Spend Less by Paying More? Why the Cheapest Tire is Not Always the Least Expensive.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012 by Hunter Leffel

The title seems to be a conflict. However, when you look at the Total Cost of Ownership (TCO), there are situations where spending more today can save you money in the long run. Initial purchase price tends to be the first and sometimes only thing considered when looking for a new set of tires. Tires are a major purchase that most drivers will face every three to four years. Looking at other costs involved can result in the realization of spending more does in fact cost less.

While initial tire cost is a big part of the decision, consumers should consider three operating costs their tires influence:

  • Initial purchase price and installation
  • Vehicle fuel economy
  • Cost per mile of treadwear

Many of the newer premium options in the marketplace are offering longer treadlife warranties and lower rolling resistance. While these may not be the lowest priced tires, over the life of the product, we can see where they truly are a great value. Take for example the Goodyear Assurance ComforTred Touring with up to an 80,000-mile treadlife warranty. Competitive options in the Grand Touring All-Season category commonly have life expectancies in the 55,000 - 60,000 mile range. In many cases, this longer life alone can make up for any initial price premium. Once you add in avoiding mounting and balancing fees that are needed sooner, you can quickly be on the positive side in the long run by spending more now.

Goodyear Assurance Comfor Tred Touring
Goodyear Assurance ComforTred Touring
Michelin Defender
Michelin Defender


Another example is the new Michelin Defender with a 90,000-mile treadlife warranty. It also adds a focus on lowered rolling resistance which delivers better fuel economy. Michelin's testing has shown a 2% improvement in fuel economy over their HydroEdge with Green X. For a typical driver averaging 30 mpg for 15,000 miles a year, Defender tires will help them save 10 gallons of fuel per year (approximately $40 of savings per year) and about 60 gallons of fuel during their lifetime of six years (for an estimated $240 in fuel savings).

There's no doubt that vehicle depreciation, insurance premiums and mechanical repairs costs associated with buying, driving and maintaining a vehicle have gone up over the years. However, high-quality, longwearing tires may be the real value in the equation, as they will cost drivers less than a penny per mile for their treadwear. To see how you may be able to spend less by paying more, read "Tire Cost Analysis."

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