Look No Further: The Best Tire Brands Are Right Here
Don’t burn good money on bad rubber for your vehicle.
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If you live in a place with temperate weather and little winter action, you can buy one set of tires and forget about it. People like yours truly who live where winter is hardcore don’t have it so easy. Picking a tire brand and a tire and then finding a model to fit your car can be a real pain, and that pain is multiplied when you have to own two sets of tires to make it safely through the year.
The brand of tire that’s best for you depends on many factors. The Drive’s editors have spent enough time and money buying tires to know what makes a good brand. I’ve gathered my favorites here, along with options that represent the best in certain categories.
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What to Consider When Choosing a Tire Brand
Tire Brands Key Features
Tread life is an estimate of how many miles your tires should last before needing a replacement. Remember that it’s an estimate and not a guarantee, in most cases, so you should treat it as if it’s something of a promise that you’ll get a certain number of miles out of a tire.
Speed and Load Rating
You may not be shopping for tires for racing, but it’s important to look at the speed rating of the tires you’re buying. Large truck and SUV tires tend to be rated for lower speeds, while summer and performance tires offer higher safe speeds. The same is true for load ratings, especially if you’re shopping for truck or SUV tires. The load rating is the amount of weight each tire can support.
There are a bunch of numbers on the side of every tire that denotes its size. For example, a set of tires for 17-inch wheels might be sized 215/55R-17.
- 215 is the tire’s width in millimeters
- 55 is its aspect ratio. In simple terms, the tire’s sidewall is 55 percent as tall as its tread is wide
- R means radial construction
- 17 denotes 17-inch wheels
It’s important to buy the tires that fit your vehicle precisely. Your speedometer, some safety equipment, and your vehicle’s suspension system can depend on a specific wheel and tire diameter, and up-or downsizing without regard for the overall size of your wheels and tires can cause issues with your car’s operation.
Best Tire Brands Reviews & Recommendations
I selected the best tire brands in a variety of areas, including overall and all-terrain. Price ranges are based on an average of online retailer pricing. Tires with a lower price are marked with a single $, and higher-priced tires are marked with additional $ symbols.
- Parent company: Michelin
- Types: All-season, performance, off-road, snow, truck/SUV, efficiency, racing, heavy equipment, motorcycles
- Price: $$$$
- Top tire brand in several categories
- Wide variety of types and sizes
- Sold almost everywhere
- Some have unimpressive tread life
There’s a reason some people say: Just pay for the Michelins. The brand’s products are among the most advanced, best performing tires on the market. Michelin makes tires that offer stellar performance for professionals and weekend racers alike as well as with quiet, durable tires for the everyday family SUV and everything in between. Popular tires in the Michelin catalog include the Pilot performance tire series, long-lasting Defenders, X-Ice winter tires, and Energy tires for improved fuel consumption.
Michelin tires are sold online and in brick-and-mortar stores. While the company does offer discounts, especially on outgoing models, deals on Michelins are not as common as with other brands, due to strong demand. In many cases, Michelin tires are also more expensive than comparable models from other manufacturers. While there is a tangible quality and performance benefit to Michelin tires in many cases, the price difference may not justify the upside for some buyers.
- Parent company: Doublestar
- Types: All-season, performance, off-road, snow, truck/SUV, efficiency
- Pricing: $
- Good selection of types and sizes
- Decent warranties
- Not as durable
- Not great in snow
While it’s true that you get what you pay for when buying tires, some brands have defied that sentiment with tires offering decent performance and longevity at a reasonable price. Korean manufacturer Kumho is one such brand. It offers tires for vehicles of all types as well as high-performance tires. In the early 2000s, Kumho even manufactured tires for use in racing series such as Formula 3.
Although Kumho avoids many of the pitfalls that commonly impact low-cost automotive products, there are tradeoffs that come with discount pricing. Kumho tires tend to fall short on longevity compared to the competition, and its snow tires are limited in variety and performance.
- Parent company: Continental AG
- Types: All-season, performance, off-road, snow, truck/SUV, efficiency, commercial, heavy equipment
- Pricing: $$$
- Solid tread life
- Options for fuel economy
- Top-rated tire brand
- Lacks variety
Continental tires is a German company known for making high-quality tires and other automotive components. The brand has been around since the late 1800s and has grown into the fourth largest tire manufacturer in the world, counting several sub-brands in its sprawling global presence, including General Tire in the United States. Several automakers have used Continental’s products as original equipment on new cars, including Volkswagen and Volvo.
Though Conti’s selection is a little thin in some categories such as all-terrain tires, the brand offers a solid variety in most. Many Continental tires carry long tread life ratings — up to 80,000 miles in some cases — and the company offers a 12-month warranty with road hazard coverage. If you get a flat and need a change or tow, you’re covered as well, although Continental requires pre-registration for the service.
- Parent company: Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company
- Types: All-season, performance, off-road, snow, truck/SUV, efficiency, racing, motorcycle, heavy equipment
- Pricing: $$$
- Legendary history
- Great ride quality
Goodyear tires are an iconic product in the U.S. with a strong history and record of success. The company was founded in the late 1800s in Akron, Ohio, where its headquarters remains today. Beyond cars, Goodyear makes tires for many applications, including aviation, farm and heavy equipment, motorcycles, and powersports vehicles. Its motorsport resume is long and varied and includes the title for the winningest tire manufacturer in Formula 1 history. Goodyear is also the official tire supplier to NASCAR.
Goodyear has provided original equipment tires for several automakers over the years, and the company also owns Dunlop and Kelly Tires brands. The Goodyear Wrangler All-Terrain tire is well-known in off-road circles for its durability and traction, and the WinterCommand tire is a great option for cold-weather performance.
- Parent company: Pirelli
- Types: All-season, performance, off-road, snow, truck/SUV, efficiency, racing, motorcycle
- Pricing: $$$$
- Strong heritage
- Good winter traction
- Top-rated performance tires
- Not as durable
Pirelli is a name synonymous with racing and performance. The company has been the exclusive provider of tires for Formula 1 since 2011, and its consumer tires provide grip for some of the world’s quickest and most expensive cars. Pirelli also offers a strong selection of winter and all-season tires that perform well in everyday driving conditions.
As you might expect, Pirelli’s performance and reputation come at a cost. The brand’s tires are among the most expensive models in their respective categories, and even cost more than leading brands such as Michelin in some cases.While some reviewers state that Pirelli tires don’t last as long as they should, performance tires aren’t known for longevity. The stickier a tire compound is, the shorter its life tends to be.
- Parent company: Michelin
- Types: Performance, all-season, light-truck/SUV, UTV, all-terrain, commercial
- Pricing: $
- Backed by Michelin
- Strong all-terrain options
- Decent price
- Variety is lacking
- Not as durable
All-terrain tires can be a mixed bag for some buyers, as their strong off-road performance often comes at the expense of ride quality and durability. While that’s the case with some of BFGoodrich’s tires, the company’s products are highly respected for their traction and performance. A strong history of winning in motorsport events doesn’t hurt either.
BFGoodrich is part of the Michelin family, but unlike its parent company, it doesn’t offer a breadth of products in all tire categories. The tires it does offer are particularly strong, especially in the all-terrain category, where BFGoodrich’s products are used in grueling off-road motorsport competitions with great success.
- Parent company: Bridgestone
- Types: Performance, all-season, light-truck/SUV, UTV, all-terrain, commercial, winter
- Pricing: $$
- World’s largest tire maker with great reputation
- Blizzaks are the best winter option
- Original equipment for many vehicles
- All-seasons not good in snow
- Too many variations
Even for vehicles with all- or four-wheel drive, winter tires can make the difference between a leisurely drive in the snow and a white-knuckle adventure. Bridgestone, the world’s largest tire manufacturer, makes the Blizzak, an advanced winter tire with excellent snow traction, good stopping capability, and decent performance on ice. The company makes a dizzying array of versions and types of its tires, Blizzak included, so search tires for your specific vehicle to make sure they’ll fit.
Swapping between all-season or summer tires and winter tires can seem like a real hassle, but installing proper tires is one of the most important things you can do to make sure your car stays pointed in the right direction. Having a four-wheel drive or all-wheel drive makes it easier to get started and go up hills when it’s snowy, but those systems do very little to help you stop in snowy and icy conditions. Winter tires have special tread patterns that bite into snow and ice to help you stop in a shorter distance and with better control.
Tires are the only part of your car designed to touch the road. In other words, the only thing standing between you and certain death in many situations is your tires. Focus on a brand that offers the type of tire and size of tire that your vehicle and driving style require. The top choice for me is Michelin.
You’ve got questions. The Drive has answers.
Q: Which brand lasts the longest?
A: There are long-lasting tires from every brand, but Bridgestone and Goodyear offer tires with tread life that extend to 80,000 miles. It’s important to note that your driving style, your vehicle, and your ability to properly maintain your car and tires all impact their lifespan.
Q: Are Michelins worth the money?
A: Quality tires are vitally important, and Michelin tires are among the best you can buy. There are products worth spending money on in life, and tires definitely are.
Q: Are Walmart’s tire brands good?
A: Walmart sells nearly every major tire brand, including Michelin, Pirelli, Goodyear, and Continental. You may even find the megastore’s prices to be slightly better than many national tire chains.
Q: Is it cheaper to buy tires online?
A: It certainly can be cheaper to buy tires online, but buying from an online store means you’ll have to hire a local shop to mount and balance them. Some internet tire retailers such as Tire Rack have partnered with regional chains to provide free installation.
Q: How much does mounting and balancing tires cost?
A: Expect to pay $20 to $50 per tire to have them mounted and balanced. If you’re buying tires from the shop, many will perform the installation for free.