Having ownership of a vehicle means a constant turmoil of decisions. A good choice can mean the difference between a perfectly maintained, pristine ride and a huge collection of scrap metal.
Due to this habit of vigilant decision making, there is a considerably large demand for aftermarket tires over OEM’s. This is because it is alleged that OEM tires wear out faster than replacement tires. The following article seeks to discuss this claim as well as offer knowledge about the basis of selecting the best tires in accordance to your vehicle needs
What are OEM tires?
To begin with, it is important to familiarize oneself with the two categories of vehicle parts, namely OEM and aftermarket. OEM stands for “Original Equipment Manufacturer”, this refers to the parts that the manufacturer has designed. During the assembly of a car the manufacturer provides the tire makers with a list of specifications that result in what are called OEM tires. Depending on how well kept the tires are,the tire brand and usage, an OEM tire lasts for an average of 50,000 miles before replacement. On the other hand are the aftermarket parts, these are manufactured by a third party (i.e. not the manufacturer). They are usually manufactured in higher volumes and are similar to OEM parts. They do not have any specifications thus can fit a large variety of car models. Aftermarket tires can last anywhere between 60,000 to 75,000 miles.
Do OEM’s Wear Faster?
Almost always is the case that OEM tires have a lower tread wear index, this is simply because of the type of rubber and tire pressures used. In order to allow a smooth/bump free ride as well as for a better performance on standardized tests, car manufacturers opt for a very soft kind of rubber AND pump the tires with unreasonably low pressures. A softer compound does a great job in hugging the road but it degrades much faster due to greater rolling resistance. A lower pressure increases the contact patch and thus maximizes wear through increased rolling resistance. Another probable reason for faster wear on these is the huge amount of cost cutting done to produce these tires in bulk and provide the highest margins of profit for the manufacturer.
Although these pressures provide a better grip and a more comfortable ride,they:
a. do not provide the best mileage, and
b. cause an increase in contact patch which results in greater friction on the tire, hence faster wear off.
On testing, a softer tire provides better results in standardised testings such as 0-60mph times, 60-0 braking distances, specific traction capacity and load index etc. Another reason these tires aren’t as long lasting is for the purpose of profit. The goal of any business is to enhance sales and cut costs, manufacturers do this by designing the cheapest possible tires. These companies do not have any regard for how long the tires will run but they know it will sell and perform better on tests, regardless.
After all, these factors do make a car more desirable for purchase, but will not be very beneficial in the long term as they will contribute to extra maintenance costs. If you’re curious you might also want to know Do All Terrain tires wear faster?
Factors Influencing Tire Choice
At this point one may conclude that OEMs are not the best to invest in as they do not last very long. Correct? Not entirely. The choice one makes ultimately depends on their personal preference rather than technicalities. Listed below are some factors that influence this decision.
It is an obvious fact that the cost of an OEM tire is much higher than a standard replacement. Since the manufacturer has tried to provide the “best material” in order to suit the vehicle meticulously, it goes without saying that prices would be high. Therefore, most drivers opt for replacement tires; it saves a buck without compromising the performance.
2. Age of Vehicle
With due time newer/modified tires roll out in the market every now and then. This is to ensure that the tires are able to compete in the ever changing standards of the automobile market. Hence, it is likely that a new tire may fit your car better than its own OEM. This is especially true if a period of 5 to 6 years has surpassed.
3. Regional Differences
Depending on the state of the automobile industry in the country as well as other factors such as trade status, economic conditions, restrictions over imports etc. OEM fits may not be easily available in all countries. For this reason, alternatives are sought.
4. Driving styles
For people that own vehicles like sports or luxury cars, it is best that they opt for OEMs. Sports cars (due to the haphazard driving style) have OEMs that are more durable and provide a larger grip than standard tires. Although a user can compare and contrast, taking a risk would not be feasible as it will impact the prime objective i.e winning the race. On the contrary, for drivers that simply wish to get from point A to B without bursting a tire an OEM is not of need.
5. Personal preferences
Some users have individual demands like requiring a quieter ride or requiring wheels that counteract the snow better. Again, not particularly requiring an OEM.
More than often, car manufacturers do not provide a warranty for tire issues, even if they do, it is usually of a minimal benefit. This obviously puts standard tires as a preference.
How to Pick the Best Tires
● As with purchasing anything it is a good practice to conduct sufficient research. Read reviews. Check websites. Ask around.
● Focus on the tread wear rating. The higher this is, the more time it should take for your tire to wear out. The value of this can be anywhere between 200 – 800.
● Always opt for test runs. If you find that you need a switch, ask your dealer if they can provide something better.
● Don’t just blindly purchase a brand, although popular,these are not always destined to give you the best quality. You can find alternatives that are not advertised as frequently but are of good quality. Check consumer reports for that.
● Do not confuse ride comfort as tire quality. Tires that give you a slightly rougher ride have a better mileage and will last longer than the ones that give you a smooth ride. Unless the difference is greatly noticeable, it’s worth the compromise.
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