Your tires are a big part of what keeps you and your family safe on the road, which means you’ll want to get the best tires available within your budget. But what should that budget be?
In this article, I’ll help you figure out how much you should be spending on tires, where to get the best deal and what to look for before you buy.
Table of Contents:
- How Much Should You Spend on Tires?
- Types of Tires: Which Tires Should You Buy?
- Where to Buy Cheap Tires
- The Best Cheap Tires
- How to Make Your Tires Last
How Much Should You Spend on Tires?
When it’s time to shop for new tires, you may find an overwhelming number of options. And the prices can range from surprisingly cheap to insanely expensive. Fortunately, you don’t have to buy the most expensive option available to get a good set of tires.
Consumer Reports recently tested 170 tire models including 10 different tire types. Based on CR’s results and ratings, the average price for a quality tire ranges from $92-$188. And out of the 10 tire types tested, the most expensive models were the highest-ranked in only two. That means a higher price doesn’t always mean you’re getting a better tire! CR members can view the full survey online, but you can check out the highlights below.
Of course, the actual price per tire will vary based on where you shop, the size of the tire and the type of tire you need for your vehicle. Here are the average prices for each of the 10 tire types tested by Consumer Reports:
Type of Tires Goal Price Range Per Tire Average Price Per Tire
All-Season Tires $53-$115 $87
All-Season Truck Tires $139-$229 $167
All-Terrain Truck Tires $132-$233 $170
All-Season SUV Tires $80-$205 $159
Performance All-Season Tires $52-$171 $118
Performance Winter/Snow Tires $129-$200 $171
Ultra High Performance All-Season Tires $64-$172 $122
Ultra High Performance Summer Tires $59-$229 $128
Winter/Snow Tires $80-$139 $106
Winter/Snow Truck Tirse $127-$189 $155
While you can certainly find more expensive models in each category, these prices cover a range of highly-rated models. If you need a price range to aim for, these averages are a great place to start.
Types of Tires: Which Tires Should You Buy?
Whether you’re shopping online or in-store, you can narrow the selection by knowing your car details and what type of tires you currently have on it. You’ll most likely want to choose a similar tire.
Beyond size and speed rating, there’s a little bit of flexibility in which type of tire you choose. You’ll want to go with something that makes sense for the car you’re driving and the conditions you’ll be driving in.
Here’s a brief description of a few common types of tires:
- All-Season Tires: These tires are made for year-round traction and typically have a long treadwear. They’re known for offering a comfortable ride.
- Performance All-Season Tires: Also made with year-round traction in mind, these tires specialize in better handling, grip and braking. If you’re fast to hit the gas or slow to hit the brakes, these tires could be a great choice for you.
- Ultra-High Performance Tires: If you drive a sports car or a high-end sedan, these tires may be the best choice. They excel in wet and dry handling, but the treadwear and comfort performance may not be the best available.
- All-Terrain Tires: These tires are made for heavy-duty use on paved roads and light off-road terrains. They have a more prominent tread for additional traction in a variety of conditions.
- Winter/Snow Tires: As you would expect from the name, these tires excel in gripping on snowy and icy roads. Because of the way they’re made, they usually have faster treadwear and may take longer to stop in normal conditions compared to all-season tires.
Once you know what type of tire you’re shopping for, choose a model that has high ratings and positive user feedback. You can find trustworthy ratings on Consumer Reports and Tire Rack. Be sure to check important criteria like wet and dry handling, noise and ride comfort performance among others.
Where to Buy Cheap Tires
When you’re ready to start shopping, know that where you make your purchase matters. If you’re buying tires from a dealership, you’re most likely overpaying. Instead, consider checking out an online tire retailer, a warehouse or even Walmart.
“Buying tires has never been so cost competitive, so it’s very important to comparison shop,” money expert Clark Howard says. “Service after the sale is also really important, especially if you live in a city with lots of potholes.”
Generally speaking, you’ll find some of the cheapest selections available at Walmart and online at Discount Tire Direct. However, Sam’s Club, BJ’s Tire Center and Costco offer some of the best overall tire-buying experiences including low average prices, free services and convenience.
Here are few things to know about the best places to buy tires:
Median Price Per Tire Installation Per Tire Key Features Selection
Walmart $102 $15 - Cheapest tires on average
- Biggest selection of brands
- Road hazard warranty available for $10 per tire
Firestone, Michelin, Cooper Tires and 29 other brands
Costco $165 $19 - Best road hazard warranty (5 years)
- Free lifetime maintenance
- Installation charge is included in the quoted price
BFGoodrich, Bridgestone, Michelin
Sam's Club $139 $20 - Second-cheapest tires on average
- Second-best road hazard warranty (4 years)
- Flat repairs on members’ tires even if purchased elsewhere
GoodYear, Pirelli, BFGoodrich and 9 other brands
BJ's Tire Center $147 $20 - Free lifetime maintenance
- 3-year road hazard warranty
- Installation is automatically added during checkout
Michelin, BFGoodrich, Uniroyal and 11 other brands
Discount Tire Direct $144 $19 - Online-only tire store
- Second-biggest selection of brands
- Fast and free shipping to you or an installer
Bridgestone, Continental, Michelin and 25 other brands
For more information on the best places to buy tires, check out our guide.
The Best Cheap Tires
If you’re looking for the best deal on affordable tires, I recommend visiting an online tire retailer and entering your vehicle’s details. This way, you’ll be able to compare prices of the specific brands and models that fit your vehicle. You’ll also be able to see any promotions, sales and rebates available online, and this is a great way to save on tires.
Still, I wanted to find out which highly-rated tire brands offer the best prices overall. To do this, I looked at the all-season tires highlighted by Consumer Reports and compared their prices at a few online tire retailers. As you’ll see, I found the best prices at Walmart.
Based on my research, here are three of the best cheap tire brands:
The General Altimax RT43 (T) is the highest-rated all-season tire based on Consumer Reports’ data. It’s one of the two recommended all-season tires alongside the Michelin Defender T+H. At $86.95, the General Tire has a great average price compared to other highly-rated all-season models.
At the time of writing, Walmart.com had a selection of more than 800 General Tire models with 122 models available for under $100.
Consumer Reports gives the Hankook Kinergy PT all-season tire an overall score of 63. It earned above-average scores in dry braking, handling, hydroplaning, snow traction and noise. This specific tire cost $92 in January 2021.
At the time of writing, Walmart.com offered 270 Hankook tire models under $100.
The Kumho Solus TA11 received an overall score of 61 from Consumer Reports, landing it just one spot behind the Hankook model in the all-season tire category. But at $79 per tire (a total savings of $52 for four tires), it’s more affordable.
Walmart.com had a selection of 141 Kumho brand tires available for under $100 at the time of writing, which means you’ll likely find an affordable fit for your vehicle!
How to Make Your Tires Last
No matter which tires you ultimately decide to buy, be sure to take care of them. With regular tire maintenance, you can save money over the life of a vehicle by not having to replace them quite as often.
Here are a few tips for taking extending the life of your tires:
- Check the air pressure regularly. If it’s cold out, Consumer Reports recommends doing this once a month. If you aren’t sure what the air pressure in your tires should be, check the inside of your car door, inside the glove compartment or near the gas cap to find out.
- Watch for uneven treadwear. Your wheels may need to be realigned if this is happening. Always have your car’s alignment and suspension checked when you’re replacing tires to avoid early wearing.
- Don’t overload your vehicle. Your vehicle has a weight capacity that’s listed on the door. Exceeding this weight limit can put extra wear on your tires and increase the chance of damage.
- Use the quarter test to check tread depth. Place a quarter into your tire’s tread groove with George Washington’s head facing down. If you can see the top of his head, the tread is below 4/32nds of an inch and it’s about time to replace them! You can learn more about how to check tire tread depth here.
- Replace damaged tires. If there’s damage to a tire including cuts, cracks or bulges, it’ll need to be replaced. Continuing to drive on a damaged tire could cost you more than just the replacement price in the long run.
Taking care of your tires can help you save time, money and frustration by avoiding preventable damage and getting the longest treadwear possible out of them. But part of taking care of your vehicle means replacing tires when it’s necessary. It’s important to never try to make your tires last longer than they should.
Ultimately, when it comes to tires, it’s OK not to get the most expensive model. Of course, you probably don’t want the cheapest tire you can find either. Instead, take time to do some research. I recommend using an online tire retailer to search for models that will fit your vehicle and go from there. You can also find great deals on tires at Clark Deals.
Once you’ve found a few options in your price range, you can check out the ratings, reviews and user feedback at websites like Tire Rack and Consumer Reports. Make sure you know what features you’re paying for, take into account the cost of installation and don’t forget to look for deals and rebates. You’ll find some of the best prices online at places like Walmart, Discount Tire Direct, Costco, Sam’s Club and BJ’s Tire.
Regardless of which tires you end up buying, know that taking care of them will ensure that you’re getting the most out of your purchase. With proper maintenance, you can extend the life of your tires while keeping your car and your passengers safe.
Where have you seen the best deal on tires? Let us know in the comments below!