By on July 26, 2019

The first thing that many people do when their new car is ready for its first set of replacement tires is to ditch them for something else. Whether that’s a tire with a high tread mileage guarantee, an ultra-grippy tire, or the cheapest thing they can find, few people actively seek out the exact same tires that their vehicle came with from the factory.

If OEMs could have just selected the best-rated tire from the Tire Rack website, or asked people on a forum what they preferred, and called it a day, wouldn’t they have done that? If you think you’re smarter than an entire team of OEM engineers, then go ahead and slap on that 80,0000-mile-guaranteed set of tires. But, you will want to understand what you might be giving up in the process.

The first thing that we all need to understand is that tire design is largely a balance of trade-offs. You don’t get low rolling resistance without giving up grip. Likewise, you may have to give up tread wear to gain more snow traction. If you’ve seen a spider chart, these are a good way to compare tire attributes for their tradeoffs, but its rare (or expensive) that a tire enlarges the overall area of the chart. That is exactly what the OEMs are pushing the tire manufacturers to achieve, though.

The second thing to understand is that tires are the largest tuning element on the chassis for ride, steering, handling, acceleration, and braking. Literally everything that the vehicle does in regard to its motion is filtered through the tires. Therefore, it is critical that tires are tuned to the vehicle and the vehicle is tuned to the tires.

Changing out the OEM tires is undoing an extensive amount of tuning and development work that cost the OEMs hundreds of thousands — if not millions — of dollars to complete. The process started with vehicle program leaders determining functional attribute targets for the vehicle. From there, engineers worked with tire manufacturers to develop the tires. While “off-the-shelf” tires may sometimes be selected, in most cases the tires are tuned specifically for the vehicle.

With targets in hand, the tire manufacturers would produce several versions of what look like identical tires and submit them to the OEM, along with their internal test data. These would vary in certain ways, sometimes emphasizing one attribute at the expense of another. Upon testing on the vehicle, the OEMs would either select a submission to proceed forward with or request additional revisions. The final tire tuning must be done quite early in the development process, as the rest of the vehicle tuning will be built up around it.

There are often several tire developments for a single vehicle platform for purposes of offering multiple wheel diameters, differing performance attributes for various trim levels, or just to avoid single-sourcing. If there is only one tire for a car and that production plant has a problem, it could shut down an entire vehicle assembly line.

With the tires selected, the OEMs can proceed with development and tuning of the rest of the vehicle around them. While the vehicle dynamics areas of ride, steering, and handling might be most obviously impacted, there are many other functional areas that are tuned around the tires. Braking performance, fuel economy calculations, and powertrain tuning are all impacted. The “active chassis” group will be developing the stability control, ABS, and traction control around the tires, as will the ADAS (advanced driver-assistance systems) group. The NVH (noise, vibration, and harshness) and durability groups will also be conducting their work around the tires.

As a former vehicle dynamics performance engineer for FIAT Chrysler Automobiles, I want to give you a glimpse into how specific vehicles are tuned around the tires. One of the platforms that I had responsibility for was the Pacifica, which had eight unique tires across 17, 18, and 20-inch wheels. Between gas, plug-in hybrid, Waymo, and the new Voyager, there were nine unique damper (shock) tunings to accommodate the ride characteristics of each car riding on each tire for their intended audience. Consider for a moment that, from a ride perspective, a tire is essentially an undamped spring. You can then see how varying that component would affect things such as impact harshness and shake and how that would need to be accounted for in the damper tuning.

In regard to steering, almost every tire had a unique electronic power steering calibration for its application in each model variant. I count 13 by memory and that is without variable steering modes. Each tire possesses unique traits as to how they respond to an input and build force to move the car. In general, it was desired to make all the packages feel roughly the same in terms of steering. However, certain packages varied slightly due to purpose or market.

Based on how the tires differed, changes to EPS tuning were usually required in a few areas of the calibration. The “on-center” feel, or how “positively” the car would steer straight-ahead, was critical to driving comfort, especially over long distances. The response characteristics of the tire would alter the linearity of the effort build in the wheel as the driver steered into a corner. In other terms, as you steer, you want the wheel to communicate with a continuous build in effort as you turn harder. Not having the effort build well-matched to the tire and vehicle response could result in a car feeling anywhere from nervous and hyper-active to sluggish and unwilling to turn.

So, if you value the performance and feel of your car as it came new from the factory, it would behoove you to replace your tires with the original ones when they’re due for it. And, not just the same brand and model, but the exact OEM tire that was tuned for your car. The aftermarket replacements look the same, but if you’re not buying the OEM part from a dealership, it is not likely to be the same OEM tuning.

Even if you’re not a particularly perceptive driver and you wouldn’t notice a relatively small change in something like steering feel, think about how a tiny bit of extra driving fatigue might accumulate over the course of the life of those tires. Or, how that extra 10 feet of stopping distance might not be a big deal until the moment that you need it.

Now, here’s the big caveat for everyone screaming at me right now. The exception is for those who desire a big improvement of a particular attribute of the vehicle’s performance and are willing to trade off many known and unknown factors in order to achieve it. For example, for maximum traction, one might buy a dedicated snow tire or a track-focused tire with the understanding that tread wear, NVH, fuel economy, etc will be significantly impacted. Others may still go ahead and buy the cheapest or longest-lasting tire that they can, but I caution against that. It isn’t worth undoing all the work that made your vehicle what it is and degrading something that cost tens of thousands of dollars in order to save a couple hundred.

Changing out the tires is almost akin to changing the engine in the car. You can do it, but you’d better know exactly what you’re doing, because the whole car was designed around it. If you’re satisfied with the performance of your vehicle, stick with the OEM tires when it comes time to replace.

[Images: FCA, Michelin]

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215 Comments on “Tips and Advice: The Case for OEM Replacement Tires...”


  • avatar
    FerrariLaFerrariFace

    OEM tires are also chosen by how much they cost. That’s one of the compromises you forgot to mention. You’re not necessarily getting the best tire for the car. Your’e get the best tire for the car that fits within the budget you have available.

    There’s also the fact that by the time your OEM tire wears out, tire technology has probably changed. If the engineering team had the chance to do it all over again, they’d probably pick a different tire, too.

    So when the time comes to buy new tires, you’ve got a whole new crop of tires to choose from, at a different price point, with a different budget. It’s been my experience that OEM tires may have been inexpensive to the automaker when the car was built (due to economies of scale and the way automakers beat up their suppliers), but they tend to be one the more expensive options available to the consumer.

    • 0 avatar

      Yeah the author does touch on changing for personal preference which is my first thought, but ignores OEM cost cutting. Yes they engineer the tire and chassis but then try to get the lowest cost that gets them the desired effect. See the Goodyear motorhome scandal as an example of what can go really wrong with OEM tires.

    • 0 avatar
      Deontologist

      A Chrysler vehicle dynamics engineer?

      All I can think about is how a Jeep miserably failed the Swedish moose avoidance test, even after they had Chrysler engineers with laptops plugged into the car to fine tune the traction control.

      The picture of the Chrysler engineer staring cluelessly at the laptop in the Jeep says it all: Chrysler engineers are of a lower tier than even Ford engineers.

    • 0 avatar
      redgolf

      Ferrari – I agree!

    • 0 avatar
      S197GT

      Cost has to be the #1 factor in most design/procurement decisions. How else does one explain the Goodyear LS/2 choice for my ’17 Fusion’s 18″ tire?

      Another limiting factor is the # of tire manufacturers willing to supply a tire and then which tires those suppliers are willing to offer. Of all the potential tires out there an engineer has to choose from what is available to him; not necessarily what he’d like.

      But otherwise, I completely understand that a LOT of research goes into tire selection by OEMs. I suspect engineers take it very seriously, as they tend to do… Shame that they spend so much effort trying to find the best mediocre tire offered to them (unless they are in a high-performance and/or high-profit vehicle program). There are innumerous examples of engineers being pigeonholed into a decision; e.g. Tacoma drum rear brakes.

      (I will say I don’t think most OE tires are as bad as people rate them online, but there are so many better tires out there.)

      • 0 avatar
        Lockstops

        The OEM tires are not ‘mediocre’ compared to the tires customers would choose themselves.

        • 0 avatar
          brn

          The OEM tires on my car were so dangerous in the winter, I replaced them after 10K miles. The tires I replaced them with were less expensive (not inexpensive) and are superior in all weather conditions.

          I’m not smarter than a team of engineers. I may be smarter than those that go against the recommendations of the engineers and put junk on the cars.

          • 0 avatar
            gtem

            Yeah in my family we’ve had 2 Hondas (’07 Fit, ’12 Civic) with horrifyingly poor wet traction out of the OEM LRR tires. I don’t get how anyone could have prioritized 1-2 mpg over safety like that.

          • 0 avatar
            Flipper35

            Ours came with the Goodyear LS tires and if it was cooler than 50* they were horrible tires. Worse if it was damp and if there was any amount of snow you should stay home. I once had the stability control step in on an off ramp that was damp (not wet, just damp) when I was taking it at 43mph. I usually take that ramp at 75, heck, I can take it at 70 in our 2000 Durango, so it isn’t a major turn. Anyway, you can feel the transmission downshift at 43 and when it did while coasting, the back end stepped out with those stupid tires. I did not wait for them to wear out to get rid of them. I have had BFG Comp 2 A/S ever since and have had no issues, even in light snow.

            Did I ever mention how much I hated the LS model tires?

            They might be a great tire in Phoenix in summer and you don’t drive in the rain.

            By the way, we still get as good or better than advertised EPA mpg with the better tires but we got 2mpg highway better than than advertised with the OEM.

    • 0 avatar
      b534202

      Agree, there is zero reason to go with the exact same OEM tire when newer tire technologies are available.

  • avatar
    R Henry

    1) Twice I attempted to replace OEM tires with same brand, model. The models had been discontinued.

    2) OEMS, especially on lower tier cars, use price as primary criteria for fitment. As such, replacement with even midrange tires nets improved performance and life.

    3) The OEM tires on my 2015 Mazda6 Touring, Bridgestones, experienced uneven wear (even with my near-religious 10k tire rotation schedule) resulting in wear-out at the 36,000 mile mark. I replaced with Michelin Pilot Sport A/S 3+ from Costco….handling improved, road noise was reduced. I now have 65,000 even wear miles on them, no alignment was done!, with about 15,000 miles worth of tread remaining. I could not be happier with my tires!

    • 0 avatar
      Secret Hi5

      To your first point, even if the tires haven’t been discontinued, I highly doubt that the dealers are getting the exact replacement OEM tires from the automaker!

      I think the premise of the article is too narrow. I can understand reasons to stay with the same class, size, and characteristics of the OEM tire, but to get the Exact Same OEM Tire as was mounted at the factory?? No.

      • 0 avatar
        Scoutdude

        Tire rack often carries the OE spec tires, So you’ll occasionally see the same make, model and size listed 2 or 3 times, the standard replacement tire, the OE tire and sometimes the OE tire for another mfg. Note some brands are know for specing less tread that is used on the replacement version of the tire.

        Either way once the mfg stops buying that exact tire the exact OE replacements usually dry up pretty quickly.

    • 0 avatar
      tankinbeans

      I’ve had to replace singles on my car twice in the last 6 weeks for my 2017 Mazda6 and have had to go to the dealer. Each time, I nabbed the last tire in my size 225/45 19 IIRC.

      I hate the Dunlops this thing came with and want to go for something completely different, but the cheapest full set of anything else is close to $900 mounted and balanced.

    • 0 avatar
      Lie2me

      Although for the most part I agree with the author I also know that a lot of what goes into a car is dictated by bean counters, so it maybe true that your car and tires were designed to go together they were also designed to meet a certain cost. That being true you certainly should be able to find tires that do a better job if you’re willing to pay more

    • 0 avatar
      bd2

      Too many stories of people who experienced improved handling, stopping distances, wear, etc. on their vehicles (encompassing a wide variety of brands/models) upon switching to a well rated non-OEM tire.

      Even lux automakers have been known to pick a crappy tire as OEM (for instance, a certain model Continental that has widely been dogged by owners across various lux brands).

  • avatar
    jimmyy

    Usually, I buy the same tires the vehicle came with, but I don’t go to the dealer. I can find the same brand and model for so much cheaper in a sale. I wait for the sale, then I make sure the tire rating matches exactly. Close enough to the OEMs.

    However, when I purchased my Camry Hybrid, I could not stand the handling, and I did not know what to do about it. The mileage was great, but the handling was terrible. I almost got rid of the car. I thought it was a problem with the Camry.

    When I replaced the tires, I purchased a performance tire that was not so called “eco” focused. They were heavily discounted premium tires.

    It appears the mileage might have dropped a little … however, the vehicle handles great. I can take curves so much faster than I could with the old tires. The wandering problem completely stopped and it is so much easier to drive at high speeds. My only regret is I waited until the Michelin Energy Saver tires wore out. They were absolute junk. I thought the bad handling was the Camry … it was the Michelin Energy Saver eco tires. The only problem with the new tires is they appear to be wearing a little fast. That is OK. The handling problem is fixed and I will just wait for another sale when they wear out.

  • avatar
    ar_ken

    My V60 Polestar comes with super grippy (but noisy) Michelin Pilot Super Sport. They are not a “cheap” tire by any means. However as some posters had pointed out, some of these tire models becomes history by the time it comes to replacing them. And that’s exactly what’s happening with my OEM tires….

    • 0 avatar
      Sigivald

      TBF, you did buy a performance-centric vehicle.

      So, yeah, noisy and super grippy.

      (The next time my XC70 loses a tire I’m seriously considering replacing the factory 18″ wheels with factory 16″ wheels.

      Because cheap, and because I don’t NEED that level of performance vs. ride smoothing and durability. The OEM tire and wheel is more “marketing and price” than meeting MY needs.

      Marketing in that “oversized wheels are just required by today’s tastes”, no matter what they do to ride feel.)

    • 0 avatar
      Lockstops

      You might find that the new tire model which replaces the Pilot Super Sport will also be available as VOL (Volvo’s OEM designation) version…

      Car manufacturers develop OEM tires to suit a larger model lineup and ‘the characteristics of the brand’ or in a certain way to suit how the chassis is typically tuned. For example Porsche has OEM tires which are fitted to several different models, or at least several generations of models. They don’t have model-specific OEM tires, they instead update the OEM tire continuously and they recommend the new OEM tire for the older models too. This is because they tune the tires according to the same principals and because tire development moves on and even within the same tire model name there are developments done without changing the name!

      For example Porsche is one of the manufacturers who mark their OEM tires according to development version, going from N0 to N1 to N2 to N3 to N4 and then starts from zero again, so that every one knows which tire version is at hand.

      • 0 avatar
        ar_ken

        Very informative post Lockstops. That’s why I come to this site..

        Sigivlad, I was in no way complaining about the tires, just pointing out the obvious. I missed out an opportunity to buy a XC70 with the old school T6 engine several years ago and still feel the heartache today. The Polestar is great but I personally feel the 20” rims/tires combo is a bit of an overkill…. my wife’s W205 C63 comes with 18’s. I think I’ll go with a set of nice 19” set up once my OEM tires are done.

      • 0 avatar
        MBella

        Porsche does have several different specs for different models. So do some other brands. Everyday cars pretty much are normal.

        https://m.tirerack.com/tires/tiretech/techpage.jsp?techid=23

  • avatar
    Extra Credit

    Where does the TPC information come into play? I understood that this was an effective way to find tires that would emulate the OEM tire performance, or is TPC only specific to certain OEMs?

    So many questions…

  • avatar
    tomLU86

    I’m with Anthony, a lot of good points.

    Yes, OF COURSE OEMs are big on cutting cost.

    But they are looking to get the most bang for their buck, like consumers.

    One could get a tire that is 90% as good, for 80% of the price. But that’s unlikely. One could get a tire that’s better in all respects–but that is even less likely, and it is extremely unlikely to get it for less.

    One drawback–the OEM tire is usually not the least expensive alternative, and on paper, or at Tire Rack, other tires may sound similar for less.

    On mitigating factor though..on a NEW car, with NEW shocks and bushings, the difference might be more noticeable than on a car with 40-60,000 miles on it. Then the author’s points don’t hold quite as much. And one might replace shocks (though they should not have to at that mileage), but bushings? Body/Chassis flex?

    For most cars, other than ‘hot hatches’ or performance variants that are not in Porsche/Corvette territory, the OEM tire is usually worth it.

    Now, if some one can tell me where to get decent 185-60HR14 tires… the brands of my youth, Pirelli P600, Goodyear Eagle GT, Michelin MXV, BFGoodrich Comp T/A…are gone. I don’t want Chinese or Barium tires…

    The are really hard to find! The best one seems to be a General Altimax, and it doesn’t sound as good as the aforementioned tires from the 80s and 90s. Dunlop Direzzas are extreme summer, too soft for street.

    Anthony, help! Do you think those Generals are as good as the forementioned tires?

    • 0 avatar
      R Henry

      @tomLU86: You can get a 205/80-14 BF Comp T/A at cjponyparts.com for $157/ea. Close, but not exact size you want.

      • 0 avatar
        PrincipalDan

        What I like about having a local independent tire dealer (one that carries several brands) is that they were able to dig out the old paper sizing manuals for the change over to p-metric tires.

        They found a very close to stock size BFGoodrich TA for my 67 Mustang.

    • 0 avatar
      brn

      Tom, your statements differ from my experience. EVERY time I’ve replaced my OEM tires, I’ve received superior performance in all conditions, for about 85% of the cost of OEM tires.

      Every time.

    • 0 avatar
      RHD

      You might be looking for replacements for a stock-wheeled Miata.
      The Generals are probably the best tires available for that size.
      I have put General Altimax tires on two cars already, and they handle great and the road noise is not bad at all. They’re good is wet conditions too, which is a high consideration. Treadwear does not seem to be a problem.

  • avatar
    turbo_awd

    This sounds a lot like OEM propaganda.. Did you drink too much cool-aid when you worked for FCA?

    I test drove a Charger Scat Pack, and the tires chirped in a very relaxed turn off a red light with very minimal throttle application. The Charger seems to suffer from the same thing as our FCA vans: super-aggressive initial throttle profile. Push 5%, get 35% power, tires spin. Why? I can spin the tires in my minivan at will from a stop to the point that my wife complained about it. Replaced OEM tires with Michelin, and much better – not as easy to spin. And that’s on dry pavement. Don’t even want to think about OEM tires in the wet. Total garbage.

    Second example: 2005 Legacy GT – came with Bridgestone Potenzas that cost like $250 each (back then!) – and unlike SOME Potenzas that were actually decent, these were like soap bars. $100 Federal tires would probably have been better, and any other tire I tried was better (I tried 3 or 4 different brands, settled on Michelin).

    Sorry, but you lost a LOT of credibility with me with this article..

    • 0 avatar
      tomLU86

      Perhaps some OEMs aren’t too bright?

      Or are they willing to save $40 a car and stick you with tires that chirp so easily?

      Is it possible their parameters overemphasize rolling resistance?

      I just think they have more resources than we do to make the best pick.

      • 0 avatar
        JMII

        Or does the OEM have a partner brand they have are forced to work with? Grippy tires cost more, wear quicker, get worse mileage and are noisy. This doesn’t sound like something your average consumer wants.

        As someone who lives in FL I can run summer tires year round, so if the OEM tires are all seasons I don’t need them and will happily replace with something different.

        Maybe its a placebo but every time I’ve picked replacement non OEM tires I feel my vehicle’s handling traits have improved. As a bonus they are often cheaper than the OEM option as well.

        • 0 avatar
          Lockstops

          Yes, manufacturers choose tires which they know the majority of their customers want. So if you want different kind of features, then as Magagnoli wrote then you should choose a different (not necessarily better, but different) type of tire.

        • 0 avatar
          ToolGuy

          “Or does the OEM have a partner brand they have are forced to work with?”

          The Ford and Firestone families politely request that you exercise discretion when discussing such sensitive topics.

          Thank you.

    • 0 avatar
      MrIcky

      Charger scat packs come with 245 all seasons unless you pick the right option box. Since you don’t specify, I’ll assume you test drove all seasons. You can choose a stickier option right from the get-go (Pirelli p0 summers up to 275s) – the downsides are low tire life and higher noise and a lot of people aren’t down with that. Also, likely to do pretty well in the wet since they were likely the all season. Also- you test drove- but then replaced with Michelin? Or are you talking about your minivan?

      Why can’t you even control your foot on a minivan? I don’t know about the minivan but the throttle control on my Challenger was just fine. I even up’d the throttle when it got tuned and somehow I can drive all day without spinning the tires (unless I want to).

      Sorry, but you lost a LOT of credibility with me with this post…

      • 0 avatar
        turbo_awd

        The minivan has (I think it’s been noted elsewhere) very strong initial response (asymmetric lobed cam, IIRC, attached to the throttle wire) so that you get that initial “quick” response to pushing the throttle. However, it’s WAY more sensitive than other cars I’ve driven. My wife drives the van most of the time – I have to learn to re-adjust every time I drive the van again. The power brakes are also quite touchy compared to other cars.

        It’s not impossible to adjust, but it is annoying and too much. Briefly forget and try to take off a little quickly? Spin the tires.. And yes, we replaced the minivan tires with Michelin as soon as they were worn. Better ride, better traction.

        I can see the Charger SXT coming with all seasons. The Scat Pack? In California? Seems pretty useless.. Which goes back to the OEM tire choices.

        • 0 avatar
          RHD

          OEM tire pressures are usually set for comfort, not handling or tire wear.
          Try upping the PSI a few pounds – your MPG will improve, and your traction probably will, too. Think of what it’s like to ride a bicycle with soft tires, and then how much better is once they are pumped up to the right PSI.

          The first thing I do whenever I have to rent a car is inflate the tires. They are usually below spec anyway.

    • 0 avatar
      Sigivald

      That sounds more like “the scat pack is designed for people who care about chirping and burning rubber, not utility”.

      IE, a traction control sysetm issue more than the rubber.

      That or the OEM tires were a desperate bid for minimum rolling resistance for CAFE numbers, and usability be damned*.

      (* Pretty sure that’s the OEM tires on my parents’ Camry Hybrid; they squeal and chirp on turns and with any throttle at all.

      Because they have ONE GOAL, maximum fuel economy.)

      • 0 avatar
        Test Driver

        Ding, ding, ding! Give this man a sucker!

        Rolling resistance is the bane of vehicle dynamics engineers. Everything is sacrificed for it. Anthony’s argument stands that you can’t improve on OEM selections to get back to what you bought. But, those selections are killing, literally killing all-around performance of all weather tires to get fractions of a percentage of mpg. Snow has been particularly sacrificed but wet handling has as well. 10 years ago, Anthony’s argument was much, much stronger. Back to tilting at windmills for me.

    • 0 avatar
      jh26036

      The Potenza RE92 was some of the worst tires ever created, a lot of manufacturers actually used that tire as OEM for many different applications. I am not on the bean counter bashing train but it was clearly a cost cutting equipment.

  • avatar
    FreedMike

    This question’s been on my mind lately, as the original tires on my A3 will probably need replacing within the next year or so. The current tires are Conti ProContacts, and to be blunt, I’m not a big fan – they aren’t particularly responsive and they’re loud to boot. Online reviews on Tire Rack seem to back up my impressions.

    It does seem there are better options out there, and while I’m not trying to cheap out here and get a bargain brand, saving a few bucks is always a good thing, and since these are “OEM,” the Contis are the most expensive option. I can’t see spending more to get a tire I know I’m terribly happy with now.

    So…how reliable are these online reviews, anyway?

    • 0 avatar
      PrincipalDan

      With online reviews (like TireRack) I always look at factors like how many miles were put on the tire by the reviewer and then other reported factors like geography. It at least gives context.

      Ex: A dude in FL on summer tires is going to have a different opinion than a guy in Montana on the same tires even on the same vehicle.

      • 0 avatar
        MrIcky

        I agree on finding reviewers who’ve been on them a while. I also try to find reviewers with the same kind of car. I then usually try to verify with the boards for my kind of car.

    • 0 avatar
      theflyersfan

      I just replaced my Honda’s ProContacts with the OEM Goodyear Eagles and it was like night and day. The downside is that the Eagles have a much shorter life than the ProContacts, but the upside is much greater. I replaced the original set at just over 20,000 miles, because a: they were worn, and b: wanted something that lasted a little longer. The tire guy at Honda recommended the Continentals. I noticed maybe 1-2 more mpg on the highway, but an ungodly increase in tire roar and less grip. I lived with it until two months ago when I said to myself that it’s time to put back on what Honda recommended, and it was the right move.

      The online reviews are hit and miss. If someone posts a review of their tires they’ve had for a month and 500 miles, I ignore it. Give me a review of someone with 5000+ miles on and then let me know about grip, roar, economy, etc. Like any review, people can exaggerate the bad and over-report the good so use multiple review sources.

      And these are your tires. You’ll live with them every single time you drive and put up with the roar at 70mph or the crappy grip in the rain if you go too cheap. I wouldn’t go with the ProContacts again either – they last a long time, but the roar was crazy. I’ve had good luck with Goodyear, and I know a lot of people who went with Cooper if they wanted something a little less expensive, but not cheap junk.

      • 0 avatar
        slavuta

        I don’t like pretty much anything from Goodyear

        • 0 avatar
          sgeffe

          Honda, at least with the Accords for the last two generations, has used BOTH Michelins and Goodyears on the same trim levels, where Michelins were the only tires specced for the higher trim levels before that, going back to 1990 at least. Fortunately, I won the “Michelin lottery” with both my 2013 and 2019 vehicles; despite both cars being factory orders, I don’t know how much “pull” the dealer has when specifying which of the available tires a customer wants.

          I’ve always replaced the OEM tires with OEM-equivalent or better Michelins, and there’s always improvement. It’ll be interesting to see how long these hoops last!

        • 0 avatar
          Flipper35

          Their racing tires are decent enough!

    • 0 avatar
      jalop1991

      Michelin Pilot Sport A/S 3.

      Your A3 is my GTI with a trunk, and compared to the factory tires those tires made a HUGE difference for me 5K miles ago, at 25K miles on the odometer. HUGE.

      HUGE, as in WAY BETTER in ALL aspects.

    • 0 avatar
      Felix Hoenikker

      FreeMike,
      My 14 Accord came with Conti ProContacts. Despite rotating them every 10k miles, they were down to the wear bars at 34k miles. A little internet research showed that that was on the high side for that tires wear. I was in Costco last November and noticed a sign that Bridgestone Ecopia all seasons were on sale. I bought 4 for $424 out the door. Drove them through the winter and didn’t notice any difference in cold/wet/snow performance. I think they came with a 70k mile warranty for whatever that’s worth. The Bridgestones still look brand new after about 5k miles. Given the poor wear of the Conti’s, the only way I would have replaced them with OEM tires was if they were free.

  • avatar
    Ryan

    Two of the new vehicles I have purchased wore Yokohama Geolanders. In my opinion the OEM Geolanders were complete trash. With each vehicle, I replaced the tires well before they were worn out. Michelin something or others that were rated well at the time fit the bill nicely. Road noise was remarkably reduced, handling/grip increased, all around better “fit”. In my experience, only a handful of cars I purchased new came stock with “good” tires.

    For what it is worth, I do not work for Michelin. I just prefer them to most other brands based on ratings and 23 years of driving.

    • 0 avatar
      tomLU86

      I was going to get Michelin Pilot Sport (?) (not THE pilots, but some variant thereof) for my Buick Regal Turbo, which came with Michelin MXM from factory. On paper, they seemed better and cost less (only tread life was shorter, and not by much)

      There was a great deal on a comparable Bridgestone, but at the time, it seemed like a lesser tire (Tire Rack review? I forget now).

      The Costco man insisted the Michelin “sport” tires would ride too hard–they were for a Mustang. He seemed sincere, so I waited for the Michelin sale and to the OEM tire. Even on sale, it cost more, but I really liked the ride and handling of the car, so I figured I’d keep the same tires.

      • 0 avatar
        Scoutdude

        The MXM is a long wearing tire, but you pay for that in grip. We had a car with the MXM and went with the Pilot Sport AS/3 and I don’t thing they rode that much harder. However the car was much more responsive and had much better grip, particularly in the rain.

        • 0 avatar
          sgeffe

          That’s the Michelins that come on the Accord Touring and Sport. The first time I drove my car on the freeway in the rain, I noticed that the car was really skittish, enough that I was contemplating getting snows this winter. That storm was a real gully-washer, though, and the next time I was in the rain, it seemed much better. Still might roll snows so i can save my wheels and tires from winter damage.

  • avatar
    PrincipalDan

    Likely I’ve got different priorities than the OEM.

    As Nader said in his book “Unsafe at Any Speed” – “Detroit wants their tires black, round, and cheap. As long as the last criteria is met the other two aren’t important.”

    Now manufacturers are better than that today but still they tend to choose MPG over grip, or summer performance over other criteria, or they want to be able to say the car has “Michelins” without regard to other factors.

    I think nearly any enthusiast knows enough about their own driving to do a better job picking a tire than the OEM.

    • 0 avatar
      MrIcky

      I don’t know, I think there’s a world of difference in the tire picking process between a Cruze and a Corvette. I’d bet most people who change tires on something like a Corvette think they know more than the engineers, even though the engineers have been playing at the ‘ring. I’d bet the Cruze engineers just found something with decent mileage that was quiet and called it a day.

    • 0 avatar
      Sigivald

      MPG over grip because people shop on MPG comparisons, not skid-pad numbers.

      The window card MPG rating makes and breaks sales a lot more than grip does.

      Ditto summer performance – that’s what people are shopping on, which is why your performance cars come with summer tires!

      • 0 avatar

        Man, this is a whole ‘nother can of worms that I wanted to get into but didn’t have the time to. Not every tire has the same prioritization of attributes across a vehicle line. Window sticker MPG is based on the MAJORITY tire being assembled. Not the average. You better believe they’re all making sure that they keep that optimal fuel economy rating.

      • 0 avatar
        PrincipalDan

        I’m just saying that in many cases our priorities as enthusiasts might be different than the average consumers priorities.

        • 0 avatar

          I absolutely get that.
          “The exception is for those who desire a big improvement of a particular attribute of the vehicle’s performance and are willing to trade off many known and unknown factors in order to achieve it.”
          If you know what you’re after and you’re willing to give up some other attributes to get it, then go for it! A lot of people are taking this really personally when it really doesn’t apply to them. LOL.

  • avatar
    thalter

    One other thing: OEM tires are designed to be used in a wide variety of climates since they don’t know where the vehicle will ultimately be sold. This almost always means a all-season tires, except for the rare performance model. If you live in California, Arizona, or some other southern state, you may not care about sipes for snow and ice traction. A summer tire would be quieter, and wear better in extreme heat.

    • 0 avatar
      Jeff Semenak

      Exactly. Living in the Phoenix area, my Ford Flex Hankook OE Tires wore down in 25,000 miles. I replaced them with Yokohama Avid Ascends that are Temperature rated AA. Snow traction? Who cares. I deal with extreme heat that is an outlier of what the Mfg. needs as a compromise tire.

  • avatar
    DeadWeight

    This article/op-ed is a rolling dumpster fire and atrociously naive/ignorant.

    “If OEMs could have just selected the best-rated tire from the Tire Rack website, or asked people on a forum what they preferred, and called it a day, wouldn’t they have done that? If you think you’re smarter than an entire team of OEM engineers, then go ahead and slap on that 80,0000-mile-guaranteed set of tires. But, you will want to understand what you might be giving up in the process.”

    As but JUST ONE EXAMPLE, if you are considering the purchase of any vehicle shod with factory or dealer equipped Bridgestone tires, DEMAND THAT THEY BE SWAPPED, or at least SWAP THEM FOR AN ACTUALLY DECENT SET OF TIRES yourself.

    If anyone here doesn’t believe that auto manufacturers don’t consider cost as at least a major factor in determining what brand and model of tire to put on vehicles at the factory, you’re as sadly clueless as the author of this garbage article, and you have my pity.

    • 0 avatar
      jack4x

      I agree wholeheartedly.

      OEMs worry about component cost differences down to the penny. To pretend that cost doesn’t enter into the equation for tires costing tens of dollars different between brands or models is naive in the extreme. I certainly believe they do plenty of testing and work with the tire suppliers to get something optimized for the vehicle TO A PRICE POINT. My personal price point for replacements may be higher or lower than that depending on my needs.

      I’ve really enjoyed Anthony’s work here so far but to not mention cost in the article even once is a big miss IMO

    • 0 avatar
      slavuta

      I’ve had decent experiences with Bridgestones. Are you sure, you didn’t mean Firestone?

    • 0 avatar
      Lou_BC

      I wouldn’t go as far as DeadWeight in my assessment of this article but it did make me feel like it was a PR piece for the OEM’s.

      I can not comment on car tires since I don’t own a car but the stock Wrangler SRA’s which are a universal OEM 1/2 ton tire of choice are Sh!t. They did not last on rough pavement or gravel. They sucked on any loose surface and were extremely flat prone. Put a load in the box and one felt like one finished off a case of beer before driving off. 50,000 km (30,000 miles) before they were toast. In contrast, I got 70,000 km on a set of General Grabber AT2’s and have 50k on my Duratrac’s as of this post.

      If one assumes that 80% of pickup buyers are wannabe’s that will never actually need a 4×4 or actually need payload and are clueless then go right ahead and buy another set of OEM SRA’s.

      I’m in a truck so a slightly rougher ride or slightly heavier steering feel isn’t going to keep me awake at night. Worrying about a flat or tire failure under load will keep me up at night.

      I’ve played around with tires on the motorcycles I’ve owned and do view tires as part of the tuning process. That is why I won’t buy a bike that doesn’t have fully adjustable suspension. But even with bikes, I have rarely ever gone back to an OEM tire.

    • 0 avatar
      brettc

      That’s what I did in 2014 when I bought a Jetta sedan. It had the same horrible Bridgestone Turanza EL400s on it that my 2012 Jetta wagon had from the factory. I learned my lesson with those things.

      I told the sales guy that the deal wasn’t happening unless they swapped over to a set of Continentals. He and the sales manager were befuddled, apparently no one had ever made that demand previously. But the EL400s were/are a steaming pile of garbage and they did swap them for us.

      I guess at the time VW was sourcing whatever tires they could find so you’d see a Jetta S with Continentals and an SE (which I bought) would have Bridgestones.

      So yeah, never buy a car with Bridgestones. I’m now running Pirelli Cinturato All seasons during the no-snow months and I don’t really have any complaints with them.

      Edit: Just checked Tirerack and they still sell the EL400-02! They have a rating of 2.0/10 with over 21 million miles reported. Those tires make me irrationally angry.

  • avatar
    Stanley Steamer

    I would like to know how tire selection by OEM is factored into safety, such as rollover rating, and rollover from side impact, especially in a crossover. I’ve seen many crash test videos of side impacts where the car would slide horizontally, but would a tire with more side grip cause it to rollover?

    • 0 avatar

      That is entirely possible and a good point that I didn’t have the time/space to get into. All the certifications are done on the OEM tire(s).

    • 0 avatar
      Sigivald

      That’s … not impossible.

      But I’m also pretty sure that side impact force is going to completely overwhelm tire grip, period, no matte whar, because it’s gonna be an order or three of magnitude more than even the breakfree cornering force.

      I’d bet a dollar that tire grip is rounding error in that calculus.

    • 0 avatar
      burgersandbeer

      Might not even take an impact – https://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/barks-bites-fist-rollover-risk-people-dont-want-know/

  • avatar
    TheDutchGun

    Goodyear eagle F1s on my focus ST will barely make it to 40,000 km.

    I think I can do better than that on the next set.

  • avatar
    Andre Robinson

    How does this article go on this long without acknowledging that many times, OEM tires are selected because they are cheaper than good tires? More often than not, cars bought by my family have come with terrible tires. Do I know better than the engineers? Chances are, the engineers wanted one set of tires, and the company went with another tire that cost significantly less.

    • 0 avatar
      slavuta

      When I buy a new car, I always check the tires. Sometimes you can find same car with totally different tire brand. The salesmen was like, “so, do you want a blue one?”. “Wait a minute.. no, I’ll take the red one, it has better tires”.

      • 0 avatar
        sgeffe

        That’s what I mentioned above with Accords.

        And I thought I’ve read that the OEM and Tire Rack/tire store versions of the exact same tires can be very different.

    • 0 avatar
      Lockstops

      You misunderstood what’s going on here: they choose the manufacturer and tire type first, then the engineers fine-tune the tire. So what you’re getting is a certain chosen tire, but improved to suit your car better than a non-OEM tire of the same brand and model.

  • avatar
    71charger_fan

    My ’83 Shelby Charger was built with German-made Goodyear Eagles that were unavailable for retail purchase in the U.S. Not long after I bought my car, I was at a Goodyear retailer for tires on another car and there sat a new Shelby Charger with one destroyed tire. The retailer told me that they had to work through Goodyear and have them get a tire from Dodge to ship to the store to install on the car to make good on the road hazard warranty (or maybe just a good faith repair as it was brand new). Needless to say, those tires weren’t replaced with OEM. I first tried Falkens, not a good choice in the ’80s (might be fine now, but fool me once), and replaced those with Goodrich which seemed far superior to the original Goodyears. My ’94 Cherokee was built with Eagle GAs. Hated those. They wore out very early, which was almost a relief as it gave me an excuse to get rid of them. My ’99 Grand Cherokee had some model Michelin that seemed to trade any vestige of traction for wear. Those things just refused to die.

  • avatar
    theBrandler

    This is utter bull crap. I’ve worked in manufacturing my whole career. NO company works like that. You always have the engineers striving to meet the business and financial demands (read cheap and easy to assemble) while still providing a product that doesn’t completely suck.

    Unfortunately most of the “suck” is still left in the product because the budget is never there to make everything perfect the first time around. This is why you wait a year or two on totally redesigned vehicles – or anything else really.

    They do strive to get all the bugs worked out as production continues if the company is worth anything at all (some aren’t and I can’t understand how they are in business). Hence recalls are a thing.

    So while in theory, yes the car was optimized for a certain set of tires, that’s not as pretty or accurate as it sounds. No the team was given a tiny budget for tires, and made due with that by tuning around it – which why so many people are commenting on how much better their car handled, accelerated, etc with new quality tires. Just as if you systematically replaced every part of the car with a completely optimized component for the job, you’d notice gradual improvements in every aspect of the vehicle.

    But alas, all this happens inside the confines of a budget, which forces a lot of tuning to make things acceptable because the budget won’t allow for things to be made perfect, or even better in most cases.

    • 0 avatar
      slavuta

      Yep. I bought first year 2009 Highlander and burnt on it. Now I bought last year. We’ll see

      • 0 avatar
        geozinger

        ” I bought first year 2009 Highlander and burnt on it. Now I bought last year. We’ll see”

        What? There was a Japanese vehicle that wasn’t the total epitome of perfection? Surely you jest! Such a feat is nigh impossible!!!

        And then you bought another version of it? You felt like doubling down on mediocrity?

        It doesn’t matter what tires are on it then…

        • 0 avatar
          slavuta

          geozinger,

          it wasn’t as dramatic as you might think. For nearly 10 years it was damn good. Its just had couple of ticking [costly] bombs in it. Well, I had to trade it in with only 131K. I expected to drive it 200K to get the value out of it. Instead, I’ve got 5K trade-in value.
          The one I’ve got has been around long time now.

    • 0 avatar
      SPPPP

      ” Just as if you systematically replaced every part of the car with a completely optimized component for the job, you’d notice gradual improvements in every aspect of the vehicle.

      But alas, all this happens inside the confines of a budget, which forces a lot of tuning to make things acceptable because the budget won’t allow for things to be made perfect, or even better in most cases.”

      I think this is well stated.

  • avatar
    gglockster

    Jack of all trades Master of none. The 7 criteria in the spider chart are balanced out against the consumer market where the car will be sold. Tires good for Phoenix in July are not going to be good for Detroit in January.
    More and more cars are coming with run flat tires, showing the manufacturer preference to reduce weight (increase MPG). The number one reason, I’m in a rush to wear out stealership tires and replace them, is that I just don’t like RFT’s. I’ve sacrificed cubic feet of trunk space for years in order to fit: a spare, jack, and emergency kit.
    Recently, I’ve bit the bullet and gone from all season tires and bought a second set of wheels and winter tires for my “sportier” RWD car.

  • avatar
    nsk

    The best tire recommendations I’ve ever received have been from Tire Rack phone sales people. Not OEM fitments, not randoms on the internet, and definitely not dealership service writers.

    The TR staff seem to actually drive on the tires, understand how different drivers have different expectations, and have access to practically every brand and model without (to me, at least) apparent bias.

    I’ve bought probably 50 sets of tires from TR over the past 20 years, and every time I explain my use case, they are spot-on with a recommendation. E.g. “my sister has a 2005 Cayenne Turbo in a Baltimore suburb, and drives too fast for conditions.” Or, “my mom likes to chirp the tires from every red light on her S65.” Or, “this car isn’t in your system because it’s so weird, but I need a 255/50-16 that will look right on a vintage car, but will sit in an air-conditioned garage and be driven about 250 miles a year.” Or, “can you please get me the date codes for these unusually-sized tires, since I want the freshest set possible.”

    They’re even equipped for totally unanticipated issues. When I downsized from 19″ OEM to 18″ aftermarket wheels on my 997.2TT and the only available PSC2 fitment threw a PTM warning light, it was a TR guy who suggested Yoko A052, a tire I didn’t even know existed, in sizing that the finicky PTM computer accepted.

    Again, there are tons of places that will sell tires, but very few true tire experts. The TR people are the ones who I trust.

  • avatar
    slavuta

    I don’t know how say nicely to the author of this, “get out of here”. Basically, he advocated for me to reinstall those horrible Dunlops on my Highlander that were noisy, had uneven wear, lasted less than 30K miles, had no cold weather grip…. BS! Steering? What steering? – that was 2009 Toyota! Those didn’t have any steering feel.
    Currently, on Mazda6, I have great tires, only problem they will last 20-22K miles. No way I will repeat.

    Almost every tire set I ever replaced OEM with, always was better than OEM.
    “As a former vehicle dynamics performance engineer for FIAT Chrysler Automobiles, I want to give you …” Please – don’t.

    And here is the biggest fallacy – I’ve seen exactly same cars but with different tires, on the same dealer lot. Moreover, you go to your famous FCA, go buy a Jeep and see the options – you can upgrade from 18″ to 20″ and hey – same steering and suspension, totally different tire.

    Hey, thanks for visiting this forum.

    • 0 avatar
      thelaine

      Slavuta,

      I also have a 2009 Highlander and I could not agree more.

    • 0 avatar

      “The exception is for those who desire a big improvement of a particular attribute of the vehicle’s performance and are willing to trade off many known and unknown factors in order to achieve it.”
      I suspect you fall into this category, so if you don’t mind I’ll just stay right here :)

      As for your fallacy, what you can’t see when staring at the car on the dealer’s lot is what damper tuning was fitted and which EPS calibration was selected in the plant to match those varying tires.

    • 0 avatar
      Lockstops

      @slavuta:
      Where to start? Your rambling doesn’t really make much sense, as you are not even providing good argumentation. You certainly aren’t making any good points.

      Your Dunlops were worse than what tires? In what way? So you’re a tire expert and you tested them thoroughly, professionally comparing them to other tires as well as getting some kind of absolute prices for them even though tire prices vary wildly all the time?

      You insulting a vehicle dynamics performance engineer and others like tire development engineers just like that, based on some layman’s whim is not very smart. Especially when you don’t base that criticism on anything except wild and vague claims.

      For your final point -and biggest argumentational fallacy- well yes, cars do come as new with different tire brands, sizes and models! Is that news to you? What are you complaining about, that manufacturers should NOT offer different tire sizes and that they absolutely must not offer different tire brands on different tire sizes? Didn’t you read that article which specifically stated that manufacturers always have several OEM suppliers so that they aren’t dependent on one. And actually they do that because they make new contracts on them all the time too: every time they get a new tire brand/model they go through the same development process and come up with a tire they are happy with.

      Yes, there are differences between different OEM tires of different brands, but so what? Why would that be a complaint? You have differences in non-OEM tires of different brands too, the _OEM ones are just developed to suit the car better than if they were not developed to suit the car_!!

      • 0 avatar
        slavuta

        Lockstops

        did you see me complain? My only complain – I don’t like the article that suggests to keep OEM tires. Everything else is your fantasy. And yes, I said, nearly always non-OEM replacement tires served me better. Long live Tire Rack!

  • avatar
    thelaine

    For my Highlander and Cherokee, I eventually went with Michelin Defenders, which are the best road tire I have ever used and FAR, FAR superior in noise/handling/grip to the OEM. My experience with OEM tires is that they are great when new but wear out and turn to crap very quickly. I am going to stick with Michelin for the road and BFG KO2’s for the pickup. If auto engineers really spend millions of dollars trying to pick the right tire, I think they are wasting money, unless it is a specialty vehicle like a Corvette. For your basic passenger vehicle, they should just pick a good quality, widely available, reasonably affordable tire, and work with it.

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    EV range is particularly sensitive to tires – both in compound and diameter. I saw a marked range reduction when I changed out the OEM tires on my former Leaf to go with something stickier.

    Tesla doesn’t advertise it, but the larger tire options on their vehicles produce measurably shorter range than the smaller ones. This has been tested in detail on the Model 3, and with/without the aero wheel covers.

    • 0 avatar
      Lockstops

      Maybe for some it’s best to stick on massively wide PZero Trofeo Rs so that they can keep up high corner speeds, avoiding the need to slow down and then accelerate…

      A bit like BMW M3 being more frugal than a Prius when going at the Prius’ maximum speed…

    • 0 avatar
      ToolGuy

      SCE to AUX,

      Yes absolutely – low rolling resistance tires are a different ballgame.

      Also when I drove EV’s I learned to maintain optimum tire pressure* religiously – because it directly affects range. This is an excellent activity to pursue while quick charging.

      *Manufacturer’s ‘cold’ PSI rating plus 2psi as a starting point.

  • avatar
    Lockstops

    Great article! Many here complain, as they haven’t considered that one should use their brain as well. If your OEM tires are non-top-brand all-seasons then sure, they’re not as good as Michelin Pilot 4S… But compare those OEM tires to similarly priced and tires in the same category and you’ll likely be better off with the OEMs!

    About price: do you who complain really think that OEMs will somehow get tire manufacturers to make them a worse tire than the ‘generic’ model of the tire for a cheaper price?? No, the tire manufacturers will definitely not make a worse tire than other tires of that series. For example Michelin will not make a worse Pilot 4S tire with MO-marking for Mercedes than their non-MO marked Pilot 4S’s are!!

    Yes, manufacturers will in some cases want to save money on tires and decide to purchase cheaper tires, for example a Yokohama All-Season tire. But that tire will not be worse in OEM spec than the non-OEM spec! You obviously will know when changing tires that your car now has that model Yokohama All-Seasons on, so you can decide to keep that tire TYPE and tire MODEL or charge to a different TYPE or different CATEGORY, often getting a better tire. But you won’t be faced with getting a new set of OEM spec tires and end up having a worse set than you’d expect based on that brand and tire model. Or price. Sometimes you can get OEM spec tires for less than non-OEM, sometimes they cost more, that depends on lots of things, mostly on how much extra stock there is sitting in warehouses.

    Sure, you might get less than the best tires especially in the American market where price and mileage is most important in general, and people ruin millions of cars every year with All-Season crap. But I can promise you that at least in Europe and with higher-level car makes you are getting very good tires as OEM, and as a whole definitely not lower quality in any way than the same tire in non-OEM form. Many times they will not have exactly the same preferences as you do regarding comfort vs. sportiness, dry vs. wet grip etc., but they will certainly not be worse overall due to price!

    It’s not that hard to get info on what the OEM tire is like compared to non-OEM either. Tires are important, so it makes sense to get some info on what different tires are like anyway. It helps no-one to say that “OEM tires could be cheap crap!”, as that provides no actual useful information.

    • 0 avatar
      Scoutdude

      Yeah they will make a cheaper tire for OE use. Toyota likes tires with less tread. Here are some BFG OE tires that are still being made, note that the Toyota version comes with 1.5/32″ less tread. https://www.tirerack.com/tires/tires.jsp?tireMake=BFGoodrich&tireModel=Rugged+Trail+T%2FA

      • 0 avatar

        Thanks for that comment scout. I was racking my brain, trying to remember the quick wearing OEM tires my friends in my offroad club in the 2000s complained were made with a shorter life span for the OEM and BFG rings a bell.

      • 0 avatar
        Lockstops

        Yup, as I said: “Sure, you might get less than the best tires especially in the American market where price and mileage is most important in general, and people ruin millions of cars every year with All-Season crap.”

        American consumers really want to save money. So they get to save on their car purchase and get faster wearing tires.

        That’s not a bad tradeoff to most people, as car purchase price as a large up-front expense will rather be reduced and a later small extra price due to needing to change tires a bit sooner is preferable.

        I would also maybe like to have cheaper, quicker-wearing OEM tires as they are rarely the type of tire I’d like to have on my car. Especially with a very expensive car you really don’t want to have it on sub-optimal tires for a long time. The quicker you get it onto the best possible tire the more you’re getting for the massive amount you just spent on the car. Then again, it’s always possible to switch out the tires before they wear out, but I have no experience in selling used tires: I’d doubt you get much money if any for them.

        • 0 avatar
          Scoutdude

          There is big business in used tires. My friend owns a building he rents to a used tire store. He moves a lot of tires.

          Personally I’m not afraid to put new tires on a car I just purchased. Of the last 4 cars I purchased only 1 had the tires that came on it for more than a week. Yes they were bought used but the tires were 60% or better, just crappy traction.

  • avatar
    Lockstops

    “Others may still go ahead and buy the cheapest or longest-lasting tire that they can, but I caution against that. It isn’t worth undoing all the work that made your vehicle what it is and degrading something that cost tens of thousands of dollars in order to save a couple hundred.”

    This time a thousand. Why save even $200 on a tire set and make your expensive car worse? Why buy All-Season tires for the whole year and make your car so much worse for most of the year when you only have to invest in a new wheel set once to get two sets of tires, and changing the set twice a year is not too much of a hassle for a normal person! (Or having the set changed twice a year is not too expensive for someone who can afford a car…)

  • avatar
    labelnerd

    So I bought a Kia Stinger with POS Bridgestones on it that hydroplane when brand new. And I’m supposed to stick with those because the car was “tuned around them”? Have 2 words for that……BS!!

  • avatar
    FreedMike

    I suspect Anthony may have been talking about performance tires, given his experience as a chassis engineer on high-performance cars. And, yeah, there’s a great deal of optimization that goes into cars that end up on tracks.

    I’m not a chassis engineer, but I doubt that switching to a non-OEM tire on Mom’s grocery-getter Camry or CR-V would make that all that much impact unless the tire in question was some bargain-basement special at Wal-mart.

    • 0 avatar

      I guess its time to cut out the vehicle dynamics departments for anything not performance related…
      All of my examples in this piece revolved around the Pacifica. Whether its a minivan, sports car, cute-ute, or other, the factors involved are all highly dependent upon tires and the tuning of and around them. The functional targets of a CR-V will be different from a Shelby GT350, for sure. But NVH, ride comfort, and fuel economy may all be just as important to the CR-V buyer as steering response and outright dry grip is to the Shelby buyer. No less attention is focused on those attributes just because you can’t write headlines around them.

      • 0 avatar
        SPPPP

        Anthony, it’s true that vehicle dynamics development is important on any model vehicle. We should keep in mind that professionals spent hard work on any product that sees the light of day.

        However, this idea has to share space in our minds with lots of other knowledge that we have picked up along the way. It’s probable that each of the commenters here has driven at least one vehicle that was dynamically disappointing. Should we just throw out the evidence of our senses and try to convince ourselves that “this is the best of all possible calibrations”?

        I understand your point that one person’s top 3 priorities may not be those of another person. If we replace a part, we may end up swapping one set of priorities for another set, as you alluded to. I think we should not assume that the car companies are idiots, but we should also not assume that everything is as perfect as it could possibly be.

        Anecdotally, I think of the 2009 Corolla. The all-new edition of what may have been the world’s best-selling car at the time … and it drove like a mess. The handling wasn’t good, and the ride wasn’t good enough to compensate. The throttle calibration was jumpy, even though the engine lacked power. The brakes were extremely grabby and difficult to modulate.

        The throttle and brake calibrations seemed the least forgivable to me. It seems that it would have cost virtually nothing in parts to make those items operate well. But they went out the door operating badly. I can’t be convinced that Toyota didn’t have the resources to make it work. So what went wrong?

        If we polled the commenters on here, we could come up with hundreds of examples where automakers sold us things that were just plain bad. And the automakers either knew they were bad, or they must have been incompetent. Little things like this make us wonder what else is sub-optimal out there.

        Can you imagine BMW bragging about developing 13 different EPS calibrations for the F30? The obvious rejoinder would be “… and they all stink!”

        • 0 avatar

          “The exception is for those who desire a big improvement of a particular attribute of the vehicle’s performance and are willing to trade off many known and unknown factors in order to achieve it.”
          I imagine many of the people who are up in arms here fall into this category. Believe me, I have changed tires from OEM, as well, in many instances!

  • avatar
    Hummer

    My SS sedan came with Bridgestone Potenza RE050, they were extremely good at cornering just a great strong side wall, I miss that, otherwise they were harsh, not remarkably sticky for a performance tire, and were completely worn out by 18k miles, I want to say they were about $350 a tire to replace.
    I debated between going for the Michelin PS4 summer performance and Continental DWS06+ All season performance. I ultimately went with the Contis as others on the SSforum had good luck with them, claiming they were the next best thing to a summer tire. I regret that choice.
    The good about the DWS is the ride, it softened up the ride on those 19s tremendously, much quieter as well, seem to have held up over 8k miles decently well through more than a few tire spins. And they are 10x better in the rain than the old Bridgestones were. Unfortunately they are absolutely awful around corners you can feel the tiny side wall roll on the rim around corners and it’s very disconcerting. Steering feedback is more vague, they’re a tad bit squirrelly at highway speeds. The squirrellyness is not a good feeling on a car setup like mine. They’ve gotten better as they have worn in but they’re still wishy washy at times.

    I’ll be going to the PS4s next time, nothing on this earth could make me go back to those Bridgestone though. The Contis admittedly would probably make a great winter tire if nothing else.

  • avatar
    DeadWeight

    Top Tier Tires, with most consistent quality, tread life, and suitability for designated class (e.g. all season, summer performance/ultra high performance, snow, mud+snow, etc.)

    Michelin (overall, the best, even with some misses – Michelin is top notch for most part)
    Nokian (snow obviously)
    Yokohama
    Continental
    Pirelli (they have some awful models for top tier though)

    Best moderate priced (again, some will be misses, but many great ones for $)

    BF Goodrich
    Hankook (just to get into complexities, they make one of best and worst snow tire)
    General (okay, they are limited in range, but have some definite great bang for buck tires in all season and snow category)

    They can shove Uniroyal, Bridgestone, Kumho, Nexxen, GOODYEAR (I said it), and all the Chinese $hit up their a$$hole!

    *This is not extensive list of brands or models, and there is variance within brands – it’s just a general list thought of off top of my head to illustrate best vs good vs crap.

    Also, Discount Tire and Tire Rack are best overall retailers in terms of price and service -‘and Discount will be very aggressive in lowering price especially if you can even get a close model from Tire Rack or another lesser online retailer like 1001 Tires.

    • 0 avatar
      thelaine

      This is a great comment. If you are not an experienced tire buyer, it is really hard to get objective tire reviews. There are so many brands and models and applications. Tire Rack reviews have been my best source. That is the reason I finally decided “fk it, I’ll just buy Michelins.” They were the Tire Rack users consensus for most of my vehicles/uses. They are not cheap, but I have not been disappointed.

      I totally agree with you about General tires. They are a great value and plenty of people in snow country run them on their trucks.

      I would like to see an entire TTAC article devoted just to tires. I would love to see some opinions from B&B on off-road truck tires.

      • 0 avatar

        @thelaine
        I could keep going and get people madder… ;)

        • 0 avatar
          thelaine

          Anthony Magagnoli

          Please do! This was a great article that stimulated a discussion on an evergreen subject of interest.

          Next, try talking about motor oils…

          Some topics just get car guys talking.

          • 0 avatar
            ToolGuy

            Motor oil:
            – If you buy anything except Mobil 1, you hate America
            – All the best vehicles specify 5W-30 (any lower viscosity, you might be a communist)

        • 0 avatar
          Deontologist

          I’ve worked for OEMs and Tier 1 suppliers designing vehicle components. Sometimes, OEM choices with regard to replaceable parts/wear items make sense.

          I’m going to speak with regard to lighting, since that’s my area of expertise. Bulbs are universally chosen to last as long as possible. That is the primary concern to OEMs. They don’t need you to buy a 2020 Challenger and have the bulbs burn out 8 months into ownership, because that’s going to create a very angry customer and headaches for the dealer. As a result, the bulbs chosen are the long-life type, which can actually have a 30% lower luminous flux than their high-performance counterparts! Who knows how many lives were lost over these low-performance bulbs; how many pedestrians were run over, how many deer were hit, etc., but no one cares. Lifespan and reducing warranty claims is the #1 priority.

          So, at least in the case of lighting, going with non-OEM but same-technology bulbs can make a lot of sense. I say “same-tech” bulbs because if it’s a filament bulb, it needs to be replaced with something that has a filament. If it’s an arc-discharge bulb, then it can only be replaced by an arc-discharge bulb. The proliferation of LED retrofit kits is in part a response to OEMs fitting the cheapest, nastiest, longest-life bulbs available, and people are desperate in their search for better lighting, and latch onto whatever the current fad is. And the current fad is most definitely LED lighting, with many countries now banning incandescent bulbs. However, LED retrofit kits in cars are far from maturity; the SAE is still working hard on J3145 to specify an actual set of standards that these bulbs are to be built to. The current crop of the automotive retrofit LED bulbs on the market are nothing but a money grab and frankly dangerous to everyone on the road–all because vehicle engineers, like you, Anthony, refuse to spec anything but the cheapest possible crap available.

          • 0 avatar

            I’m sorry, but are you insinuating that I, personally, was making decisions to spec the cheapest possible tire options? Where would you even derive that thought from?

          • 0 avatar
            Deontologist

            It’s not your fault, Anthony. You’re not important enough to spec anything at Chrysler. All the mandates come from above, and the main (essentially, only) mandate is to spec the cheapest crap available.

            The Chrysler 200 in its last model years had, for example, bi-halogen HIR2 projector headlamps, which would have been okay to fairly good, except the fact that Chrysler chose to utilize a Korean supplier with known poor quality control. The concept of a bi-halogen, HIR2-based projector is a fine idea on paper, since HIR2 bulb technology had progressed to a point of hitting 30 Mcd/m2 while maintaining long lifespans (B3 of 900 hours). And indeed, Toyota used bi-halogen HIR2 projectors on one of America’s best selling vehicles, the 2016-2018 RAV4. However, Chrysler just had to squeeze the supplier to reduce costs further and further, and the inevitable result was extremely sloppily produced lamps. Chrysler chose a second-rate supplier, and ended up using not even second-rate lamps, but instead sixth rate lamps. I had a few Chrysler 200 headlamps on the gonio and Jesus, not one of these lamps gave any sort of results resembling the previous one I had tested. Slop and poor quality all around, not to mention limited sight distance with each unit.

            And many Chrysler use the cheapest, nastiest polycarbonate lens for the headlamp covers. There are plastics rated to last 3 years of UV exposure (minimum required by law) and there are plastics rated to last 5 years. It’s no surprise to anyone that Chrysler basically chooses exclusively from AMECA’s 3-year list. There was a conference in Detroit in 2015, and some guy gave a presentation about how many lives were lost as a direct result of hazy/yellow/foggy/age-deteriorated lamps by analyzing the FARS database. Number was ~4000 lives/year. It’s not a good business practice to kill your customers, but who thinks long-term at Chrysler?

            Why should anyone expect that tires, and the tire selection process, are any different?

          • 0 avatar

            When Consumer Reports evaluated the Pacifica, the dyanmics areas beat out all competitors. It was literally the headlights that killed its score. I don’t think your experience necessarily translates to every department. And, by the way, while I did have responsibility to spec and develop tires, I was not the sole decision-maker. Was cost a factor? Sure. But only from the sourcing standpoint. Once selected, the tires were developed to optimize their capability and the performance of the car, within a given set of objectives.

      • 0 avatar
        brn

        The best deal in town is my local Ford dealer. They carry many brands, will price match Discount Tire, and often have rebates. I pay less at the dealer than I could anywhere else.

    • 0 avatar
      slavuta

      Michelin has one problem – extensive cracking. If you drive a lot – no problem. But if your annual mileage is little, you might find them shedding some tread after 4 years.
      I’ve been Pirelli customer lately.

      What do you thing about Sumitomo? I had them on my Highlander for 1 year and I liked them, especially considering the price. And if you pick them in Delaware warehouse – no shipping, no tax.

      • 0 avatar
        highdesertcat

        “Michelin has one problem – extensive cracking.”

        I’ve never had that problem and I’ve had Michelin on MOST of my vehicles, at one time or another.

        For our style of driving, Michelin, Yokohama and Pirelli gave us the better value for our money.

        • 0 avatar

          I had this issue with a set of LTX Michelin’s started cracking around 4 years old. Great tire in general good traction exceptional wearlife quieter then the Goodyear Wranglers they replaced but the dry rotting so early was a turn off.

          • 0 avatar
            highdesertcat

            mopar4wd, I applied ArmorAll to the tires on all my vehicles after I washed them with my Power Washer at home.

            I had to. The liquid detergent that I used in the Power Washer was so strong that it left the tire sidewalls looking dull.

            And spray-waxing the vehicle after washing it didn’t do much for the tire sidewalls, hence the ArmorAll.

            Maybe the ArmorAll kept my Michelins from cracking?

      • 0 avatar
        MBella

        Many of the Sumitomos are good value. They are actually a very big tire conglomerate internationally, and own the rights to the Dunlop brand outside of the US. I had a set of a previous get HTR Enhance on my E320 wagon, and they were pretty impressive. I wanted a decent quite ride, and was impressed that the handling was pretty good for a touring tire.

        • 0 avatar

          I had two sets of Sumitomos on my Outback in general they were pretty good but for some reason the 2nd set had more balance issues then the first.
          On my Volvo I ran two different sets of Firestones. Both all seasons about 95 bucks a tire the first set was great smooth rode nice great traction, the 2nd set ( and the guy at Firestone mentioned too me they had slightly changed tread and compound) was no where near as a good in wet and snow as the first.
          I think picking even the same tire over and over has some potential pitfalls.

      • 0 avatar
        Daniel J

        I replaced my Michelins on my 2010 Mazda about 4 years ago with Sumitomos. They were aweful. They were loud and I couldn’t get anyone to balance them properly. Only one shop in town could get them balanced and that was on a a road force machine, and even then they were just OK.

    • 0 avatar
      sayahh

      Doesn’t Michelin own or make Uniroyal tires? Doesn’t mean that it would be as good as Michelins, but I would think that it would at least be decent, no?

      • 0 avatar
        Scoutdude

        Yes Michelin owns BFG and Uniroyal. That doesn’t mean that they are as good as Michelins. But yeah I’ll take a Uniroyal over some no name tire.

  • avatar
    ttacgreg

    Picking a non OEM tire is a nice way to customize a vehicle to one’s own tastes and needs.

    My 16 Prius OEM tires were close to worthless on snow, and rather road noisy. Shopping Tire Rack’s crowd sourced ratings and their actual tests, I replaced them with Continental Truecontact tires. They are smoother riding on expansion joints, they make less road noise, although curiously at very low speeds they make some tread noise, and they are very competent in snow for an all season tire. Icing on the cake, they are LRR and appear to be just as fuel efficient as the OEM’s were. Win win if you ask me.

  • avatar
    ajla

    “but if you’re not buying the OEM part from a dealership, it is not likely to be the same OEM tuning.”

    If your car is older, this is very unlikely to be an option.

  • avatar
    geozinger

    When I bought my G6 new in 2009, it came with some forgettable Firestone S or T rated tires. As I recall, they drove OK, but I was not happy with the wet weather or snow handling.

    Fortunately, they seemed to wear rather quickly and I bought my first set of General Altimax HP (H-rated) tires. They worked well enough until the very end, but once they were worn, they were REALLY worn. But they didn’t impress me enough to buy them again.

    I’d heard mixed reviews on the Kumho Ecstas, (V-rated) but I found a set on sale at Discount Tire’s website, so I thought I’d try them out. I was really worried that the V rated tires would ride more harshly than the previous Generals which were H rated, but these tires were nice and quiet.

    Long story short, I’m on my second set in four years. But, it seems that Kumho has discontinued that model of tire, so I will be on the hunt for another set of tires by next Spring.

    How does this relate to OEM tire replacements? After your car is several years out, the OEM tires may not be available and you’ll have to find replacements. I leaned heavily on Tire Rack’s and Discount Tires’ ratings sections to help me find tires that fit my car and my driving style.

    It’s a mid level Pontiac, and it’s not like I take it autocrossing or anything, but I do like the capabilities that V-rated tires lend to my cars. I feel I’ve been lucky with my choices.

    • 0 avatar
      geozinger

      One thing I neglected to mention is that I don’t buy the 80,000 mile tires. For our driving style now, they’ll get old and crack before I’ll want to replace them.

      I try to find a nice set of <40,000 miles tires (which is the highest mileage I will consider), as I want to peel off their worn-out carcasses at no more than four years old from date of manufacture.

  • avatar
    pprj

    What a lame, poor article. Bunch of BS.
    Really? Looking for a tire that best fits what you need is not ok? Give me a break.

    • 0 avatar

      Where did you get that conclusion from?
      “The exception is for those who desire a big improvement of a particular attribute of the vehicle’s performance and are willing to trade off many known and unknown factors in order to achieve it.”

  • avatar
    quickson

    Not that it’s a surprise to anyone, but the OEM 16″ tires on a Fiat Abarth aren’t the correct size to have an accurate speedometer. That, and there’s very few (and expensive) aftermarket options in the 195/45/r16 that it comes with.

    If you go to 205/45/r16, you’ll end up getting a much more accurate speedometer and a ton more choices.

    • 0 avatar
      Scoutdude

      The speedo is off on purpose, by SAE standards it can’t show that you are going slower than you actually are, so most cars will actually be going 57-58 when the speedo says 60. If you purchase a scan tool you’ll find the the car usually knows how fast it is going even if it is lying to you and indicating a higher speed.

      • 0 avatar
        quickson

        The only question I have then is why didn’t they calibrate it the same for the 17s? The 17s are accurate on the speedo.

      • 0 avatar
        Featherston

        @ Scoutdue – Didn’t ROAD & TRACK, back in the day, include a datum in its test drive tables for true speed vs speedometer-indicated speed? Per your comment, they seemed to indicate that factory speedometers always err on the side of caution (i.e., telling you you’re going slightly faster than you are). My little portable Garmin seems to confirm that factory speedos are always set to read a tiny bit high.

    • 0 avatar
      ToolGuy

      The speedometer reading on my refurbished Garmin GPS is pretty stinking accurate. :-)

  • avatar
    Polka King

    Is there even a way to find quiet tires? I hear cars going by my house that sound like tanks and cars going by that I can’t hear at all. I bought my Pirells partly because the Tire Rack ratings said it was quiet but people must have thought that they were compared to their Harleys.

  • avatar
    BearWithMe

    Anyone claiming OEMs do their best to select the “perfect” tire (or even “good”) has never had the misfortune of owning a Subaru, Nissan, or anything else that came with the Bridgestone Potenza RE92. Absolute deathtraps in the wet and not impressive in the dry. Not impressive in any way, in fact. And they cost about TWICE what Bridgestone’s own RE960 cost.

    I waited until 10k miles on my WRX to swap them out for RE960s and wish I’d done it the day I bought it. The RE960 had so much grip in the wet, dry, and even decent in the snow.

  • avatar
    ToolGuy

    Congratulations to Anthony for working for a company which prioritizes tire development and tuning.

    At the OEM where I worked for over a decade, by contrast, my family and I largely drove brand-new vehicles using my vehicle allowance. One of the things I distinctly *disliked* about driving those vehicles was the generally poor tires they were equipped with. I remember it being a welcome change to take road trips in the used vehicle with nice Michelins (but see my comment below).

    “Cost” is definitely missing from the spider chart shown. The initial “several versions” that Anthony refers to are probably really good tires. The problem is, when the engineers are done, Purchasing at the OEM keeps talking to the tire manufacturer, and they continue to work out little side deals. Up to and including “Hey, when you sort your finished product for roundness, we’ll take those tires that don’t meet the old spec, in return for XX reduction in price.”

    The following comments relate to ‘mainstream’ non-high-performance tires:
    – I used to pay a premium for Michelins, but I won’t now – they wear more quickly than they used to.
    – Latest two vehicles received Pirelli P4’s (different speed ratings for each vehicle) and I’ve been pleased so far.
    – On my old cars the struts and/or springs have been changed to non-OEM anyway, so I’m not going to match any mythical factory tuning.

  • avatar
    Scoutdude

    The reality is that for most vehicles the price and rolling resistance are at or near the top of the mfgs priority. Sure on a performance car they will put grip above noise, ride quality or tread life and maybe price and rolling resistance might not be #1 and #2. Wet grip seems to be low on many mfgs lists, but for me it is near the top living in the PNW. So yeah one of the first attributes I check when researching tires on tire rack are the wet test results.

  • avatar
    nrd515

    When I bought my 2000 GMC Sierra 1500, it came with Firestone Wilderness tires, and it bump steered, bobbed and jiggled like it was on jello tires. These tires were supposedly the most fuel efficient truck tires made at the time. At first, I thought they were underinflated, but they weren’t. They were scary junk. I could take my thumbs when they were off the wheels and press the sidewalls in to the point they touched the other side. By the third day I had it, I was at Sam’s Club, ordering a set of Michelins. I don’t remember the model name/number, but they were expensive, and worth every penny. They handled better, rode better, stopped better wet and dry, the only negative was they were noisy, really noisy. I had them on it for 3 years before the truck was wrecked and traded, and they barely showed any wear for the 45,000+ miles they had gone. I was so used to the grinding whine they made that when I got my 2003 Ram 1500, it took a while to get used to not hearing the tires as soon as the truck started moving. Oh, nobody would give me a dime for the Wilderness tires, and I ended up putting them on the curb and nobody would take them. Not even the garbage pickers! I ended up taking them to Sam’s Club and they took them away. Adios!

  • avatar
    ravenuer

    Don’t have time right now to go through this whole article, but the first two paragraphs annoyed me. So Toyota spent “millions” to come to the conclusion that the OEM Toyo Open Country tire was the cats meow on my RAV4 V6? I managed to wait 35k miles before I couldn’t take it anymore. Put on a set of Michelin Defenders and couldn’t get over how much better in every way they were. Oh and I now have 96k on the car and am getting to replace them because they’ve got about 4-5/32nds left.

  • avatar
    TrailerTrash

    Late to this discussion,but feel a part of it.
    In fact I have been looking to replace the Michelin MXV4 on my MKS for the second time.
    The first time I researched and decided the OEM Mics were still the best.
    Now, maybe not so sure.
    In the 10 years,tires have been really improving. And you can get a better tire. The improvement in material and layers inside for noise and strength are fantastic.
    Today you need to decide:
    1) Where you live. The OEM tires you had and you lived in Michigan are not needed in Houston.
    2)Talk to all the Tire installers you can find. ASK THEM which new tires are best for what you want where you live. They see more of your car than anybody else and since you car is older, they know the improved tires and what are best for your car.
    3 Stay the hell away from consumer reports. They do not test the tires on ALL CARS so suggesting a tire is highly rated for one car can be a disaster for another.
    4 Read ALL the reviews and look at miles driven and on what kinds aof car they are on.
    Looking at the Cross Climate, the Bridgestone Turanza Serenity Plus
    as well as a couple more.
    Still work to be done here.

    • 0 avatar
      ravenuer

      Have to disagree with you about Consumer Reports. Nobody can test ALL tires on ALL cars. But they come up with reasonable ratings and opinions on many of the more common brands.
      Tire dealers are going to suggest…..well, I don’t know, perhaps what they have in stock? Or…?

      • 0 avatar
        geozinger

        Back in the 80’s either Car and Driver or Motor Trend tested different sizes of the same tire on the same car. IIRC, it was a Camaro or Mustang or something that took 13, 14 & 15 inch tires throughout the lineup.

        What they expected was to see similar characteristics, but what they got was very different results depending upon what size wheel and tire was on the car.

  • avatar
    ToolGuy

    General comment:

    OEM-spec or not, buying tires *from the dealer* is like shopping for food at the airport.

  • avatar
    ToolGuy

    ‘As a vehicle dynamics performance engineer’…
    – Needle on credibility meter spikes to the right

    ‘for FIAT Chrysler’…
    – Needle on credibility meter swings rapidly left

    ‘former’ – i.e., ‘I no longer work there’…
    – Needle swings back past midpoint to the right

    • 0 avatar
      jack4x

      Let’s do a track day sometime. I’ll bring my bone stock FCA product, and you can bring your ???? that I’m sure is so much better.

      • 0 avatar
        ToolGuy

        jack4x,

        You win. I see now that the factory suspension tuning on your particular vehicle is perfectly optimized out of the box for any track, anywhere in the world, in any conditions. No vehicle I could obtain from any other manufacturer, with any level of tuning from any motorsports team, would have any hope of competing with you.

        Congratulations on obtaining the only vehicle in the world that has no engineering tradeoffs or compromises inherent in its design.

        The contest you have proposed – and won – with a sample size of one, clearly and permanently demonstrates the eternal and everlasting superiority of the engineering masterminds at Maxwell – I mean Chrysler. No wait, Dodge. And Plymouth. Or maybe Ram? Eagle? I mean DaimlerChrysler. No, Cerberus. I mean FCA.

        • 0 avatar
          jack4x

          Rip on FCA (or me, sarcastically I guess) all you want, but do it fairly. When they want to (Viper, Guila, Stelvio, Trackhawk, Wrangler, Abarth, 4C) they make vehicles that compete dynamically with anything in their class.

          • 0 avatar
            ajla

            “Dynamics” has rarely been a problem with ChryslerCo or FiatCo products, even stretching back to the 1950s.
            Building vehicles out of damp cardboard, hot glue, and dollar store electrics has been the common gripe.

          • 0 avatar
            ToolGuy

            jack4x,

            Yes, you make a very valid point. And in fairness to Anthony, Chrysler does a very good job with their minivans.

            I distinctly remember attending a side-by-side vehicle review around 1996 when I was involved with GM’s ill-fated GMT200 minivan program. Under the hood, the Chrysler minivans were incredibly cleanly laid out – all ‘touch points’ (dipsticks, fluid caps) color-coded yellow, everything easily accessible. The GM vehicles were not. (And I still have packaging and dynamics PTSD from an extended family trip with two rental GMT200’s.)

            FCA has also advanced recently in a way that GM and Ford have not. And the one FCA vehicle in my fleet (because girls love Jeeps) just passed emissions first time through.

            Truce.

  • avatar
    Dan

    I’ll credit that the OEM spec is the work of professional engineers who know more than I do. But, at least outside of the high end, I won’t credit that they’re using those resources to chase much beyond cost, rolling resistance, and to a lesser extent NVH. OEM rubber on the cars and trucks that I’ve bought have ranged from so-so to outright suck. Premium brand replacements – mostly Michelin, occasionally Continental – were clear improvements in life and traction while not displaying any obvious compromise whatsoever beyond the up front cost. I’m not talking about Pilot Sports at $400 a corner either. Just bog standard touring all seasons, Primacies or TrueContacts, were that much better.

    On top of that, 20-30mm undersized rubber was one of the first compromises to be made in the fuel economy at all costs era. The upsize wheels on the journalist trims didn’t have them, so in the press they didn’t exist, but in the real world Honda was delivering 280 horse V6 Accords on 215mm rubber. The same for V6 Chargers. They stuck as well as you’d expect. That’s gotten a little bit better with an American back in the White House, just as everything else has, but that can’t last forever.

    Or can it?

  • avatar
    HotPotato

    Great post!!! The back-slapper trying to sell you a set of high-margin Coopers or Wangchungs is looking out for his commission, not your best interest. Any tire feels great when it’s new and replacing a worn-out one.

    I think we’re way past the years when manufacturers chose tires largely on cost. My last two bone-stock new cars came with spare-no-expense Michelin tires. I “upgraded” the last one to a very good Pirelli tire and it was no upgrade; I shoulda stayed OEM.

    OTOH, I would gladly have traded EVERY other characteristic for lower road noise in my Mazda. Changing tires did achieve that. The various donuts I swapped for over the years were heavy and ponderous (Yokohama S-Max) or greasy (Falken something or other touring tire), but they were a fair bit quieter than the fun n’ sticky stock Goodyears.

    • 0 avatar
      Featherston

      Frequent borrower, here, of some Cooper-shod vehicles, and I have to opine that you’re slipping into “sucks or rocks” territory by slamming the brand. I’m far more inclined to agree with theflyersfan’s take on them as “a little less expensive, but not cheap junk.” And to clarify, I’ve driven these vehicles with the previous tires, when the replacement Coopers were new, and when the replacement Coopers had some age/mileage on them.

      There’s a difference between “cheap” and “inexpensive,” and in my experience Coopers are the latter.

  • avatar
    backtees

    Worked at a tire store during college years. The subject has always been source of study / observation since then.

    -My fav trick is to get a Costco quote that includes the baked in rebate, go to the dealer and ensure they price match and then get the manufacture mail in rebate gift card on top of final deal.
    -notice the Navigator now comes with Hankook tires? Step down for Lincoln or step up for Hankook?
    -close friend was an executive with Michelin few years ago. After witnessing the amount passion, money and time invested in r & d and safety his family now rides on nothing but Michelin regardless of what comes stock on a new vehicle. He now works for non auto company.
    -Guys, we are so in the minority of car buyers and car care customers. Do you think these tire manufacturers consider what percentage of folks will, when the tread wear runs out, to just say “just put same tires that it came with”

  • avatar
    jthorner

    Hmmm, I can’t wait to replace the original Yokohama tires on our Grand Caravan. Nothing good about these tires. When we bought the van there were at least three different tires installed in a given size by the factory. I don’t for a moment believe that each vehicle was tuned for the tires that happened to get slapped on at the factory to a particular vehicle.

    I also don’t believe that there are a half dozen or more different OEM replacement shock absorbers for a given FCA vehicle depending on which tire it was originally delivered with.

    Finally, tire technology keeps moving forward. The “OEM” tires for our 2006 Acura TSX are surely not available any more, and the current Pirelli replacements we are running are working very well.

    It certainly is the case that different tires will change the characteristics of a vehicle, but taking that to mean that putting “OEM” tires on at replacement time is always the best choice is going way, way too far.

    • 0 avatar

      You got me! I made it all up. (??)
      I NEVER said “always the best choice”.
      “The exception is for those who desire a big improvement of a particular attribute of the vehicle’s performance and are willing to trade off many known and unknown factors in order to achieve it.”

  • avatar
    ABC-2000

    I do not agree at all!
    First Mazda came with GoodYear RSA, worn out after 23K, I had to be nuts to get a new set for 256$ each.
    Second Mazda came with Yokohama Avid, did not like it at all!
    First Accord cam with GoodYear 18″, on tire rack they were $86 each, they were OK.
    Second Accord, Michelin, excellent tire, very expensive.
    Third Accord, 2018, Hankook Kinergy, and I ask why? they also come with Michelin, same size, do you really want to tell me they are the same????

  • avatar

    OE tires are chosen usually to be cheapest, and to last through warranty. Beyond that you are screwed, and no, I don’t think I’m smarter than the engineering department in XXX company, BUT I am willing to spend more than $20 per tire. OE tires are totally to a price, NOT a target. They just gotta get mostly out of warranty, period.

    Examples…my Jetta S came with a set of eco tires. Everyone in the family thought they were noisy, and the car felt “tippy” in corners. They didn’t grab for love or money in wet or dry weather. Popped on a set of Conti DWS in the garage, lucky they fit…transformation. The car is comfortable, quiet, and is now no longer gut wrenching at 80, which was odd for a VW product. OK, the DWS was clearly out of the $5 per tire OE price range, but as I already had them, the $120 I spent to have them mounted and balanced on the stock steel wheels was the best money I every spent on that car. No one would normally fit this as the tire for a car sold on price and mileage, but tires do transform a car, and it went from a penalty box to a decent mid line VW.

    Acura MDX-fitted with Michelins…actually a great tire for that truck…but the OE michelins were like starter cartridges in a laser printer…they had less tread than replacements, and why ? You gotta be kidding me. The budget didn’t extend to a few tenths of tread ? The best part was the OE tire was the one at the dealer you’d pay the most money for….the tire rack version had MORE tread for less $.

    My current C43 is absolutely cursed with Conti MOE runflats. Indeed, the only part of the car I can really complain about are the rock hard, vibration special, wearing like crap runflats. Amazing that you get a car at the higher end of the spectrum but the tires are throwaway. At least give us an option for non runcraps. I’ll be putting Michelin AS/4 on when they die. The forums are full of this rant.

    Back in the 80’s we had a Volvo and a Saab, each of which were cursed by the Michelin MXV. This tire was designed for OE makers, ran forever (unfortunately), didn’t stick, didn’t turn well, but by god, lasted forever…clearly the purpose.

    Sorry, the tire dept at the OE is probably able to do great things, but short of a few specials, spend their time doing it to a low, low price, not a performance point.

    • 0 avatar
      ravenuer

      You’re absolutely right about OEM tires being “thinner” than same-brand replacements. Replaced the junk Toyos on my RAV4 with Michelin Defenders and measured the tread depth as 10/32nds. Leased a new RX350, I was happy to see it came with Michelins. Just for the heck of it I measured the treads….8/32nds!

  • avatar
    ptschett

    …but I *don’t* agree with the OEM tire selection, generally.
    Of the 4 Chrysler vehicles I’ve owned from new, the tire choices I made were:
    -2005 Dodge Dakota (w/ 265/70R16 Goodyear Wrangler RT/S’s): replaced with Firestone Destination A/T’s before the 3/36 warranty was up, ran the Firestones for the remainder of the time I had it. I gave the Goodyears w/ 6/32nds tread to my dad and let him slip’n’slide around on them with his 2001 Ram 1500.
    -2010 Dodge Challenger R/T 6MT (w/ 245/45R20 Goodyear RS/A’s): tires were shot by ~22,000 miles. Replaced with Yokohama Paradas, then replaced again with the Firestones that were OEM spec for later-year Challengers with similar sized wheels.
    -2015 Dodge Challenger R/T 8AT (w/ 245/45R20 Goodyear RS/A^2’s): these actually were good enough that this car might get the same tires again.
    -2017 Ram 1500 Big Horn Quad Cab Hemi/8AT 4×4 (w/ Goodyear Wrangler SR-A’s): LOL it’s definitely getting something else before winter.

  • avatar
    Art Vandelay

    It’s not so much the tires as the wheel side in my case. My Fiesta ST needs a touch more sidewall. 17 is too much wheel. I’m going to the 16 inch wheels from a Contour SVT as I’m not a big aftermarket wheel fan. This will mean a non OEM tire too I suppose.

    • 0 avatar
      highdesertcat

      Some people keep more than one set of tires around for each of their cars, like one set for winter and one set for All-weather tires. Only problem I encountered was with the TPM (Tire pressure Monitor) indicator that was ON all the time because I had no TPM sensor on my winter-wheels.

      That said, my Winter tire preference was Blizzak on Tire Rack el-cheapo steel wheels. My All-weather favorites were Michelin, Yokohama or Pirelli, depending on vehicle. Those brands gave me the best bang for my bucks.

      Best value for the money especially if you can get them through Costco, Sam’s Club, Discount Tire or Tire Rack at a lower price than elsewhere.

      • 0 avatar
        Art Vandelay

        I live in Huntsville, Alabama so I’m way South of the need 2 sets of tires line. I’ll probably go summer tires and drive my F150 the week or so out of the year it is actually cold.

        Incidentally the 18 inch wheels it came with sit under my house in favor of 17s because no pickup should run less than a 70 series tire. It should be a law. Low profile (60 series is low for a truck IMHO) is idiodic for a truck

        • 0 avatar
          highdesertcat

          Someone on ttac made the comment that these bigger wheels are just there for a styling exercise.

          When I rented that Expedition EL it came with 20” wheels and tires with only about 3 inches of sidewall. Smooth ride on good roads, but a real bump mobile on potholes and washboard roads.

          I had 16s on my 2011 2WD Tundra, 18s on my 2016 4×4 Tundra, and 20s on my wife’s 2016 Sequoia. Each rode good AFAIAC, like a truck, not a sedan.

          But ideally, the stiffer truck-like ride should be offset by the greater flexibility of more sidewall of a 70-series tire.

  • avatar
    1988.911.Carrera

    Total B.S.
    Probably spends $$$ on Nitrogen also!
    Stupid advice
    Better advice…stick with same size, load, speed ratings. Check reviews, Look at the UTQG and the manufacture date.

    Such a shame that “Truth” is in the webpage’s name.

  • avatar
    jdmcomp

    The horrible run flats on my wifes caddy wore out in 15k miles and at that mileage they had roared at us for 10k miles. Why in hell would you put such shitty tired on a Cad?

  • avatar
    Art Vandelay

    So what if your car is old. A couple of my bucket list rides spec I believe a 315 mm (15.4 inch) tire. Should I dig up some early 80s Michelin TRX tires? And my old 68 Cougar I’m pretty sure speced Bias Ply.

    Obviously we should take advantage of the newer tech in those cases.

  • avatar
    sayahh

    I shopped for Toyotas and at one time considered the Toyota Yaris Sedan (aka Scion iA aka Toyota Yaris iA aka Mazda 2) and one of the things that I disliked about it was that TireRack only carried one brand of tire for it, and while it is an Original Equipment tire, it did not appear that it would last. It was a Toyo Proxes A27 all-season tire, P185/60R16 86H, with a UTQG of only 240 A A. I just now did a search and there’s finally another tire that you can buy, a Yokohama Avid Ascend GTGrand Touring All-Season, P185/60R16 86H, with a way higher UTQG of 740 A A and costs about the same (64 cents more per tire). I wonder how many people who chose to buy the Yaris Sedan ended up spending way more money than they wanted to because Michelin does not make a Defender (or X-Tour A/S) tire in that size.

    • 0 avatar
      tankinbeans

      This makes me wonder how many car manufacturers spec special sizes that are manufacturer specific. When I was shopping most recently for a single tire, I called several places to find a specific tire. There was one seller who asked if the tire was for a Mazda6 when I answered his question about tire size. At the time I hadn’t even mentioned what car it was going on.

      Needless to say none of the sellers stocked anything inthe size I need, let alone the specific tire.

  • avatar
    Darkdowgow

    So angry. OEM have trash tires often. Anything with procontacts shouldn’t be road legal. Wife’s Lexus had them, after 3k of wear swapped them. This was the 2nd car in family with procontacts. Both massively better with a quality tire. Don’t sell that OEM or nothing crap here. Because OEM care about MPG and cost in that order. Neither matter to me. Even on performance trims OEM under tire cars.

    I need a summer tire. With no care for treadwear or fuel economy. I do care about traction first. Second. Tracking on left hand lanes of Florida hwys. Which tend to wear the driver tire more as you pull against a natural left hand turn. Ps2 great tire but even 2k in pulls hard due to Florida road design

    • 0 avatar

      Sorry if I ruined your day. Maybe re-reading this part will help…
      “Now, here’s the big caveat for everyone screaming at me right now. The exception is for those who desire a big improvement of a particular attribute of the vehicle’s performance and are willing to trade off many known and unknown factors in order to achieve it.”
      It sounds like you would fit into that category.

      As far as crown pull, this is a factor in both tire evaluation/development and EPS steering calibration. So, you could impact that negatively by changing tires (or positively, if you’re lucky or skilled).

  • avatar
    Daniel J

    It will be interesting when I replace the tires on my 2018 Mazda 6 GTR. They are in fact SUV/CUV tires as mentioned in many articles. So far they are wearing fine and surprisingly not as harsh as one would expect in a 225/45R19. Yes, they give up on grip compared to other performance tires I’m sure. If I replaced them with Touring or High performance all season tire for cars, I wonder how much harsher the ride would be?

    • 0 avatar

      As you have found, diameter/sidewall height is not the sole factor in determining harshness. In fact, one of the best riding tires in the Pacifica range was one of the 20″ tires. The other 20″ tire was much better for steering/handling, but gave up a bit of impact harshness.

  • avatar
    WildcatMatt

    This may have been intended to be informative, but that gets lost in the article’s voice which shuttles between a lecture and a paid advertisement.

    I expect condescension in the comments, not in the main article.

  • avatar
    DeadWeight

    Shout out to everyone reminding me about Dunlop POS tires!

    I forgot to mention them and how they rank among the worst tires, with few exceptions possible? (I’ve yet to experience any good or even fair Dunlop tires), right alongside Bridgestone.

    Rubbish!

    I’m VERY ANGRY!

  • avatar
    Test Driver

    One more thing. The “low bidder” comment has been thrown around here. That’s not quite the case. Tires are round and black. It’s hard to get people to pay extra for your tires. One of the ways that tire manufacturers get you to do this, is by getting a fitment in an oem application. This only comes if your tire is an oem to begin with. A lot of people, and by that mean over 30%, will go back to what the car was originally fitted with. This is why a lot of tire manufacturers will actually LOSE money on an oem fitment. So, no, price initially is fairly set evenly across the suppliers. They all have to meet the same criteria.

    • 0 avatar
      sayahh

      Does the OEM version have better rubber compounds or something than the same, non-OEM version of the tire? Different treads? Made in France vs. China or Mexico or Canada? Just wondering, especially when the OEM and non-OEM tires of the particular tire that fits my car had the same price when I last checked. Thanks.

      • 0 avatar

        Define “better”. Per the OEM’s specifications, the non-OEM version would be “worse”.
        As far as QUALITY goes, the best quality tires go to the OEMs and are fitted as original equipment. That is, highest uniformity, lowest imbalance, least amount or no grinding to achieve production quality targets. What’s leftover goes to premium aftermarket and the least good ones go to your budget aftermarket retailers.

        • 0 avatar

          I kind of doubt that. Not much experience with Tire Manf. But I do have some with auto electrical manf. In general the product should be the same. The OEM respresents the lowest profit typically while aftermarket the highest (OEM parts to be sold to dealers in the middle) So with electrical there was more incentive on the aftermarket parts but more oversight on the OEM, in general that meant it was just easier to build everything to the same standard.

          • 0 avatar

            Doubt it all you want, but you’re getting this information from the horse’s mouth. Test Driver and I have both done this work from the OEM side and he did it for years from the tire manufacturer side, as well.


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