Best Cheap All Season Tires 2020 (Under $100)


Sometimes car mechanics jokingly refer to tires as the most important component on a vehicle, and we’re here to tell you – with a completely straight face – that it’s true. Not only do tires affect handling and speed, but they also affect more subtle driving characteristics like comfort, interior noise, and fuel economy. Most importantly, tires can affect safety in enormous ways. Either positively, by helping maintain control in dangerous situations, or negatively, by being prone to blowouts and damage. So it’s absolutely vital to do your due diligence before ordering a new set.

All season tires are the biggest product line in the industry, as they are designed to perform well in a broad range of conditions. With our lineup, we’ve worked hard to select the best all season tires for this year under $100.

Features to Consider in a Set of All Season Tires

Tire Size

Check your owner’s manual to see exactly what diameter wheel comes stocked with your car. When you buy a tire, make sure that you get a model with the proper wheel diameter and other specifications that your vehicle requires. In the U.S., wheel diameter is typically listed in inches.

Driving Performance

Just driving around town, the most apparent characteristic of the tires will simply be how they drive. How do the brakes feel? Do you have traction when cornering and accelerating? Comfort and stability should also be taken into account when evaluating performance.

Keep in mind that all season tires are not meant to be perfect from a driver’s standpoint, as they’re optimized for lifespan and all-weather conditions. So if the tire feels a little duller than what you’re accustomed to, it’s because the manufacturer is trying to account for all conditions in just a single tire.

Inclement Weather Performance

Tire performance can be notably affected by adverse weather, and different tires are optimized for different driving conditions. Depending on what type of climate you live in, you should pay particular attention to how a tire performs in snow or rain.

Some tires on this list make sacrifices elsewhere to eke out performance advantages in rain or snow. Although those who live in warm, dry climates might not need to look for a tire with good bad-weather performance, if you live in an area that frequently gets snow and/or rain, make sure to get a tire that’s designed to function in all conditions.

Highway Driving

If you drive long distances at high speeds, it’s important to understand what characteristics your tires will have under highway conditions. Above 55 mph, two main driving characteristics are generally affected: comfort and noise. We’ve evaluated each tire on these performance features, so if you frequently drive many miles on the highway, make sure you’re seeking out a tire that performs in demanding high-speed situations.


Treadwear is the word used to describe how many miles a tire will last on the road until it needs to be replaced. This usually has a negative correlation with performance, as higher-performance rubber is softer, and therefore wears out faster.

Many larger tire brands will offer a treadwear warranty as an incentive to purchase their products. This number will let you see the potential expected life of a particular tire. If your tread wears out, necessitating replacement before the promised mileage, the manufacturer will refund the purchase price of the tire.

Some manufacturers have more comprehensive warranties that cover the workmanship of the tire and will refund you if the product has any defects. Others include a uniformity warranty, which covers any unusual vibration or noise. We’ll address these warranties on a case-by-case basis.

Best Cheap All Season Tires 2020 (Under $100)

1. Vercelli Strada 2 All Season Tire

Why we like it: With a low profile and an emphasis on performance in both wet and dry conditions, the Vercelli Strada also offers great durability and fuel efficiency.

Editor’s Rating:

Tire Size: 16 inches to 22 inches

Topping our list is the Vercelli Strada, an all-round, all season pick that places an emphasis on excellent performance. The tire is made of rubber with a high silica content, which gives it low rolling resistance that contributes to great fuel efficiency. Simultaneously, the rubber compound delivers better grip, which aids in braking and steering performance.

The design of the tread itself is oriented towards high-speed stability. The tire has a channel in the middle, branded as a ‘center rib format.’ The tire also has ‘siping’, which is a factory process that puts shallow, visible cutouts into the rubber. This increases traction in wet conditions. Overall, the tread design helps with steady rolling at high speeds, and the sipes contribute to performance in suboptimal conditions. The tire also offers a very quiet ride, so it’s a great pick for drivers doing a lot of highway miles.

Handling is fantastic and the tires grip the road well during sharp, fast turns. The one area this tire is lacking is wintery conditions—while the rubber is great for handling in normal circumstances, the rubber is too hard to function at a maximum capacity during the winter. This might challenge the all season category, but we think this tire holds up good enough, as the performance is still above average for an all season tire even in winter.

A whole set can be bought for well under $300, so while they’re at a mid-range price for this list, they’re well below average for all tires. We like the low profile of the rubber itself, and we think it contributes to a great aesthetic. If you care about looks, you’ll like these.

Vercelli offers a no-questions-asked, free-replacement limited protection policy. If their tires become unusable due to the fault of the manufacturer within the first year, the tire will be replaced with a brand new Vercelli. Usable life expectancy for these tires is 45,000 miles, which is a little below average for this list.

  • Great handling
  • Good for highway use
  • Good fuel efficiency
  • High silica content rubber
  • So-so winter handling
  • Life expectancy is slightly lower than average

2. Westlake All Season RP18 Radial Tire

Why we like it: A best-selling tire which is great for smaller vehicles, we love this set for its remarkable tread life. The best part? You can pick up four of them for under $200 bucks.

Editor’s Rating:

Tire Size: 13 inches to 16 inches

Westlake is a small manufacturer distributed by the U.S.-based TireCo Inc. In the All Season RP18, they pursue the touring tire market, which is a segment of the market targeted at commuters and long-distance drivers. Some of the great features on this particular model are its minimal road noise, good comfort, and excellent wet grip.

The company used a symmetrical tread pattern when creating this tire. It is designed with four grooves running around the entire circumference. These grooves are optimized for even tread wear, which will help you maximize the tire’s life expectancy. The grooves also contribute to the tire’s excellent performance in both wet and snowy conditions. In fact, one of this tire’s strongest features is its rainy weather performance. Those who drive frequently in wet conditions should consider this tire, although we also liked the Travelstar UN33 for its great performance in the rain.

Wet weather grip translates across somewhat to snowy performance, and these tires handle moderately well in icy and snowy conditions, although they still don’t perform as well as a true winter tire. One small issue with this tire is its tendency to lose tire pressure a bit quicker than other models, but not by much. It just means you’ll have to check the PSI a little more often. Fuel efficiency is about average. Without a doubt, the number one benefit is price, and for most sizes you can pick up a full set for well under $200.

The Westlake RP 18 has an average life expectancy of about 55,000 miles. For the inexpensive price, we think this is fantastic. Just three sets will take you all the way to the average life expectancy of a car. While we anticipate a slightly longer lifespan, the warranty guarantees 45,000 hassle-free miles.

  • Great wet weather grip
  • Excellent snowy weather performance
  • Good Comfort
  • Very economical price
  • Loses tire pressure faster than other models
  • Moderate snow performance

3. Ohtsu FP7000 All Season Radial Tire

Why we like it: A Japanese brand with a reputation for quality produces a long-wearing tire with bi-directional tread and a great hydroplaning resistance.

Editor’s Rating:

Tire Size: 14 inches to 19 inches

The Ohtsu FP7000 is an excellent performing tire that is priced affordably. While most budget-oriented tires are produced in China, this set is made in Japan, and the brand itself has a reputation for high quality. The tire has built-in treadwear indicators.

The tread itself is non-directional, which means the tire can function effectively no matter which way it is mounted. Due to this non-directionality, when the tires are rotated, they can be rotated in either direction. Since tires wear unevenly, multiple rotation patterns help to maximize life expectancy. This non-directionality does make some compromises with tread design, and thus it has poor winter weather performance.

On the outside edge of the tire there are v-shaped grooves, and on the inside edge is the same pattern pointing the other way. The grooves in the tire and the rubber used help reduce tread turbulence, which in turn provides a smooth and quiet ride. The grooves are particularly deep for an all season tire, which also yields increased traction in rainy conditions, making the tire particularly resistant to hydroplaning.

This tire is designed with specific size constraints in mind, so it’s important you buy the proper fit for your wheel and car. If you try to make this tire run on an inappropriately sized wheel, you risk the potential of a blowout. Although tread life is good, the quality of the rubber is less than stellar and there is often premature cracking of the tire surface.

Life expectancy is quoted at the wide range of 35,000 to 80,000 miles. Ohtsu offers a tread warranty that is backed by its parent company. They also guarantee tire uniformity with no unusual noise or vibration – for the first 2/32 inches of wear. They guarantee materials and workmanship free from defects for the first year or 2/32 inches as well.

  • Non-directional tire tread
  • Built-in wear indicators
  • Smooth and quiet ride
  • Hydroplane resistant
  • Sub-par rubber quality
  • Poor performance in winter weather

4. Goodyear Wrangler Radial Tire

Why we like it: With a slightly more aggressive tread, this light pickup/SUV oriented all season option offers confident handling in all conditions.

Editor’s Rating:

Tire Size: 15 inches to 17 inches

Most picks we have in our lineup are made for passenger sedans. This tire is unique for going after the all season market in a different category, pickups and light trucks. For this reason, they come in bigger sizes and those who drive smaller cars should look elsewhere. If you’re looking for a great option for smaller, performance-oriented vehicles, check out the Goodyear Eagle.

The Goodyear Wrangler utilizes two layers of kevlar between a steel center belt in its construction to add stiffness and support. This creates a rigid tire, which improves handling, but comes with the downside of decreased comfort and elevated noise.

Wet handling is a big consideration for this tire as well, and performance is stellar for low-speed driving in the rain. At highway speeds, though, the tires begin to falter in the wet. Even in dry conditions, they struggle to maintain highway speeds. You can also see this manifest itself in the mileage per gallon, and you might notice a drop in highway miles per tank after installing a set.

Although it’s technically an all season tire, this rubber maintains a connection to its off-road roots by utilizing an aggressive tread that optimizes traction. It’s by no means a tire meant for off-pavement use, but it does offer more traction than other all season models. This thick tread also helps with winter weather performance; this is the tire on our list that does best in snow and ice.

These tires are rated for 50,000 miles but that number can be affected by speed, how often you monitor the pressure, and what kind of surfaces you normally drive on. Considering that most drivers who choose this tire might be driving fewer highway miles, you might see a longer lifespan.

  • Aggressive tread
  • Excellent traction
  • Good snow and ice performance
  • Noisy
  • Less comfortable
  • Bad performance at high speeds

5. Cooper Evolution Tour

Why we like it: Cooper, a manufacturer with a reputation for quality, produces a decent tire that will happily roll along for a minimum of 60,000 miles.

Editor’s Rating:

Tire Size: 14 inches to 18 inches

Cooper is a storied tire manufacturer, with over 100 years in business and a well-earned reputation in racing. That’s not to say these tires are meant for Daytona, though—the Cooper Evolution is firmly a touring model meant to hold up during extended use. In fact, all sizes are guaranteed to at least 60,000 miles.

Even though Cooper has an emphasis on racing, this tire is far from the best performing in our group. The tread is relatively shallow and mostly meant for road use. Steering is mediocre, although more than adequate for most city driving. Fuel efficiency is good due to the low relief profile of the tires.

Although the Cooper Evolution lacks in sport performance, the manufacturer still places a strong emphasis on safety considerations. Braking is great and rain performance is more than adequate due to the tire’s hydroplane-resistant design. Running the tires in the snow is fine, but if you live in a climate that gets more than a couple of inches per year, you might want to consider buying a set of winter tires to supplement this set.

Where this tire really begins to excel is during long-term use. The 3D micro-gauge tread is specifically designed for even wear, which will keep the tire working effectively and consistently even above 60,000 miles. The compound of the tire emphasizes both fuel efficiency and durability, although ride noise and comfort in highway conditions isn’t fantastic. Depending on exactly which size you purchase, the tire is guaranteed to between 60,000 and 65,000 miles.

At the end of the day, longevity is what makes these tires worth it. You’ll pay a little more, with each set costing around $300 depending on the size you choose, but in terms of miles per dollar, you’ll be hard-pressed to find a better option.

While most sizes are guaranteed to 60,000 miles minimum, some versions are warrantied to 65,000 miles. There’s a uniformity warranty for the first 2/32 inches of wear, but unfortunately, no official warranty protecting owners from defects.

  • Incredible longevity
  • Tread promotes even wear
  • Fuel efficient
  • Poor sporty performance
  • Higher price point

6. Milestar MS932 Sport All Season Radial Tire

Why we like it: The Milestar MS932 is a good option for full-size sedan and crossover owners that are looking for a sportier option.

Editor’s Rating:

Tire Size: 14 inches to 20 inches

The Milestar MS932 is a sportier touring option meant to provide a tire with a long life span for performance sedans. These tires can also be installed on a small crossover for those looking to get a performance-oriented ride in a small SUV.

The tread is optimized for performance and water dispersion, and this tire does well in all conditions, maintaining traction and turning performance in the wet and in the dry. Wide grooves around the circumference of the tire help avoid hydroplaning and keep the car stable at highway speeds.

One thing we didn’t see other manufacturers pay attention to was aerodynamics. They utilized principles of airflow when they designed the surface, as well as the curvature of the tire itself, in order to help maximize efficiency. These features make the Milestar MS932 one of the most fuel-efficient tires in the bunch, and those looking to save gas will be well served by this option. While it comes in a wide variety of sizes, it also comes in three speed variations, each which is rated for progressively faster highway driving. Purchasing your tire based on your planned driving speed will also help you save at the pump.

Snow is an issue here; the fuel-saving rubber doesn’t work well in snow and becomes almost undriveable on ice. These tires are rated to a higher tire pressure, so the extra inflation doesn’t help either. At the end of the day, though, if you’re driving in a warmer climate this set of rubber will save gas while delivering extra performance—just don’t take them skiing.

As a touring tire, this set is guaranteed to a higher mileage, in this case rolling all the way up to a mileage warranty of 50,000 miles. That’s a long haul.

  • 50,000-mile warranty
  • Excellent fuel efficiency
  • Hydroplane resistance
  • Good traction in wet and dry conditions
  • Poor snow performance
  • Almost undriveable on ice

7. Uniroyal Tire Paw AWP II

Why we like it: The Uniroyal Tire Paw is a high-performing tire that will last, although the cost is substantial.

Editor’s Rating:

Tire Size: 14 inches to 22 inches

A subsidiary of the famed manufacturer Michelin, Uniroyal has been producing midrange offerings alongside the industry giant since 1990. Their focus is on the budget side of mainstream offerings, but their access to Michelin’s engineering and supply chain means that they can produce fantastically featured options at lower prices than competitors.

This brings us to the Tiger Paw AWP II. AWP here stands for ‘All-Weather Performance,’ and it’s true—the Tiger Paw maintains good grip and braking even in rainy and snowy conditions. This is thanks to a combination of the thickly grooved tread and the type of rubber used, which adds silica and carbon black to create a durable yet grippy compound. The mix of components yields a slightly softer tread, which is grippy but more susceptible to wear.

The tire is great for highway driving, it has remarkable noise dampening properties and gives a comfortable ride. Our only major complaint is the price tag. Four of these tires will set you back around $400, which sounds pretty steep next to a great budget tire like the Westlake RP 18. That being said, these tires are guaranteed to 75,000 miles, which tops our list.

Uniroyal’s mileage guarantee for the Tire Paw is number one on our list at 75,000 whopping miles. They also offer a uniformity warranty for the first 25% of the tire’s life, and a 45-day test drive policy.

  • Good grip and braking
  • Great for highway driving
  • 75,000-mile guarantee
  • 45-day test drive policy
  • Premium price

8. Travelstar UN33 All Season Tire

Why we like it: Finally, an all season tire that delivers decent performance in adverse conditions and inclement weather at a low price point.

Editor’s Rating:

Tire Size: 16 inches to 20 inches

The Travelstar UN33 is a high end, road-capable tire that maintains good performance in adverse conditions. This means that you can use it for day-to-day driving, but it will also function if you need to do some light driving on dirt, gravel, or snow. It’s designated ‘P’ for passenger vehicles, but we also see it being a good fit for crossovers and small SUVs. The tread pattern is asymmetrical, which helps with grip, braking, and wet weather.

Speaking of inclement weather, this tire functions fantastically in rain and snow. It’s still nowhere near a winter tire or an offroad-specific tire, but for maintaining mostly all season characteristics, this is one of the most versatile options. We’d recommend it to drivers located in rural settings and northern climates.

The rubber itself is relatively hard—this tire accomplishes its impressive multi-surface, multi-condition performance solely utilizing tread design. It’s still important to be aware that you’re driving an all season tire, but you can definitely get away with more than is typical on this set.

The cons here are typical for a tire with a more aggressive design. They wear out a bit quicker than average, and they’re both less comfortable and noisier than road-exclusive options. Lastly, fuel economy is worsened due to the thick profile of the tread. They come in at a mid-range price, well below $100 per tire, which is cheap but not quite in the same category as the least expensive offerings.

It’s disappointing that these tires are only guaranteed to 40,000 miles, but keep in mind the benefits of the all-round tread. Sacrifices have to be made somewhere, and this is where you pay the price of excellent all season handling even off road. Unfortunately, there’s no uniformity guarantee, nor is there a workmanship and materials warranty.

  • Great poor-weather performance
  • Good for northern climates
  • Better in all-terrain conditions
  • Excellent handling
  • Poor tire lifespan
  • Noisy
  • Less comfortable

9. Westlake SA07

Why we like it: Westlake earns a second entry on our list, offering a long-wearing, performance-oriented option for under $300 per set.

Editor’s Rating:

Tire Size: 16 inches to 20 inches

Westlake continues to expand its presence across the all season market with its latest offering, the SA07. With this tire, Westlake goes after a slightly different niche than with their other offering, the Westlake All Season RP18. While that tire is labeled a standard touring tire, offering good all-around performance at a budget price point, this tire is labeled in the performance touring category, with touring characteristics along with a performance vibe. You’ll feel this extra capability on the road and in your wallet; the tires typically come in at around $300 for a full set, depending on what size you need.

The SA07s still have one foot firmly in the touring category, offering excellent noise control and comfort on the highway. These features come by way of a slightly softer rubber, although this means long-term durability is compromised. But that’s to be expected with a sportier tire, and this set will still get you a guaranteed 45,000 miles.

Some of the performance features touted by Westlake are increased lateral stability and traction. The tire has a thick groove in the middle which helps the tire remain planted and will increase stability at both low and high speed. Traction comes courtesy of the fantastic tread and the horizontal sipes (factory-made cuts in the rubber) that help with grip during acceleration, cornering, and braking.

While these tires make some performance improvements on the first Westlake offering, we don’t feel like the price jump up is necessarily worth it unless you’re doing lots of highway driving in a more performance-oriented sedan. But for someone doing plenty of miles in a sporty car, this is a better-performing touring option that won’t break the bank.

All Westlake tires are guaranteed to 45,000 miles, but often you can get another 5,000 – 10,000 miles out of a set quite safely. Due to the soft rubber of these tires, the SA07s will probably fall short before the 50,000-mile mark.

  • Excellent for sportier vehicles
  • Good traction
  • Noise control
  • Comfort on highway
  • So-so durability
  • Price jump from comparable models

10. Goodyear Eagle RS-A Radial Tire

Why we like it: The Goodyear Eagle does a great job at creating a high-performance, all season tire, although they focus more on performance than adverse conditions.

Editor’s Rating:

Tire Diameter: 15 inches to 20 inches

Although this is one of the best performing tires in demanding circumstances available, it makes some sacrifices with its bad weather performance to get there. The tire is targeted at drivers of sportier coupes and high-end sedans, but there’s definitely still a practical side to this rubber. It offers predictable handling while being fun to put through the paces. The soft tire shoulder offers an increased cornering grip. It’s also classified as a touring tire, which means it’s meant to last for thousands of miles.

The construction of the tire is asymmetrical, so the outside edge looks different than the inside edge. This means that it’s a unidirectional tire, so make sure to be aware of that when during installations and rotations. Ride quality is fantastic and this tire helps keep the cabin very comfortable during drives. As far as road noise is concerned, this rubber is notably louder than many other offerings, but not so loud that it’s a nuisance.

The only issues with this tire come during inclement weather. Goodyear did design the tire with wide lateral grooves in the tread pattern for wet traction, but these tires don’t perform nearly as well as others on this list do in the damp. If you’re in a climate with frequent rain, consider a set of Westlake All Season tires, which are our top pick for wet weather. Snow performance is the same, and these are designed for just a little bit of light snow, nothing more. All in all, we think this tire is a great option for those driving sportier vehicles in milder climates.

There’s no mileage guarantee on the treads of these tires, but you can expect to get about 40,000 miles, a little below average for this category. Goodyear does offer a generous six-year free replacement policy for workmanship and materials, even if the defects become apparent after a long time. They also guarantee uniformity of the tire for up to a year.

  • Excellent performance in dry conditions
  • Designed for cornering grip
  • Durable touring tire
  • Wide lateral grooves
  • Poor performance in rain
  • Louder than other offerings

11. SUPERMAX TM-1 All Season Radial Tire

Why we like it: The SUPERMAX TM-1 is an inexpensive tire that embraces practicality, with an emphasis on fuel economy, longevity, and safety.

Editor’s Rating:

Tire Size: 13 inches to 18 inches

Another all season touring offering in our list, you’re guaranteed to get an excellent lifespan out of these long-wearing tires. The set has an extended mileage warranty, and the design of the tire all but assures your tire will last even beyond the quoted mileage. They come at a fair price, too, with a whole set costing just about $200.

The company that makes this tire, Horizon, also cites safety as a strong emphasis on this product. They accomplish their goal by creating a tread that is meant to provide even wear, good braking performance, and blowout resistance. The tires wear evenly, especially when they are taken care of, rotated frequently, and their air pressure is monitored.

The downside here comes in terms of performance. The steering feels slightly sloppy and sluggish, especially at speed. The tires are simply not designed for exacting, demanding drivers. And that’s ok—this tire is for a different crowd. Although you won’t be taking these out to the track anytime soon, it’s not like they’re a nightmare to drive on. For just getting around town, this set is fine.

Rain and snow performance is average, but not anything to write home about. This tire also comes in a whopping 42 versions, so you’re all but guaranteed to find the size that you need for your sedan or small car.

This tire stands out in terms of durability, and it’s guaranteed for 50,000 miles and 5 years. They also have a standard warranty that protects from defects in workmanship and materials in the first year of use. No guarantee for tire uniformity, though, so if you end up with a vibration or a noisy tire, you’re on your own.

  • Wide variety of sizes
  • Excellent mileage warranty
  • Bargain price
  • Sloppy handling at speed
  • No tire uniformity warranty

Guide to Buying the Best Cheap All Season Tires Under $100 for 2020

When buying a tire, especially online, it’s important to make sure that whatever rubber you buy will be compatible with your vehicle and needs. The guide below will help you identify which tires have the features you need as well as what you’ll need to look out for when purchasing online.

How to Read a Tire Code

Every tire sold in the U.S. has a prominent label on the sidewall (the part of tire facing outward) that tells you everything you need to know to find the right rubber. For most of the tires on our list, which are meant for passenger vehicles, that designation will start with a ‘P,’ for passenger, but some consumer vehicles will have a code that starts with ‘L.T.’ for Light Truck. Commercial vehicles need tires with other designations.

Tire Size Codes

Every tire installed must be the right size for your vehicle. A properly sized tire will make sure that the load of the car is equally distributed over the transmission and other driveline parts, that your speedometer will be accurate, and that your tires won’t rub on the wheel well or suspension components.

There are two places you can find the proper tire size: the car manual and the placard on the drivers-side door jamb. In either case, this section will be labeled ‘Tire and loading information.’ Regulations also state that tire size has to be displayed on the tire itself.

To simplify sizing, a standard code is used. This code is nine digits total: a letter (typically P), three digits, followed by a slash, two digits, the letter R, and two more numbers. The code will look something like this: P215/55R17. You should, if possible, match all of these numbers and letters exactly to make sure you’re purchasing the right tire size. You can read a little bit more about what those numbers and letters signify here.

DOT Codes

Along with the standard code that allows consumers to determine the size of their tire, all US-sold rubber comes with a 10 to 13 digit code that is mostly used by the manufacturer. This code is not necessarily helpful in the purchase of a tire, but it’s nice for ownership purposes to know what it means

The trick to locating this code is finding the letters ‘DOT’ that precede its 13 digits. DOT stands for ‘Department of Transportation,’ the government department that traces and tracks all tires available for purchase on the American market. The code is broken down into four parts:

  • Plant Code: The first 2-3 digits identify the factory that a tire comes from. Every manufacturer’s plant has a unique code that can identify the exact origin of a tire. This part of the code is predominantly used by regulators. If a particular tire has repeated failures, the plant can be identified and the problem can be addressed. You won’t need to pay much attention to this part of the code.
  • Tire Size: The next two digits represent tire size. But this code isn’t used by consumers, it’s mostly used for manufacturers in case they need to perform a recall. For your sizing purposes, you can use the wheel diameter and tire width from the consumer tire code.
  • Manufacturer Identity Number: Each manufacturer uses a different 3-4 digit code to identify the specific model of the tire.
  • Date Code: The last four digits are the only numbers that a driver needs to focus on, as they tell you the age of the tire. The first two numbers identify the week of manufacture (01 is the first week of January, 52 is the last week of December). The second two numbers are the year of manufacture (20 would mean the tire was manufactured in 2020). For example, if the last four digits of the code read 1219, it would mean the tire was made during the 12th week of 2019.

Drivers are sometimes hesitant to buy inexpensive rubber, but regulations mandate that every set of tires meets extremely rigorous scrutiny from governmental regulators—every tire available for purchase today, no matter how cheap, meets a minimum requirement for weight, width, and tread. For new tires, the only thing that might cause a problem is purchasing a tire that doesn’t match the weight of your car—tires can become dangerous when overloaded. Otherwise, any new tire you can purchase is certified by the government to be safe.

UTQG rating

As well as the DOT code, newer tires will have this code. It will give you an idea of the traction, treadwear, and temperature resistance of your tire. Collectively, these codes are referred to as the UTQG rating, which stands for Uniform Traction Quality Grade rating.

Treadwear is measured comparatively. A tire graded 200 should last twice as long as one graded 100. Traction is rated from AA to C, and temperature resistance is rated from A to C.

In short, the higher the code, the better quality your all season tires will be.

What If I’m Switching My Wheels and Tires at the Same Time?

If you’re switching out your wheels as well as purchasing new rubber, you should try to match the total diameter of the tire and wheel combo with the stock size. To help with that, you can use a tire size calculator like this one. As always, though, follow the recommendations of your car manufacturer.

When should I replace a tire?

There are a couple of cues that mean you’re due for a new set of tires. The most common conventional wisdom is the quarter test, in which you find a 25 cent coin and stick it, head side down, into the tread of the tire. If the tread covers the top of George Washington’s head, you still have enough rubber, but if you can see his forehead, it is probably time for a new set. The official measurement is 2/32 of an inch, but even if you’re getting close, it’s probably time to order a new set. In the past, tire companies have recommended doing this test with a penny, but recent tests show that using a one-cent coin to measure tire wear could lead to over-worn tires and poor wet-weather performance.

Depth is important, but the age of the rubber should be taken into account as well. On a really old set of tires, you might be able to visually see rubber decaying and cracking. On most tires though, you’ll need to check the DOT code to see the age. Look at the last two digits of the code, those are the last two digits of the year that the tire was manufactured. Regardless of mileage, tires should be replaced after 10 years. You’ll see some tires on cars long after that date, but it’s important for safety to replace the tire when the rubber is old—aged rubber is not safe to drive on and it is much more susceptible to a blowout.

Tire Rotation

Tire rotation is important to maximize safety and life expectancy of a particular tire. This maintenance step is meant to even out the wear patterns on the tire, as each tire deteriorates at a different rate based on which wheel its installed on. Front tires wear out much more rapidly than rear tires, but there are differences in wear time on each side of the vehicle as well.

Your tires should be rotated as often as the vehicle manufacturer recommends, or every 5,000-10,000 miles if a duration is not specified. A good general rule is to rotate your tires every other time you get your oil changed. It’s particularly important to pay attention to rotating tires when you have recently purchased a set, as fresher rubber is more susceptible to irregularities. If you don’t rotate on a regular schedule, you can void your tire warranty, so consider that as well.

Many oil-change stations offer the service as an add-on or included as part of your periodic maintenance schedule. This typically costs around $20 – $50. It’s well worth it and can increase the life expectancy of your tires by over 10,000 miles.

Tire Warranties

Most major tire companies offer warranties, but getting your money back in case of a product failure is a completely different story. You have to take care of your tires and abide by fairly strict terms and conditions in order to get a full refund. The most important thing to do is to obey the company’s maintenance schedule. Each company publishes a mileage range for every tire rotation, if you’re late on a rotation, your warranty will be voided.

Even if you don’t plan on seeking a refund, you can still use a tire warranty to give a rough estimate of expected mileage. Although you may have to meet strict requirements to cash in your warranty, you should expect a tire with a 75,000-mile guarantee to last much longer than a tire with a 40,000-mile guarantee. These warranties can be a shortcut to estimating mileage.

Directional vs Non-Directional Tires

There are two ways a tire tread can be designed: directionally or non-directionally.

A directional tread can only be mounted on a wheel in one direction. It’s designed to function exclusively facing that direction, and will perform poorly when facing the wrong way. Non-directional tires have asymmetrical designs that allow them to function the same no matter which way they are mounted. This increases the number of tire rotations you can perform on a given set.

Directional tires have better grip, braking, and performance than non-directional counterparts, but they can only be swapped from front to back. Non-directional tires can be rotated to any part of the vehicle, but they perform slightly worse on average. If you’re looking for performance, buy a directional tire, but if you’re looking to maximize tire life expectancy you should seek out a non-directional option.

Tire Compound

Manufacturers can do a couple of different things when designing rubber to adjust performance. The first consideration is rubber hardness. Softer rubbers perform better and offer better traction in adverse weather but wear out quickly. Hard rubber will last longer, but even if it has an aggressive tread, it doesn’t have the same traction as soft tires. Harder tires are also typically less comfortable and contribute to more cabin noise while driving.

Tire companies also use additives to rubber to adjust its properties. The main material used (besides rubber) is carbon black, which helps a tire keep its structure and protects it from U.V. radiation. Silica is also sometimes used to decrease rolling resistance, but it is usually only used in more expensive tires.

Can I Use All Season Tires During Winter?

The answer, in short, is yes. An all season tire will take you around town just fine on a well plowed, salted road. Where you run into trouble is fresh snow and icy conditions.

If you do live in a climate with snow, consider buying an all season tire that has a more aggressive tread. There are degrees of all season tires, and they all perform differently in wintery conditions. A pro tip: look for tires with softer rubber to perform better in snow. But at the end of the day, if you live in an area with very frequent snow, consider the pros of owning an extra set of tires.

Wrapping Up

All season tires are by far the most common type of tire on the market, and in recent years, the range of product offerings in this category has greatly expanded. Now that so many different types of all season tires are available, it’s easy to find something that suits your driving needs.

Before shopping, think about what you’re looking for. Do you prioritize safety? Highway driving? Speed? Fuel efficiency? A list of the qualities you’re looking for can help narrow down your choices. With most options now available on the internet for purchase, there’s never been a better time to look for a new set of rubber.