Best Tire Brands
Auto & Finance Contributing Editor
Updated on 02/28/2018
The consumer tire industry is a $40 billion dollar a year industry. Major players, such as Goodyear, Bridgestone, Dunlop and Michelin, have been in the tire business for about 100 years. In recent years, advances in tire technology have created new and more varied options for consumers looking to purchase new tires.
The sizes, temperature and traction grades, speed ratings and other features and numbers involved in buying tires may seem overwhelming to those unfamiliar with tire specifications. However, by understanding some basic information, consumers can make sound purchases.
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Compare Reviews for Top Tire Brands
|Mavis Discount Tires|
Read 1952 Reviews
Mavis Tire Company has been around since 1972, when the company was started as a bicycle repair shop named Vic's Cycle Shop. The company sells and repairs tires in Connecticut, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts and New York.
Read 332 Reviews
Discount Tire believes in integrity and in helping others in need through its tire stores. It offers tires and related services at low prices and works with customers to help them save money while getting the services they need.
Read 436 Reviews
Michelin Tires is considered to be one of the world's leading tire companies. The company was founded in 1907, and it is the largest tire company in the world.
|Costco - Tires|
Read 265 Reviews
Costco is a popular big box wholesale discount store that has a successful tire division. In order to purchase tires from the company, customers must join Costco as members.
Read 92 Reviews
Tire Rack has been offering tires and tire maintenance services since 1979, when it opened a small shop in Indianapolis. In 1996, it became one of the first tire businesses to open an international website to facilitate purchases.
Read 479 Reviews
Continental Tire was founded in 1987, when Continental AG purchased General Tire. Continental Tire sells a range of car and bicycle tires.
Read 272 Reviews
Firestone is a tire company founded in 1900. The company's headquarters are located in Nashville, and it has 52 tire production facilities across the Americas.
|Big O Tires|
Read 344 Reviews
Big O Tires is a tire company that was founded in 1962 by a group of independent tire dealers. Today, the company is franchised across the country, with locations in more than 40 U.S. states.
|Town Fair Tire|
Read 126 Reviews
Town Fair Tires offers tire sales and services throughout Connecticut, Massachusetts, Maine, New Hampshire and Rhode Island. Users can compare tire prices with other dealers by visiting Town Fair Tires' website.
Read 333 Reviews
One of the most popular tire companies in the world, Goodyear was founded in 1898. The company is the No. 1 tire maker in both North America and Latin America.
Features to consider when purchasing new tires
Uniform Tire Quality Grade (UTQG) standards
The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's (NHTSA) Uniform Tire Quality Grade Standards (UTQG) were originated to provide consumers with useful information to help them purchase tires based on their relative treadwear, traction and temperature capabilities. It is required by law for most passenger car tires sold in the United States.
When looking at UTQG ratings it is important to realize that the Department of Transportation does not conduct the tests. The grades are assigned by the tire manufacturers based on their test results or those conducted by an independent testing company they have hired. The NHTSA has the right to inspect the tire manufacturer's data and can fine them if inconsistencies are found. Once a grade is assigned it must be branded on the tire's upper sidewall and printed on its label.
UTQG Treadwear Grades are based on actual road use in which the test tire is run in a vehicle convoy along with standardized Course Monitoring Tires. The tire manufacturers then assign a Treadwear Grade based on the observed wear rates. The Course Monitoring Tire is assigned a grade, and the test tire receives a grade indicating its relative treadwear. A grade of 100 would indicate that the tire tread would last as long as the test tire, 200 would indicate the tread would last twice as long, 300 would indicate three times as long, etc.
UTQG Traction Grades are based on the tire's straight line wet coefficient of traction as the tire skids across the specified test surfaces. The UTQG traction test does not evaluate dry braking, dry cornering, wet cornering or high speed hydroplaning resistance.
In 1997, the UTQG Traction Grades were revised to provide a new category of AA for the highest performing tires in addition to the earlier A, B and C grades. Today the grades and their traction coefficients are as follows:
Temperature (resistance) grades
The UTQG Temperature Grade indicates the extent to which heat is generated and/or dissipated by a tire. If the tire is unable to dissipate the heat effectively or if the tire is unable to resist the destructive effects of heat buildup, its ability to run at high speeds is reduced. The grade is established by measuring a loaded tire's ability to operate at high speeds without failure by running an inflated test tire against a large diameter high-speed laboratory test wheel.
Every tire sold in the United States must be capable of earning a "C" rating which indicates the ability to withstand 85 mph speeds. While there are numerous detail differences, this laboratory test is similar in nature to those used to confirm a tire's speed ratings.
When it comes to tires, comfort includes how smooth and how quiet the ride is. There are tradeoffs, but if comfort is paramount there are some factors to consider.
- Wheel size: The larger the wheel, the more tire rubber there is to produce road noise. Every vehicle has specifications for recommended wheel size, so if comfort is a factor, a smaller wheel should be used. Typically, you should replace a tire with the same sized tire that came with the vehicle unless a professional assists you. This ensures that your odometer and speedometer readings remain accurate.
- Tire width: Similar to wheel size, a wider width tire will allow more rubber to touch the pavement, creating more noise. To reduce noise, check the owner's manual for the narrowest tire recommended for a vehicle. Purchasing wider tires may also lead to rubbing on inner fenders and suspension, so it’s a good idea to get advice from a professional if you wish to get wider tires.
- Tread material and pattern: Tire manufacturers use several types of materials to create tires. The tread material and pattern affect how the tire will react with the road, and in some cases the smoothness of the ride is noticeable. Different materials will perform in different ways than others: winter tires are softer to grip the snow and cold roads; summer performance tires are designed for warmer temperatures above 45 degrees and all-season tires will appear and perform differently but are not designed for heavy snow.
For some drivers and vehicles, performance is a key factor when making a tire purchase. Tires are rated on performance by various tire manufacturers, and there are features that contribute to a higher speed rating.
- Wide tread: A wide tread provides for more rubber on the road and a better grip. However, a wider tread performs worse than a narrow one on snow.
- Low-profile sidewalls: A low-profile tire has a lower aspect ratio than a typical tire. This can increase performance by providing improved braking and handling. These tires are also more likely to get damaged by potholes.
Load rating / index
The load index is an assigned numerical value used to compare relative load carrying capabilities. The higher the tire's load index number, the greater its load carrying capacity. Typically, the load indexes of the tires used on passenger cars and light trucks range from 70 to 110.
When looking at light truck (LT) or newer Special Trailer Service (ST) tires, there are two load indexes branded on the sidewall, separated by a forward slash. The correct load rating changes on trailers depending on the situation in which the tire is being used.
Since LT tires are commonly used on trucks with dual rear wheels, they are branded with two load indexes. The first number indicates the load carrying capacity if the tire is installed on a truck with a single-wheel rear axle, and the second number applies when the tire is used in a dual rear application. A tire professional can advise you.
Durability refers to the how long a tire will last. Durability is directly related to road conditions and driving habits.
- Tire material: Different types of rubber are used in the tire manufacturing process. Harder rubber will make for a more durable tire but will give up some performance and ride comfort.
- Tire tread: The tread design chosen for tires are typically all-season tires except in the case of performance automobiles. Winter tires and off road tires offer a more aggressive tread pattern for grip in different conditions.
Traction is that grippy feeling that comes when the gas is applied and friction takes over between the road and the tire. Road conditions play a big role when it comes to traction, but some tires perform better than others.
- Tread design: The design of a tread pattern is not random. Tire manufacturers use specific designs that help to disperse water and limit hydroplaning, plus offer grip, braking, safety and handling. Snow tires are a good example of deep treads that are intended to cut through a certain amount of snow.
- Tread depth: Beyond dispersing water, the tread depth plays a role in traction, which is where the rubber can meet the road. Tread depth below 3/32” is considered unsafe and the tire should be replaced.
Handling is the way the vehicle responds to the driver. Handling includes how the tires respond to acceleration, braking and turning. Handling affects safety and driving comfort.
- Speed rating: Every vehicle manual specifies the recommended tire speed rating. To improve handling, some owners choose a tire of the same size but with a higher speed rating than specified.
- Larger wheels: Larger wheels will mean more tire on the road and increased handling. However, most manufacturers do not recommend going more than one inch above specifications. Always consult with tire experts before making any +1 or +2 changes. This can impact the safety features on your vehicle.
- Lower sidewalls: It is common for vehicle owners to go with larger wheels with narrow sidewalls. This improves handling, but it may decrease comfort, producing a rougher ride, and these tires can be damaged easier from impact to the sidewall from curbs and pot holes.
Choosing which tires to buy should not be based on price alone. However, for most people price is a considerable factor. There are some ways to keep price down.
- Tire size: When it comes to pricing tires, quality and name brands will be your best choices. From a safety perspective, it’s best to stick with the vehicle manufacturer recommended tires.
- Retailer: It pays to shop around and compare prices when it comes to tires. There are many tire retailers, and there is almost always a sale of some sort, either online or in the store.
- Online: Online tire suppliers often work with local shops that can install and receive the tires. It’s best to do your homework online and in store before making a decision.
- Extras: There are deals to be found when purchasing tires. Some retailers offer extras such as free rotation for life, free air checks or free flat tire repair.
What are the different types of tires?
Extreme performance tires are as close to racing tires as one can get for a passenger vehicle. They are designed for dry surfaces and competition-level performance. These are not everyday tires. Go for these tires when it's time to take the BMW for a run on the track.
Ultra-high and high-performance tires take a slight step down in performance, in favor of predictable handling and improved ride quality. Generally, the UHP tires will carry the "V" speed rating. Refer to the chart above and discuss your driving needs with a tire professional.
Touring tires focus on fuel efficiency and ride quality, while stepping down a notch in handling and performance. Touring tires are less expensive than performance tires and are good for daily drivers.
On the low end, passenger tires are generally lower in price and performance, though winter models can be an exception. Remember you get what you pay for: low priced tires won’t last as long or provide the best traction or safety.
Winter tires offer the best traction, handling and braking in cold weather. Winter passenger tires can provide the best performance in snow and ice. These tires are not designed to be driven when temperatures are above 45 degrees, as they will wear out quicker.
Run Flat Tires
Run Flat tires are designed to resist the effects of deflation when punctured and to enable the vehicle to continue to be driven at reduced speeds (under 55 mph) and for limited distances (up to 10 mi). Many new cars do not have spare tires and are instead using run flat tires. These tires are more expensive and provide a slightly rougher ride.
Which tires fit your vehicle?
Light trucks, Cross-Overs and SUVs
Trucks, Cross Overs and SUVs have their own category for tires because of their heavier design, load bearing tires and towing capacity. Manufacturers assume these drivers will possibly do some light off-roading, will be carrying a larger number of passengers and cargo or will be towing or hauling a trailer.
These are tires made for passenger vehicles that travel on paved-road driving at posted speed limits. These drivers are more concerned with cost, ride comfort and durability.
For those who frequently drive off-road, these are special tires made to withstand the abuse of off-road driving. Off-road drivers are often looking for a tire that can handle a combination of on and off-road conditions.
Sportscar and high-end vehicles
Drivers in this category are less concerned with price and more concerned with performance and handling. Some will attend performance driving schools on race tracks and are spirited drivers. These consumers spend a lot of money on their cars and want tires that perform and handle well.
Expert reviews for tire brands
Founded in 1949 as a bicycle tire shop, Mavis now has over 160 service centers. Mavis is found in New York State, Connecticut, Pennsylvania and Massachusetts.
Continental Tire is a division of the Continental Global Corporation. In the United States, Continental Tire manufactures tires under the brand names of Continental and Uniroyal.
The company was founded in 1898 to service the bicycle tire and emerging horseless carriage tire industries. Goodyear is now the number one tire maker in North America.
Michelin is a global company that produces tires in nearly every category. Michelin operates several tire plants in the United States and has been in the tire business for over 100 years.
Big O Tires was founded in 1962 by a group of independent tire dealers. Today the company has 400 franchise and company-owned locations in 19 states.
Costco is a popular membership warehouse club offering a range of consumer products, including tires. The company started in 1976 in San Diego to serve small businesses but has grown into an international company.
Founded in 1900 in Akron, Ohio, Firestone was the original, original equipment manufacturer (OEM) when it teamed up with Henry Ford to provide tires for the Model T.
Tire Kingdom was founded in Florida in 1972. Since then, the company has joined the nationwide TBC Corporation family of companies.
BFGoodrich was the first American tire manufacturer, founded in 1896. Today, the brand name BFGoodrich has been sold to Michelin.
Cooper Tires may not be as well known as some of the other tire companies, but they have a 100-year history in the tire business. Today, Cooper Tires is a global company with over 65 facilities around the world.
Tire Rack has over 2.2 million square feet of distribution center space across the country packed with inventory from 21 major tire and 58 wheel brands. Their prices are competitive and their expertise is unmatched. Tire Rack has its own track to put tires to the test lap after lap, so you know exactly how a tire performs.
Information in this guide is general in nature and is intended for informational purposes only; it is not legal, health, investment or tax advice. ConsumerAffairs.com makes no representation as to the accuracy of the information provided and assumes no liability for any damages or loss arising from its use.
Compare Reviews for Top Tire Brands
Read 139 Reviews
Bridgestone represents the marriage between Firestone Tires, one of the oldest tire companies in the United States, and Japan's Bridgestone Tire Company. It currently employs over 50,000 people in the United States.
Read 206 Reviews
Cooper tires makes tires for trucks and cars as well as inner tubes, vibration control systems and more. The company is headquartered in Findlay, OH.
Read 134 Reviews
Mr. Tire is the largest owned-and-operated automotive chain in the United States. It offers a complete line of maintenance services, and it's the fourth-largest independent tire dealer in the country.
Read 200 Reviews
Tire Kingdom is a company that has a chain of tire stores across the United States. The company was founded in 1972 in West Palm Beach, Florida.
|B.F. Goodrich Tires|
Read 164 Reviews
B.F. Goodrich is a company that produces tires for cars, trucks and other vehicles. The company started as a radio production company in the 1930s but moved into producing tires during the 1980s.
Read 184 Reviews
Yokohama is the US branch of a Japanese company that has been selling tires since 1917. It offers high-performance and other specialty tires as well as passenger car tires and tires for commercial and construction vehicles.
Read 138 Reviews
Kumho is a South Korean tire company that has grown to be one of the largest tire companies in the world. It offers information about tire quality and maintenance on its website as well as a tire selection tool.
Read 47 Reviews
America's Tires is the largest independent tire and wheel retailer in the United States. It began in 1960 as a small shop that sold six tires and used a gas station to fill them with air; today, it has 900 stores in 28 states.
Read 37 Reviews
Tires-Easy allows consumers to order tires online. Its website includes a comprehensive FAQ about tires and related products as well as customer reviews that allow users to compare different brands of tires prior to purchase.
Read 62 Reviews
Just Tires opened its first store in 1991 in Chicago. Today, it offers a full range of tire and other automotive maintenance services throughout the United States in addition to selling tires for a variety of vehicle types.
Read 23 Reviews
Nokian makes tires for passenger vehicles, SUVs, light trucks, semi-trucks and heavy equipment. Although they have all-season and all-weather tires, they focus on tires for driving in snow and ice. Dealers can be located online.
|SUMIC Tires||Read 9 Reviews|
Sumic produces tires for passenger vehicles. Their all-season GT-A tires have a tread pattern to provide stability, and they are suitable for high-speed driving. Sumic tires can be purchased online and at select retail stores.