My rear tires are going to be bald soon, so it’s time for a replacement.
Only thing is, I’m not exactly flush with cash at the moment, so I’d rather not spend any more than I really have to. (OTOH, I am willing to, because it’s better to live in debt than to die in a fiery car wreck caused by crappy tires, right?)
My tires are P185/65R15, and it seems like the going price is ~$85 or so. I think I’ve seen cheaper prices advertised, but I’m not sure whether or not those tires are cheaper because everybody who buys them dies.
FTR, despite my Asian heritage, I don’t drive particularly recklessly so neither handling nor the ability to handle great speeds is necessary (I rarely drive above 75 MPH, FWIW). I also live in (well, near) Seattle, so I’ll need to be able to drive through rain, though not snow (yeah we have it, but I don’t go near the stuff).
So, any advice as to what I should be looking for, avoiding, or paying?
You could try “store brand” tires. I’ve bought tires from Firestone (yes, Firestone) that were pretty good and cheaper than the “name” brand. Don’t be afraid to ask the store manager if he/she has any “closeouts”. I have a friend who did this and saved about 70% off the regular (yeah, coulda been a fake discount, but it was MUCH cheaper) price.
I’m in the same situation. My fronts are getting bald, I have inspection due by the end of the month, and 215/60-14 isn’t a cheap size ($70 each, new). I’m going with used tires ($50/pair), and that should get me through inspection and tide me over until I can get new ones.
Someone once told me to spend at least as much for each tire as I do for each high-end sports shoe I own. Their rationale was that if I can afford to pay a lot so I can jog to the local bar, I sure as hell ought to be able to afford tires so I can drive safely to work.
For my small Saturn, I got some good, new, name-brand tires at local tire places…about $35-40 each with a three year warranty. You might want to check into places like Costco or Sam’s Club or even some WalMarts…they have the name-brands at pretty cheap prices.
And seriously, when you have a blow out on the freeway going 70 miles an hour and come within an inch of smashing into the cement truck, are you going to be patting yourself on the back for having saved $44 on the more expensive tires?
I don’t think used tires are worthwhile, because you still have to pay to have them mounted and balanced and all that.
Also, when you buy a tire, note the treadwear rating. Moreover, you will learn other useful things if you read the sticker on the tire—it explains how to decipher the ratings.
Anyway, a tire with a 400 treadwear rating would last twice as long as one rated 200----- so take this into account when you are looking at the tire’s purchase price. If you keep your car a long time, it makes sense to buy long-lasting tires-----but if you’re trading in soon, you might as well get faster-wearing ones.
Also, you’re going to occasionally need to return to the tire store for rotating, rebalancing, flat-tire repairs, etcetera. For me, this means it makes sense to buy tires at the wholesale club, since I go there every so often anyway.
I’ve always had good service from Les Shwab. Just tell them how much you want to spend and they will probably have at least a couple of choices in your price range. And they have fixed tires for me for free, even tires I didn’t buy from them.
Although they’re not highly advertised, Cooper brand tires have been around since JC got his permit, and offer a solid value.
Example:my truck uses P235/75R15 extended load range tires, one step under LT rating, and I was able to get them mounted, balanced, with disposal of the old skins for around $75 per. They also have a built in road hazard warranty from my dealer. I’ve put 20K on them, and it looks like I will get as much again. YMMV.
When I had a small fleet for which I was responsible, I was stuck with Firestone and Goodyear, because that’s what the fleet administration said I had to buy. They sucked. Poor wear mileage, belt separation, sidewall failure, just crappy tires.
I’ll second Chris - the money difference is usually due to tread wear - the more expensive tires will wear more slowly while still handling decently. Settle on a treadwear you can live with and get the best deal you can.
For rain, you’re looking for a good deep tread patern that the water in the road can escape to so that the ruber can actually touch the road surface. It’s a trade-off - the bigger the tread patern, the less actual rubber is on the road, which makes a difference on dry pavement (handling ability is directly proportional to how much rubber hits the pavement).
To sum up, get the best wear rating you can for the least amount of money, and don’t mess with used tires (they’ve already used up some of your tread!). As long as you don’t pick a complete dog brand, brands don’t matter so much (how hard is it to make a mid-range tire?) Consumer Reports should rate such things, they may let you do a search on their web site for a fee.
In my fairly limited experience, the type of tire is less important than actually having new, not bald tires. This is especially true in wet conditions, where after awhile it seems like you’re just giving the car gentle suggestions on where to go. Not fun.
Finally, although all tires are important, your front tires are far more important than your back tires, because they are the ones that take the brunt of the turning force, and also braking (your car will lean forward a little on a hard stop, transfering more weight to othe front tires). If your front tires are ok, consider moving them to the back, and putting the new ones up front.
I own a 1996 Chevy Impala SS which uses the same tires as the Corvette for that year…i.e. they are Z-rated 255 50ZR-17s and run about $200 each new at retail. Did I also mention that they wear out quickly…to the tune of every 20-25K miles?
Needless to say, I’m not crazy about shelling out $800 every 14 months or so, which is when I found out about used tires. What folks are saying about retreads is true, but I find that few places even try to sell them anymore because of liability. We have a great place in San Diego called Tire Depot that specializes in salvaging tires from wrecked cars. Fortunately for me, there is ALWAYS some idiot kid totalling his Corvette somewhere in San Diego, so my tires are very easy to find. They do the mounting and balancing right there and the last set of tires I bought were $35 each! They had approximately 80% of the life left on them and were the higher end Pirellis rather than the BF Goodrich ones I usually get at Costco (the next cheapest option at $200 each). They have several branches throughout the city and will call their other stores to find them if the one you go to doesn’t have them.
I usually give them a call when I first notice my tires are getting low and never have to wait more than a week before one of the stores gets them in.
Assuming your car uses a common tire size, it might be worth checking into…