Cheap Tires: How Much Should You Spend?

Written by |
Advertisement

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:

This article was updated in March 2024 and I review it every 12 months. Detailed notes on all updates can be found here.

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 to get a good set of tires.

Consumer Reports (subscription required) tested 133 tire models including 10 different tire types. Based on these results and ratings, the average price for a quality tire ranges from $129-$222. And out of the 10 tire types tested, the most expensive models were the highest-ranked in only five categories. That means a higher price doesn’t always mean you’re getting a better tire! Consumer Reports 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 as it appears on the publication’s website in March 2024.

Type of TiresPrice Range Per TireAverage Price Per Tire
All-Season Tires$104-$179$132
All-Season Truck Tires$179-$219$196
All-Terrain Truck Tires$179-$277$220
All-Season SUV Tires$155-$254$222
Performance All-Season Tires$62-$170$132
Performance Winter/Snow Tires$137-$278$194
Ultra-High Performance All-Season Tires$101-$189$146
Ultra-High Performance Summer Tires$143-$220$169
Winter/Snow Tires$108-$177$129
Winter/Snow Truck Tires$155-$246$183

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. 

Advertisement

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

StoreInstallation Price Per TireKey Features & ServicesSelection
Costco$0- Installation charge is included in the quoted price
- Best road hazard warranty (5 years)
- Free lifetime maintenance
BFGoodrich, Bridgestone, Michelin and Firestone
Walmart$18- Best selection of cheap tires
- Cheapest installation price that isn't included in the cost of the tire
- Road hazard warranty available for $10 per tire
Pirelli, Bridgestone, Hankook, Goodyear and 20 other brands
Sam's Club$20- Second-best road hazard warranty (4 years)
- Flat repairs on members’ tires even if purchased elsewhere
BFGoodrich, Bridgestone, Goodyear and 9 other brands
BJ's Tire Center$20- Free lifetime maintenance
- 3-year road hazard warranty
- Installation is automatically added during checkout
Michelin, BFGoodrich, Bridgestone, Goodyear and six other brands
Tire Rack$26.25*- Online-only with fast and free shipping to you or an installer
- Mobile at-home installation is available in some areas
- Get a discount if you pick up your tires from a distribution center
BFGoodrich, Bridgestone, Michelin and 27 other brands
Discount Tire$21- Biggest selection of brands
- Fast and free shipping online or shop in store
Bridgestone, Continental, Michelin and 56 other brands

The cost of tire installation may vary based on location, where you purchased the tire, tire type or other factors.

For more information on the best places to buy tires, including detailed price comparisons, check out our full 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. 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 an excellent selection for under $100 at Walmart. 

Based on my research, here are three of the most highly-rated tire brands. 

Advertisement

General Tires

General Tire

The General Altimax RT43 is the second-highest-rated all-season tire based on Consumer Reports’ data with a score of 66. It’s one of the two most recommended all-season tires alongside the Michelin Defender T+H. At $129, 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 1,000 General Tire models with 25 models available for under $100

Hankook Tires

Hankook tires

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, noise and rolling resistance. This specific tire cost $123 in March 2024.

At the time of writing, Walmart.com offered 156 Hankook tire models under $100

Firestone Tires

Firestone Tires

The Firestone all-season tire received an overall score of 61 from Consumer Reports, landing it just two spots behind the Hankook model in the all-season tire category. But at $104 per tire (a total savings of $76 for four tires), it’s more affordable.

Walmart.com had a selection of 33 Firestone 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 extending the life of your tires: 

  1. 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. 
  2. 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.
  3. 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. 
  4. 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.
  5. 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.

Final Thoughts

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.

Advertisement

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, consider 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. For a more detailed comparison, check out our full guide to the best places to buy tires.

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 Clark.com Community!

Article Updates
  • March 29, 2024: Updated the current price ranges and average prices of tires in 10 categories based on Consumer Reports’ latest data
  • March 29, 2024: Updated the current prices and availability of cheap, highly-rated tires at Walmart
Advertisement