Need new tires but don't want to spend a lot? [Archive] - Honda Element Owners Club Forum

: Need new tires but don't want to spend a lot?

11-03-2004, 08:43 PM
Hi, I'm just about to buy a 04 EX AWD and the only thing that the inspection turned up was the need for new tires. Can someone recommend something nice without spending a lot? Thanks.

11-03-2004, 11:01 PM

11-03-2004, 11:10 PM
How could an 04 possibly need new tires? How many miles does it have, or is it new and you have discerned the low quality of the stock tires?

11-03-2004, 11:45 PM
First off, I agree with the shock that an 04 would already have worn through the stock tires, even as bad as they are. Are you SURE you know the history on this car?

OK, here is a thought for getting off REALLY cheap, BUT you need to be more concerned with transport than looks.

IF you are willing to drop down to 215/65-16 size and happen to live near a Discount Tires store, you can get their store brand Arizonian Silver Edition tires INSTALLED price for $77 each, add $6 each for siping as a "must".

Before I sold my 4wd Nissan pickup I changed from some Yoko Geolanders to these tires and I was shocked by how good the siped Silver Editions were. They handled better than the Geolanders and actually had better wet and snow traction for half the price.

Going from the stock size fo 215/70-16 to 215/65-16 has the following effects:
Speedometer reads 65mph, actual = 63.02 mph
same width
sidewall height is -.43 (shorter) i.e. diam is .86 inch smaller.

I came VERY close to going this route or even getting the really nice GY Assurance TT's that are only available in that size for the Element...but alas, I fell for the pricey Nokian WR-SUV's THIS TIME...although who knows if I will ever splurge like that again.

11-04-2004, 02:39 AM
The stock tire tread design can make it look bald before its time, since the secondary grooves on shoulders are shallow and wear through quickly.

Still I did replace my stock tires at 16000 miles, and I did it for $100 total. A local tire dealer (not a national chain) offered me a set of lightly (maybe 5000 miles) tires in the slightly larger size (225/70/16). What I got were Goodyear Integritys, probably from a Pilot or minivan that was upgrading its tires. They certainly aren't the bee's knees, but they will give me another year or two of good service, by which time I may be more inclined to spend $400 on a new set (and have a better idea of what I really want).

So if you really want to save money at this time, consider going used. There are people who buy new tires because they want to change size or looks, even though their existing tires still have plenty of good life on them.


Bald Eagle
11-04-2004, 01:48 PM
Keep an eye on the EOC Trading Post forum. You might find somebody who has upgraded the stock Element tires...and, with a little luck, not too far from where you are.

11-04-2004, 03:03 PM
[quote:a110bfdc76=" "]Hi, I'm just about to buy a 04 EX AWD and the only thing that the inspection turned up was the need for new tires. Can someone recommend something nice without spending a lot? Thanks.[/quote:a110bfdc76]

I am about to get new tires for my 03 EX E. I live on Long Island in NY and if you are close enough we can probably work out a deal for them. I have just over 15,000 miles on them. Still in great shape.

Shoot me an e-mail if you are interested. In the subject mention the E and tires, or something so i know what it is about.

Let me know.

11-07-2004, 12:23 AM
I got a whole $50 credit for my 4 stock tires with 8000 miles on them, which were probably turned around to someone else for a hundred bucks or so. I can only feel sorry for that guy.... The only bright side is maybe they will go to someone who would otherwise be cruising around with bald tires.

Aha, PaulJ, THIS is the thread where you said what bargain tires you obtained. The reviews of the Goodyear Integrity are certainly less than glowing. I am not sure that would be a step up from worn OEM GY Wranglers. I would definitely go a FEW more bucks and drop down to 215/65-16 to and put on some slightly smaller diameter "best buy" selections, if I was trying to minimize costs. But that is certainly just my approach.

The biggest issue I can see with buying the tires that people trade in is that most of them would be OEM tires off of new cars. For some reason most OEM tires seem to be made "different" than the normal tires sold by tire companies and seem to wear out a whole lot faster. (based on my experience and others I know) Which always has seemed odd to me, since this would be a time to win over new customers instead of turning them away with a bad experience.

11-07-2004, 01:01 AM
I've seen the low consumer ratings of the Integrity on Tirerack, but I am still trying to figure out what those ratings mean. After I changed tires I tried to sense if the car felt any different. The only thing that I could come up with was that I seemed to feel paving joints along freeway lanes more - but I don't know if that is because more circumfirential grooves on the new tires made them more sensitive to such variations, or if it was because I was looking for differences. I had to go out of my way to make the front tires spin, where as that was easy when the car was new. But again, was that because the tires were different, or because I was now used to the Element's power?

If I were a harder driver, and had noted specific cases where the old tires failed me, then I could put the new tires through those same manuvers, and thus made a somewhat objective comparison. I'm tempted to think that the only way I would trust my judgement on tires would be if someone put me through a bunch of blind tests, changing tires on me without my knowledge.

Whether a new stock Wrangler HP is better or worse than a new Integrity is debatable - the Wrangle has bigger tread blocks and grooves, the Integrity more water evactuation grooves. However the more worn Wranglers had shallower siping, and a hardr, more compacted tread compound than the relatively new Integritys - so I expect comparable snow handling this winter as last.

Last winter I expected my RAV4 to do better in snow than the Element, both because it normally drives all 4 wheels, and because it's Mastercraft tires have a better looking tread. But the Element did much better on an icy hill. Tires may or may not have anything to do with the difference. That kind of experience adds to my caution when judging tire capabilities.


11-07-2004, 07:18 AM
Paul am not familiar with the Intergrity tires, but there could be any number of reasons why the highway joints are sounding different.

1. Tire pressure.
2. Size of tire, you went up to a larger tire thus the sidewall is different as is the tire width.
3. Tire construction is obviously different,
4. Treads are completely different.

Now for your comparison to the RAV4 in winter driving and now knowing if it the awd system or the tires that made the cars perform differently. I would put my money squarely on the tires. I can tell you from my experience of only last winter I was VERY disappointed with the Element's performance in the snow. I am planning on ripping these Goodyear tires off my Elelement within the net week or two. Already have my new tires picked out.

I had been driving an Audi TT Quattro over the previous 4 winters. My first taste of snow with that car was driving on the "performance summer tires". With less then 1/2" of snow on the ground the car sidded more than 800 feet and almost went into a pole! I was slowing down from 10 mph when this occurred. Went right out and bought a set of Nokian NRWs (since replaced by the WRs) and my TTQ turned into a SnowCat! I am expecting the same thing from my Element when I put on Nokian WRs.

Now back to your RAV4/Element comparison. The "look" of the tread is now a good determining factor in how a tire will perform in the snow/ice. It is much more important the kind of rubber compound, how soft it remains in freezing temps. This winter feel the tread by trying to press your fingernail into the Mastercraft tires. My guess is they will be solid rocks, this gives zero traction. Compare that to the Integrity's... they might be slightly softer, but not by much.

All I know if my Wrangler's were pretty damn hard last winter here on Long Island and I was slipping and sliding everywhere I went. I was getting better traction using my Mom's Camry!

Type X
11-07-2004, 07:21 AM
[quote:d6ebd564c6=" "]Hi, I'm just about to buy a 04 EX AWD and the only thing that the inspection turned up was the need for new tires. Can someone recommend something nice without spending a lot? Thanks.[/quote:d6ebd564c6]

cheapest thing do to would be to search
the 3 element forums AND for a set of LOW LOW mile element rims and tires

i've seen rims and tires for 400 bux

buy them THAN sell your rims and tires for 250-300 due to the wear on the tires

and it will end up being 200 for a set of fresh new rims and tires ;)

this is what i plan to do only i am going to be keeping the OTHER stock rims for winter tires 8)

11-07-2004, 12:03 PM
[quote:55a0d2555c=" "]I've seen the low consumer ratings of the Integrity on Tirerack, but I am still trying to figure out what those ratings mean. After I changed tires I tried to sense if the car felt any different. ....


Herein lies the problem.... You are comparing a poorly rated (I have NOT driven the Integrities, so I can only go be a LOT of heresay) Goodyear Integrities to special downgraded OEM GY Wranglers. Thats like tossing a drowning man a leaky life raft to replace a leaky inner tube and asking if thats any better. :)

And I am not just an anti-Gooodyear guy. We installed the Assurance TT on our Accord recently and they are AMAZING tires. Wish they came in Element size, and if I can't afford the Nokian WR's when my current set wears out, I might go slightly undersize to get them, if no better "best buy" is available by then.

Now.. Back to THIS thread of BUDGET tires. I still question sinking a bunch of money into used wheels or half worn OEM tires, with unkown histories. If it was me(and has been in the past and might be in the future) on a very restricted budget, I would still go with NEW slightly undersize, SIPED, Discount Tires upper grade store brand Arizonian Silver Edition in a 215/70-16. Which served me EXTREMELY well in ALL weather, on a 15 inch rim on my previous 4wd Nissan pickup. And for $80 installed price, you will have a safe tire that will last a LONG time, giving time to upgrade later on...and you may find you just won't get around to upgrading until these wear out....

Too much rides on my tires for me to cut the corners toooo tight on buying tires. I have passed that onto my 2 daughters who are running "best buy" tires on their old beater college student cars and they are now hooked on the concept.

It does take more research to find a GOOD "best buy" tire than to run out and just buy a top of the line good tire.

BTW, I finally got to try the Nokian WR's on wet roads. Those things are obscene on how well they stick a wet turn. :twisted:

Your Mileage May Vary

11-07-2004, 12:43 PM
In my Element v RAV4 test, temperatures were not much below freezing, so I doubt if rubber hardness made much difference. I know traditional snow tires are distinguished by two things - many sipes, and a soft rubber that stays flexible at low temperatures. The Mastercraft tires with a wear rating of 540 are probably harder than the Wranglers at 340, but the siping was more abundant.

I'd gone out about midnight, testing the Element on a few inches of new snow. On one steep block I stopped in the middle, and then started back up. I had to be very gentle on the gas to avoid spinning the wheels. Then I went back home and got the RAV4 and tried some of the same streets. On that same hill, it was harder to avoid wheel spin. Once the RAV4 started walking sideways toward the sides of the road I gave up.

While I tried to make the tests equal between the two cars, there were a number of differences. My first passage with the Element may have put some glaze on the road that wasn't there in the first place. The Element clearly had better directional stability in all maneuvers, so I may have tried harder on the hill. It was also a situation that called for gentle power to minimize wheel spin, so the higher 1st gear on the Element might actually have been an advantage. In fact, I might have actually had the Element in '2' (automatic) (at the time I didn't realize the Element's automatic did not downshift when in '2'). Tire pressure may or may not have made a difference. The tires were the same size, the RAV's at a lower pressure because it is a lighter car.

What is it about a soft tire that gives better traction in winter? Is it the same thing that gives a soft tire better traction on dry pavement? Does the soft tire stick and wear off on to the snow and ice? Or is it the flexing of the tread blocks? For that matter, does the softness matter more say, on ice, than on snow?

It appears that Nokian has moved away from the softness, and instead puts 'rocks' in its tread - silica granules that grip the ice. With this approach they get a tire that both grips well, and wears well. That would be good news for part-time snow drivers - we can get good snow traction without investing in two sets of tires.

It is likely that I will go with new tires sometime in the next year. I could have stuck with the Wranglers for another year, but with a 4000 mile road trip this fall it was nice to have a newer set of tires - even if they weren't top of the line.

Have any of you been able to make much sense out of the Consumer Report's ranking of SUV tires? Combine those with the Tirerack reviews, and testimonials on this forum, and it is easy to be confused.


11-07-2004, 02:49 PM
You might try contacting this fellow. Seems like a great deal to me.


11-07-2004, 02:51 PM
Paul now I see why the Mastercraft were so bad in the snow... a treadwear rating of 540! My god that is like driving a Flintstone's set of tires. Geez... get rid of those bricks. The Mastercraft can have the best tread design ever invented, it is the rubber compound that is killing their performance in the cold. Do they come with an 80,000 mile treadwear warranty?

The reason for wanting a softer compound for winter is as you said the same reason you want softer in the summer for performance. The tires get to actually grip the surface they are driving on. The tires and tread blocks can flex and grip.

Think of a sneaker and how they are each designed for the sport for which they are intended. You can't get the best performance from a Tennis sneaker playing basketball and vice versa. You also need a special sneaker for each type of surface that tennis is played on.

The same is true with tires for vehicles.

I realize this thread is supposed to be about "budget" tires... but lets look at this from a single point of view. What is the purpose of tires on a vehicle? How important are tires? Is it really not a big deal to go with a cheap set of budget tires?

The purpose of a tire is not just to keep the vehicle off the brake rotors. Tires are the most important part of the car. Why do I say this? They are the only part of the car that touches the road surface. They determine how well a vehicle turns, how well it tracks, how well it grips, how well it stops. This last point is to me one of the most important. The worse a tire is, meaning the harder the compound the worse the braking performance. You can toss on a set of Brembo 4 piston 13" brakes... they will still not stop the vehicle any better than the stock brakes if you use a crappy tire.

Sure, you can get two sets of tires/wheels but for the Element there really isn't a need if you spend your money wisely. That's why I plan on getting the Nokian WRs. They are going to run me $600 installed. Sure they cost a little more than most other tires... but I know they are awesome in the winter and very impressive the rest of the year through all weather conditions. They also come with a 50,000 mile treadwear warranty. Not too many tires can make all of these claims AND actually not be lying. :)

11-07-2004, 05:08 PM
Couple of Canadian Driver reviews of winter tires:

Nokian WR - -
supposedly a general article on winter tire technology, but specifically about the Yokohama's Ice Guard IG10

11-07-2004, 06:27 PM
It would be interesting to see a comparative test of several tires that claim to be both long wearing and have the 'severe winter service' label. The Nokian WR seems to achieve that double goal by putting rocks in its tread. The BFGoodrich T/KO has a modified A/T blocky tread. Someone in another thread thought the Cooper Discoverer M+S (or Mastercraft equivalent) was a long wearing tire as well - though I haven't seen independent confirmation of that.

A list of these and other 'snowflake in a mountain' tires can be found at

Apparently this tire standard grew out of problems encountered along the British Columbia Sea-to-Sky highway up to Whistler.


11-07-2004, 07:19 PM
Paul, you have now made the "rocks in their tread" comment twice. What is it that you are talking about/referring to? Are you talking about the Silica that is used to create the tire itself? Carbon which makes up most reads is also "rocks"...

Here is an article discussing using Silicas in tires as well as electronics.

One thing I don't agree with in that Canadian Driver article is the dry weather handling of the Nokian Tires. I actually used to auto-x my TT with Nokian NRWs on it because I didn't auto-x enough to justify a set of race tires/wheels. I used to actually win against cars on full race tires. :)

My NRWs handled up to their indicated speed rating of 130mph without any problems. Not planning on driving my E anywhere near that... but being able to have the ability to make a safe lane change at 60-75mph is of great concern for me. Already had to make one of those in the E and it became pretty upset because the tires couldn't grip well enough to handle the maneuver.

11-07-2004, 07:43 PM
Normally silica = sand = silicon dioxide

In the context of tires it is talked about as an agent that improves wear, reduces rolling resistance, while still giving grip. Instead of the grip coming from sticky rubber that rubs off, the grip comes from many micro 'studs', that wear slowly. I don't know what processing goes into making the silica that is used in tires, something that mixes well with carbon and rubber.

Does the surface of your Nokian tires feel any different than others - maybe a bit more like sandpaper? I suspect that the problem with an ordinary hard rubber is that it gets slick as it wears. An interesting question is whether a soft rubber has high grip because
- it sticks like an adhesive (with stretchy threads that refuse to let go),
- or because it wears fast without forming slick surface,
- or because it conforms to the rough surface of the road?

I imagine instead that a high silica rubber grips by pressing these little hard silica granules into the ice or meshes them with the roughness of the road.


11-07-2004, 10:09 PM
Paul, I don't remember what the NRWs felt like to the touch. When I get my WRs this week or next I will let you know.

My guess is they will feel just like any other tire. The silica I am sure is at the microscopic level.

11-07-2004, 11:32 PM
I looked at some tire patents. It appears that the silica is a reinforcing agent, used with or instead of carbon, to control the properties of the rubber, including its stiffness at various temperatures.

The preferred form is precipitated silica which is formed by a chemical process (synthetic 'sand'), and results in microscopic white balls, which in bulk look more like a white fluff. I think I actually have some of the stuff, which I bought some time ago as thickener for epoxy. It is also used as an thickening and abrasive agent in tooth paste.

I was confusing this material with the silicon carbide granules that the Green Diamond Tire company is putting in the tread of their winter tires. may be in error when they refer to these 'diamonds' as 'silica'.

While I have found some Nokian tire patents, none are for their use of silica, suggesting that practice is already general use. One Pirelli patent talked about their attempts to use both high carbon rubbers and high silica rubbers (white rubber) to produce decorative tires, and find that the combination also had some useful traction properties. Looks like this rubber compounding business is a lot more complicated than I thought.


Many of the Pirelli performance and winter tires have silica rubbers. Bridgestone Blizzak LM-22 is also a high-silica rubber. That may be true of most 'performance winter' tires.

11-08-2004, 11:34 AM
Finding replacement tires for under $400 is a challenge.

The highest rated tires on are the Yokohama Geolandars, and they're reasonably priced. Tirerack's service was excellent. I ordered a set of 4 at 8AM one day and UPS delivered them at 4PM the next day (Delaware to Virginia). Price was $296 for the tires and $32 for shipping.

I had them mounted at WalMart (they accept carry-ins) for $51, including mounting, valve stems, and a lifetime balancing/rotation agreement. Total for everything was $379.

The Geolandars live up to the reviews. Much better traction and handling than the Wranglers, and quieter. Only minus - road bumps and rumble strips much more noticeable.

If you decide to use and stick with the stock size Element tires, plan in advance. The highest rated tires (Michelins, Geolandars, and Dunlop Radial Rovers) tend to be out of stock for weeks on end.

I probably would have paid $40 more per tire for Michelins, but I'll wait to see if ANY replacement tire gets more than 40,000 miles given the Element's unusual configuration -- short wheelbase, narrow, tall, and top heavy.

If you're more interested in tread durability than traction, another good deal is B.F. Goodrich Long Trails at BJ's Warehouse Club for $99 a tire, including mounting, lifetime balance/rotation, and extended repair/replacement warranty.

Hope this helps.

11-09-2004, 12:38 AM
The Nokian WR's in my garage feel pretty much like...rubber.
MAYBE a TINY bit "rougher", but comparing it to the Goodyear Assurance TT's on the car next to it, its hard to tell since the Assurance TT also has some silica.

The Nokians do claim to have a "high dispersion Silica" Super Molecule in their tires.
But their english translation is pretty weak and there is not much detail put it mildly. I am still trying to figure out how the "green button" on the sidewall is going to tell me the roads might be frozen. (especially since I park in a warm garage...:-)

Watch out for installation charges in some "bargain" tire deals, which can add up quite a bit. My dad was bragging about what a great deal he got on Assurance tires compared to my price at the "as installed" priced place. So I added up his extras and sure enough they were the same price.

11-10-2004, 01:42 PM
wsj3 - It would be helpful to know where you live. Are you going to need a tire that works well in the snow, or can you get away with a more performance oriented all season.

If you aren't going to see much snow, then I would check out the Falken 512. Consumer Reports rated them #1 recently (for what it's worth). You can get them from for $61 a tire (235/60/16). These are excellent tires, don't let the price fool you. I put these on my wifes E, and kicked myself for not replacing the oe tires long ago. Do a google search on these tires and read the reviews for yourself. You can also read my review on this forum.

Again, these probaby won't be the best choice if you see a lot of snow.

11-10-2004, 02:31 PM
Falkin does not appear to produce a 'light truck' tire in the Element stock size (or one the slightly wider sizes). It does have a couple of the 'high performance' tires in a smaller size which should work with the Element, 235/60/16.

Even with the 'light truck' category, Falkin seems to be biased toward the low profile end, with more tires for larger rims.


11-10-2004, 09:47 PM
Falken makes the Zies S/TZ 04 in an Element stock size ,however i don't think these are the cheapest tires you can get. From some Canadian online tire dealers I've seen it runs about the same price as the Toyo Open Country A/T.


11-10-2004, 11:26 PM
Falken Ziex 512, not 502 or ST/Z.

Good tire.....

Good grip, good price, good treadware, fits stock wheel.

Falkin does not appear to produce a 'light truck' tire in the Element stock size (or one the slightly wider sizes). It does have a couple of the 'high performance' tires in a smaller size which should work with the Element, 235/60/16.

Even with the 'light truck' category, Falkin seems to be biased toward the low profile end, with more tires for larger rims.


I fail to see your point :) , but yes the Falken 512 235/60/16 will fit the stock wheels and it probably won't be the best bet if you see a fair amount of snow/ice. You're speedo will be slightly off, but not much according to the tire calculator. Load ratings are higher than OE.

In wet and dry, your E will be transformed.

If the shoe fits, wear it.

11-10-2004, 11:45 PM
The load ratings are pretty standard for the size, and in all cases, plenty given the Element's weight. In general the greater width the higher the load numbers, and for a given width, the higher the profile, the higher the load.


ps - I just compared the load rating of various tires that should fit the Element with an estimate of their cross section area (section_width x (1+profile/100), and found a decent correlation. So the load rating for a 235/60 tire is a bit higher than a 215/70 because the area is a bit higher. Where the correlation was not good there were other indications that a size and model had a heavier build (such as higher maximum pressure).

tom schibler
11-12-2004, 01:42 PM
Couldn't agree more about the importance of tire performance over price. Similar to saving money on a motorcycle helmet.

FWIW--I went with Kumho Ecsta KH-11 in 235/60-16, about 360 bucks installed at Discount tire. See other threads about how well these perform.

11-12-2004, 02:58 PM
While getting good tire performance is a nice goal, it may be hard to reach with any certainty. Apart from the UTQG there few objective measures of performance. Rankings that Tirerack collects are subjective customer opinions. Testimonies on these forums also fall in that category. I have no basis for ranking a Nokian tire above or below a Falkin tire base on praise on this list. My insurance company does not give me a discount for having particular tires on my car. I've even been disappointed with the information I could glean from Consumer Reports comparisons.

Speaking on CR comparisons, their comparison of SUV tires was reported on some recent threads. One of these recent Falkin posts also mention it be high ranked in CR studies - however I suspect it was a passenger car 'performance' tire comparison. I don't think any Falkin tires appeared in the SUV test.

Changing tires is not necessarily going to make me a safer driver. It could make me worse. Switching to a 235/60/16 'high performance' tire may let me take freeway exits at a higher speed, stop on dime, or make a quicker get away at the stop light. They could give me greater margin of safety in many situations, but they could also encourage me to drive more aggressively. Tires are only part of the safety equation. What I do with them is an even bigger part.


12-09-2004, 07:53 AM
I went to Honda to complain about the worn out OEM GY HP's on my '03 E. After only 17K miles, the treads measured to 4/32" (legal limit is 2/32") all around. Honda will not replace the tires unless the vehicle mileage is 12K or less. Went to Goodyear Gemini and requested a GY 'warranty tire adjustment' and was not questioned about the issue at all. Wound up with a new set of Dunlop Rover A/T 225's (not 215's; UTQG 500 A A B) put on for a prorated cost of $195.85 out-the-door including road hazard coverage. At that dealer, those Dunlops retail for $105. I am very pleased with the outcome as it sure beats forking over $400 - $500 for a new set of non-prorated tires. Whether the Dunlops will prove worthy is yet to be seen (GY owns Dunlop). I know they're not Nokians, but neither was the OTD price.

The GY dealer rep told me all car manufacturers specify special OEM tires to meet fleet MPG averages. Contrary to intuition, these special OEM tires feature a very soft rubber compound to increase fleet MPG, and thus wear out incredibly fast. The consumer is the loser however unless they go through the tire adjustment process I went through. The GY dealer did not question my request for adjustment; GY just hopes not too many consumers with pursue that process.

My advice to all E owners who are unhappy with the unspectacular GY Wrangler HP wear: get them exchanged on a pro-rated basis with a GY dealer.