Consumer Reports Rates Best Car Tires of 2021

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Choosing the right car tires can be a confusing process. Tires have a big impact on braking, handling, ride, and noise, so it’s important to choose wisely.
Luckily, Consumer Reports (CR) recently shared its list of Best Car Tires of 2021, after collecting data from an extensive tire test program. CR selected the best car tires in several key categories, including all-season, performance all-season, ultra-high-performance all-season, ultra-high-performance summer, winter/snow, and performance winter/snow.
A rack with a bunch of car tires
Consumer Reports selected the best car tires in several key categories.

How are the car tires tested?

Every year, the organization tests more than 40 tire models for cars, SUVs, and trucks at the Consumer Reports Auto Test Center in Connecticut. The tires are evaluated for wet and dry braking and handling, ride comfort and quietness, and how well they resist hydroplaning.
Snow-traction tests are conducted off and on-site, and rolling resistance was measured using an indoor dynamometer. In addition, treadwear testing was performed on public roads for over 16,000 miles in western Texas.

The best all-season car tires

The Michelin Defender T+H is the top pick for traditional all-season tires, with an Overall Score of 67. All-season tires are commonly found on new cars, SUVs, and trucks.
These tires are a top pick because of their handling performance, snow traction, and resistance to hydroplaning. The tires also have a projected tread life of 85,000 miles, which CR said is impressive. In every test conducted by CR, the Michelin Defender T+H tires ranked an average or greater performance.
According to USA Today, these tires range in price from $118 to $211 per tire. The General Altimax RT43 tires had a similar Overall Score, and are a good alternative if you’re looking for similar tires and a lower price.

Car tires with top ratings in other categories

Here are the top performers in the other categories from Consumer Reports:
  • Best performance all-season tire: Michelin CrossClimate2
  • Best ultra-high-performance all-season tire: Goodyear Eagle Exhilarate
  • Best ultra-high-performance summer tire: Michelin Pilot Sport 4s
  • Best winter/snow tire: Bridgestone Blizzak WS90
  • Best performance winter/snow tire: Vredestein Wintrac Pro

When should you get new car tires?

There are a few other things to keep in mind before you buy new car tires, according to U.S. News & World Report.
One of the first steps, of course, is to determine if you actually need new tires. If your car is pulling to one side, slipping around, or doesn’t seem like it’s confidently stopping when you brake, your tires may just need air.
U.S. News suggests doing a penny or quarter test. For the penny version, place the coin with Abraham Lincoln’s image headfirst into the most worn part of the tire. If you can still see the top of his head, it might be time to buy new tires.
Although tires don’t necessarily have an expiration date, it’s a good idea to inspect them every five years. If you don’t drive your car often, you can check the date on the side of the tires to see if they’re still good.
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