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Tires are an investment. You want quality, but a tire set within your budget. Discovering that prices had doubled made me wonder why are tires so expensive?

Having bought my last set of tires five years back, I needed to find a quality set and focus more on driving rather than frequently changing tires. Durability, performance, and cost are some factors that i value in car tire, and finding one with all these three aspects combined was proving difficult given my budget.

Car tires are expensive as modern technology allows them to have longer tread life, increased braking ability, superior handling, and better gas mileage. The development also contributes to increased performance with comfort and reduces road noise.

When the pandemic first hit, some tire manufacturers reduced prices on particular tire lines and models. Tire prices were stable as natural rubber and crude oil, the main raw materials used in manufacturing of tires were affordable. However, all this changed and tire costs have gone up. Our detailed guide looks at some of the reasons why tires are expensive and give you tips on shopping for quality tires without going beyond your budget.

Do premium tires provide better value for money? After speaking to several car tire experts and extensive research, here’s everything we found out.

Table of Contents

7 Reasons Why Tires are Expensive

Below are some factors behind the high price of tires in detail.

1. Manufacturing Costs

A lot of money goes into manufacturing car tires. The manufacturing process has two aspects, the performance and economic approach.

Both of these processes use layers of steel, rubber, and chemicals during the production process. Manufacturing also involves procuring the material and paying for the taxes imposed on rubber, oil, and steel.

Budget tires have a few layers, which makes them affordable. However, performance tires have extra layers to deliver better car control on the road, which makes them expensive.

Everything that goes into production costs money. Additionally, the manufacturers have to use money to ship the tires to retailers, which further adds to the cost of production. There’s a salary given to the people involved in the manufacturing process and the company has to make profits.

When all these costs are combined, it spikes the tire price and makes it expensive.

2. Tread Pattern and Design

Manufacturers create different tread patterns and designs based on different road conditions.

A tire with thick treads has wide grooves, which makes it easier to drive the vehicle on a wet road without struggling. Tires with thin tracks provide less grip and are better suited for dry surfaces.

A tire with a thick tread means it requires extra material. Moreover, the technology involved in the grip inclusion also adds to the overall tire cost.

3. Durability

Tire durability is another factor that can affect its price.

Some budget rubber tires have great performance, but lack durability. You’ll have to replace them more often. Tires made from hard rubber have an excellent tread that increases traction and durability. They are also less prone to rust and corrosion.

If you’re looking for a tire that combines both durability and performance, expect to pay a lot more.

4. Tire Size

You’ll notice that modern tires have a bigger size and diameter compared to the previous tires. There’s an increased demand for heavy and large tires, especially for drivers who want to lower their cars.

The bigger the tire size, the more raw material used. That leads to an increase in the overall cost.

5. Performance and Handling

Tire manufacturers take time before producing a tire. Each company wants to outperform the other, and that involves research.

The process involves experimenting with different materials and chemicals for them to come up with an ideal tire for their specific target market. Companies want tires that will perform well on different road conditions, others want to increase durability, and others want to change the tire type.

All the efforts spent on resources, research, and time cost money. These costs have to be accounted for in the overall cost of the tire.

Expect to pay a little more for tires with superior handling. Most drivers acknowledge that expensive tires provide better handling and control compared to the cheaper options.

Additionally, quality tires increase your car’s braking ability. Factors like the tire’s tread, size, and condition dictate how fast you can stop. Expensive tires focus on these aspects that increase your car’s braking capabilities.

Tires that provide this kind of handling go through different tests and may need extra material to deliver the desired tread design, a process that costs money.

Another essential aspect that contributes to the tire’s performance is its fuel efficiency. Gas mileage is critical for drivers looking for an eco-friendly option. Tires affect gas mileage through their size and texture.

Although tires with big treads provide better handling, they may not have efficient gas mileage. That’s due to the friction and drag created by the tread. You’ll need more fuel to accelerate and overcome the resistance between the tire and car.

A few tires have a small, but quality tread, which reduces the impact on fuel efficiency. High-quality materials are used to produce the tire that still provides excellent handling. Tires with better gas mileage will be expensive as the manufacturer needs to cover the costs of the materials used and make a profit from each sale.

6. Specific Design Use

There are different types of tires depending on the use. Some are designed to handle off-road conditions, while others are ideal for snowy conditions.

Tires made for off-roading are durable and tough to handle any type of terrain. These tires are for a niche market, go through a quality assurance process, and use extra materials compared to regular tires. That makes them expensive.

Seasonal tires are also expensive. Summer and winter tires are designed for different conditions, and winter tires have a thick tread to provide grip and traction in snowy conditions.

The manufacturer has to use a different mechanism to produce these specific tires. You can expect to pay more for seasonal tires as opposed to standard tires.

Custom tires are also for a particular market and require special production. These tires don’t go through a factory assembly as the manufacturer may only be producing a few tires. Most drivers have to order ahead to have the tires made. That costs time, labor, and money.

7. The Manufacturer

Tire brands are categorized into three, cheap, mid-range, and premium. You’ll discover that brands like Michelin are expensive compared to Hankook.

Premium brands spend lots of money doing research before the production of any tire. Most of these tires are durable and deliver exceptional handling and performance compared to cheaper ones. Drivers get to enjoy better traction, low noise levels, and short braking distances.

Note that, this doesn’t mean that cheaper brands produce lower quality tires. The difference lies in development, the large factories, marketing, and the people employed, all which can contribute to a tire’s high price.

Should You Buy Expensive Tires?

Although premium tires may seem to have better features, that doesn’t mean you should purchase them if they are beyond your budget.

You can still get unique features in mid-range tires. Focus on getting tires that you can drive on without struggling and those that are within your budget. Go through different reviews to getan idea of a specific tire’s performance before making any purchase.

Goiing through sites like Consumer Reports can also give you an idea on the companies that manufacture the best-performing tires.

Why Are Tires So Expensive?

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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