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Discount tires are shown on a rack.

Don’t Buy Cheap Tires – Seriously, Don’t!

The world is an expensive place, and car maintenance costs can quickly add up, especially if you have a luxury car, so it’s only natural to start looking for ways to cut corners. When that happens, you might be tempted to choose cheap tires when the time comes to replace them, saving some money. You should instead look for high-quality discount tires that can still cost more than the cheapest ones out there, but will go easy on your wallet and still keep you safe.

Cheap tires are usually made from materials inferior to what is used to make higher quality tires that are more expensive. You might look at them and think “rubber is rubber – they look the same” and while you might be right on one level, on a much more important level you would be quite wrong. Not all rubber is made equal, and scientists at high-end tire companies put a lot of time and energy into developing rubber and engineering tires in a way that make them last longer, perform better, and handle daily use with less wear.

You will keep yourself, your loved ones, and everyone else on the road much safer if you look for high-quality discount tires over the cheapest ones possible. Dealerships will often have specials on tires so you can get better quality ones for less than full retail price, and buying four tires at a time will usually save you money over choosing two. Even at a discount, good tires will still cost you more than the cheapest ones, but it is well worth the price.

Brand Name and Quality

All tires are not made equal. There’s a reason you’ve heard of companies like Goodyear and Michelin, while other brands are not a household name – and it’s not just due to marketing and advertising. Those companies are known for the quality of the tires they produce, not only the rubber they use to make their tires from, but also the design. For example, it was Michelin that introduced radial tires to the commercial market, and Goodyear saw the benefits of that design and quickly followed suit.

Scientists and engineers at these companies spend a great deal of time and money in research and the development of superior quality tires. When you look at discount tires, make sure you are looking for good-quality brands. Yes, they are going to be more expensive, even on sale, than some other tires at a dealership or service center, but there’s a reason for that. You really do get what you pay for when it comes to the quality of tires; it is worth spending more now to make sure your tires don’t explode while you are flying down the freeway at 70 mph.

That is a mistake you might not walk away from.

Two tires of differing tread and quality are shown next to each other.

Finding a Discount

Hopefully, you’ve now chosen to look for high-quality discount tires rather than choosing the cheapest ones your mechanic has to offer. That’s good. But how can you find those discounts to help out with the blow your wallet is about to take? Well, there are a few things to look for and some things that can help you.

For one thing, think ahead, check your tread, and go tire shopping before they are a critical necessity. If you have a month or two to shop for tires, then you’ll have a better chance of finding a good sale or deal on discount tires of high quality. You should also consider holidays and times when other products are on sale – such as Memorial Day, Labor Day, and around Thanksgiving. Of course, if you need tires right now, then don’t wait – but it’s better to stay ahead of it and have more choices.

You can often save money by buying four tires at once, instead of a pair. You still end up spending more overall, but the price per tire is less as dealers and service centers offer discounted tires when you buy all four. You can also use the internet to shop for tires these days, to buy them yourself and then install them or have your service person do it. Just be sure to buy from reputable dealers online to get the best quality – and never buy used tires from some guy across town. No really, don’t ever buy used tires!

When is it Time to Replace My Tires?

Like I said, you can often find the best discount tires of the highest quality by having time to do some shopping and watch for deals. All too often, people end up in critical need of new tires and they don’t have any options. If your tires blow out or they’re worn to an unsafe degree, then you don’t really get to comparison shop.

Most people and blogs online will tell you to use a penny to check the tread on your tires and see if it’s time to replace them. That’s great advice. The problem, however, is that if you can see the top of ol’ Abe’s head, then you need to replace your tires right away. So your options are limited.

It’s better to use a quarter, because this gives you more depth when you are checking your tread. While a penny warns you that you have 2/32 of an inch or less of tread depth, using a quarter indicates when you are at 4/32 of an inch. You do the same test, just with a quarter instead of a penny. When you see the top of Washington’s head showing, then you know your tires are getting worn and you should start shopping to replace them. It’s not crucial yet, as you basically have another 1/16 of an inch to go, but this gives you time to look for the best deals on discount tires that are still high quality.

A closeup of a coin being used to check tire tread is shown.

Do it Yourself

If you really want to save money on your tires, then the best way to do that is to change them yourself. Again, this is a benefit of having more time to replace your tires than when it is critical, since you can shop around and get the best deal on high-quality discount tires. It might take you longer to replace your own tires than it would take a service professional, but you’ll pay less overall and have the satisfaction of knowing you did it. Just make sure you know what you’re doing and tighten them on securely – watching your own tire roll past you on the freeway is an experience best avoided.

Safety is More Important than Savings

At the end of the day, the central thing is this: safety is more important than savings (yes it’s worth saying that twice). Every expert driver, law enforcement officer, and safety analyst will tell you the same thing: the best way to reduce the risk of a collision is by slowing down. Driving slower gives you better control of your vehicle and more time to react when something unexpected and dangerous occurs.

The quality of your tires also affects how much control you have over your vehicle and how well it can respond when something happens. If you choose cheap tires, rather than high-quality discount tires, then they are going to wear faster, have inferior rubber, and not give you the kind of responsive handling that better ones provide. Worse yet, they can more easily blowout or fail you when you’re on the road; suddenly you become the disaster that (you hope) someone else on better tires can respond to quickly enough to not slam into.