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The only thing between your vehicle and the road are the tires – so it pays to ensure that you know the difference between a good tire vs a bad tire.

Good tires enhance safety and fuel economy, while bad tires can have the opposite effect. Good tires will last you a long time, as their durability is uncompromised. Good tires also give you better road grip and minimize vibrations, resulting in a smoother ride. The opposite is true for bad tires.

Most people don't give a second thought to the tires of their car until it's too late. However, selecting a good tire for your car can result in better handling and increased safety on the road.

As auto experts ourselves, who have changed more tires than we can count, we are in the ideal position to know the difference between a good tire vs. a bad tire. So, without further ado, let's find out what these differences are and why they matter.

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Good Tire vs. Bad Tire – The Difference

Finding a good tire these days seems to be getting more and more difficult. If you have just purchased a used car or want to swap the tires of your existing vehicle, then you will also want to swap your existing tires with good ones. However, with many Chinese manufacturers selling tires that are cheaper but sub-par, finding the right one for your car can be quite the challenge.

If you are looking for cheap car tires, you have a plethora of Chinese options to choose from, mainly because China exports around 65 million tires every year. However, those who purchase sub-par tires for their car find out the hard way that it's better to spend a bit more on good quality tires.

Tread Depth

When getting car tires, one of the main factors to consider are the treads of the tire. One indicator of a good tire vs. bad tire is that the latter will have treads that have a depth below 1/16 of an inch. Tire treads are an important factor because it determines the amount of grip that the tire has on the road. If you find yourself driving over slick or wet surfaces regularly, then it is best to opt for tires that have deeper treads. As professionals, one of the ways that we use to identify the ideal depth of the tire tread is by using a gauge, which can easily be purchased from Home Depot.

But if you're short on cash and can't afford the tire depth gauge, then there is another easier old-school way of determining the depth of your tire treads… and it will only cost you a penny.

To make sure that the tire treads are deep enough, take a penny (Lincoln-head) and insert the coin (head first) into the tire tread. If ol' Abe's head is visible, then the tire does not have deep enough treads and is, by definition – a bad tire.

Indicator Bars on Tires

One of the advantages of modern tires is the addition of the tread wear indicator bar. This is a wear indicator bar that has been built into good quality tires. The bars are barely visible when they are new and tend to become more prominent when the treads begin to wear down. In case you were wondering what they look like, the tire tread wear indicator bars appear as flat rubber bars that normally run perpendicular to the direction of the tire tread.

One of the best indicators that the tread is getting low is if you see one or more of these lines. A good way of knowing how many of these tread lines are visible is by looking at the wet tracks of the tire after you drive through a puddle of water. While the tire tread wear indicators are built into good quality tires, sub-par tires, on the other hand, will not have these treads built into the design.

Sidewall Cracks

The tire treads are not the only indicator of a bad or sub-par tire. The sidewall of low-quality tires can also be used to identify a good tire vs. bad tire. The good news is, the sidewall of the tire is easy to examine.

So, what do you look for?

Sub-par car tires are more likely to have sidewalls that have small cracks and cuts visible to the naked eye even after driving for a few hours. The small cracks that appear in the sidewall of tires is also a tell-tale sign that the tire is going to develop a leak, or worse, it can also be a warning sign of a blowout.

Blisters and Bulges

Another major indicator that you have sub-par tires is that they tend to show bulges and blisters quickly, which shows that the tire is starting to weaken. The blister or bulge that appears on the tire is an indicator of a weak spot on the tire and is most commonly found in low-quality tires. This weak spot on the tire can easily cause a blowout when you least expect it, which is why you will need to replace the car tire as soon as you notice bulges and blisters on the surface of the tire.

A Higher Level of Vibration

To be fair, there's a certain level of vibration that's expected while driving, regardless of the type of tires being used. However, if you notice too much vibration when driving, even on normal paved roads, the chances are that you have installed sub-par tires on your car. One of the most common reasons why the tires vibrate so much is that they are not balanced or have been misaligned. That being said, too much vibration can also be an indicator that the shock absorbers are starting to give way.

Apart from these common issues, too much vibration can also be an indication of an internal issue with the tire itself. Since this excess vibration is a sign of something wrong with your car, it is best to get it checked by a mechanic – and start with the tires.

Treadwear Warranty

Another glaring difference between a good tire vs. bad tire is the treadwear warranty. While good quality car tires have a warranty of 70,000 miles, which is how long they should last, bad or sub-par tires usually have a much lower warranty, or worse, have no warranty at all. That being said, if a good quality car tire is well maintained (aka, kept properly inflated and maintained), then the tires of your car can run for longer.

Good Tire Vs Bad Tire

About The Author

Charles Redding

Charles Redding

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.

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