when the snow came, so that was my “lightbulb” moment for me. And those were used tires.

    As an adult, I always tried to get the best tires I could afford, and when I was able to start doing research by reading Consumer Reports and online, and other avenues, I was able to figure out what was bets for me.

    Given the nature of my driving and cars, usually wet traction was balanced with lifespan and budget concerns. And then separate winter tires.

    But my 8 years in SoCal in the early 00’s is where I learned a lot more. MY wife’s e46 came with run flats and she hated them, and I needed to think about just running all seasons, because occasional I would go up to higher elevation, but usually not, and true winter or summer tires made no sense. I learned about HP and UHP and touring tires, and noise levels, etc.I also discovered Tire Rack.

    Now we can afford to put on whatever we like.

    Currently, we live where it hasn’t snowed or even gotten below 60 in years. My wife’s 135 is running Michelin Pilot Sport A/S 3’s, as they are the only non-flat HP all season tires that come in both sizes on her car. SUCH an improvement over the OEM run-flats. Fo a daily driver who wants a bit less buzz and excellent wet grip, but never tracks a car, they are awesome.

    On my Q7, the OEM Bridgestone Dueler’s only lasted 20k miles or so. The Pirelli Scorpion Verdes were better, but still only went 30k. I HAD Nitto NT421Q’s on it, and they were the best tires for my needs. They were quiet, had excellent wet grip, and lasted close to 65k. Then we moved about 2 years ago, and no local Nitto dealers, and not one indie shop has an agreement to honor warranty claims with them. So I went back to the Pirelli, but got the Scorpion Verde Plus. Its fine, but the next tires I look at will be the Michelin Latitudes, as I hear great things about them.

    So no, I don’t skimp, and OEM’s shouldn’t either.

  • avatar
    kurtamaxxguy

    Unfortunately SUBARU OEM tires have poor ice traction (CU and a couple of internet car sites winter trials proved it). So my ‘bu’s’ always get Nokian all weather tires 1000 or so miles after purchase (that way there’s some decent trade in value for the OEM’s). WR G3’s work quite well though their tread life’s a bit shorter than some other brands.

  • avatar
    Alexdi

    I’ve gone both directions on this.

    My car came with 245/18 R45 Goodyear Eagle RSA tires. They were decent new, but rapidly on the decline by 20K miles. That I was taking Nissan’s “four-dour-sportscar” nonsense rather seriously didn’t help. I kept them until 45K when they started losing air, then replaced them with used RSAs for another 10K miles because I wasn’t sure I wanted to keep the car. That was an error. They were absolutely treacherous in the rain.

    In researching tires in this size, I found it would be about $650 to have anything with a brand name installed. Through Costco, top-drawer tires would be another $100, so cheaping out seemed like a false economy. I opted for Michelin Pilot Sport A/S 3+ UHP. The car is back to being utterly indifferent to every weather condition in the south.

    I’ve since discovered that I can do “Westlake” tires at about $350 installed. That’s probably what I’ll do next time. Resistance to hydroplaning and slightly improved steering accuracy aside, I haven’t pushed the car hard enough to notice much difference with the Michelins even relative to the bald RSAs.

  • avatar
    bd2

    Quality of tires can vary pretty widely within a brand (even Michelin has some models which aren’t that great).

    Jack needs to get up-to-date with his tire knowledge.

    Hankook is one of the OEM suppliers for the Macan – which isn’t surprising as Hankook (and Kumho) makes some good performance tires.

    Now what is surprising is Nexen being an OEM supplier for the Cayenne.

  • avatar
    thelastdriver

    I’ve spent $500 on a set of Bridgestones and I’ve spent $80 on set of used cheapo tires.

    So long as they’re balanced and mounted properly the difference is negligible.

  • avatar
    -Nate

    Reading all the various comments leads me to wonder if I’m possibly the only one here who bothers to ‘ chalk in’ new tires to ascertain the best inflation pressure for each particular vehicle ? .

    Even cheap and nasty tires can be adjusted to give passable performance although they’ll still be cheap and nasty and blow out easily when pushed hard….

    -Nate

  • avatar
    backtees

    Avid reader. New member in order to jump in with my fav tire tip.
    -dealers love to brag about matching tire prices
    -get a tire quote from Costco which includes a rebate from b’stone or Mich.
    -take quote to dealer and get install
    -use dealer paid invoice to then capture mail in rebate direct from manufacturer or GM ford etc.

    Again, enjoy the site and commentary. Will try to chime in more often. Backtees, Jax FL

  • avatar
    Stumpaster

    Not everyone has the experiences that you do, Jack. Any normal person goes to Tirerack or Discounttire and punch in their car model and year, and the site spits out all the tires that the Site tells you are suitable for your car. Then why wouldn’t a normal person pick the cheaper tire that the Site says is suitable for the car? Racers – yeah, they need to know this, part of the hobby. But everyone else is going to go by their limited experience, site reviews, and price.

  • avatar
    incautious

    The ultra low profile tires the OEM’s are using are a joke. No matter what brand i had, they are no match for the crappy roads here in the northeast. Now I buy mainly Kuhmo’s and just toss them every couple of years.

  • avatar
    silentsod

    I don’t cheap out on tires and two of my cars have winter Blizzaks to roll on. Tires are a fundamental safety device, IMO, as they are a major factor in determining the absolute limits of what the car can do and you’ll generally want those as high as possible as a just in case.

  • avatar
    Flipper35

    Our sedan came with the crappiest OEM tires on the planet (Goodyear Eagle LS) and I could not wait to replace them. If it was not above 60* and sunny I could not trust them at all. I honestly think racing slicks would have worked just as well as those tires. Replaced them with BFG Comp 2 A/S and they are an order of magnitude better in all conditions.

    Even within a single brand you can get good and crappy tires. The Rogue has Kuhmo tires and they suck in the rain and aren’t great in snow. The Durango has Kuhmo summer tires and they are great in the dry or rain. The Durango has Blizzaks for the winter which work awesome in the winter, of course.

    If the weather is bad in the winter we just take the D.

    The Cobra has Mickey Thompson for the street, but if it goes on the track it is getting Avon tires. The Goodyear Blue Streaks were horrible. They tramline so bad on the road and flat spot if they sit for a few days.

  • avatar
    benders

    I’ve been working for tire manufacturers for about a decade now and give you a little inside baseball perspective.

    The reason your OE tires suck is because the list of requirements they want is all about 1) fuel economy and 2) good initial impression. So there’s lots of effort into a low rolling, quiet tire with good dry handling. Snow performance usually only needs to be adequate. Wear just has to last long enough they won’t complain to their dealer about it.

    So most companies now have an OE only model and a replacement market model for a given category. Pirelli does it with a “Plus” for the replacement market tires.

    For my personal tires, I’ve come to the conclusion that I don’t put enough miles on them to want a tire that lasts more than 40k. Wet and snow traction properties of the rubber that’s been sitting in the sun aren’t that good. Luckily, I get the benefit of cheap prices on decent tires.

  • avatar
    arach

    I skimp on tires.

    Now I don’t buy the $25 walmart special, but I never saw the performance benefit of $800 tires over $100 tires.

    I’ve bought $480 INSTALLED ON ALL 4 CORNERS Falken tires on my Cadillac CTS ST Performance. Drove on them for 4 years and totally LOVED them. Some of the best tires I ever owned. I researched the Falkens and they got good reviews, and I was one of them.

    On my wife’s BMW 3 Series M-sport, we paid $1100 for pirelli Pzeros, and they were awful. Worst tires we ever owned. My wife HATED them. I hated them. I actually questioned if they were defective tires. I’ve read great reviews on the Pirelli Pzeros, but on our e90 BMW, they were AWFUL.

    On my Truck, I bought Treadwright retreads and I’m 100% satisfied with the performance there, and they were about $120/piece.

    On my Jeep Wrangler for offroading, I bought really cheap 33″ offroad wheels, that seem to work perfectly fine. Of course I put about 400 miles on that car a year and most are in the dirt, but it was the right tire for the right job.

    It works for me. I know on paper your supposed to spend money on good tires, but I was unsatisfied with some high dollar tires I bought, and impressed with cheap tires I bought. Now if their only purpose of the tires is to be dirt cheap, then they are probably junk, but if they happen to be cheaper tires, I think they can still be decent for their job.

    I need new tires on my Ferrari, and I think I’m going for OEM replacements there, but I really question it.

    • 0 avatar
      gtemnykh

      “On my Truck, I bought Treadwright retreads and I’m 100% satisfied with the performance there, and they were about $120/piece.”

      You lost me there, big time. How much do you really save paying $120 a pop for freaking re-treaded tires versus a decent value brand?

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