Used Premium Tires Tested Against New Budget Brands Might Surprise You

Buying cheap new tires, used tires or used premium tires may not be a $64,000 question, but it could be a $1,000 question. That’s especially true these days, as the cost of tires has increased substantially thanks to larger vehicle wheels. There’s no point in racking up $1,000 for a new set of tires, and that makes used tires a tempting proposition. But should you be tempted?

Tire expert Jonathan Benson has been looking for an answer to that question, at least with regards to the Michelin CrossClimate 2 all season long. The tire performed very well in Benson’s recent head-to-head tests, earning accolades for outstanding snow and wet handling with reasonable dry performance. They can also be pricey, with four new sets for the average SUV topping the aforementioned $1,000 mark. Meanwhile, something a little more commonplace like the Allyear Tomket featured in this video could be easier on the wallet. Then again, so is a used Michelin set.

To simulate a used CrossClimate 2 tire set, all four were machined to a tread depth of just 2.2 millimeters, which is approximately 3/32 of an inch. That’s just above the US Department of Transportation’s minimum 2/32 recommendation for changing tires, and then getting them installed in the car and driven for another 2,500 miles. This was also done for the Tomket Allyear tires, and two new sets from both brands were put in the test for full comparison.

Despite the significant loss in tread depth, worn Michelins made for faster lap times in snow compared to the new budget Tomket tires. It was only a few seconds, and in apples-to-apples tests, the used Michelin retained more of its performance than the worn-out Tomket. As for feel, the Tomket produces a lot more understeer, and the Michelin is a bit sketchy on braking. Still, the nod goes to a nearly obsolete set of CrossClimate 2 tires over a new set of Tomket Allyear all-season tires.

This is not so obvious on wet roads. In numbers, the new Tomket is slightly faster in one round. However, Benson’s hands were full trying to keep the test vehicle (a Volkswagen Golf) under control. When the tires are not hydroplaning, Michelin offers significantly better grip on wet roads while providing better feedback to the driver. Tomket looks as if he is always on the edge.

In dry conditions, it’s no surprise that the well-worn Michelin easily outperforms the new Tomket. Tires generally got better in dry condition when used; reduced tread means less tread block movement.

Few people know tires as well as Benson, but even he was surprised by the used versus new performance. For more insights, see Rambling About Cars podcast with Benson as a special guest, available below.

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