4 Reasons Why You Shouldn't Get Cheap Tires

Road noise, longer tire life, and more control in bad weather are all factors to consider if you go the inexpensive route on your car's rubber.

Michelin 245/35 ZR 19 tiresAaron Miller

Article QuickTakes:

As the connection between you and the road, your tires play a critical but often overlooked role in control and safety. Consider the following reasons why you should devote more attention (and a few more dollars) when it comes time to replace them.

Better Tires Offer Shorter Stopping and Better Grip

We may think of performance driving as something for high-powered race cars, but your daily commute poses numerous challenges that rely on the grip, stopping power and stability of your tires. Your ability to stop in a sudden slow-down in freeway traffic or to avoid a careless driver partially depends on the tread and grip of your tires. Well-worn, nearly bald tires aren’t going to stop, or grip, as well as newer ones.

Unless you drive a sporty car, you probably don’t need to shell out for expensive, high-performance tires. A good set of modern all-season tires can drastically improve day-to-day handling and even allow you to use more of your car’s potential grip on a curvy road on a summer day. Improved grip and stopping power will also pay off in a world where many other drivers seem to have forgotten the rules of the road.

They Can Also Give You Safer Handling in Challenging Weather Conditions

It only takes one slide into a ditch in a half-inch of slush or a terrifying few seconds of hydroplaning on a wet highway to realize the fundamental importance of tires in inclement weather. Even if you live in a weather inconsistent area like Southern California, you know that wet weather can make it dangerous to head out onto the highway. And folks in spots like Seattle and Portland have been occasionally surprised by snowfall that brings traffic to a complete halt for several days.

If you’re exposed to at least the chance of snow, or plan on traveling in mountainous terrain, it’s a good idea to consider upping your tread to a real winter tire. Those tires are made of softer compounds that provide necessary grip in ice and snow. In some jurisdictions, such as Colorado, you can be fined if you get into an accident with improper tread on your tires. Winter-specific tires may also save you the pain of mandatory chain laws in California, during that Lake Tahoe ski weekend.

Better Rubber Can Also Mean Longer Tire Life

While modern, all-season tires are built to standards that mean they may last 50,000 to 70,000 miles, a higher-quality tire will certainly provide more years of safe motoring than the least expensive option you can find at a big-box retailer. Longevity is a major factor in tire purchases, and doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll spend gigantic dollars. You just need to do some research and see what brand and type of tire will get you down the road, longer.

And A More Comfortable Ride (Better Fuel Mileage, Too)

In addition to helping you cruise more safely in all types of weather, higher-quality tires are constructed with rubber compounds that can cut down on the annoyance of road noise and some of the bounce and rumble of a worn-out set of tires. You’ll also be able to get better mileage as the tire’s grip can mean less work for the engine when starting and cruising.

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Andy Stonehouse
Andy Stonehouse literally fell into the world of auto writing while working as a ski-town journalist, and has not looked back since. A childhood spent dealing with the eccentricities of a 1976 MG Midget has made any subsequent auto experience a more safe and reliable drive. He has been blessed with nearby mountain trails and snowy roads in Colorado to do TV-adventure-styled test drives on a weekly basis.