Best Cheap Car Tires
These are the best cheap tires for everyday driving, from the likes of Michelin and Goodyear, based on our careful reading of expert and user reviews.
What We Considered
Tires look pretty much the same from the outside, regardless of brand, and it can be hard to tell one tire from another. Differences are hidden behind the rubber in the tires' construction and in the invisible compounds used to build them. Tread patterns and other external markers are unique to each model, as well, but most drivers would be hard-pressed to distinguish even these features. Marketing for nearly every all-season tire lays claim to the same performance qualities: tight grip on wet, dry, and light to moderately snowy surfaces; excellent water evacuation to resist hydroplaning; responsive and confident handling; and quiet riding comfort.
We Looked At
The starting prices generally reflect the smallest tire size for each line. Choosing the right tire means first and foremost making sure you get the proper fit. Fortunately, that's as simple as looking at the tires you have currently. All tires carry a size code on their sidewall that indicates the three primary factors by which they are rated. For example, if a tire is stamped 175/70R13, the first number indicates the width in millimeters across the widest part of the tire. The second number represents the ratio of sidewall height to tire width, while R denotes radial construction (which rules the road these days). The final number is the wheel's diameter in inches. Optionally, some tires may carry prefix before the size, either P for tires intended for passenger car use, or LT, indicating that they are designed for light trucks. Manufacturers specify the recommended tire size for each vehicle on a printed decal located on the doorframe on the driver's side. You can also upsize tires (for better looks or performance) or downsize them (for cost savings), but only within strict limits. ThoughtCo.com has more information, including the important considerations to ensure that upsized or downsized tires work properly with your vehicle.
How well a tire grips the road is largely a function of its tread design and materials. Elevation and climate affect a tire's life expectancy, as do the speed rating, individual driving style (do you corner aggressively or take it slow and steady?), and maintenance (are those tires properly inflated and rotated/aligned on schedule?). Regardless, drivers rightly expect tires to last for thousands and thousands of trouble-free miles. Manufacturers provide a limited treadwear warranty for each of their tires, which is a rough estimate of how many miles a tire can roll under optimal conditions before the tread wears down. It's worth paying attention to the tire's estimated tread life, because a slightly pricier model could yield savings by lasting longer than the cheaper alternative. Keep in mind also that while replacements may be offered (on a pro-rated basis) for tires that don't meet the thresholds specified, collecting on these warranties is often a tricky business: Most manufacturers specify that the tread must have worn down to 2/32 of an inch prior to reaching the warrantied mileage, and the driver must prove the tires have been maintained according to manufacturer guidelines.
A tire's rolling resistance influences gas mileage. All tires create friction where the tire tread meets the road surface, largely based on how large the contact area is, the tread design, and the tire materials. As a result, a vehicle must expend a certain amount of energy to overcome this friction as the car travels, affecting fuel economy. Many hybrids and some sedans come equipped with special low rolling resistance tires, and manufacturers are now making a point of designing tires to increase mileage per gallon. Some testers assess tires' fuel efficiency by measuring fuel usage over a test period using the same vehicle outfitted with different tires on identical test courses. Others, such as Consumer Reports, measure it using test equipment, such as a dynamometer.
Our Top Pick
You can find all-season tires that might be longer wearing, but according to professional tests and owner reviews you'll still get your money's worth out of these General Altimax tires. The ride is comfortable, though a touch noisy at times, and performance is excellent when compared to other options in this price range; in Tire Rack testing they handled better than more expensive models. Snow traction — an issue with most all-season tires — is also better than the norm. Experts like this tire a lot, with some saying the General Altimax RT3 definitely gives our top-runner, the Michelin Defender T+H, a run for its money, especially since a full set comes in at a fraction of the cost. Treadwear is warrantied to 75,000 miles, but several owners say they got only about 50,000 to 60,000 miles before the tires reached their limit. Still, most insist that they're very satisfied with the ride and handling of these all-seasons.
It's not the cheapest all-season tire you can buy, but the Michelin Defender T+H is one of the best for the money, according to both consumer product experts and tire professionals. Its 80,000-mile treadwear warranty is one of the longest around, and long-term road tests suggest that these tires can go even longer before needing to be replaced. While some experts have some quibbles with this Michelin's performance when braking on wet roads, owner comments don't indicate that this is an issue in real-world driving. It's an exceptionally quiet tire and provides a ride that has been described as "athletic" by Tire Rack testers, but at the expense of some ride comfort compared to other tires in its class.
Long treadwear warranty and even better tread life, according to independent tests.
A top all-season tire recommendation by Consumer Reports.
Relatively low road noise.
Named best in category by Tire Rack customers.
Doesn't test as well as some other all-season tires on wet roads.
Less comfortable ride than some tires.
Only so-so fuel economy.
A grand touring tire splits the difference between a standard touring tire and a performance tire, and reviewers say these Continental PureContact LS grand touring all-season tires are an excellent option for those who want an upgraded driving experience. This tire carries a V speed rating, meaning it can travel as fast as 149 mph, and professional testers generally find no shortcomings in key criteria under different driving conditions. The PureContact LS performs above average (for an all-season) in ice or snow, and durability is top-notch, too — it carries a 75,000-mile treadwear warranty but was able to go 90,0000 miles before needing replacement in one long-term test. Because this is a newer model, owner reviews are fairly limited, but what feedback exists is mostly good, and the model it replaces earned positive marks from both experts and owners. While diehard driving enthusiasts may not get the thrill that a true performance tire delivers, less aggressive daily drivers should be quite pleased with this luxury tire's capabilities. Continental tires also come with upgraded service perks, like 3 years of complimentary flat-tire roadside assistance and replacements should tires be damaged on the road within the first 12 months.
Outstanding tread life, according to owners.
Very good handling in wintry conditions.
Low road noise.
Won't satisfy drivers looking for a true performance tire.
Pricier than standard all-season tires.
If you're looking for an ultra-high performance all-season tire and the price tag on our top performance tire, the Michelin Pilot Sport A/S 3+, is a little hard to swallow, experts and drivers say you won't sacrifice too much by opting instead for the BFGoodrich g-Force COMP-2 A/S. Like other performance tires, the Goodrich carries a W (168 mph) or Y (186 mph) speed rating depending on size, and handling is strong and controlled under all weather conditions, including wet and winter driving. The 45,000-mile treadwear warranty is typical for this class, and reviews indicate it should easily meet or even beat that mark. Testers at Tire Rack say "some noticeable tread growl is always present," but, as long as you don't mind road noise that's a little louder than the norm, the bang that's offered for the buck — and the balance of responsiveness and grip — is pretty impressive.
Outstanding handling under all road conditions, according to professional testers.
One of the better performers in this class on snow and ice.
Strong reviews from experts and owners alike.
Not great for fuel economy.
More road noise than some other tires in this category.
The Michelin Pilot Sport A/S 3+ is the most expensive tire we reviewed, but for the price it delivers just about everything a performance-oriented driver demands, reviewers say —including W and Y speed ratings in its different sizes. In professional closed-track tests, handling and braking is at the top of the charts on dry pavement and nearly as good in wet and wintry conditions. And this tire should have no issues meeting or even exceeding its 45,000-mile tread life warranty, according to long-term tests. Drivers adore the Pilot Sport A/S 3+, rating it tops in Tire Rack's large consumer survey, with professional testers there saying it "sets the bar for performance from an all-season tire." In fact, experts across the board struggle to find anything bad to say to balance out the accolades bestowed upon these Michelin tires.
Solid traction, handling, and braking under all conditions.
Strong winter performance.
Best in its class in Tire Rack track tests.
Good tread life.
Exceptionally positive owner reviews.
Ride is too firm for some drivers.
Most costly tire we recommend.
Fuel efficiency is not the best.
Professional reviewers say the Atlas Force HP performs well for a tire in this speed class, especially considering its low price. These are high performance tires with a V speed rating, meaning they have a top limit of 149 mph and are designed for aggressive driving. The tires are responsive under wet and dry conditions, slightly less so in wintry weather but still decent. The 40,000-mile treadwear warranty is standard for performance all-season tires, and long-term road testing indicates that these Atlas tires should exceed that. The biggest drawback is that owner reviews for this tire are relatively few, as is the case with many cheap all-season tires, but expert assessments suggest most users would not be disappointed with this deal.
Very low price, especially for a performance tire.
Good handling in all weather conditions.
Designed for low rolling resistance and better gas mileage.
Noise and ride comfort is middling.
Limited driver feedback.
Other Products We Reviewed
General Altimax RT Review
This all-season tire offers excellent value for the money, according to General Altimax RT reviews at sites such as Walmart. Drivers who posted reviews of General Altimax RT tires at Tread Depot are likewise impressed, commenting on their quiet, soft ride. According to one post, the Altimax RT holds the road better than any other tire the driver has used, even in the rain; elsewhere users say the tire performs well in all types of winter driving conditions. Some drivers demur, however, saying performance in slush, snow, and ice aren't the tire's strong points. Overall, though, reviewers award it high marks for comfort and for the control drivers experience on both wet and dry roadways.
The General Altimax RT (starting at $63) features a UTQGS rating of 600-A-B (tread wear = 600, traction = A, temperature resistance = B). The manufacturer offers a treadwear warranty of 70,000 miles, and a self-described conservative driver who posted a review on a consumer products testing site says the tires are still going strong after almost 80,000 miles. The speed capacity is rated T, or 118 mph. In addition, this tire comes equipped with a replacement monitor that indicates when the tire's tread has worn down and a Visual Alignment Indicator to help identify when the tires should be realigned to better extend the tread life.
The General Altimax RT receives high praise from users as an all-season tire despite some assertions that it could do better in winter weather. While this may not be the best all-season option for drivers in regions where snow, ice, and cold bear down for months, it's an excellent choice for moderate climates and for drivers who switch to snow tires during the winter.
General Altimax Arctic Review
In reviews posted at several sites, drivers laud the General Altimax Arctic winter tire for its traction on ice, in light and packed snow, and on wet, slushy roads. Users who commented at Tire Rack offer up superlatives about traction and grip, the sense of security, and the absence of aimless spinning on slick roads. A resident of New York State with a Saab 9-5 says driving in a few inches of snow is like driving on a clear road. General Altimax Arctic reviews at other sites concur, with posts at Tire Buyer going so far as to call these tires "life savers." A commuter in Chicago said he had these tires installed just before a foot of snow fell and then barreled through without any problems whatsoever.
The General Altimax Arctic (starting at $64) is a studdable winter tire for sedans, coupes, sports cars, and family vans. A Honda Accord driver notes that the metal studs provide welcome extra grip on slushy, icy, roads. (Tip: Before adding studs, check state and local regulations.) The maximum speed capacity is 99 mph, denoted by the letter Q.
The General Altimax Arctic seems to have no trouble handling all kinds of winter weather conditions. User reviews indicate that this is a smart buy for consumers on a budget.
Falken Sincera Touring SN211 Review
These all-season tires receive high praise in Falken Sincera Touring SN211 reviews. At 1010 Tires, drivers report the Sincera SN211 feels solid and grounded on the road, providing responsive steering on both wet and dry surfaces. One says it makes a world of difference in performance with an SUV and another deems it a better tire than the name brand that came with a Mustang. Several drivers ditto the Mustang owner in Falken Sincera Touring SN211 reviews at Vulcan Tire Sales, saying this model delivers better handling and better cornering and traction as well as a quieter ride than big-name tires it has replaced. A number of reviewers, however, say traction and braking falter on snow and ice. But in a show of trust, 95 percent of reviewers at this site indicate they would buy the product again.
The Falken Sincera Touring SN211 (starting at $77) is an all-season tire with a UTQGS rating of 720-A-B (tread wear = 720, traction = A, temperature resistance = B). The manufacturer offers a treadwear warranty of 80,000 miles, although some reviewers are skeptical, suggesting that driving only on straight, flat roads and minimizing braking, would hit that mark. The speed capacity is rated T, or 118 mph. Additional features include specialized indicators to let you know how much tread is left on the tire .
The Falken Sincera Touring SN211 was introduced in 2009 and user response has been very positive. This is a solid all-season tire that performs well on both dry pavement and wet roads.
The Michelin X-Ice Xi3 is a studless winter tire that claims a following for its utility on dry and wet roads contrary to the usual limitations of snow tires in these conditions. Most Michelin X-Ice Xi3 reviews at Tire Rack laud the responsiveness on-road and off (as in country mud). Of the four winter tires tested by the review site's experts, the Michelin X-Ice Xi3 scored highest for "road manners" regardless whether the surface was dry or wet. This tire also rates well with reviewers for the quality of the ride, although a few note it can seem a bit loud on the highway.
Many drivers say the X-Ice Xi3 (starting at $72) rolls securely over snow; one from North Dakota with a V8 Mustang insists it is among the best tire he has used, adding that the only insurmountable challenge was snow higher than the wheel wells. However, a minority dismiss the X-Ice Xi3's claim to winter-tire capabilities. Over at 1010 Tires, for example, some posts critique its sloppiness in slush and on ice, with one review likening the road feel to having slippery carpets underneath the wheels.
The Michelin X-Ice Xi3 is a studless ice and snow tire for sedans, coupes, and family vans. Its maximum speed capacity is rated T, or 118 mph. It comes with a 40,000-mile treadwear warranty, something you don't often find on a winter tire.
Despite what seem to be some limitations on ice and slush, the X-Ice Xi3 admirably handles packed and deep snow. This is a good choice for drivers in states that restrict the use of metal studs or in regions hit with occasional heavy snowfalls.
Terms such as unsafe, risky, and "scary dangerous" appear in Goodyear Wrangler ST reviews. At Tire Rack, for example, one driver of a Jeep Liberty says these all-season tires feel safe only at low speeds. In other Goodyear Wrangler ST reviews, a Chevrolet Silverado owner worries about driving in the rain and another driver says the slightest slippery patch sends a Jeep Grand Cherokee sliding across the road.
Drivers veer into nearby territory with Goodyear Wrangler ST reviews at 1010 Tires, calling them horrible, garbage, and the loudest they've ever owned. These tires are not suitable for any kind of winter weather, the posts continue, and one driver reports that they fail to scale even the slightest snow-covered incline. Other reviews report blowouts, punctures, flats, and poor treadwear.
Although some reviewers express satisfaction with this tire, many assert they need replacement in short order, thereby eliminating any cost savings from the budget price.
The Goodyear Wrangler ST (starting at $73) sometimes comes as original equipment on light trucks and SUVs. Its UTQGS rating is 340-B-B (tread wear = 340, traction = B, temperature resistance = B). It has a speed rating of S, or 112 mph.
Given the proliferation of negative reviews posted by drivers, we can only conclude that another all-season tire would be a far better choice.
Hankook Icebear W300 Review
While some drivers are pleased with the performance of Hankook Icebear W300 winter tires, many reviews express disappointment with the traction on ice and in the snow. A Hankook Icebear W300 review at About.com cites an assessment by the Canadian Automobile Protection Association that claims this tire is not "optimized" for roads covered in winter-style precipitation. Reports posted at 1010 Tires seem to corroborate that conclusion, noting problems with road grip when temperatures dip below 15 degrees Fahrenheit, sliding when cornering on snow, and mishaps such as being stranded in deep snow. One driver shares a longing for the car's all-season tires after a post-snowstorm road trip with the Hankook Icebear W300s, and some owners fret that the tread wears out before even reaching 10,000 miles.
Other reviews, however, say traction is just fine regardless of weather conditions and icy hills pose no particular challenge. Hankook Icebear W300 reviews award this tire points for a quiet ride.
The Hankook Icebear W300 (starting at $186) is a studless winter tire with a maximum speed capacity of 130 mph, signified by the letter H on the sidewall.
Based on user reviews, the Hankook Icebear W300 seems to perform well enough on dry and wet roads, but poorly when faced with the conditions it is meant to vanquish. Dependable performance on ice and snow is exactly what a prospective buyer wants in a winter tire. This model just doesn't cut it.
The consensus opinion is that these tires are a real value for the money.
Thousands of 5-star reviews and top rating from consumer product experts.
Drivers rave about an unusually smooth and extremely quiet ride, responsive handling, and long-lasting tread.
Drivers describe a welcome feeling of safety as the tires track the road and brake without slipping on wet surfaces.
Generous 90,000-mile limited treadwear warranty.
Some drivers say snow traction is a tad less dependable.
A few report disappointing treadwear, despite high grade of 820.
The Cooper CS5 Grand Touring tire more than holds its own against the budget competition.
A firm grip on wet and dry roads and excellent cornering make these tires good for emergency maneuvers, according to expert testing.
Consumer reviewers comment on the good road feel, quiet ride, and quick and easy acceleration.
80,000-mile limited treadwear warranty.
Braking on ice is poor, expert testers found.
Some drivers report rapid treadwear.
This is a reliable tire for nearly all driving conditions.
Designed to boost fuel economy, reduce road noise and uneven treadwear, and provide dependable traction.
Long tread life, easy handling, solid braking, quiet and comfortable ride, and sturdy performance in wet and dry conditions, according to reviews.
Fans consider this a high-value improvement over other brands they’ve tried, including upmarket tires and the ones that came on their cars.
Generous limited treadwear warranty of 85,000 miles.
Some consumers and experts warn of mediocre braking on wet and icy surfaces.
Despite the extremely low price tag, these tires fall short as a value buy.
Very modest price.
Unusually low 40,000-mile limited treadwear warranty.
Low treadwear grade of 440 assigned by the company.
Relatively positive user feedback but few reviews compared with hundreds for the best cheap all-season tires.
The Hankook Optimo H724 is a reasonable choice for run-of-the-mill driving needs.
Decent scores for comfort and performance on wet and dry roads.
Some drivers say the tires provide a quiet, stable, and smooth ride, slice through puddles, and hold the road.
70,000-mile treadwear warranty.
Drivers assess winter and snow performance as fair overall.
Treadwear grade of only 500.
Some reviewers complain about noise and sliding when cornering.
The entry-level model in Goodyear’s family of Assurance tires doesn’t measure up to the best in class but serves its purpose well.
Above-average ratings from reviewers.
Many drivers report good traction under all conditions and riding comfort.
Fared relatively well on steering responsiveness in comparative expert testing.
Some reviewers report weakness on wet and wintry roads.
Experts detect a bit of rough and tumble in the ride.
65,000-mile limited treadwear warranty, compared with at least 75,000 for our top picks.
Drivers seeking a dependable tire priced near the bottom of the budget zone could give the Kumho Solus TA11 a whirl.
Holds up well in comparative tests for road noise, braking, and turning.
Drivers say they are satisfied with the tire’s overall performance and longevity.
75,000-mile limited treadwear warranty.
Some drivers are unimpressed with the winter traction.
Experts report noticeable surface roughness.
Some sloppiness in steering responsiveness.
Needs firmer grip on wet roads.
Run flats (tires that can continue to be used for a limited number of miles after a puncture or loss of air pressure) don't generally get terrific reviews from experts or owners, but if you have a car that lacks a spare, or you want the added convenience and safety of not having to fix a flat while on the road, Bridgestone DriveGuards are one of the better options, reviewers say; in fact, the company developed the first full line of replacement run-flat tires. On the plus side, this tire is a very good performer on dry and wet roads, and it delivers an exceptionally quiet ride. Testing found it to be good on snow and ice, as well, although Tire Rack users rate its performance in winter weather conditions only "fair." The treadwear warranty isn't particularly long, just 60,000 miles — and testing indicates that these tires might struggle to meet even that threshold — but coverage is still fairly generous considering that some run-flat tires offer no treadwear warranty at all. These Bridgestone tires carry H, W or V speed ratings, so they're compatible with a wide range of vehicles.
Can drive up to 50 miles (at 50 mph) after a flat.
Very good traction on dry and wet roads.
Comparatively little road noise.
Additional 1-year warranty for damage due to road hazards.
Relatively poor handling on snow and ice.
Designed for sports cars and luxury performance sedans, the Continental ExtremeContact Sport carries W and Y speed ratings, meaning they can reach top speeds of 186 mph. Testing verifies that handling is exceptional on wet and dry surfaces, and driver reviews put the ExtremeContact Sport in the top tier of summer performance tires. The treadwear warranty is comparatively short at 30,000 miles, but long-term road testing by MotoIQ found that tread life is notably improved from the Continental ExtremeContact DW which it replaces. A small step below the very best summer tires, such as the Michelin Pilot Sport 4S (starting around $181; Buy them at Tire Rack), but a big step below them in price, these Continental tires are a great value buy for driving enthusiasts. Just keep in mind, these are three-season tires, not all-season, so they are not intended to be driven on snow and ice. Unless you live in warmer climes, you'll have to swap them out for snow tires during the winter months.
Good performance on wet roads.
Responsive and reliable handling at high speeds, according to road testers at Car and Driver.
Covered by Continental's "Total Confidence Plan," which includes 3 years complimentary flat-tire roadside assistance and replacements for damage within the first 12 months.
Not suitable for driving in wintry conditions.
Harsher ride than other tires, according to Tire Rack testing.
Relatively short treadwear warranty.