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Your tires are the only part of your vehicle that actually makes contact with the ground, so a set of new tires can significantly change your driving experience, improving comfort and performance. Our research team vetted 31 tire companies that are rated by more than 8,700 customers. Read our guide to choose the best tire company for you.

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Which tires fit your vehicle

While all tires come in specific sizes, tire makers often group their offerings into several broad classes of vehicles. If you’re just getting started looking for tires, it can be helpful to know where your vehicle falls in these categories.

Passenger vehicles

Passenger vehicles are usually cars or minivans that travel on paved roads at roughly the posted speed limits. Tires for passenger vehicles are designed to be affordable, comfortable and durable.

Light trucks and SUVs

Heavier vehicles, like pickup trucks and SUVs, often benefit from different tire characteristics because they’re more likely to do some light off-roading, carry more weight and tow a trailer.

Off-road vehiclesDedicated off-road vehicles can utilize specialty tires made to withstand additional abuse and get traction on a variety of surfaces. While some off-road tires can be used on the street, not all can.
Sports cars and high-end vehicles

Tires for sports cars and luxury vehicles often focus on performance and handling, sometimes at the cost of practicality and durability. However, these trade-offs can be worth it.

In most cases, it’s wise to stick with whatever size tire came on your vehicle from the factory. Your exact tire size will depend on the model, year and brand of your vehicle, but the easiest way to tell is often by checking the sidewall of your existing tires.

How to choose tires

Before choosing a set of tires, consider how much you drive, the type of vehicle you have and the standard weather conditions in your area. For example, if your area doesn't get much snow, all-season tires are a great option. However, if you do live farther north, it might be a better idea to invest in a set of winter tires as well.

Several types of tires are available, each designed for a specific type of vehicle or driving. While these styles aren’t always completely clear and distinct, they’re a convenient way to filter out tires that don’t fit your needs.

  • Touring: Touring tires focus on fuel efficiency and ride quality while stepping down a notch in handling and performance. A touring tire is less expensive than performance tires and is generally more suitable for daily driving.
    • All-season: These are the most common type of tires in the U.S. All-season tires perform well in most weather conditions and temperatures but fall behind actual winter tires in snow or ice. Because of their popularity, all-season tires are often marketed under a number of different categories.
    • All-weather: All-weather tires are similar to all-season tires in most conditions, but they also perform as well as many winter tires in snow and ice. This means that you can keep all-weather tires on your car year-round, unlike many winter tires. All-weather tires have the same three-peak mountain snowflake (3PMSF) certification that many winter tires do, which means they are often legal in places where winter tire use is compulsory, like parts of Canada or Northern Europe.
  • Winter: Winter tires offer superior traction and handling in cold weather, including snow and ice. However, these tires wear out quickly if driven when temperatures are above 45 degrees. These tires are often purchased as a secondary set for vehicles that spend a lot of time driving in cold conditions.
  • Performance: Performance tires are as close to racing tires as you can legally use on public roads. However, they don’t perform as well outside of warm, dry conditions. So, while they’re good for spirited driving or the occasional track day, they can be problematic in some common driving situations, like rain or snow.
  • Track and competition: These tires generally aren’t legal for road use, but they provide optimal performance in ideal conditions. This category includes racing slicks, autocross tires and racetrack tires.
  • Off-road: Tires for off-road use vary significantly. Some, like all-terrain tires, are designed for daily driving and light off-roading, while others, like mud-terrain or paddle tires, are better for more substantial off-road use.
  • Specialty: Specialty tires can be used for a number of purposes. These tires include trailer tires, temporary spares and tires for motorcycles or other vehicles.

Some of these categories may overlap or include other distinctions, like run-flat capabilities. Run-flat tires are more expensive and provide a slightly rougher ride, but they are designed to resist the effects of deflation when punctured and enable your vehicle to continue at reduced speeds (under 55 mph) for limited distances (up to 10 miles). Many new cars do not have spare tires and instead use run-flat tires.

Think about the following factors as you compare models online to choose which features are best for you.

In this context, “comfort” means how smooth and how quiet a tire’s ride is. There are tradeoffs to a comfortable ride, but if comfort is paramount, here are some factors to consider:
  • Wheel size: The larger your wheels, the more rubber there is to produce road noise. Every vehicle has specifications for recommended wheel sizes, but a smaller wheel is generally more comfortable. Typically, you should replace a tire with the same tire that came with the vehicle, though. This ensures that your odometer and speedometer readings remain accurate.
  • Tire width: Like with a larger wheel diameter, a wider tire allows more rubber to touch the pavement. To reduce noise, check the owner's manual for the narrowest tire recommended for your vehicle. However, this may have a negative impact on performance.
  • Tread material and pattern: Tread materials and patterns affect how a tire interacts with the road. Different materials perform in different ways. A summer performance tire is designed for warmer temperatures (above 45 degrees). A winter tire compound is softer to grip cold, icy roads. An all-season tire splits the difference, but it may not perform well in heavy snow.
Durability refers to how long a tire will last. The life span of your tires is directly related to road conditions and your driving habits, but there are ways for you to see which tires generally last longer than others. Check tire-buying websites to see what previous customers have said about a given tire model, and check the tire’s UTQG treadwear ratings (explained below) to see how it stacked up against a control tire in real-world testing.
Because your tires are your interface with the road, they determine how your vehicle responds to your inputs, including acceleration, braking and turning. Here are some factors that can affect how your tires perform:
  • Tread design: The design of a tread pattern is not random. Tire manufacturers use specific designs that help to disperse water and limit hydroplaning while still making plenty of contact with the ground. Check what the manufacturer has to say about a given tread design to see if it matches your needs.
  • Tread depth: Tread depth refers to how deep the grooves on your tire are. This depth affects how much water or debris they can disperse before losing traction. When your tires wear down to the point where your tread depth is below 3/32 of an inch, it’s time to replace them.
  • Wheel size: Larger wheels mean more rubber on the road and increased traction. However, most manufacturers do not recommend going more than one inch above specifications. Always consult with tire experts before changing your wheel size, as this can impact the safety of your vehicle.
  • Sidewall stiffness: A low-profile tire has a thinner, stiffer sidewall than a typical tire. Many low-profile tires only offer cosmetic advantages, but some can increase performance by improving handling and allowing you to fit bigger brakes (should you wish to upgrade). Low-profile tires are also more likely to get damaged by potholes, though.
Speed rating
A tire’s speed rating lets you know how fast the tire can go before it no longer works as designed. Most automobile tires have speed ratings above 100 mph.

While many people will never drive their cars that fast, a tire’s speed rating can also give you indications about its low-speed characteristics. A tire with a higher speed rating typically has a comparatively stiff ride at low speeds but better performance at high speeds, for example.

Uniform Tire Quality Grade (UTQG) standards

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) created the Uniform Tire Quality Grade (UTQG) standards. These standards help you purchase tires based on their treadwear, traction and temperature capabilities. Most passenger car tires sold in the United States are legally required to be rated by these standards.

However, the government doesn’t actually test tires itself. Tire manufacturers assign these grades based on their own tests or those conducted by an independent testing company they have hired. Once a grade is given, the manufacturer must brand it on the tire's upper sidewall and print it on the tire’s label.

UTQG ratings usually look something like “300 BA,” where the number is the tire’s treadwear grade and the letters represent its traction and temperature grades:

  • Treadwear grades: ​UTQG treadwear grades are based on actual road use, during which the test tire is used in a vehicle convoy along with standardized Course Monitoring Tires. Tire manufacturers then assign a treadwear grade based on the observed wear rates. A grade of 100 would indicate that the tire tread would last as long as the control tires, 200 would mean the tread lasts twice as long, 300 means three times as long and so on.
  • Traction grades: 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, though. From highest to lowest, the UTQG traction grades are AA, A, B and C.
  • Temperature grades: The UTQG temperature grade indicates the extent to which a tire generates and/or dissipates heat. If a tire can’t dissipate heat or resist the destructive effects of heat buildup, it’s less capable of running at high speeds. A loaded tire's ability to operate at high speeds without failure is tested by running an inflated test tire against a large-diameter high-speed laboratory test wheel. UTQG temperature grades indicate the speeds at which a tire can safely operate. Tires are given a grade of either A (over 115 mph), B (100 to 115 mph) or C (85 to 100 mph).

Tire prices

Your choice of tire should not be based on price alone. However, for most people, price is a significant factor.

Tire prices vary by size, but it’s not wise to go with smaller tires to save money.

On average, all-season tires cost between $50 and $250 each, but tire prices depend on the car you drive, the tire’s brand and your tire retailer. This is why it pays to shop around and compare prices.

Tire quality doesn’t always go hand in hand with price, but shopping for the best tires you can afford is almost always worth it. Upgrading your tires can provide:

  • Faster acceleration
  • Increased fuel economy
  • Better braking
  • Superior bad-weather performance
  • Less road noise

Frequently asked questions about tires

How do you know when you need new tires?

Tires should be replaced when the tread is 2/32 of an inch deep. To see how much life your tires have left, you can either have your tires inspected to or measure the depth of the tread yourself.

Tire-tread gauges give you an accurate reading on how much tread you have left, but there’s a tool-free way to see if your tires are bald:

  1. Place a penny in your tire tread with Lincoln’s head facing down.
  2. If you can see the top of Lincoln’s head, your tires are bald.

You can also do a similar test with a quarter to see if your tires are nearly ready for replacement. Washington’s head is 4/32 of an inch from the edge of a quarter.

What are the different types of tires?

There are many different types of tires, and they’re not all categorized along the same lines. However, some of the more common tire categories include:

  • Touring tires
  • All-season tires
  • All-weather tires
  • Winter tires
  • Performance tires
  • Track and competition tires
  • Off-road tires
  • Specialty tires
How long should tires last?

A tire’s life span is generally measured in miles, with most new tires lasting about 60,000 miles, depending on their design, the road conditions they saw and their driver’s habits. However, this number can vary significantly.

Even if you don’t drive enough to wear your tires down, they typically only last from six to 10 years before they go bad.

What is the best time of year to buy tires?

The best time to buy new tires is usually during seasonal sales in October or April:

  • October is a good time to buy tires because other consumers are looking to upgrade before winter weather starts.
  • April is also a good time of the year because people are changing out their winter tires and planning spring and summer road trips.

However, if your tires need to be replaced, waiting for a sale could be a safety hazard. Many people wait until their tires are bald to buy new ones, but this leaves them driving on unsafe tires longer and potentially spending more money in the long run.

What is load rating and index?

A 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.

The correct load rating changes depending on the situation in which the tire is being used. When looking at light truck (LT) or newer Special Trailer (ST) tires, there are two load indexes branded on the sidewall, separated by a forward slash. The first number indicates the tire’s load-carrying capacity if installed on a truck with a single-wheel rear axle, and the second number applies when the tire is used in a dual-wheel application.

Is it OK to replace one tire?

It depends. Your tires should match as much as possible, but if your tires are nearly new and only one is irreparably damaged, replacing that tire is fine. However, sometimes replacing just one tire is a bad idea, like in these situations:

  • If you drive a car with all-wheel drive
  • If the tread on your other tires is below the legal limit (one-sixteenth of an inch)
  • If you can’t find one that’s a perfect tire size and tread match

If you’re worried about the cost of replacing all four tires at once, consider an extended auto warranty with wear-and-tear coverage. These warranties often cover the cost of tire replacement.

Bottom line: What to know about buying new tires for your car

If your tires are wearing thin, think about your needs and wants and find a tire that can match your expectations. While your vehicle’s other systems contribute to how it drives, your tires are the only component that actually makes contact with the road. This means your tires influence the real-world performance of your engine, brakes, steering and more.

For more, read about how to prevent expensive car problems or learn when an extended auto warranty is worth it.

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    Author reviews for tire brands

    Mavis Discount Tires

    Mavis’s origins date back to 1949 as a bicycle tire shop. It now has over 700 service centers across 13 states. The company offers to beat any price from another company for the same tire. This includes shipping and installation costs. Find Mavis locations in the Northeast, Midwest, Southeast and West (Texas).

      Read 4773 Reviews
      Continental Tires

      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.

      Read more about Continental Tires
      Goodyear Tires

      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.

      Read more about Goodyear Tires
      Michelin Tires

      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.

      Read more about Michelin Tires
      Big O Tires

      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.

      Read more about Big O Tires
      Costco - Tires

      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.

      Read more about Costco - Tires
      Firestone Tires

      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.

      Read more about Firestone Tires
      Tire Kingdom

      Tire Kingdom was founded in Florida in 1972. Since then, the company has joined the nationwide TBC Corporation family of companies.

      Read more about Tire Kingdom
      B.F. Goodrich Tires

      BFGoodrich was the first American tire manufacturer, founded in 1896. Today, the brand name BFGoodrich has been sold to Michelin.

      Read more about B.F. Goodrich Tires
      Cooper Tires

      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.

      Read more about Cooper Tires
      Tire Rack

      Tire Rack has over 2.2 million square feet of distribution center space across the country with inventory from 25 tire and 55 wheel brands. Tire Rack has its own testing track, and its website features helpful reviews and educational resources.

      Read more about Tire Rack
      Dunlop Tires

      Dunlop Tires offers tires for multiple climates, as well as performance options and run-flat models. This brand is a part of Goodyear, so these tires are available at Goodyear dealers near you.

        Toyo Tire

        Toyo offers tires for a variety of vehicles, including all-season, all-weather and performance tires. Its tires come with a 500-mile trial and a limited warranty on both OEM and replacement tires. Toyo sells through third-party dealers and retailers.

          Pirelli Tires

          Pirelli's collection of tires include all-season, summer and winter tires for a variety of vehicle types and terrains. Pirelli offers a limited warranty and a 30-day trial period for select tire purchases. Find a dealer near you to purchase tires from this brand.

          Dayton Tire

          Dayton Tire carries tires from more than a dozen brands, with options for a wide variety of vehicle types. This company also offers multiple maintenance and repair services. Coupons are available on Dayton Tire’s website.


            Mastercraft's selection of tires includes all-season and winter models, as well as tires designed for dry, wet or off-road performance. Tires come with a free 45-day road test and warranty coverage up to 80,000 miles on some models.

              Falken Tire

              Falken carries tires for passenger cars, SUVs, and light or medium trucks. Choose from all-season, summer or winter tires, with the option to shop online or in-store. Falken’s warranties vary, but some models are covered for up to 80,000 miles.

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