Your Guide to the Top Tire Brands
With so many brands and types of tires to choose from, finding the right tires for your car, truck, or SUV can be somewhat challenging. That’s why we’ve created this guide to help you decide which tires are right for your vehicle.
What Are the Top Tire Brands?
The top tire brands manufacture tires that do more than get you where you’re going. Tires should enhance your vehicle’s performance and improve your overall driving experience. There are several advantages to equipping your vehicle with a good set of tires. These advantages include:
- A Safer Drive. A good set of tires improves your car’s braking, acceleration, and ability to take on sharp turns. They’ll also help your vehicle adapt to all sorts of tricky driving situations. The right set of tires can give your car better traction on wet roads and other unstable surfaces. On the flip side, a subpar set of tires can cause your vehicle to hydroplane on wet roads and lead to other unsafe situations.
- Better Gas Mileage. When you equip your car with new tires, you’ll see your vehicle’s gas mileage improve. That’s because your car doesn’t have to work as hard on a new set of tires as it does on tires with worn-out tread. The money you’ll end up saving on gas makes the cost of a good set of tires worth it.
- Taking on Tough Terrain. You can go anywhere when you have the right set of tires, from curvy mountain roads to desert terrain.
- Comfort. A good set of tires will make your ride smoother and reduce road noises, giving you a more comfortable driving experience. If you have a long daily commute or frequently travel by car, the comfort a premium set of tires can provide is worth paying extra.
- Appearance. A new set of tires looks much better on your vehicle than a worn-out set. Adding new tires to your vehicle is a relatively easy way to enhance its appearance.
- Value. If you’re planning on selling or trading in your car, keep in mind that tires are one of the first things that buyers see. Equipping your vehicle with a new set of tires can make it more appealing.
Types of Tire Brands
There are several brands that produce quality tires. What brand you go with depends on your specific needs.
Michelin is one of the world’s most popular tire brands. The company is known for producing everything from all-season tires to summer tires. Drivers especially favor Michelin’s run-flat tires. Michelin backs many of its tires with a six-year warranty that covers any manufacturer defects. Whether you drive a passenger car, SUV, light pickup, or sports car, you’re sure to find a set of Michelin tires that works for your vehicle.
Founded in 1898, Goodyear has earned a sterling reputation for producing durable tires. While the company produces tires for all sorts of vehicles, Goodyear products are especially popular in off-road trucking and motorsports because they can withstand the extreme wear and tear that these activities inflict on tires. All of Goodyear’s tires are put through rigorous testing before they become available to consumers.
Depending on what type of Goodyear tires you purchase, you can take advantage of a six-year warranty or a limited-mileage warranty. While Goodyear tires typically cost more than other brands, you won’t have to replace them as often because of their durability.
While its tires tend to cost less than other brands, Cooper doesn’t compromise when it comes to quality. Because Cooper is an independent manufacturer, you might not be able to find these at every tire seller, but you can easily purchase them online. Depending on the type of tire you buy, Cooper will cover your tires with a treadwear warranty for up to 80,000 miles.
The Bridgestone Corporation manufactures the Bridgestone brand and the Firestone brand. Both brands offer a variety of tires for passenger cars, trucks, and SUVs. Over the last few years, Bridgestone has made strides to use environmentally friendly materials and manufacturing processes. The Bridgestone brand is known for its excellent Blizzak snow tires, which do well in any winter test.
Pirelli provides tires to luxury and performance-car manufacturers such as Maserati, Lamborghini, and Audi. The brand’s performance tires feature a patented tread pattern that gives them a superior grip on any road, wet or dry. They also enhance cornering capabilities in high-speed cars. While Pirelli also makes tires for everyday driving, you can expect to pay a higher price for the Pirelli name and reputation.
BFGoodrich puts its tires to the test in all sorts of extreme conditions, including drag races, rally races, and rock-crawling competitions. BFGoodrich tires are a result of the company’s motorsports experience and advanced technology. Whether you’re venturing off-road or navigating crowded city streets, BFGoodrich tires will provide you with a high-performance experience.
Continental is known for producing exceptional tires in standard, touring, and performance models. The company emphasizes safe, eco-friendly tires. Continental tires tend to cost more than brands such as Cooper but are usually more affordable than BFGoodrich or Michelin. While the company doesn’t offer a vast selection of all-terrain tires, if you’re looking for tires perfect for your everyday commute, you can’t go wrong with a set of Continentals.
The Yokohama Tire Corporation manufactures performance tires, passenger tires, and winter tires under the Yokohama brand. The corporation’s motorsports program serves as the ideal testing ground for the technologies that Yokohama uses to produce superior street tires. Yokohama was the first manufacturer to start using orange oil in its manufacturing process because it’s an environmentally friendly alternative to petroleum. Yokohama’s IceGuard iG52c snow tires are a solid choice for slippery conditions.
The General line of tires is produced by General Tire and Rubber. Established in 1915, the company initially produced tire repair materials before expanding into tire manufacturing. The company is constantly introducing new tire models and technologies to keep up with evolving automotive trends. While the General brand includes high-quality all-season and all-terrain tires, all of the brand’s products are available at competitive prices.
Hankook is known for its Ventus performance, Optimo touring, and Dynapro light truck tires. Porsche is just one of the many automotive companies that offer Hankook tires as original equipment, specifically on its SUV models. Hankook focuses on sustainable solutions that provided a lively yet comfortable driving experience.
Nokian has a fantastic reputation for its winter tires, particularity their studded options. However, since studded tires aren’t allowed on most roads in the US, we recommend the non-studded Nokian Hakkapeliitta R3 to keep you safe on wintery roads.
How to Choose the Right Tires
When it comes to selecting the proper tires for your car, truck, or SUV, there are several factors to consider, including:
- Vehicle Make and Model. Depending on whether you drive a car, truck, or SUV, your vehicle requires a specific tire size and speed rating. You can consult your owner’s manual for these specifications. While your new tires should be an exact match to the size listed in the manual, you have some flexibility when it comes to the speed rating, which indicates the optimal speed at which a tire can safely perform. If the tires that originally came with your car are starting to wear out, your easiest option is to replace them with the same kind of tires. Be sure to replace your tires before they become unsafe to drive on. While you’re at it, it’s probably a good time to replace your spare tire too.
- Price. Before you start shopping, you should determine how much you want to spend on your new tires. Setting a budget can simplify the decision-making process, and you’ll be less likely to overspend. Remember that a cheaper set of tires probably won’t have as much durability as a pricier set. You may end up spending more money if you constantly have to replace cheap tires.
- New Tires versus Secondhand Tires. Some drivers buy secondhand tires to save a few bucks. However, when you buy used tires, you’re taking a risk. There’s no guarantee that secondhand tires are safe to drive on. There might be damage you can’t see. Used tires are more likely to have blowouts due to the unreliability of their age and condition. In the long run, putting your safety at risk isn’t worth the lower price.
- Where You Live. If you live in an area with a mild climate and little to no snowfall in the winter, a good set of all-season tires may be all you need for your car. All-season tires provide excellent traction when the roads are dry and when it’s raining. They also tend to run quietly and smoothly with exceptional handling. If you live in an area that experiences harsh winters, you’ll want to have a set of all-season tires and a set of winter tires. While you might be tempted to drive on your all-season tires when it’s snowing, keep in mind that they offer marginal performance on snow-covered roads. Only winter tires will provide the traction you need to navigate icy roads safely. On the flip side, if you live in an extremely warm climate, you should go for a good set of summer tires.
- Your Lifestyle. How do you typically use your vehicle? If your typical drive is a commute to work and running errands on the weekend, a good set of standard all-season tires should satisfy your routine. However, if you like to venture off the beaten path, you’ll want to equip your truck or SUV with all-terrain or mud-terrain tires. If you happen to be a motor-racing hobbyist, you might find performance tires worth spending a few extra bucks. Performance tires are also a good option if you spend a lot of time driving on congested roadways because you need tires that improve your car’s responsiveness in high-traffic situations.
- Your Driving Preferences. Touring tires are designed to deliver smooth handling and to reduce road noise, so they’re a good option if you prefer a laid-back driving experience. On the other hand, if you love feeling every curve in the road, look for a performance tire with a high speed rating. That type of tire has a stiffer construction, so it provides a more precise ride.
- Vehicle Age. If you’re thinking about trading your car, truck, or SUV in for a newer model, you might not want to spend your time or money on a new set of tires.
You’ll know that it’s time to replace your tires if you notice any of the following:
- Tread Wear. Using a penny, you can test your tire’s tread. Place the penny in the tread with Abraham Lincoln’s head upside down. If you can see all of Lincoln’s head, it’s time to replace your tires.
- Bubbles or Bulges. If you see any bulges on your tires, this usually means that the internal frame is damaged and air is escaping to the tire’s outer layer. Replace the tire as soon as possible if you see any bulges or bubbles, even if the tread is still good.
- Vibration. If the steering wheel vibrates while you’re driving, the possible cause is that your tires wearing are down unevenly or they’re out of alignment. Either way, it’s very likely that they’re unsafe to drive on.
- Cracks or Cuts in the Sidewall. If your tires are older, you’re likely to start seeing cracks in the sidewall. All tires naturally degrade over time. Even if you don’t drive that often, your tires can deteriorate due to sunlight, excessive heat, or extreme cold. Cuts are usually the result of force—for example, if you hit a rock or other sharp object while driving. Both cracks and cuts make your tires unsafe to drive on.
- Embedded Nails. Obviously, if you notice a nail or other object stuck in your tire, the tire should be repaired, if possible, or replaced. Even if the damaged tire isn’t leaking air, a lodged object can do a lot of harm. Moisture can leak in and cause the inside of the tire to become contaminated. The rubber around the nail can start to weaken, leading to a blowout.
- Visible Damage. If you notice patches of tread worn away or other visible damage, your tires might be suffering from misalignment, under inflation, or they’re overdue for a rotation.
- Damaged Valve Stems. You’ll want to inspect your tires every now and then, including the valve stems. A cracked valve cap can let air out, and it can also let moisture and debris in.
Even if you don’t see any visible signs of damage, it’s a good idea to replace your tires every 45,000 to 60,000 miles, depending on what type of tires you have.
How To Replace/Install Tires
Disclaimer: The guidelines in this article are general and not meant to replace instructions for your specific vehicle. Please consult your owner’s manual or repair guide before attempting repairs.
Once you’ve selected the perfect set of tires for your truck, car, or SUV, you’ll need to install them.
While installing your own tires might save you some money, it’s recommended that you have a professional install your tires. A professional can tell if your rims are damaged and need to be replaced. They can also make sure that you have the right rims to accommodate your new tires. When the expert installs your new tires, they use a mounting machine to make sure that the upper and lower beads are securely in place. Most drivers don’t have access to a tire mounting machine, so they take a risk mounting tires by hand.
Whether you decide to install your new tires yourself or you have a professional install them, you’ll need to have a professional balance them and make sure that they’re properly aligned. Without proper alignment, your new tires will wear out faster and could cause damage to your vehicle. To ensure that your new tires last longer, be sure to get them aligned and rotated on schedule. Also, try to avoid hitting curbs, potholes, or other obstacles that can cause damage and even dangerous blowouts.
Where to Buy the Top Tire Brands
Make sure to verify the correct tire size for your vehicle.
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