Reader Question: Low-Cost Tires vs. High Mileage Tires?

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Here’s the latest reader question, along with my reply!

Paul asks: This is more in the way of a comment based on experience but I’d still like to get your take. I’ve bought inexpensive tires in the past and found they never last as long as more expensive tires, which means I’m spending more money overall because I’m buying new tires sooner. Is my experience an accurate reflection of the cost vs. benefit of low-priced tires vs. higher-priced tires? Thanks in advance!

My reply: I’ve had the same experience, generally – as it is generally true that low-cost tires are made with lower-quality materials and so wear faster. But not always. Some high-cost tires also wear faster-than-usual. And sometimes, you can get a great deal on a high-quality tire at a low price.

Some things to be aware of – beyond the usual due diligence (i.e., read up on a prospective brand/type of tire as far as its reputation, etc., before you buy it) include being careful to not buy an old tire – one that’s been sitting on the rack a while – even if it is a high-quality brand. Rubber gets brittle as it ages and aged tires will wear faster, even if they’re new.  Always check the date code on the sidewall before you buy.

Also: Check the pressure. Too low or too high will also accelerate the wear of the best tires. And, of course, make sure your car hasn’t got suspension/alignment issues; if it does and the tires wear faster, that’s not their fault!

. . .

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  1. Good-quality tires make a huge difference in handling, performance (especially in rain and snow) and safety. Since tires are the only contact point between your car and the road, I consider them the number-one priority when it comes to vehicles- sacrifice anywhere else…but buy GOOD tires.

    That being said, there are trade-offs even among good tires. Generally, tires which emphasize performance and traction, are softer than tires which emphasize long-life, and thus will wear faster. I stay away from the high-mile tires- like Michelins, Yeah…they last forever, but they’re so hard that sacrifice traction (In hard braking; rain; snow; etc.) and give a rougher ride.

    With some research, you can usually find a tire that last quite long; offer great performance for your needs, and not be ridiculously expensive. For instance: I put a set of Hancook DynaPros on my Excursion- They get great traction, ride nice, and they’re still like new, despite being several years old- and they were about 30% than the equivalent BFG All-Terrain T/A’s, which would have been my choice had the Hancooks not existed.

    The Excursion had Michelins on it when I bought it- which I put on my F250 when I bought the Hancooks….and while the darn Michelins refuse to wear-out…I freaking HATE them! (But if ya live in a dry climate- like AZ. and only drive on the highway and the roads are very smooth….they might work for ya)

    • My jeep had Michelins on it when we got it. They were about a hundred years old, hard as a rock, and the tread looked like brand new. Finally the shop wouldn’t fix flats anymore because the sidewalls were so cracked.

      I’ve got “Starfire” or something on it right now.

  2. If you have several vehicles and don’t drive any of them a lot of miles per year, new tires will be old and outdated before you can wear them out.

    Might as well buy cheap tires.

  3. The type of tire also makes a difference in wear, even on all seasons. In my experience, the “high performance” all seasons wore faster than I expected, presumably because the compound required to emphasize perforomance is softer by nature even if a compromise was made to solidify it from a summer tire state. Also like summer tires, a lot of times the high performance all seasons may not be warranteed. Grand touring tires IMHO are a very good compromise between performance and durability, and yes, the rule of getting what you pay for definitely applies here.


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