Many car manufacturers recommend that tires should be replaced every six to ten years, regardless of whether they’re causing you problems. This includes your spare tire, which is often neglected until it is needed. Caring for your tires properly reduces the risk of needing to replace them more regularly than this, but even with the most diligent maintenance, it is likely that you’ll need to change the tires of the car you own now before you move on to your next model. While it may be tempting to look for the cheapest option available, investing in high quality replacements usually pays off in the long run. Why is this, and what can you do to make sure you find the best tires for your car?
Why invest in premium tires?
The majority of new cars and SUVs are produced with premium tires. This means that they’re manufactured with high quality materials, they’re constructed to provide superior handling performance and braking, and they’re designed for longevity. Cheap tires, on the other hand, are typically made with a lower quality rubber compound – something you probably won’t notice in dry weather, but which can prove problematic in wet conditions. These lower quality rubber compounds don’t provide as good a grip on the road surface as their premium counterparts. In turn, this affects stopping time and can increase the likelihood of accidents.
Premium tires typically last three years longer than cheap tires made with lower grade rubber compounds, but longevity and safety aren’t the only benefits. They also enable you to get the best handling characteristics your vehicle can deliver. When shopping for tires, you may have noticed that many premium ones have Original Equipment (OE) status: this means that the tire has been developed in collaboration between tire and vehicle manufacturers in order to enhance the driving experience for specific models. If your vehicle was fitted with OE tires in the first place, replacing them with cheaper versions will reduce the quality of your driving experience.
Industry experts also note that premium tires score the highest in testing. These scores apply to fuel efficiency, a reduction in external noise, and enhanced safety. Investing in OE tires is the best way to ensure you choose the right model for your vehicle, but in order to be sure that you’re matching the right premium tire with your needs, it’s helpful to understand the coding on the tires. These relate to details such as aspect ratio and load index, and will help make sure you select tires that will perform as well as they did during testing. Sites like TireTalk review the performance points of tires to make this process clearer, as this can be confusing if you’re not sure what the codes relate to.
2020 Tire Testing
Testing experts analyzed over 100 tires from leading manufacturers and newcomers at Bridgestone’s center in Italy earlier this year. They conducted tests on the 205/55R16 size, highlighting it as the most representative due to its use in a diverse range of family vehicles. Conditions were standardized as far as possible, and each tire went through a series of nine tests. Tests were conducted under both wet and dry conditions before scores were compiled and the data analyzed.
Coming out on top was the Continental ContiPremiumContact 5, followed by the Dunlop Sport BluResponse and the Bridgestone Turanza T001. The Kumho Ecsta HS51 came in fourth place, followed by the Hankook Ventus Prime3, the Goodyear EfficientGrip Performance and the Falken Ziex ZE914 Ecorun. Eighth, ninth and tenth place were taken by the Pirelli Cinturato P7 Blue, the Toyo Proxes CF2 and the Nankang A-S-2+ respectively. Testers concluded that the gap between the highest and lowest performing tires is reducing, likely prompted by enhanced standardization and labeling. While testing focused exclusively on the 205/55R16 tire size, their findings give a good indication of the quality of each manufacturer’s product.
Beyond the reviews: what to look out for when selecting tires
When you’re looking to replace your tires, the first step is to check the tires your vehicle was originally fitted with. Ideally, you want to focus on OE options, but otherwise, you need to match the speed and size rating of the original tires. You can then use the ratings to look for models that perform well in handling, noise, braking and comfort. Remember to check the performance points to check that you’re considering the right model for your vehicle.
The majority of shoppers prioritize treadwear when looking at new tires. Long tread life results in improved safety and extends the life of the tire, and this has been the focus of testing by Consumer Reports. They note that treadwear grades and mileage warranties are provided by the manufacturer rather than an independent body, and therefore advise buyers to check comparison reviews and ratings before making a purchase.
Consider where you’re shopping
The majority of consumers go to their local mechanic or to a central dealership for new tires, but the problem with this approach is that they often have limited stock. The best way to ensure that you’re investing in the best premium tires for your vehicle is to go to a full-service tire dealer, who will not only know a lot about each model, but will carry a wider range of stock. Discuss your driving habits with the dealer and ask for their recommendations as well as consulting your own research.
It’s advisable, too, to replace all four at the same time. This is because new tires have a better road grip, and it will help your car’s stability if all the tires have equal wear. Besides, unless you have a problem with a specific tire before it was due for replacement, all of your original tires will need replacing anyway.
Tire shopping can be a minefield if you don’t know what you’re looking for, and as a result, many people fail to replace their tires as often as they should. Your tires are integral to your safety on the road and the handling of your vehicle, and therefore regular maintenance and replacement should be a priority. Invest in premium tires, learn how to read tire specs, and search for independent reviews before making a purchase: in the end, your investment will pay off.