(Last Updated On: January 21, 2019)
Tires are often an overlooked part of a car. Most people don’t think too much about tires, yet every driver relies on them. Every car has four tires, and all four tires get heavily used every time the car is driven. Tires and brake pads are the more integral parts of every vehicle, and they impact both safety and performance.
It’s easy to take tires for granted. They’re not glamorous or sexy, and it’s hard to notice your tires, even if they do have an impact on the way your car drives. In general, tires seem to just kind of be there, but in reality, they’re something that every driver and car owner should give a lot of thought to.
Why are good tires important?
Tires are one of the most important safety features on your vehicle. Your tires help your car stay attached to the road when you turn, and aid your vehicle in braking. If you end up driving a little too quickly, turn too dramatically, or have to swerve for safety, your tires help your car stay in your control.
Tires also can be of great assistance when road conditions are adverse. Whether you’re off-roading, driving on gravel, or simply on tarmac that is wet, icy, or snowy, your tires can help you out.
Tires are responsible for a lot of tasks. And, quite frankly, good tires do all of these tasks more effectively, and more safely, than bad tires. Good tires make your car perform better, make your driving experience more comfortable, and more fun, and make your car a lot safer.
What we look for in a tire brand
Picking tire brands can be difficult, for one major reason. Arguably the two most important traits in tires are the traction they offer for the car, and the lifespan of the tires. Unfortunately, these two traits are often at odds with each other. Simply put, the better the traction on a tire, the shorter the lifespan is likely to be.
Since we can’t usually have our cake and eat it too with tires, we look for companies that do one of these things really well. That means tire companies that make tires with terrific traction, at a price point low enough that you can replace them as frequently as is necessary. Or, tires with a very long lifespan, that still offer decent traction for performance and safety.
Performance and comfort are also slightly at odds where tires are concerned. Tires with elite handling capabilities often result in a less smooth ride, and louder road noise. Conversely, tires that offer a luxurious experience for drivers and passengers usually aren’t able to handle quite as well. Generally, we look for performance, no matter how that is defined. We know everyone has different needs and desires for their tires, so we value a wide array of products, as long as the performance is there. That means tires with the best handling, or with the lowest noise level and road feel. Also, we value tires that are able to seamlessly compromise, and find a middle ground between those two traits.
As always, price is an important factor for us. You usually get what you pay for with tires, but good deals are still worth looking for. You don’t want to overpay for tires, even if you’re getting a great product. Warranties, reliability, and customer service are also important.
What bad tire brands do
The biggest thing that bad tire brands do is try to convince you to buy a bad product under the guise of being affordable. Many tire brand offer tires that they market as being great bargains. In reality, they’re just bad tires. Sure, they might cost half as much as most pairs, but if they only last a quarter as long, what good is that? Unless you’re in a tight financial situation, discount tires simply aren’t a good purchase.
The other thing that bad tire brands do is simply offer a not good product. It’s okay, and expected, for a tire to have a shorter lifespan, provided it offers terrific traction, and vice versa. But if a tire offers poor traction and a short lifespan? No thank you.
How we chose our five favorite brands
We drive a lot. Naturally, when you drive a lot, you go through a lot of tires. We constantly go through a bunch of new tires, and we try a ton of brands in the process. We’ve figured out our five favorite brands largely from trying a lot of tires from a lot of companies, and judging them by the criteria listed above.
We also listen to a lot of tire experts, and pick their brains, so that we can learn more about the products. This helps us shape our opinions better, and confirm or challenge the experiences that we’ve had.
Finally, we always take customer reviews into consideration.
Our five favorite tire brands
With all that said, here are our five favorite tire companies. These are the tire brands that we return to time and time again for our vehicles.
BFGoodrich has a long and impressive history. They’ve been making tires for over a century, and in that time they have put tires on the Spirit of St. Louis, as well as the first vehicle that drove across the country. Add in a rich racing background, and you have a tire company that has accomplished just about everything.
And through all of that, they’ve learned how to make absolutely incredible tires. BFGoodrich makes tires for just about all occasions, with models specialized for off-road vehicles, high-performance sports cars, and just about everything in between. Most of their tires have excellent handling, and despite that they’re usually able to prioritize ride comfort.
While you can get a great tire from BFGoodrich for whatever car you have, their high-performance tires are their pride and joy. These tires are a must-have for anyone who likes to take their sports car out on the backroads for the weekend.
Since BFGoodrich has been making tires for such a long amount of time, they’ve figured out all the technology. Their reliability is as good as their performance, and their warranties generally match both. BFGoodrich takes care of their customers, and their tires take care of all cars.
You’re likely familiar with Bridgestone. They’re one of the most popular tire brands on the market, and you’ve probably seen their ads on TV, and their name branded on many race cars. Their popularity is not lucky: they make incredible tires.
One of the things we love most about Bridgestone is how many different areas they excel in when it comes to tires. Bridgestone has six different brands of tires, to make sure that they have exactly what you and your vehicle are looking for. Those six brands are Blizzak (winter traction), Driveguard (peace of mind), Dueler (off-road traction), Ecopia (fuel efficiency), Potenza (performance), and Turanza (quiet ride).
That kind of covers everything you could want in a pair of tires, right? Rather than having to find a compromise, you can find the tire that is ideal for you. Take a lot of road trips and want to have them be peaceful and comfortable? Get some Bridgestone Turanza tires. Commute a lot and want to limit your fuel consumption? Bridgestsone Ecopia tires are for you. Whatever you’re looking for, Bridgestone has a specific tire brand for it, so you can outfit your vehicle with the exact kind of tires that you want.
Bridgestone I one of the most innovative tire companies in the world. They are constantly creating and implementing new tire technology, to make their product the best possible in every category. If you buy a set of Bridgestone tires, chances are that there will be even better one waiting for you when it’s time to replace them. That’s a pretty great perk.
Firestone is another tire company that has existed for well over 100 years. And it’s no accident that they’ve survived that whole time. They’ve existed, and thrived, thanks to tremendous technology and innovation, resulting in some of the best tires on the market.
Just like Bridgestone, Firestone has six different brands of tires, aimed towards helping you find the style of tire that is right for your car and your driving conditions. Firestone’s six offersings are All Season (built to last), Champion (fuel efficient), Destination (on or off-road), Firehawk (performance), Transforce (works hard), and Winterforce (winter traction). Between this six brands, you can probably find whatever your looking for with Firestone, whether you like to spend your free time autocrossing in your sports car, or taking on intense dirt trails in your Jeep.
Firestone also has tires that look fantastic. Aesthetics aren’t normally a huge part of tires, but Firestone has made visual design a priority. All of their style look excellent on any number of cars, but it’s Firestone’s off-road tires that really look incredible. Not only do the off-road offerings from Firestone look great in action, but they look pretty stellar on the back of a Jeep or other off-road vehicle, as a proudly displayed spare tire.
Not surprisingly, given their investment in off-roading, Firestone makes tires that are highly durable. Their rubber is incredibly trustworthy, which is a pretty important trait. We’ve always had great experiences with Firestone, and that is not a coincidence.
It’s possible that Goodyear is the most well-known brand in the tire industry. From their ads, to their place in the racing community, to the iconic Goodyear blimp, Goodyear is just about everywhere, and for good reason: their tires are truly exceptional.
Despite making top tier products, Goodyear offers surprisingly good prices. But don’t let the prices fool you: the tires are phenomenal, regardless of what kind of car you have, how you drive, and what you’re looking for in your vehicle’s rubber.
Goodyear is always innovating, and their remarkable WeatherReady technology is proof of just how dynamic the company is. The WeatherReady products rely on unique design and tread shape to make them well-prepared for rain, snow, and ice. Despite being safe for these adverse weather conditions, the WeatherReady tires are also smooth and comfortable for driving in clean, dry, warm weather.
While their all-weather tires are perhaps the most impressive, Goodyear’s performance tires are exceptional. In fact, they’re what we use when we autocross, and we’re not alone: Goodyear is trusted by many professional racers, including some of the biggest names in NASCAR. Their performance tires are second to none, and allow for drivers to get the absolute most out of their cars, both on the straight stretches and on the turns.
We’ve loved and trusted Goodyear tires for a long time. And given their innovation and constant improvement, we expect that to continue for a long time more.
You might have noticed that all five of our favorite tire brands are pretty well-known. That’s not a coincidence. Tires are a science, and a huge safety feature, so the brands that are most well-known are usually the ones that are most trustworthy. And when it comes to tires, trustworthy is a very important trait to have.
Michelin is nothing if not trustworthy. Their constant innovation continues to create tire products that are among the best in the world; you can be assured when purchasing Michelin product that you’re going to get the bet tires that technology can offer.
While Michelin has a lot of high-performance tires to offer, they are at their best when selling practicality. Michelin’s products are ideal for daily drivers. Their tires aid safe driving, have a very long lifespan, and are some of the most reliable products on the market. Sometimes people ask us what kinds of tires they should get for their kid’s first car, and we always tell them Michelin.
Michelin has also made sustainability a huge company priority. They are constantly evolving and creating technologies that allow them to build more sustainable tires. Michelin understands that tires – and cars in general – are not great for the environment, and their efforts to limit the damage caused are very important.
When all is said and done, Michelin has been making tires for more than 125 years. They’ve learned a few tricks in that time span, and we are very big fans.
What to consider when buying tires from one of these companies
It’s always important to make a thoughtful and educated decision when purchasing something for your car. That’s doubly true with something like tires, that are an important safety feature.
While we love all five of these brands, and are confident that you’ll find some perfect tires from one of these companies, it’s still important for you to think about what you want out of tires. What’s most important to you? Is it traction on the road, or all-weather capability? Is it the lifespan, or the durability, or the fuel efficiency? Is it high performance for racing and backroads, or the ability to go off-roading?
After you’ve figured out what kind of tire you want, it’s time to look at your budget, and then compare prices. While you do so, it’s important to also look at warranties, as they can play an important role in making your decision.
What you need to know about having quality tires
While good tires are a necessity for any vehicle, it’s also important to take proper care of your tires. Part of what you pay for when you buy good tires is reliability and durability. If you don’t properly care for your tires, then you won’t get what you’re paying for. There are a lot of thing you can do to get the most out of your tires, to not only extend their life, but improve their performance and safety.
It’s important to rotate your tires. Ideally, you should rotate your tires every 5,000 miles, but if you can’t do that, aim to have them rotated at least every 10,000 miles. Rotating tires is exactly what it sounds like: having your tires moved around. Front tires wear differently than rear tires, and left tires can wear differently than right tires, so you want to move your tires around so that they wear evenly. If you don’t rotate your tires, you’ll wear out specific spots, and you’ll have to replace them far earlier than you otherwise would have. Most tire shops will rotate your tires for free if you purchased your tires at the shop.
It’s also important to keep your tires properly inflated. Every knows about the danger of under-inflated tires, but over-inflated tires are very dangerous as well. Whether your tires are over or under-inflated, they will be less safe if they’re not inflated properly. Improperly inflated tires run a much higher risk of popping while you’re driving, and they’ll wear out much more quickly than properly inflated tires.
It’s also a good idea to have your wheels aligned with some regularity. Aligning your wheels is great for your car’s health, but also for your tire health, as it helps them wear evenly.
Finally, always check your tires with some regularity. Look at them every few weeks, to make sure that you don’t see any bizarre or unusual wearing patterns.
Tires are a critical part of any vehicle. Whether you’re off-roading, hitting your favorite two-lane countryside road in your Porsche, or commuting, you need good tires. Good tires make driving better, whether you define that as comfort, performance, or all-weather capability. And regardless of what kinds of tires you buy, they make driving a lot safer.
We’re big fans of BFGoodrich, Bridgestone, Firestone, Goodyear, and Michelin tires. And we’re quite confident that you’ll love putting any of these companies’ tires on your car.