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Cheap Car Tires, Equal Cheap Ride

by Eddie Carrara

If you don't have any money to buy the right quality car tires, and you have no choice but to go cheap, then go cheap, but I guarantee you will regret your decision after the first year. Buying tires for your car is a considerable expense, especially if you have to buy performance tires or SUV tires. Saving twenty dollars per tire seems like good savings, but if you're purchasing inferior tires and you have to live with a possible vibration or pull for the next couple of years, was it worth it?

I don't buy car tires for my vehicle every day, but I am involved in my customers' decision process each day. I recommend at least three decent tires for their vehicle and let them choose; very seldom I will have a customer ask for cheap tires.

I never let the tire store recommend a tire because nine times out of ten, they will recommend something they're trying to get rid of, cheap tires! I like to get recommendations from people who have already bought the tires and have driven on them for several thousand miles. I use TireRack to evaluate tires for my customers because at TireRack, they have real customers writing reviews, and customer reviews are a priceless resource.

Buying the Best Tires for My SUV

Customers don't like to praise products; most people only take the time to write reviews because they are dissatisfied, so if you find a tire with many positive reviews, you have found the right tire.

When writing this, I had just purchased four new tires for my SUV, OUCH! I spent $225 per tire, but it was well worth it because of the ride quality and the tire promises' tread life. I bought the Michelin LTX from TireRack, after reading all of the customer reviews, stating that they have driven over 70k miles on that particular tire; it was a no brainer for me.

The tires that I was replacing were Good Year Fortera, which only lasted 26k. By reading the customer reviews, I found out I had gotten good mileage out of those tires. My first thought was, "REALLY, 26k miles is GOOD?"

I have always liked Michelin car tires but have never bought them for an SUV. I called Honda and complained about the low mileage I got from the Good Years, and the Honda Representative sent me a check for a $200 credit on tires, NICE! The squeaky wheel gets the oil :)

How to Choose Good Tires

You don't realize it, but tires are the liaison between you and the road. The ride quality will depend on the type of tire you have installed. If you're having a set of super low profile tires put on your vehicle versus having a set of highway tires installed, the ride quality is going to be much different. The low profile tires will give you a ride like you don't have any air in your tires, and the highway tires will provide you with an exceptionally smooth ride with low noise.

My recommendation is to stick with the tires' size initially on the vehicle for the most comfortable ride. If you want to lower the speed rating to save a few bucks, that's OK, as long as you stick with the original size. You can check out tire information at You can also lookup tire ratings while you're there; it is a great resource. You can find out how well the tires you're considering will handle weather conditions, tread life, cornering, and stopping, and it's all found in one place.

Another great resource is Consumer Reports. I checked the results between Consumer Reports and TireRack, which was very comparable. I find that if you do your homework before making a large purchase, like tires, you're less likely to get burned, and you can recommend decent tires to your friends and relatives.

Some people may think it's a waste of time researching tires, but think about it, you could potentially drive on a set of tires for 70,000 miles. I hope you make the right decision because when the average car owner goes 12k miles a year, it means you will be driving on the tires for about six years. Unless you buy cheap car tires that only last 26k, you only talk two years, that's still a long time, so choose wisely and do your homework!

How to Save Money on Tires

As I mentioned before, you can save about $20 per tire just by purchasing tires with a lower speed rating. For example, if your original car tires had a speed rating of (V), you can lower it to an (H) rated tire without compromising ride quality. The speed rating is the top speed limit the tire manufacturer considers safe for that specific tire. A (V) rated tire is regarded as a sport/performance tire, and an (H) rated tires is more of an all-season/highway tire; both are excellent tires, but the (H) rated tire is a bit cheaper.

Just be cautious of tire sales. When you hear about the deal, buy four tires for $100, don't walk away, RUN! Those types of tires will cause problems till the day you toss them in the trash. Usually, a tire like that won't last a year because the tread surface becomes chipped or cupped and creates all kinds of vibrations and pulling problems. So, if you're looking to save money on car tires, do your homework first and save money the right way.

Have a Question?

I encourage questions, so if you need a little guidance or have a general question, please don't hesitate to ask. Just leave your question in the comment box below.

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