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?

-tgriffith

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  1. September 17th, 2014 at 13:09 | #1

    I have a 2010 Toyota Rav 4 Limited. I always have the tires rotated and aligned. After 20,000 miles I had to replace all 4 tires. The tire store said it’s common today and believes that new cars come equipped with inferior tires even though they may have a brand name. May be a collusion between the Auto makers and tire makers to equip the new vehicle with inferior tires and make more money, and the tire companies to make more money by forcing you buy another set after 20,000 miles. Plausible as nothing surprises me these days with the greed I see in this country and the vanishing of the middle class.

  2. Hans Dietrich
    May 16th, 2014 at 09:17 | #2

    I have a 2000 Subaru Outback and have just replaced the Potenza tires in a trade-in package on Ecopia variety. These Ecopia are 65000 miles rated so I’ll see how they go. One thing that I have found is that they ride really well and roll exceptionally easy. I find that I have to ease off the throttle because I’m going over the speed limit. On my last fill-up I got 2 mpg better than before. I don’t drive hard and got 24 mph around town.

  3. Sue
    May 8th, 2014 at 18:23 | #3

    I have a 2014 Jetta with 20,000 miles and have the same tire issue. NOT RIGHT! @ Christine

  4. Christine
    December 12th, 2013 at 13:21 | #4

    I have a 2012 leased VW Jetta and we just found out we need new tires at 20,000 miles…that is after one of them had a blow out. We have aligned and rotated them as per VW because they did all the service. I think this is shameful!!! Since tires are the only thing not really covered in the lease service agreement I am not surprised they want them to wear out before I return the car at 36,000 miles…but it sounds like car and tire company collusion to me!

  5. December 6th, 2012 at 17:25 | #5

    @ Sharen

    The Questions section of the main CarGurus site has input from lots of folks on good tires for a Hyundai Elantra – here’s a link:

    http://www.cargurus.com/Cars/Discussion-t35968_ds499866

    Hope that helps, and good luck!

  6. Sharen
    December 6th, 2012 at 17:10 | #6

    I have a 2010 Hyundai Elantra with 13,000 miles on it and the dealer told me I needed two front tires and probably in a month or so I will need two on the back. He said that they come from the factory now with “soft tires”. I really do not do much driving. Any input??

  7. Lauren
    October 5th, 2012 at 09:59 | #7

    I have a 2012 Kia Forte that I haven’t even had for a year it has about 19,500k on it and it needs 4 new tires!! I have kept them rotated as per scheduled also as they were done at each oil change.

  8. Bobby
    August 8th, 2012 at 03:59 | #8

    New cars come with softer, higher performance tires that wear out faster than most of the tires consumers would normally buy for their car. Because tires are so expensive, most people tend to buy tires rated for 50,000 miles or so, which sacrifice a little bit of comfort and stickiness to the road. Car manufacturers don’t care how long your first tires last, so they opt for the softer, comfier tires.

  9. February 14th, 2012 at 21:03 | #9

    2010 Focus with 10,200 miles on factory Kumho tires. Just had them replaced today because they were down to 3/32nds. I contacted Ford and got emails and phone calls aplenty, all replete with canned doublespeak and no offer of help. Scandalous, Ford !

  10. JJ
    August 28th, 2011 at 03:00 | #10

    MB ML350 35,000 miles, I have to replace the all 4 tires according to the mechanics at the dealer shop.
    All the AWD car is now using softer tires so it makes driver to feel more comfortable and it stops really quick on the road.
    Average life of the tires for the AWD SUV is now 25,000 miles according to the MB mechanic, my tires lasted longer than usual… then I said WHAT? it really bothers me that I have to spend 1,800 dollars for replacement of 4 tires and alignment svc every 2~3 years.

  11. tgriffith
    February 15th, 2011 at 15:34 | #11

    @ Bob
    You can replace the tires with anything your heart desires, as long as you replace all four and they are the same size as the OEM Michelins.

  12. Bob
    February 15th, 2011 at 15:29 | #12

    I have 18,000 miles on my Lexus es350, and the front tires are getting bald. Is there any reason I need to replace the tires with the same ones I have on it? They are Michelin tires.

  13. laura felton
    January 20th, 2011 at 14:38 | #13

    I just had to purchase four new tires for a 2007 toyota- I have under 30,000 miles! To make matters worse the car is now driving horrible-on my way to take it back and I am not happy!

  14. concerned consumer
    July 13th, 2010 at 11:07 | #14

    @tgriffith
    i dont know where you are getting tires but they saw you comming althought tires are expensive they don’t cost that damn much. i advise going to your nearesd firestone/bridgestone dealer the are damn good tires for the price you pay for them

  15. concerned consumer
    July 13th, 2010 at 11:05 | #15

    I have a 2003 chevy caviler and had to replace the tires after only 22500 miles and i rotate the tires and maintain the tire pressure myself. My brother has a 2009 dodge ram and only has just over 18000 miles on his tires and had a blowout because of the tires needing to be replaced.

  16. tgriffith
    February 17th, 2010 at 17:26 | #16

    @Christina
    Call around, Christina and see if you can find a better price. I don’t doubt that you actually need new tires, just compare prices before you buy from the dealer.

  17. Christina
    February 17th, 2010 at 16:55 | #17

    I have an 09 Mercedes C300 with 22K miles. Just sent it in for service and they called saying that my back tires need to be replaced. They said that if I do not, they cannot rotate them. It’s going to cost me $730 for two tires!

  18. Neal
    September 17th, 2009 at 17:53 | #18

    Well we have a 2009 Jetta already with a bit over 17K miles on it, tires look brand new, so i give it at least another 20K miles before they need replacement. On a related story we had a VW Touareg ate the first set of tires in less than 20K miles, however the Touareg is considered a high performance SUV equipped with high performance tires. The so called high performance cars/SUV’s eat tires and brakes for breakfast.

  19. tgriffith
    September 3rd, 2009 at 13:53 | #19

    @Theresa
    Theresa-
    I think the best thing for you to do is get the alignment and then just buy new tires. I know it hurts the pocketbook, but buy good tires and have them rotated (usually free when you return to the location where you bought them)and you should get many more miles out of the new set.

  20. Theresa
    August 31st, 2009 at 10:38 | #20

    @John Murphy
    they are telling me that i need an alignment..and it was my responsibilty to get it done..regular maint…

  21. Theresa
    August 31st, 2009 at 10:37 | #21

    I have a 2008 Chevy Aveo with 13000 miles on it. I have been complaining about the gas milage since it had 500 miles on it. the dealer kept telling me i had to put more miles on it for it to get better. i have told them that it won’t go right, it is not driving right, now the front tires are totally bald only on the outside. they never once told me to to get an alignment or to rotate the tires. they are not honoring the warrenty because it is over 7500 miles and they say now it is service and my fault. i have a complaint into chevy but they are not going to help because i did not rotate the tires…they are excesevly worn and i don’t know what to do…

  22. John Murphy
    July 20th, 2009 at 08:08 | #22

    I have a 2008 Chevy Aveo 5 w 22,000 miles on it and the tires are bald and I did rotate the tires as recommended!

  23. Becky
    June 14th, 2009 at 17:01 | #23

    I have a 2005 Volvo XC90 that I have noticed all of a sudden that my tires are nearly bald also. I have 31,000 miles on them. However, I do watch the pressure and rotate as I am supposed to. (Volvo made this easy to keep up with because of their free regular maintenance for the first 3 years). But, my tires are still bald, and I can’t find anywhere in the literature or on the web how many miles my tires were SUPPOSED to last. How do I claim anything under warranty for wear if nothing is in print?

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