Best Tires of 2018

Jeph Preece ·
Senior Domain Editor
Updated
We maintain strict editorial integrity when we evaluate products and services; however, Top Ten Reviews may earn money when you click on links.

We spent 40 hours comparing prices, available performance options and tread-life warranties for tires fitting mid-size sedans, SUVs and trucks, and  Goodyear emerged as the best tire brand overall because of its exceptional options, good prices and minimal risk. With free shipping to your local service station and a 30-day road-test trial period, Goodyear minimizes the risk of buying tires online. In addition, there is a greater choice of performance tires than with other brands, and the tread-life warranties are longer than average.

Best Overall
Goodyear
Goodyear provides more performance options per size than any tire brand. When you consider the good prices, free shipping and good tread-life warrantees, it's clear why Goodyear is the best tire brand overall.
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Best Value
Cooper Tires
Cooper Tires is my pick for best value because they cost significantly less per tire than other brands without sacrificing tread-life warranties and performance options.
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Best Tread-Life Warranties
Hankook
While Hankook's tread-life mileage warranties vary by tire, it has the highest mileage warranty and above-average mileage on every tire. In addition, the average price per tire is excellent.
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Product
Price
OVERALL RATING
Performance Options
Pricing
Tread-Life Warranty
Average Mid-Size Price (per tire)
Average SUV & Minivan Price (per tire)
Average Truck Price (per tire)
Total Tire Series Covered
Highest Tread-Life Mileage
Average Tread-Life Mileage
Road Test Period
Average Passenger Options (15-inch Rims)
Average Passenger Options (16-inch Rims)
Average Passenger Options (17-inch Rims)
Average Truck Options (16-18-inch Rims)
$46.78 tires-easy
3.9 4.4 5
$108.00
$178.00
$205.00
31
85,000
59,000
30-Days
8
16
13
11
$45.65 Amazon
5 4.2 4.2
$73.00
$118.00
$179.00
23
80,000
56,500
45-Days
8
9
6
12
$33.6 Amazon Warehouse
4.7 4.4 3
$82.00
$139.00
$181.00
23
100,000
59,000
30-Days
5
7
5
5
$88.78 Wal-Mart
4.2 4.5 2.5
$102.00
$159.00
$184.00
26
90,000
62,000
60-Days
1
8
7
1
$69.92 Wal-Mart
4.4 4 2.4
$87.00
$169.00
$189.00
30
70,000
50,000
30-Days
4
3
1
4
$151.99 Wal-Mart
4.4 4 2.3
$95.00
$151.00
$173.00
21
75,000
57,000
45-Days
2
4
3
3
$94.9 Amazon Marketplace
2.9 5 2.7
$132.00
$214.00
$259.00
54
90,000
45,000
30-Days
2
8
6
3
$93 Wal-Mart
3.4 4 2.9
$123.00
$195.00
$226.00
22
80,000
56,000
30-Days
3
8
4
3
$113.11 Amazon Warehouse
3.9 3.5 2.2
$102.00
$169.00
$237.00
11
75,000
59,000
N/A
2
3
3
3
$67.52 TireCrawler.com
2.9 4.2 2
$111.00
$178.00
N/A
17
90,000
63,000
30-Days
1
5
5
0
Best Overall
Goodyear makes buying tires online easy while minimizing the risk by skipping the retailer altogether, providing free shipping to your local service station.
While the average price per tire are a bit on the expensive side, you save a considerable amount by skipping shipping fees. And the 30-day road test means you can return the tires if they don't meet your expectations. With above-average tread-life warranties, Goodyear is designed to last. To evaluate tire brands, I compared common tire sizes for mid-size cars, SUVs and trucks. In each size, Goodyear offered the most variety of tires at varying prices and performance specifications. For example, for a mid-size tire (size 205/65R16), Goodyear had nine tire options, covering all-season, winter, all-terrain, summer, performance, fuel efficiency and sport performance. By comparison, most competitors had between four and six options, and a few only had one option fitting this common sedan tire. This disparity was the same with SUVs and was even greater with trucks. It averaged 15 options for trucks. To put it simply, Goodyear tires fit more tire sizes, and this provides a greater chance of finding the right tire to fit your car and your performance needs. As with every tire brand, the tread life warranty varies according to the tire. With Goodyear, the highest tread life warranties available for each type of tire is above average. Even the average tread life warranties per tire are above average. They aren't the highest, but every warranty is above average and nearly every tire has a tread life warranty. Some winter tires don't have warranties.
Pros
  • Many options for each tire size.
  • Above-average tread-life warranties.
  • Free shipping to your local service station.
Cons
  • More expensive than most tire brands.
  • Most winter tires don't have tread-life warranties.
  • Mosty average tread-life warranties.
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Best Value
Cooper Tires has the most affordable average prices for every size and type of tire. When you consider the low cost with the above-average tread-life warranties and the number of performance options fitting common tire sizes, the value of a Cooper Tire stands out from the rest.
In my research of common tire sizes, Cooper Tires featured the best average prices per tire. For example, the average mid-size sedan's tire is about $73 per tire while the average market price for the same size tire is about $101. Multiply this by four and you're looking at close to $90 of savings over other brands. (It's worth noting this doesn't include shipping costs imposed by the online retailer or installation fees charged by the service station. That said, you can expect the same fees with other tire brands, save for Goodyear because they provide free shipping.) The number of performance options per tire size is excellent, receiving A- grades for sedans and SUVs and an A+ for trucks. The number of options are important because it allows you to find the right tire for your performance needs. Most tires I evaluated had six options, but the truck tires often had 15 options. These options cover all-season, all-terrain, fuel efficiency, summer, winter and sport performance tires. By comparison, most tire brands have only two or three performance options fitting most tire sizes, and a few only have one tire fitting common sizes. The tread-life warranties of Cooper Tires are mostly above-average, though just barely. The SUV and truck tires average 57,000 and 54,000 miles per tire respectively, but some tires have warranties as high as 75,000 miles. The sedan's tread-life warranties are mostly determined by the retailer, but some feature manufacturer warranties as high as 70,000. That said, as with most tire brands, the winter tires often don't come with tread-life warranties.
Pros
  • Very affordable.
  • Many performance options per tire size.
  • Good tread-life warranties.
Cons
  • The road test period varies.
  • Many sedan tires don't have tread-life warranties.
  • Not easy to purchase online.
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Best Tread-Life Warranties
The biggest concern for drivers, aside from price, is how long the tires last. With Hankook, this concern is quelled with industry-leading tread-life warranties.
While tread-life warranties have stingy stipulations, the mileage stated in the warranty is a good indication of the tire's durability and expected life. Hankook's warranty covers 21 tires, with the best warranty featuring an industry leading 100,000 miles. The rest of the tire brands I reviewed averaged about 83,500 miles with their best tread-life mileage. The average tread-life warranty Hankook offers is about 59,000 miles. By comparison, most tire brands average around 56,500 miles. Of course, it's worth noting every tread-life warranty, regardless of brand, requires diligent tracking of mileage and maintenance records and other stipulations to make use of the warranty. While Hankook feature excellent tread-mile warranties, you don't pay a premium for it. On the whole, the average price per tire is very affordable, second only to Cooper tires for value. For example, the average price per sedan-sized tire is $82. The market average for the same size tire is $102 per tire. The same value differential is found in the SUV and truck sized tires. So, not only are the tread-life warranties excellent with Hankook, but the prices are very competitive. Hankook averaged five performance options for 15-inch rims, seven options for 16-inch rims and five options for 17-inch rims. In addition, it averaged five truck options for each rim size between 16 and 18-inches. While the options aren't elite, each rim size had above-average options to fit it.
Pros
  • Highest available tread-life warranty mileage.
  • Very affordably priced.
  • Good performance options for each size rim.
Cons
  • Fewer original equipment tires than other brands.
  • Winter tires aren't covered by tread-life warranty.
  • Can't purchase tires directly.
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Longest Road Test Period
Most tire brands have a road test period for most of their tires, allowing you to drive on the tires for weeks to evaluate the performance on your vehicle. If you're not happy with the performance or you simply regret paying so much for your tires, you can return them for a full refund. For most brands, the road test period is 30 days. A select few extend this to 45-days. With Continental, you have 60 days to drive on your tires before fully committing to the purchase. In addition, Continental has a tread-life warranty covering 26 of its tire series, averaging 62,000 miles with the highest tread-life warranty reaching 90,000 miles. When you consider the excellent tread-life mileage and the longest road test period, Continental does its best to minimize the risk of a regretful purchase.
Pros
  • 65-day road test.
Cons
  • Very few performance options per tire size.
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Best Winter Tires
Michelin is the most expensive tire brand on the market, averaging $132 per tire for a sedan-sized rims, $214 per tire for SUV rims and $259 per tire for truck rims. In addition, as a tire brand with one of the widest ranges of tire series, most of the series are very limited to the size tire, which means you don't have as many performance options per tire size as with most brands. That said, when it comes to winter tires, Michelin is the best tire brand. Michelin's tread-life warranty covers 54 tires. This is twice the industry average and 23 more than the next best coverage. A big reason for this is the winter tires – Michelin has tread-life warranties for 10 winter tires, ranging between 25,000 and 40,000 miles. Winter tires are rarely covered by tread-life warranties with other brands, in part because most tread-life warranties are limited to original equipment tires.
Pros
  • Winter tires have tread-life warranties.
Cons
  • High price, on average.
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Why Trust Us

Top Ten Reviews has reviewed the best tire brands since 2013, and I started reviewing automotive technology in 2014, though this is my first time reviewing tires. Still, as someone who has replaced his tires three times in four years, I understand the stress and pitfalls of buying new tires. (I also learned the valuable lesson of making sure my car's alignment was good, something some service stations don't check. A poor alignment can wear out new tires in months.)

Tires are a complex product to review because every car requires a very specific tire size. None of the tires I've researched fit all sizes. So, just because you have your eye on some cool run-flat Pirelli tires, that doesn't mean they'll fit your car. Some tire brands may only have one or two options to fit a specific tire size. In addition, it often takes months of driving on a set of tires to determine whether they live up to your performance expectations. So, to navigate these complications, I reviewed the tire brands as a whole, focusing on the major value points: price per tire, tread-life warranties, performance options.

How Much Do Tires Cost?

Tire prices vary according to size and performance. Based on a comparison of common tire sizes, high-quality tires start around $102 for sedans, $167 for SUVs and $204 for trucks, but it is possible to find tires priced below $50 per tire. Just don't expect them to last very long. It's worth noting that installation isn't included and typically costs between $10 and $50 per tire. This also doesn't account for shipping costs, which can run as high as $100 for four tires. However, many online retailers provide free shipping. If you're not getting free shipping to a local service station, then you shouldn't buy tires from that retailer.

How We Evaluated

To compare tire brands, I collected a list of the most common tire sizes for the most popular sedans, SUVs and trucks. Focusing on common tire sizes provides a better cross-section view of the brand's offerings and prices.

Pricing
New tires are a significant purchase, so considering the price is important. Of course, price varies according to size and performance specs, but to simplify our general comparison we looked at average prices across several sizes and styles. For example, Goodyear's average sedan tire is about $108, but this doesn't mean you won't find cheaper options. With as many as six tire options for a sedan, some cost as low as $91 and some as high as $115.

I considered the MSRP when it was listed on the manufacturer's website. However, most tire brands don't sell tires directly from their website and usually don't list the MSRP. In these instances, I considered the lowest price listed by any of the retailers selling the same tire. In most cases, Tire Rack had the best prices, but sometimes Amazon's or Walmart's prices were the lowest.

Tread-Life Warranty
Before I started my research, I asked several people, all from middle-income homes, what influenced their tire purchases the most, aside from price. Brenden Farrell, owner of a midsize sedan and hybrid SUV, echoed the most common sentiment: "I am a fan of tire stores having a replacement policy for when they die prematurely." What Brenden is referring to is the tread-life warranty, and it's often what separates similarly priced tires.

A tread-life warranty is the mileage guaranteed for a specific tire. For example, if a tire has a 90,000-mile tread-life warranty, the manufacturer promises to replace the tires if they "die prematurely," as Farrell calls it, before reaching the 90,000 miles. It's an excellent indication of a tire's toughness and lifespan, and represents great value if you combine a good price with a long tread-life warranty.

Of course, making a claim on a tread-life warranty is not as easy as returning the worn-out tires and expecting new ones. Every warranty from the brands I researched has strict limitations and requirements. The most notable of these are the maintenance requirements and the records. For the warranty to be valid, you have to perform regular rotations and alignment checks, and you must keep a record of each maintenance session.

Since the mileage on a tread-life warranty varies according to the tire, I considered the longest tread-life warranty each brand offers for all tire sizes as well as the average tread-life warranty for all tire options fitting a specific size. Some tires, like most winter tires, don't have tread-life warranties. And some tire brands leave the tread-life warranty stipulations to the retailer. In these cases, I didn't consider the warranty, as they vary considerably from one retailer to another.

Performance Options
Every car tire is designed and engineered to a specific performance standard. There are tires designed for all-season, winter, summer, all-terrain, fuel efficiency, sport performance and more. I considered all of the options each tire brand makes for a given tire size. The best brands have tires for each type of performance, but many only have one or two tire options. Every tire size has at least one all-season tire option and most have a winter tire.

Additional Tips for Buying Tires Online

Understanding Tire Sizes
Before you add a set of tires to an online cart, it's critical to make sure the tires will fit your car. Most online retailers ask you to enter the tire size first, but this isn't always the case. Either way, you need to record the size on the sidewall of your current tires.

If it starts with a letter, such as a P, this reflects the type of tire, whether it's a passenger tire or light truck. This is followed by the first number, the tire width. For most vehicles, this is a three-digit number and represents the tire's width in millimeters. Next is a slash separating the tire width from the aspect ratio, a measurement of the tire's height in relation to its width. Following the aspect ratio is an R (Radial) and the wheel's diameter. This last number designates the size of rim the tire fits on.

For example, if a Toyota Camry has P205/65R16 molded into the sidewall of the tire, you need a radial passenger tire with a width of 205 millimeters and a height to width ratio of 65 percent fitting a 16-inch-diameter rim. 

Shipping & Installation Costs
Buying tires online is a great way to avoid aggressive up-selling in a brick-and-mortar service station. However, the savings you find on an online site is often offset by the shipping. Some retailers, like Tire Rack, provide free shipping to the installer of your choosing. If you find a particularly cheap price, make sure to look at the shipping. If you shop around, you should find a tire with free shipping.  

Fitting the tires to the rims is an expense you can't avoid, unless you have special tire-fitting tools in your garage at home. Most service stations charge around $20 per tire for the installation, but it varies. It's important to shop around your local area for the best installation prices. You should ask whether they check the alignment. Some service stations (like Discount Tire) don't check the alignment. A bad alignment could cause your tires to wear out quickly and void the tread-life warranty.

Nearly every retailer I researched allows you to ship the tires to a service station of your choosing. Some retailers, like Walmart, ship the tires to their service station. This doesn't mean you must use their service station to install the tires. However, the installation costs are often cheaper if the installer and retailer are partnered. Either way, researching installation fees in your area can help save some money. Just remember that service stations always list the installation price per tire. So if they say the installation is $20, you need to account for $40 to $80, depending on whether you're replacing two tires or all four.

Road Test Period
Most tire brands have road test periods for all their tires. This is a period between 30 and 90 days where you can drive around on tires to see if you're happy with the performance. If the tires don't suit your preferences, you can return them.

Fuel-Efficient Tires: Worth It?
Some tire brands have performance tires optimized for fuel efficiency. These tires theoretically save fuel because they require less power to move. This can be an appealing option, especially when gas prices are so high. But is it worth it?

In 2016, Gene Peterson, a tire expert for Consumer Reports, partnered with the University of Michigan to analyze the rolling resistance of fuel-efficient tires. In the study, he found a 1.9 miles per gallon improvement on the fuel-efficient tires they tested. This may not seem significant, but it can add up to a savings of about $78 per year (based on 2016 gas prices). In essence, a fuel-efficient tire isn't going to turn your 25 mpg car into a 50 mpg car, but they do help.

Replacement Versus OE Tires
When shopping for tires online, some tires are labeled as "replacement" and some as "OE." The OE stands for "Original Equipment" and represents the tire the manufacturer chose for the car as it rolled out of the factory. If the tire shows up as "replacement," it simply means it wasn't the original tire. This doesn't mean the tire won't perform any better or worse, but there is a greater risk it won't complement the car's intended performance.

According to TireBuyer.com, "OE tires are often purpose-built to make the most of your vehicle’s performance." For example, a manufacturer might choose a "plush, quiet" tire for a luxury vehicle, an "eco-friendly low rolling resistance tire" for a hybrid, and a tire to "highlight tight cornering or straight-line acceleration" for a sports car.   

If you're concerned with tire performance, an OE tire represents little risk because the manufacturers chose those tires based on how they perform with your specific vehicle. However, you should consider a replacement tire if you want a very specific type of performance, such as all-season or winter performance.   

Load and Speed Ratings
Every tire has a speed rating and a load rating. The speed rating gives the max speed the tire is built for while the load rating represents the max weight of the automobile. In most cases, even the most basic tires have a speed rating around 118 miles per hour and a load rating that suits most vehicles. These ratings are mostly important for sport performance tires and trucks carrying heavy loads.

Winter Tires: What's the Difference?

Winter tires maintain better traction on icy, snowy or otherwise compromised roads. According to Bridgestone, this is because the rubber used to make these tires is softer, allowing it to grip the road better. The treads on these tires are also often deeper than usual and specialized to funnel slush and snow toward the outside edge of the tire and away from the car. If you live in an area with particularly cold and icy winter weather, you can also opt for studded winter tires.

These tires have little metal studs embedded in the rubber that dig into ice, giving you a lot more traction. They should only be used in extreme weather conditions and shouldn't be used on dry pavement, as they can damage the road. Because of this, some states have laws restricting or totally limiting studded tire use. For example, Arizona, Arkansas, Delaware, Iowa and Kansas only allow studded tires during winter months. Michigan and Florida only permit them with rubber stubs affixed over the metal, and Hawaii doesn't allow them at all. But then again, you're probably not going to need them there. A full list is available from AAA.

Bridgestone doesn't recommend you use these specialized tires all year because they wear faster on hot, dry pavement. This can lead to decreased performance. If you don't want to switch out your tires when the weather changes, you'll want to opt for all-season tires. These usually come on the car when it leaves the factory and work in most conditions. If you're only going to experience a little snow here and there, all-season tires will work just fine.