I Need New Tires. Should I Buy the Same Ones My Car Came With?

If you need new tires, you don't have to commit to the same ones currently on your car. Here are the best tips for purchasing new tires, and the best places to find them.

New Tires
These Michelin tires are specially made for EVs. Photo: Michelin

Not Necessarily. The Right Tires for Your Car Are the Goal

The phrase no one ever wants to hear: “You need new tires.” When the tread depth on your wheels reaches 4/32nds of an inch, or even if the treads look fine, but your tires are more than 6 years old, it’s time to think about replacing your tires. However, technology has come a long way in the last few years, including with tire shopping.

Selecting new tires can seem like a daunting task at first, but it doesn’t have to be. There are a lot of tires on the market, but we can help you find the right ones for your vehicle. And you don’t have to buy the same tires that are currently on your car, especially if your vehicle is out of warranty. The freedom!

Here’s how to find the right tires for your vehicle and how to potentially find a good deal at the same time. We can think of it like shopping for shoes but shoes for your car: still more fun than it used to be.

Related: Buying New Tires? Dos and Don’ts to Find Your Best Fit

New Tires

How to find the right new tires isn’t difficult. Photo: Pirelli

What Are OEM Tires, and What Advantages Do They Have?

When you are tire shopping, you might run across the term “OE” or “OEM.” This means Original Equipment or Original Equipment Manufacturer and means the parts came from the factory. For instance, an OEM windshield wiper on your Toyota Highlander came from Toyota’s factory. Same with the tires, but you’ll find brands like Michelin or Goodyear. If you think about it like this, these are like the Nordstrom of tires. And who doesn’t love Nordstrom, right?

If your car is still under warranty and you take it to the dealership where you purchased it, you can get a good deal on such tires. You can ask your service advisor or call the dealership to get information. Otherwise, some stores worth considering, like Costco Tires and Tire Rack, might offer a better deal.

There are a few tips to get the most out of your new tires:

  • Always replace in pairs, if possible. Replace two tires or all four, but not just one.
  • Make sure you buy the correct type of tires for your vehicle. For instance, truck tires won’t fit on a sedan, and sedan tires aren’t always enough for larger vehicles.
  • There are different types of tires, depending on the season. There are run-flat tires, tires for heavy-duty trucks, and tires made specifically for EVs.

One benefit to buying OEM tires from your dealership is that they will likely be there already or can be shipped directly to the dealership. Then, you can install the new tires right there without much fuss. Sometimes, these tires are more expensive, but they can reduce the hassle slightly.

Another advantage is that sometimes, these tires have been designed specifically for the vehicle. Specialty trucks, sports cars, and even regular vehicles might see better tire life with tires specifically made for the vehicle type.

Related: Meet Hannah Grisham, Pirelli Tires First and Only Female Test Track Driver

New Tires

You can buy new tires online similar to those included in Honda’s Trailsport trim. Photo: Connie Peters

The Benefits of Non-OEM Tires

One of the benefits of purchasing from Costco Tires or Tire Rack is that you can often find good deals. These would be like a more universal tire situation, perhaps the Target equivalent. Get a good deal, and be on your way.

Buying four new tires is usually a good way to save money, as there are frequent discounts. Costco Tires come with a five-year road hazard warranty, and they will replace or repair tires damaged during standard legal vehicle operation.

Tire Rack has a similar situation called Tire Road Hazard Protection. The company will replace the current tire up to $599 and offer protection for 24 months from the date of purchase. They will also reimburse you up to $40 for flat tire repairs. I’ve used Tire Rack’s Road Hazard Protection program, which was really easy.

With both of these stores, you can have the new tires shipped directly to your home or a shop. There are suggested shops on the website that make installation easy. For those who want this process to be quick and painless, this is usually a good route. Mounting the tires doesn’t take long, and you can be in and out on your lunch break. Plus, you might make a new friend in the process. Having a trusted mechanic is always a bonus.

Related: How to Avoid Going to Flat Tire City


Fresh new tires from Pirelli. Photo: Pirelli

Buying Tires Online and Finding the Right Size

If you are replacing tires on your vehicle, you can use those to find the right ones. Every tire will have important information on the side that you can reference. For instance, a typical tire might read P215/65 R15. Your new tires will need to be the same.

You’ll find the tire type, which is most likely for a passenger vehicle, so you will see the letter P. The next set of numbers, 215, indicates the tire width in millimeters. After that, the 65 indicates the aspect ratio. R is for Radial, which means the layers run radially across the tire. And finally, the 15 stands for how large your wheels are. In this case, these wheels are 15”. You’ll want to jot this information down or take a photo of it to get similar tires.

On Costco Tires and Tire Rack, you can search by tire size or vehicle type to find the correct set for you. If you are only replacing two tires, you’ll want to find the same tires, if possible. Replacing the full set gives you more wiggle room, but you’ll still need the same specs for the tires you remove.

New Tires

Winter tires grip the snow for better traction. Photo: Scotty Reiss

Pro Tip: Don’t Be Afraid to Shop Around

We compare prices on a lot of everyday items before making a purchase; why not new tires, too? If you have time, shopping around is always a good idea. Compare the prices of OEM tires from your dealership to the ones available on Costco Tires or Tire Rack. Sign up for emails to get discounts, especially around holidays. You can often get a discount buying four tires at a time versus just two but don’t wait too long to replace your tires.

Tires are integral to keeping you and your vehicle safe on the road, so be sure to check them out periodically. It is a good idea to check the life of your new tires when you do routine maintenance, like oil changes and coolant flushes. That way, if you need to replace your current set, you have some time to shop around and have them shipped.

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Amanda Cline is an automotive enthusiast from Southwest Florida. She has cultivated her love for cars from a young... More about Amanda Cline