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Buyer’s Guide to the Best Car Tires (2022)

Don't Buy Cheap Tires
TABLE OF CONTENTS

Your tires are literally where the rubber meets the road. They have a greater effect on your car’s handling, performance, and safety than any other modification you can make. The choices out there are staggering, so how do you decide which tires to put on your car? That’s where we come in!

Here are our choices for the best car tires in a wide variety of categories, from everyday commuting to track days to winter snowstorms. They’re not necessarily the cheapest choices (for good reason), but we have included some more affordable options to fit everyone’s budget. Read on to learn how to decide which of these is the best choice for you.

We’ve based these tire recommendations on overall performance, durability, affordability, and brand reputation for choices you can trust.

Goodyear Assurance ComfortDrive 235  /50   R19    99V SL SBL

Best All-Season Tires

Goodyear Assurance ComfortDrive

  • Excellent ratings across all categories
  • Exceptional treadwear
  • Best overall performance
Continental Control Contact Tour A/S Plus 185  /65   R14    86H SL BSW

Best All-Season Tires (Runner-Up)

Continental Control Contact Tour

  • Least expensive of our top all-season tire selections
  • EcoPlus Technology for better fuel efficiency
  • 80,000 mile warranty
Goodyear Assurance MaxLife 225  /65   R17   102H SL VSB

Best All-Season Tires (Runner-Up)

Goodyear Assurance Maxlife

  • Excellent treadwear and durability
  • Great overall tire for sedans, minivans, crossovers and coupes
  • Doesn’t compromise on dry performance
Hankook Kinergy GT H436 215  /55   R17    94H SL BSW  VM

Best Value Tires

Hankook Kinergy St

  • Most affordable top tire pick
  • 70,000-mile warranty
  • Decent performance in most driving conditions
General Grabber A/TX 255  /70   R15   108T SL BSW

Best All-Terrain Tires

General Grabber A/TX

  • Great value and highly rated
  • Excellent performance on and off the road
  • 50,000-60,000-mile warranty
Firestone Tire Destination LE3 225  /70   R15   100T SL OWL

Best Treadwear Tires

Firestone Destination LE3

  • Highly rated, yet still affordable
  • Excellent performance in wet, dry, and winter conditions
  • 70,000-mile warranty
Bridgestone Blizzak WS90 225  /60   R16    98H SL BSW

Best Winter Tires

Bridgestone Blizzak WS90

  • Excellent performance on dry and wet roads in addition to snow and ice
  • Designed to provide more responsive steering and improved wear life in tough conditions
  • Still more affordable than other winter tires
Pirelli Cinturato P7 All Season Plus II 215  /55   R16    97H XL BSW

Best Dry Performance Tires

Pirelli Cinturato P7 All Season Plus II

  • Excellent performance on dry roads
  • Comparable price point to competitors
  • 70,000-mile warranty
Michelin CrossClimate2 215  /55   R17    94V SL BSW

Best Wet Performance Tires

Michelin Crossclimate 2

  • Best in category for wet performance
  • Also best in category for winter/snow performance
  • 60,000-mile warranty
Michelin Pilot Sport 4S 225  /45   R17    94Y XL BSW

Best Overall Performance Tires

Michelin Pilot Sport 4S

  • Great performance from track to street
  • Excellent wet and dry traction
  • Quintessential max performance summer tire

Do I Need New Tires?

A set of four tires is a significant investment, even for a more affordable model. You don’t want to spend money on tires unless you have to. However, continuing to drive on old worn-out tires is dangerous, so it’s important to replace them when they come due. There are two main ways to tell if your tires need replacement: tread depth and tire age.

Tread Depth

Tire tread The most common and obvious sign that you need to replace your tires is when the tread wears out. Those grooves in your tire allow water on the road to escape to prevent hydroplaning. They also allow snow to pack into them for better traction on snowy roads (just like how a snowball sticks together). The only time a tire should have no grooves at all is when it’s for a race car on a dry, paved track. Tire tread depth is measured, in thirty-seconds of an inch, by how deep the grooves are compared to the outer surface of the tire. New tires typically come with around 10/32” of tread depth. Wet and winter traction decreases slightly as this tread wears away, but remains safe for tens of thousands of miles. As the depth approaches 4/32”, it’s time to start thinking about replacement. At 2/32” your tires are no longer safe and need to be replaced as soon as possible. Professionals use special gauges to accurately measure tread depth, but you may have a good tool for this in your pocket right now: a penny.  Stick the penny into your tread with Lincoln’s head upside down. The top of his head is 2/32” away from the edge of the penny. If you can’t see part of his head because the tread is in the way, your tires are in good shape. But if you can see the top of Lincoln’s head, it’s time for new tires. This gives you a snapshot of how deep your tread is right now, but the FIXD app gives you a way to track your tread wear over time. In the Maintenance section of the app, click the Tires icon at the bottom of the screen. Update your vehicle’s mileage. A representation of your car appears, with the date of your last measurement (if any) below each tire. FIXD tire tool Measure the tread depth of that tire on your vehicle using a penny. Then click on that tire in the app, and swipe up on the screen until the green area covers as much of the penny image as your tread covers on your actual penny. Penny test Click Save. Repeat this process for the other tires, and this information is now recorded in FIXD.  As you continue measuring your tread depth over time, you’ll be able to see how long it takes your tires to wear over time. This will help you plan ahead and set money aside for new tires by the time you need them. For example, if it takes two years for your tread to go from 10/32” to 6/32”, you can estimate that you’ll need to replace your tires in another two years when the tread depth reaches 2/32”.

Tire Age

Most tires wear out before they become too old to drive on safely. But if you don’t drive very much, or store your tires for extended periods of time (such as if you have separate summer and winter tires), it’s possible that your tires may age out before they wear out. This can also happen to your spare tire, which you may never use, or trailer tires that don’t see many road miles. There is no set age limit for tires, but most manufacturers recommend replacing your tires after six to ten years, regardless of tread depth. The rubber in your tires degrades over time, particularly when exposed to long periods of sunlight. This weakens the rubber, and can even cause it to crack if it gets particularly bad (this condition is known as “dry rot.”) This compromises the strength of these tires, making it more likely for them to blow out. How do you know if your tires are too old? Every tire has a code beginning with the letters DOT (for “Department of Transportation”) on the sidewall. Look at the last four digits of this code. They represent the week and year the tire was made. Tire date code This particular tire was manufactured during the 35th week of 2018, or the last week in August. I had these tires installed in September 2021. They’d sat in warehouses or the tire shop’s inventory for three years until I bought them “new!” Chances are I’ll still wear out the tread before they’re too old to use, but if they haven’t worn out in three years, I’ll have to research their maximum usable age and replace them if needed, regardless of remaining tread depth.

How Do I Choose New Tires?

There are many factors to consider when choosing a set of tires. Some, like size, are important for everyone. Others, like the speed rating and warranty, may only matter to some. Here’s how to decide what tire is best for you.

Size

Tires come in a staggering variety of sizes. Every vehicle has one or more tire size specified by the factory. You’ll generally want to stick to the same size tire that’s on your car right now. That way you can be sure that your new tires will fit your wheels properly, and that they won’t rub on the fenders or suspension components. You or a tire shop can look up what size tire your car should have. You can also read the size straight off the tire itself.  Tire size This string of letters and numbers is the size of your tire. It packs a lot of information into a small space. For a detailed breakdown, check out this video: For our purposes, though, you basically want to make sure that whatever tire you get matches the size you already have. It absolutely has to match the diameter of your wheel, which is the number after the letter R (16, in the photo above). A 15 or 17-inch tire will not physically fit on a 16-inch wheel. Different trim levels of the same car may come with different size wheels and tires. If this is the case for yours, you can safely switch to one of the other tire sizes recommended for your vehicle. This may be useful if the tire you want isn’t available in your current size, but it is in one of the optional sizes. Again, make sure the alternate tire size uses the same wheel diameter you have now unless you’re changing out your wheels as well. Specific tire models come in a limited selection of sizes. So the first factor that narrows down which tire is best for you is the size you’ll need. This eliminates any tire that doesn’t come in your car’s size.

Type of Vehicle

2022 Kia Carnival exterior front The tires you choose should match the type of vehicle you’re driving. You wouldn’t want to put all-terrain truck tires on a sedan unless you’re a weirdo like me, who turned a Volkswagen Jetta into a pickup truck. A sedan like this should have a good set of passenger car tires, with long tread life, a low price, and adequate traction on paved roads. Similarly, if you drive a Jeep, Bronco, or a 4X4 pickup truck, you may want the additional off-road traction that street tires don’t provide once you leave the pavement. If you have a sports car, you’re going to want some high-performance tires that enable you to unleash its full potential on the street, or the track.

Type of Driving

Margaret Sharron at Climb to the Clouds You wouldn’t wear flip-flops in snow, and you wouldn’t wear hiking boots to run a marathon. The type of tires you get should match the type of driving you do. If the closest your Jeep comes to off-roading is the mall parking lot, a set of street tires makes perfect sense for you. They’ll be quieter than all-terrains, and may even give you better gas mileage. But if you want to drive down muddy, sandy, or rocky trails with your Jeep buddies, you’re going to need tougher tires with a more aggressive tread that will dig into soft surfaces, as well as resist punctures from pointy rocks. Some situations may be a bit less obvious. Let’s say you have a Honda Civic, a decent economy car, and a good everyday commuter. Ordinarily, a good all-season tire, like the Goodyear Assurance Comfortdrive we recommend, would be the best choice. But let’s say you also enjoy track days or autocross events. This tire isn’t designed for this kind of hard driving. It won’t perform well in these extreme conditions, and it will wear out very quickly. A Civic is no Porsche 911, yet in this case, it would benefit from a high-performance tire such as the Michelin Pilot Sport 4S. While the average driver doesn’t need this, its superior grip will improve your lap times, and its tougher construction will withstand the weekend autocross as well as the weekday commute.

UTQG

This alphabet soup stands for the Uniform Tire Quality Grade. It is made up of 3 parts: a treadwear grade, a traction grade, and a temperature grade. Most tires, with the exception of light truck and winter tires, have an assigned UTQG rating. Keep in mind that the manufacturer decides the UTQG rating for any given tire, rather than being assigned by the Department of Transportation or an independent testing facility. Treadwear Rating: Tells you about the durability and life expectancy of your tire. The control tire has a 100 rating, so if your tire’s treadwear rating is 300, it means that it will take 3 times as long as the control tire to wear down. The higher the number, the longer your tire will last. Keep in mind that high treadwear may come at the expense of traction, as long-lasting tires are often made of hard rubber that doesn’t grip the road as well. This is why grippy high-performance tires usually have low treadwear ratings. Traction Rating: Tells you how safe your tire is and how efficient it is at braking in wet conditions. The grading scale includes AA, A, B, C ratings, with AA being the best and C being the worst. Why isn’t this scale simply A through D? The original traction scale was A through C, just like the temperature rating. Over time, tire technology improved to the point where many tires were vastly superior to the minimum requirement for an A rating. The AA rating was added to showcase the excellent traction of these tires. Temperature Rating: Tells you how well your tire can hold up against high temperatures. It essentially tells you how fast your tires can go before they get too hot to function properly. This is important if you own a sports car that is often driven at high speeds. The grading scale includes A, B, and C ratings, with A being the highest and C being the lowest.

Speed Rating

The speed rating tells you the speed capability of your tire. Summer tires will typically have higher speed ratings than winter or all-season tires, as they are designed to go faster. The higher the speed rating, the more robust the tire construction. As long as you get at least an N-rated tire, you’re safe to drive at the fastest speed limits in the US. Most non-winter tires are rated for at least 100 mph, a capability you would only need if you take your to the track. But if you do track your car, make sure you get good performance tires that can handle the significantly higher speeds your car can achieve there.

Are Tires Covered under Warranty?

We know that everybody wants a good warranty for pretty much anything they buy, but unfortunately, tire warranties can be a tricky subject. Most tires come with some combination of a treadlife and uniformity warranty. The treadlife warranty is determined by how many miles your tire should reasonably be able to travel without giving out. This is normally between 30,000 and 90,000 miles depending on what type of tires you have. Summer tires will almost always have a lower mileage warranty since they wear out quicker. That’s the price you pay for a softer, grippier rubber compound. The uniformity warranty is for when your tire excessively vibrates or causes a noticeable disturbance with the smoothness of your ride. These normally must be reported before you wear out the first 2/32” of your tire tread. While this might all sound nice and straightforward, we promise you it isn’t. When buying tires, it is always important to carefully read the fine print of the warranties, as it is very common for them to have time constraints. Many of the treadlife warranties are fractional, meaning that you only get credit for the difference between whatever mileage the tire reached and the assigned warranty mileage. Other Common Car Repair Costs Transmission service cost AC recharge Brake pads and rotors cost Spark plugs cost Timing chain
Justin-Hughes

Recovering autocross and track day enthusiast. Once turned a VW Jetta into a pickup truck. Lives in a van down by the river. Dream car: 2001 Subaru WRC rally car.

We’re here to help you simplify car care and save, so this post may contain affiliate links to help you do just that. If you click on a link and take action, we may earn a commission. However, the analysis and opinions expressed are our own.

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About the Author

Justin Hughes

Justin Hughes

Recovering autocross and track day enthusiast. Once turned a VW Jetta into a pickup truck. Lives in a van down by the river. Dream car: 2001 Subaru WRC rally car.

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