Tires on racks at a tire store

Just like new-car sales, tire sales are heating up for July 4th. If a safety check shows that you need new tires, now's the time to take advantage of manufacturer and retailer deals, which range from “buy three, get one free” to rebates.

“It's best to be proactive with tire replacement,” says Gene Petersen, who runs CR’s tire-testing program. “When the tire tread is worn down to 4⁄32-inch, it's time to start shopping. If that coincides with a holiday weekend or other peak tire sales opportunity, you can save real money—especially when you replace all four tires.”

“If the tires are worn to the tread indicators at 2⁄32-inch," he added, "then new tires are needed at once—sale or no sale.”

When shopping, be sure to look beyond the purchase price to consider the cost for installation and a road-hazard warranty.

Every year Consumer Reports purchases hundreds of tires for our test program. Our tire team scours the internet to find the right tires at good prices.

MORE ON TIRES

Right now we're seeing savings on tires from several popular brands. The following tire brands are offering reward cards for buying a set of four tires, unless otherwise noted. 

BF Goodrich: $70 reward card, aka a prepaid debit card (deal expires June 30).

Cooper Tires: $50 reward card (deal expires June 30)

Continental: $70 reward card (deal expires June 30)

Firestone: $60 reward card 

Goodyear: Up to a $100 reward card (deal expires June 30)

Hankook: $60 reward card

Michelin: $70 reward card

Toyo: 10 percent off price for any order

Uniroyal: $50 reward card 

Yokohama: $70 reward card (deal expires June 30)

Watch out for those expiration dates. Many current offers expire at the end of June. Of course they might be extended, so check with the retailer.

Major retailers such as DiscountTireDirect.comSimpleTire.comTireBuyer.com, and TireRack.com often highlight their current offers, as well as manufacturer deals, on their home pages. Discount Tire makes this especially easy with a promotions page that lists deals and provides rebate forms. Plus, they're running a 10-percent-off deal right now.

Below are tips from the CR tire team to steer you in the right direction while you're shopping.

Determine the Best Tires for Your Vehicle

Start by knowing which tires are on your vehicle. Check the tire placard (usually found on the driver’s door jamb of the car) for the recommended tire size. Additional information is often available in your vehicle’s owner’s manual. For optimum overall performance, replace your tires with ones of the same size and speed rating (identified by the letter in the tire size).

What speed ratings mean: There's a letter on each tire that identifies its maximum speed limit, but that's not how fast you should drive! Standard all-seasons are usually rated S (up to 112 mph) or T (118 mph). Climbing up the scale are the letters H (130 mph), V (149 mph), W (168 mph), Y (186 mph), and ZR (149+ mph). Use a tire with the speed rating recommended in your vehicle owner's manual or as listed on the tire information placard. Though few drivers would ever drive to these sustained speeds, tires with higher speed ratings generally offer better handling and wet grip than lower-rated tires.

An easy way to find out what models are available to fit your car is to use CR's tire selector tool

We test multiple factors so you can tailor your selections based on what matters most to you. When you're choosing tires, we recommend that you prioritize handling, resistance to hydroplaning (when water gets between the tire and the pavement), and wet and dry braking. Use tread-life ratings to judge a tire’s value. Rolling resistance can help you determine a tire's effect on fuel economy. It's worth paying more for a tire that will last longer or improve your fuel efficiency.

Try to narrow your tire choices down to three models. That's a manageable number and makes it easier to find the right deal.

Search Deals Online

Look at multiple websites to compare prices. Make sure you account for add-ons, such as shipping fees or sales taxes. Keep in mind that tire prices vary by model, type, and size; expect to pay more for larger sizes. To determine your real cost, get an estimate of how much it would cost to ship and install tires at a local store. Major retailers spell out these details as you go through the shopping process.

Look Local

Check the websites of the major chains in your area. You might find that they're offering their own incentives on top of the rebates and other offers from the manufacturers. If the prices aren't as good as you're finding online, call to ask whether they can get the tire you want while matching—or beating—the online retail price.

Show the online price to the retailer. You’ll want to find out the out-the-door price, including tire cost, mounting, balancing, wheel alignment, and any fee for disposal of your old tires. 

Ask for Freebies

Local shops might offer perks such as lifetime tire rotations or road-hazard warranty coverage. Those services could make the difference for many consumers. We like road-hazard warranties, especially if there's no charge for them. They provide extra protection should your tires get damaged before they wear out.

Many larger retailers provide road-hazard protection, including BJ’s, Costco, SimpleTire, Tirebuyer, and Tire Rack. But their terms vary.  

Tires When and Where You Want

Shopping convenience can sway how you buy tires. Regardless of where you buy them, they'll need to be installed locally.

We found an online retailer, a big-box store, and a local retailer would order the tires we wanted and arrange an appointment to have the tires installed. Beginning to end, we spent less than an hour working with each retailer.

Many of the highlighted promotions end in early summer, but new sales and good buys can found year-round if you do your homework. 

Best tire sales involve stacks of tires