What to do when the tires that came with your new car wear out.
Sticking with the original equipment (OE) tires is a good bet. Automakers know that tires have a huge effect on a car’s performance, handling, and comfort, which in turn affects how satisfied motorists are with their cars. As a result, automakers work closely with tire manufacturers to develop tires that best suit their vehicles.
A tire may appear to be a simple, homely hunk of rubber. In fact, tire making is quite the art and science. Tire manufacturers have yet to achieve the holy grail of their craft: one tire that will do everything well. That’s why, for example, if you research tires online, you’re likely to find more than two dozen types for cars and light trucks, ranging from “extreme performance summer” to “off-road maximum traction.”
“An automaker chooses a tire it thinks will provide the qualities desired by most buyers of a particular car—handling, comfort, wet-weather traction, fuel efficiency, or tread life, for example,” says John Baldwin, PhD, chief product and technical strategist at Discount Tire, the world’s largest independent tire and wheel retailer.
However, your needs may be different. For example, run-flat tires, which are standard on many high-end German cars, work well on smooth autobahn roadways. But on coarse American tarmac, some run-flats ride like bricks—non-OE conventional tires and a tire-inflator kit might be a better replacement choice.
Likewise, performance summer tires may provide optimal handling for your sports sedan. But head to the mountains on a ski trip and they’ll lose traction below 40 degrees and will begin to crack below 20 degrees. More versatile all-season tires may better suit your needs.