Here’s the latest reader question, along with my reply!
Pam asks: A few months back, I had to say “goodbye” to my ’89 Corolla and “hello” to a 2002 Honda Accord with 200,000 plus miles on it. Other than that, it’s a beaut. I’m needing to buy tires for it, and have no clue what might be a good for it – and hesitate to take counsel from the tire dealerships around here Western PA – simply because I haven’t heard much good about them. If you might have some wisdom to offer, I’d sure appreciate it.
My reply: Well, the first thing to do is find a tire store that doesn’t give you the skeevies! Even if you have to drive a bit out of your way, it’s worth the drive to avoid being taken for a ride (or worse, subject your car to shoddy/incompetent work). I would begin by asking people you trust where they get their tires; that ought to give you a few leads at least. And no harm can come from going into some of these stores and talking with the guy behind the counter; if you get a good feeling, that’s good. If you get a bad feeling, that’s also good – because you haven’t committed to anything. Just thank them and leave!
On the tires themselves: You didn’t mention the attributes you valued most. For example, a “sport” tire will give you sharper steering feel as well as increased high-speed cornering grip. But “sport” tires also tend to impart a firmer (some will say rougher) ride and sometimes are noticeably noisier, too.
In addition, they tend to wear faster – because of the different materials used to give them the “sporty” attributes.
Other tires are designed to last a very long time – and/or to give a smoother/softer ride. But you don’t get the sharpest steering response and high-speed handling isn’t as adroit.
Some tires are designed to give better traction in wet and snow; others less so.
And so on.
So, shopping for tires is kind of like shopping for clothes. Different clothes for different conditions/situations. Shorts and T shirts are great in summer… not so much in December.
Accordingly, I’d begin by asking myself which attributes I want from a tire most of all – and let that criteria (e.g., steering response – or long tread life) winnow down the selection.
Your car may have come from the factory with “sport” tires – but perhaps you don’t especially care about high-speed handling and would prefer longer tread life and a smoother ride.
You can decide to not buy the “sport” tires – to get the smoother ride and longer tread life. Or you might want your car to be “sportier” feeling – and so replace the factory all-seasons with a sportier tire.
Beyond that, the decision comes down to brand/price. Some tire brands have a better reputation than others, just as some car brands have a better reputation than others. I would “due diligence” before you buy, checking consumer resources web sites for complaints about specific brands of tire. My personal experience with Michelin, Kumho, Sumitomo and Yokohama tires has been positive – but your mileage may vary.
The other big thing to keep in mind is the age of the tire.
Sometimes, new tires can be old tires. Not used tires, but old. They have been sitting on the rack for a long time – and you don’t want old (even if new) tires because rubber ages even if the tire has never been mounted on a wheel.
Ask about – and check for yourself – how old the tires you’re about to buy are. Each tire has a date code stamped on it (see here) that will give you the info. A few months is fine; a few years is – obviously – not.
Hope this helps – and keep us posted!
Got a question about cars – or anything else? Click on the “ask Eric” link and send ’em in!
If you like what you’ve found here please consider supporting EPautos.
PS: Get an EPautos magnet (pictured below) in return for a $20 or more one-time donation or a $5 or more monthly recurring donation. (Please be sure to tell us you want a sticker – and also, provide an address, so we know where to mail the thing!)
My latest eBook is also available for your favorite price – free! Click here.