Consumer Reports: Inflated tire tread-wear claims

When it comes time to buy tires, tread life is an important consideration. Manufacturers claim anywhere from 30,000 to 100,000 miles. Consumer Reports tested the tread life of 47 tires — two samples of each — to check those claims.

A convoy of trucks drove each tire 16,000 miles. The tread was measured at regular intervals to project how long the tires would last. Tire life also depends on the vehicle and proper maintenance. And how and where you drive makes a difference. But Consumer Reports’ auto editor Mark Rechtin says, “Our mileage projections are a good way to compare tread wear.”

The tests showed that some tire mileage claims are overly optimistic. The warranty on the Kumho Solus TA11 is 75,000 miles, but Consumer Reports projects 55,000. And the warranty on the Continental TrueContact tires is 90,000, but Consumer Reports projects 60,000. In both cases, Consumer Reports says the projected tread wear is still quite good.

Far worse was the Nokian Entyre 2.0. Its warranty is 80,000 miles; Consumer Reports projects just 35,000.

Some tires last much longer. Michelin was a standout. The three models tested met or exceeded their mileage warranty and had a projected tread life of 80,000 miles or more.

The longest-lasting tires in Consumer Reports’ tests were the Pirelli P4 Four Seasons Plus. The manufacturer claims 90,000 miles, and Consumer Reports estimates they will last 100,000.

Consumer Reports says don’t expect to get all of your money back if your tires wear out before the mileage warranty. You’ll only get a credit for the miles the tire didn’t last. And it’s only good toward the retail price or dealer’s retail price for an identical tire or a comparable one from the same manufacturer. Discounts, which are common, could make that credit worthless.

Complete Ratings and recommendations on all kinds of products, including appliances, cars and trucks, and electronic gear, are available on Consumer Reports’ website. Subscribe to ConsumerReports.org.

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