Tires on New Cars: Replace After 20,000 Miles?

Expensive car, inferior tires?

Expensive car, inferior tires?

I think car manufacturers and tire makers have a deal with each other. Here’s why:

I bought a 2007 Suzuki SX4 two years ago to serve as a commuter car. Today it has 22,000 miles on it, and last week I had to replace all four tires, because the front ones were nearly bald.

I figured I just had a case of bad luck and partly blamed myself, since I failed to rotate the tires on a regular basis. But the guy at the tire shop said he’s noticing a common trend: People are coming in for new tires with about 20,000 miles on the odometer. 

I got home and started searching online, and sure enough I found forums where people complain that their new cars need new tires after only 14,000 to 20,000 miles. A guy here made it 18,000 miles with a 2007 Lexus ES 350. Same thing here on a Mercedes GL450.

What’s the deal? Are car companies cutting costs by putting inferior OEM tires on their vehicles?

While I don’t doubt that could be a possibility, I think the bigger picture is a lack of proper tire maintenance. The guy who sold me the new tires for my Suzuki recommended having them rotated every 5,000 to 6,000 miles; maybe if I had done that in the first place the originals would’ve gone another 10K or so. 

Also, please keep an eye on your tire pressure. As temperatures rise, tires that were properly inflated in cold weather could suddenly be overinflated. Measure your tire pressure “cold.” If possible, park the car in your garage overnight, and check the pressure in the morning.

Even with proper maintenance, tire life is another thing to consider when buying a new car. Check to see if the tires come with a warranty, and if not, use it as a negotiation tool to inch your price down.

When selling a car, consider doing what the guy who traded in the car my wife bought did: He felt bad getting rid of a car with used tires, so he put on brand-new 18″ Yokohamas before getting rid of it. Sweet!

Has anyone else noticed a short life for tires on new cars? How many miles do you typically get out of a set of tires?


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  1. Drake
    November 8th, 2015 at 17:44 | #1

    Bought from Firestone on February 8th 2014 a brand new set of Primewell Valera Touring Tires for my Kia Rio5 at 47,000 miles. Today, November 8th 2015 was told my tires are bald and I need new ones, I am at 74,000 miles. I only got 27,000 miles on these tires, when the ones from Kia I was able to put 47,000 on.

  2. TKlocker
    November 4th, 2015 at 18:00 | #2

    2013 Prius needs new tires at 30,000! Ridiculous.

    @ Judi Dingfelder
    Consumer reports found nitro not that much better than regular air. Will they do cheaper if NOT nitro? Otherwise it’s not a ‘bonus’..

  3. Lin Connery
    October 17th, 2015 at 18:57 | #3

    We have just under 19,000 km – not even miles – on our factory-installed tires and they must be replaced already. It turns out there’s no warranty of any kind on the rubber. For famous name tire makers to produce what is essentially temporary tires, and for high profile car manufacturers to put them on their vehicles, it must cheapen both brands in the eyes of their customers. As far as the car is concerned, it makes me wonder what other corners have cut to keep costs low.

  4. Judi Dingfelder
    October 8th, 2015 at 15:22 | #4

    I drive a 2013 Toyota Highlander Hybrid (the top of the line for this car). I have 24,000 miles and I think I need new tires. My original tires have “nitro-fill” and I’m willing to buy new ones from the dealership (who will “throw in Nitro-fill”) – is Nitrofill worth it? How many miles should I realistically get from these tires – pressures are always ok (they are measured by the car) and they have been rotated regularly.

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  1. October 22nd, 2015 at 04:00 | #1