CUYAHOGA FALLS, Ohio—Getting the most out of a big-ticket purchase, like tires, is something most consumers strive for. And knowing when to replace them is just as important.
Eugene Petersen, tire program manager at Consumer Reports, outlined many different factors that his publication's subscriber base look for when choosing a new tire.
"The tires you buy and how well you maintain them can significantly impact how much money you spend on fuel as well as your vehicle's performance," Petersen told attendees of ITEC In Focus: Green Tire, held recently in Cuyahoga Falls. "And by properly maintaining your tires, you're getting more long-lasting tires."
Petersen said that in 2018, Consumer Reports conducted a survey among its subscriber base seeking experiences from those who bought tires within the last 12 months. He shared the report's findings with attendees.
The survey generated more than 33,477 responses. Typically, people owned vehicles between three and six years old and 83 percent bought a full set of tires. Most of those vehicles were within the car/sedan segment, however Petersen expects the light truck segment to continue growing.
"In a few years, you're going to see the SUV segment overtake the car segment," Petersen said. "We're testing a lot more SUVs than we are cars."
All-weather grip was the top feature identified by respondents, who in general were looking for a tire with enhanced performance and better grip.
Treadwear warranties were another item identified as being significant in choosing tires, as was handling and breaking. Petersen said brand also played an important role in determining which tires a consumer bought.
Consumers switch tires for two primary reasons—the old ones were getting old or had wear, followed distantly by the desire for a better winter grip.
Petersen said he was surprised to see price was low among features. However, when respondents were asked why they bought a particular brand of tires, price was the top factor, followed by good tread life and brand trust. He added that 62 percent of respondents changed brands because of price.
"When it comes to buying tires, (price) is a key element in consideration," Petersen said. "But brand carries a lot of weight with our subscribers."
Consumer Reports also does car and tire testing. Petersen said the publication tests 50-60 new cars and up to 80 sets of new tires each year at its Connecticut track. All products evaluated are bought by Consumer Reports.