When it comes to tires, low price and high durability are great. But what might they be costing you?
Earlier in our Ten Rules of Tires series, we told you why you should value quality tires. That’s because there IS no perfect tire that meets everyone’s needs – every tire offers trade-offs designed to serve a specific kind of driver.
Take winter tires, for instance. We don’t believe there’s a safer option in severe winter weather than a Nokian Tyres winter product – and dealers tend to agree. But why are they so effective in snow, ice and cold? In part, because of a super-soft compound that responds to those conditions. That same compound makes them entirely inappropriate for driving in warm temperatures, because soft rubber breaks down in heat. Winter performance comes with a tradeoff – poor summer performance.
What does that mean for you at the tire shop? It means that the tires you’re choosing between each have their own strengths and weaknesses. With that in mind, rule No. 9 is to put stock in the tire features that actually matter.
Beware of High Mileage Warranties and Low Price
Some tire manufacturers boast treadwear warranties as high as 100,000 miles. That sounds great, right? Getting more life out of your tires theoretically means you can go longer between purchases, saving money in the long run.
But when durability is touted as a tire’s No. 1 feature, let the buyer beware.
To make their tires live up to those high mileage promises, tiremakers generally have to harden their rubber compounds. Remember what we said about winter tires’ soft treads responding well to the road? Well, the opposite is true, too – hard compounds tend to be less responsive, because they’re built to last rather than to provide optimal safety. So when you see a tire advertised to last 100,000 miles, ask yourself what you’re giving up in return. Quality tires are designed to provide safe, responsive driving while still lasting plenty long enough for you to get your money’s worth.
Price is another metric that shouldn’t matter as much as it does. We all like a good deal, but that’s actually a reason to invest more on the front end. Why?
First of all, because safety is worth the investment. A tire is the only part of your vehicle that touches the road (unless you’re driving wrong), and it’s worth the investment to have peace of mind that those tires are keeping you safe. But quality tires also help you save money down the road – they are crafted to help protect you from costly accidents, and they can also help your car be more fuel-efficient. There are lots of great ways to save money. But when you’re buying tires, think big-picture rather than short-term.
What Should You Look For?
If mileage and price are typically overrated, what features SHOULD you prioritize in your purchase?
Simple: Prioritize your needs,. The investment will be worthwhile.
Before you head to the shop, consider what those needs look like for you. Do you enjoy the thrill of the road? Are you just trying to get to your destination in one piece? Do you like to leave the beaten path? Do you live somewhere with unpredictable weather conditions?
At Nokian Tyres, we believe in crafting products that are tailored to those diverse needs. It’s why we invented the winter tire, but it’s also why we make a rugged light truck and SUV tire with puncture-resistant Aramid armor, a high-performance tire for people who like to zip around turns with gusto, a reliable all-season tire that performs well in rain, and a line of all-weather tires that provide year-round safety for drivers who experience uncertain winter weather.
When you choose a tire that’s geared to serve your particular needs, you’re trading up for features that will satisfy you – and a tire’s relative weaknesses won’t matter as much if they’re in areas that don’t matter as much to you (such as summer driving performance for a winter tire). Best of all, a premium tire is designed to maintain a certain level of quality across the board, so when you buy a set of Nokian Tyres products, the tradeoffs are minimal.
And when in doubt, start by asking the dealer’s recommendation. Tires are more complex than many people realize, and he or she can help you filter through the noise and choose the tire that’s geared for your driving needs. This approach is sensible, but it’s also a bit self-serving – dealers love talking about our tires.
Don’t trade away the features that will keep you safest on the road. Some prices are just too high to pay.