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Selecting tires is always an interesting time. I used to own and manage a couple dealer service departments and I've helped people select tires thousands of times over the years. Just like most things in life, people have vastly different opinions on things. I've seen one person love a particular tire and another person hate the same tire and neither one is "wrong."
As mentioned earlier, installation costs might be a factor. Not all places that charge more are a bad deal- it depends what you're getting. A cheap shop using old equipment or untrained labor might be cheaper, but balancing with expensive modern balancers results in a better ride. A trained tech would rotate the tire on the rim if the balancer requested a lot of weight correction. I often see weights installed on the wrong part of the wheel or STACKS of weights, sometimes with weight directly opposite from other weights... which means the machine and the person operating it don't understand how it works or how to do it correctly.
Higher treadwear ratings mean the tires last longer, but at a reduction in traction. An Impala on 230 treadwear rated tires will handle SO much better than you'd think is possible for a big car. On 500 rated tires, it won't... but the tires will last a LONG time. When you decide which tires you might want, look at the treadwear rating as a sliding scale- long wear on one end and handling on the other. It may be worth getting softer tires if you like to drive hard or you may want the longest lasting and don't care about taking corners enthusiastically.
For my Impala, the original Firestones were FAR too noisy. I replaced them with Continentals which were nice but didn't last as long as one would expect based on the treadwear rating. The last tires I got were inexpensive Cooper ST Touring tires and they were quieter than the Continentals and seemed to handle every bit as well. Unfortunately the car was totaled recently.
Cheap off-brand tires are rarely worth it. The sidewalls are typically thin and the treadwear ratings seem overestimated- some of those companies aren't looking to build a long lasting reputation. I even got a set of cheap ones for my Camaro, knowing they'll mostly be smoked so I wanted cheap. They won't even install on the wheels! They won't actually seat the bead at all- and the manufacturer AND the retailer won't stand behind it and let me return them.
Reading customer reviews reveals more than just the star rating. Read the lowest reviews and look for common issues. Most negative reviews are people with problems more than problems with tires, but if you see a trend of noise or vibration it can tell you a lot.
In my experience based on a LOT of feedback from customers and my own cars, there are a few tires that you just can't go wrong with.
Cooper CS5- cheap, reasonably durable, quiet.
Michelin MXV4 Primacy- I had a set last 60K on my Lincoln and I'm not a gentle driver.
BFG Comp TA- there are several versions, watch the treadwear ratings when choosing. Always balance and perform well.
Others to consider based on having talked to lots of customers- Sumitomo- cheap performance appearance with all-season and long lasting. Not "really" a performance tire tho. My non-track set for my Camaro are Sumi's... they work, they're cheap, they last.
Hankook Ventus- inexpensive, different versions, watch the treadwear ratings as some versions are sticky/short-lived vs. others
When dealing with 'enthusiasts' who are in-tune with their car as far as noise, handling etc. I've had significant negative feedback on most of the usual off-brands like Achilles and all the other stuff nobody has heard of. Nexen has been terrible but seems to be improving.
Last edited by VTSummit; 06-15-2019 at 11:39 AM.