Finding tires for a vehicle can be a bit of a hassle. We want a good value for good tires. Which leads us to ask: Are Federal tires good?
Buying a tire that doesn’t have lots of branding and commercials behind it can be unnerving. The question is, do tires that cost a bit less stand up to the rigors of everyday driving? We plan to answer that with our Federal tires review that takes driving styles, price, and value into account.
Are Federal Tires any good? Federal Tires tend to offer an exceptional value, but their performance is about what you’d expect for a budget tire. Their all-season tires tend to perform the best, though the price between Federal and other competitive tires is a shrinking problem.
In order to know if Federal tires are in fact good, we evaluated based on a few factors: Test results are very important, but comparing Federal tires to other tires in the same, higher, and lower price range is also significant. We also took a look at how long Federal tires have been around, and the answer might surprise you. So let’s explore where Federal comes from, how they are different from other tire brands, and why we came to the conclusion about their value.
We employ a variety of reputable tire sources and real tests to make our evaluation. We understand how tire testing works, and how small differences in test results can actually make a big difference. In this particular review, we’ve looked at a few different tests and did some price comparisons. In the end, we offer a few reasons why you would want a Federal Tire and a few reasons why you would avoid them.
How long has Federal tire been around?
You might not have heard much about Federal tire, especially if you are wondering whether or not Federal tires offer good rubber for your vehicle. Federal Tire has been around for a surprisingly long time, starting in 1954 in Taiwan. With some help from Dunlop and Bridgestone early on, Federal was eligible to sell tires in the US by 1965.
More recently, Federal Tire has asked for direct feedback from rally and race drivers about their new tires - though many enthusiasts haven’t heard about the brand. Their approach gives them a chance to adapt to real-world scenarios.
Are tires made in Taiwan Ok?
Some tire buyers dislike the idea of a tire made in a foreign country. In reality, many tires are made in either China or Taiwan. Some Bridgestone, Cooper, and Goodyear models are made in China and imported to the United States because manufacturing and shipping the tire is less expensive. There are also many Chinese tire brands that are made in China that are much cheaper - though some would say they don’t provide that good of performance.
Tires made in Taiwan, like Federal Tire, tend to be slightly more expensive than Chinese company tires, but also provide better overall performance. You’ll especially see this when we talk about snow tires.
What is Federal Tire known for?
While Federal Tire was initially known for its prowess in motorsports, they have more recently expanded to include more types of everyday driving, like SUV and sedan tires, truck tires, and all-season and winter.
Federal Tire Reviews
We tracked down a few of the most common Federal Tires on a variety of sites and considered what users had to say about them.
For most of our individual tire reviews, we are looking at which tires sold the most and were reviewed the most from SimpleTire and comparing those to user reviews within TireRack. We also added specific tests from AutoBild. TireRack offers more in-depth reviews on some tires - down to sometimes subjective metrics on a tire’s handling capabilities, but since both sites don’t offer this information, and TireRack doesn’t carry Federal, we’ll rely upon user ratings and the prices presented.
Federal Couragia M/T: All-Season SUV and Truck Tires
One of the first things many reviewers commented on for the Federal Couragia tire is the look: the treads look very aggressive and look nice on trucks and SUVs. Couragia ultimately provides drivers with a pavement and mud tire.
The upside to a pavement and mud tire is generally good overall handling on dry surfaces and slightly less traction on wet roads. This isn’t all that surprising for the Couragia, as certain compromises need to be made, for the price, and it can’t quite do everything. Instead, the aggressive treads and strong shoulders are there more to take the impact of off-roading and better dry cornering. A block edge on the Couragia also helps push and filter dirt, sand, and gravel. Though it does filter water, that’s not a highlight.
Overall, the Couragia provides a good example of a reasonably priced all-season and mud tire at about $100 each.
Here’s the honest part of our review: Some have complained that the Federal Couragia is too loud. While a whisper quiet mud and all-terrain tire isn’t out of the question, it’s nice to have.
Let’s make a value comparison here. One of the better-selling tires on TireRack is the Cooper Discoverer AT3 4S. For about $70 more, or nearly twice as much, the Cooper Discoverer is more highly rated and gets an 8.8 in comfort, which includes road noise. At 8.4 on TireRack, the Cooper is also about equal in snow performance, which might help people who would rather have an all-terrain tire over snow tires. The Couragia gets a respectable 4.2 out of 5 on SimpleTire, which isn’t bad for the price.
For a bargain hunter, Couragia seems like a great value. Equipping an SUV or truck with aggressive treads for around $400 sounds good, even if they are a touch louder than competitive tires.
High-Performance Tire Comparison: Federal Formoza FD2
Just to be clear here, a high-performance tire is meant to be put on a sportier car and have good dry handling as well as comfort.
One of the most prominent thoughts repeated from reviews is claiming that the Formoza is a great value for the price paid. While Federal Formoza overall SimpleTire rating isn’t all that high at 4.3, it’s also dragged down by rating categories that barely apply to the tire, like snow ratings.
The Formoza has a nice looking, and stable feeling, symmetric tread that also provides a wide groove in the middle for increased stability under straight-line acceleration, and to provide more overall contact with the pavement. Formoza funnels water out via wide grooves on the outsides, though these are pretty standard and the 4.4 rating they get on wet pavement is pretty good.
At $85 to $105 per tire, the Formoza seems like a pretty good deal for a reasonably comfortable high-performance sports tire designed to grip well in wet and dry conditions.
Let’s compare the Formoza to a tire found on TireRack. The Hankook Ventus V2 Concept2 lands in the upper range of the Formoza for the price to size at around $105 per tire. The difference? Hankook doesn’t get good ratings in many areas, including 8 out of 10 in dry performance - which is poor considering that dry performance is basically what the driver wants in a high-performance tire. Wet performance is a poor 6.8 of 10. The Firestone Firehawk offers better wet performance with a 7.9 and an 8.4 in dry, but at a higher premium of about $120 per tire.
All Season Tires: Federal SS657
Some tires have catchy names that don’t quite use a dictionary word or are a bit specific to driving, like “Destination.” While we don’t quite know what SS657 means to anyone, the tire is well balanced. To be fair, an all-season tire is literally designed to provide a balance of all worlds. Good traction and low noise in dry freeways. Decent handling and grip in the rain. The ability to stop and start after a snowfall.
With a rating as high as 4.6 on dry surfaces, the SS657 goes as low as 4.0 in winter with decent comfort and noise ratings at 4.4 and 4.5. Some drivers claim they are a little loud. This is no surprise as compromise has to some somewhere. Part of the noise might come from relatively stiff steel and nylon bands, which also contribute to a rigid structure and a better than average treadwear life. Priced at $90-$100 on SimpleTire, it’s also inoffensive to your wallet.
Since we are on the path of comparing, let’s look at the least expensive tire on TireRack in a common size as the Federal SS657 - 195/60R/15. The Yokohama AVID Ascend LX fits the bill here. At $113 for the same size, it’s not that much more than Federal. So let’s find out if Yokohama has it beat here.
The Yokohama might have better dry performance than Federal here, with a 9.2 compared to an 8.9 in wet. It also gets excellent comfort ratings and treadwear life. For about $13 more per tire, the Yokohama does provide the kind of quiet many SUV and car drivers want, so we might be more up to spending a little more on a Yokohama here. While there are many tires available in the same categories and sizes as Federal, this is the first we’ve seen have a price rather close to Federal while providing better overall performance.
Extreme Performance: Federal 595RS-RR
Extreme performance tires lend themselves to racing and dry surfaces. To be more specific, you probably shouldn’t use extreme performance tires in the rain, nor should you read into their poor rain performance ratings. The 595-RS-RR gets the rating it is designed for on SimpleTire at 4.9 of 5 for dry performance. They even have a particular look- with faux flamed shaped treads on silica infused rubber compounds and an overall stiffness made for taking high speed corners and acceleration.
The lowest ratings came from noise at 3.7 and treadwear at 3.9 - both “problems” to be expected from an outright performance tire. Reviews still raved about 595RS-RR’s cornering ability and acceleration - never feeling like the tire let go of the pavement under duress.
Now let’s talk about price. Knowing that tire prices go up with sizes, we measured from 235/40/R17 which is $200 per tire before discounts at SimpleTire
For a comparison, let’s look at the Dunlop Direzza ZIII, one of the least expensive tires available on TireRack in the Extreme Performance category. For the price of $231 per tire, the Dunlop doesn’t readily outperform the average all-season tire in the same category, at 9.3 on dry surfaces. Many drivers also complained that the treadwear is relatively low, and the tire becomes noisier (they say it was already noisy) the more miles you put in.
If you found yourself with deeper pockets and the ability to pay $280 per tire, you’d also find the Yokohama ADVAN Neova. The dry performance is rated a bit lower at 9.0.
One thing to keep in mind here is that the average 595RS-RR extreme performance tire driver is probably both driving a different level of vehicle than the all-season driver. For example, the Yokohama ratings came from Porsche Carrera and a Mazda Miata, which are effectively sports cars that have high expectations for steering control and acceleration. One issue brought up for all three tires is performance under 50 degrees. The tire is designed for dry track use and is not meant to be driven in the cold - you might want a different tire for that.
So should I get Federal Tires or another kind of tire? An honest answer
Based on the information we have provided throughout the review, we have a few reasons for and against buying Federal Tires.
Why not: Extreme Performance Tires in the rain
While extreme performance tires don’t tend to handle well in the wet or rain, some tests have shown that Federal Tires like the Evoluzion did exceptionally bad with stopping distance and control in wet conditions.
While the Evoluzion (we didn’t rate this tire above) had good overall performance compared to other extreme performance tires - and had midding performance on dry, which is good for the price, the review indicates that the Evoluzion had exceptionally long stopping distance at nearly 40 feet further than competitors and had poor enough grip in the rain to add more than 17 seconds to a lap time.
That said, if there is a chance that you’ll be driving these in the rain, we might suggest something else. Goodyear, Michelin, and Bridgestone effectively outperformed in the wet, so if you live in an area with frequent changes precipitation, those might be better options for the purpose.
Why buy Federal: Value
We covered value in a little detail earlier. In some cases, you get what you pay for, and in other cases, the compromises might not be worth it to some people. For the tires we reviewed, non-Federal tires often offered a slight increase in performance, but for more money.
If you are on a tight budget and need decent tires for your vehicle - and you aren’t seeking extreme performance tires, Federal tires might be a great option for you. Tire buying is a story of compromise between money and performance. Tires that ride like a dream, handle tight corners regardless of your vehicle’s suspension and have exceptionally long tread life also take the biggest bite of your wallet. All-Season and mudding tires were the highlights of Federal’s performance in our review so far, as they provided comfort and handling that exceeded their own shortcomings - and were priced right compared to other available brands.
Why buy Federal tires: Performance isn’t a big deal
Drivers sometimes buy tires because they help get the most out of their vehicles. This mostly refers to sports can enthusiasts and people who love to accelerate onto a country road, and see how just tight they can corner - in part for fun.
If you are the kind of person who just has an average car and drives from work to home, picks up the kids, and makes occasional longer trips, Federal might be just fine for you. You probably won’t even notice the “road feel” when having a conversation with someone in the car. If you would rather spend the extra dollars on a more well-known “name brand” tire than invest it, save it, or just spend it on something else, Federal tires could give you that fulfillment that you made small compromises in performance while your bank account smiled.
A good example of this is someone who is either a student or just starting out financially. While other brands offer some better performance, the prices can eye-popping with installation and make you think about used tires instead. A Federal Tire will readily beat a used tire in selection, price, and value. If you are a college student, you can switch out your Federals once they are worn, and upgrade to the tires you like.
Why not buy Federal: No warranty
We spoke of tread life and how Federal has middling reviews in regards to how long tires last. Another aspect of this is the warranty: Many tire manufacturers offer a warranty for their tires, with many all-season tires giving a 5 year or 60,000 miles or more warranty for workmanship defects - so long as you rotate tires and document rotation. This is built into the price of the tire, which is part of the reason why non-Federal tires are less expensive.
That said, Federal seems to reserve the right to decide when to help you if your tire is failing after the first couple of years - and it’s unclear as to when or how that is. To be fair, most extreme performance and snow tires do not have a warranty because they are driven on in ways that are not conducive to a guarantee - but all-season tires are usually driven by commuters and people who aren’t exactly driving too aggressively. We would like to see a written warranty from Federal, so for the reassurance that early treadwear is covered.
Why not buy Federal: Road feel
This problem could literally be between the car and the driver, but it’s also possible that the tire can impact the way the vehicle responds when turning on twisty roads. This is literally to say that the tire might not respond and feel as “grippy” as it should, or it has the potential to be less responsive, so you could oversteer or understeer taking winding suburban streets or driving through places that aren’t exactly straight.
In many ways, there are the very things you pay extra money for, and why Federal offers a great value: because you compromise and get the basics.
Why not buy Federal: Winter tires
Winter tires are meant to help grip and keep you moving and stopping in winter weather. Unfortunately, these kinds of tires also cannot really help you when it’s seriously icy outside - so just slow down anyway.
With that said, choose a non-budget and something besides Federal for snow tires. In a test of 40 tires, the Federal Himalaya did rather poorly in the snow compared to competitors. Since the purpose of a winter tire is to make it easier to control your vehicle in the snow, value doesn’t have a lot of room to be that important here. While the Federal Himalaya costs $30 less per tire than a Michelin X-Ice without a doubt. Both tires are a little loud, but at least the Michelin X-Ice does what it’s supposed to on snow - stop better than all-season and offer more control.
So if you live in the midwest or someplace with snowfall and want winter tires, try something else.
About THE AUTHOR
I've spent many years selling cars, working with auto detailers, mechanics, dealership service teams, quoting and researching car insurance, modding my own cars, and much more.Read More About Charles Redding