Unless you find yourself with a flat, you may not need to replace your tires all that often on your car.
When you do, you’re hit with an expensive bill.
It may surprise you to see that something made out of rubber can be that pricey.
Here are 10 reasons tires are so expensive.
Why Are Tires So Expensive? (Top 10 Reasons)
One of the reasons tires are so expensive is that it costs money to manufacture them.
There are two different types of manufacturing processes for tires.
One relies on an economic approach while the other focuses on performance.
Both use layers of rubber, steel, and chemicals in their production.
Economic tires use fewer layers to make them cheaper.
Performance tires have more layers to give them an edge and to give better control of the car on the road.
Steel is also used in the manufacture of tires.
There are steel rods and beads throughout the tire that lend to its strength and rigidity.
All of these components cost money to obtain and process.
Then it costs more money to put them together and ship the product to retailers.
The more processing that a tire needs, the more costly it’s going to be.
You may think that tires are all the same, but that isn’t the case.
Each tire from a different company uses a different formula and recipe in its production.
That’s because each company wants to make the best specific type of tire for their particular market.
To make an ideal tire, the companies need to hire researchers and scientists to experiment with various chemicals and materials.
That costs money.
They perform the research on the company’s dime.
They pay those costs through the prices of the tires that they’re currently selling.
Tires are also always seeing some type of advancement or innovation.
Companies want them to last longer, to perform better on poor road conditions, and even to change the type of tire entirely.
For example, some tire companies are looking to replace inflatable tires with non-inflatable ones.
The amount of research, resources, and time involved with the process costs money.
That makes both the tires they release and the tires that they’re already selling expensive to cover the cost.
Innovation always comes with a price.
3. Superior Handling
Another reason tires are expensive is that they offer superior handling on the road.
The ability of your tires to handle the road is vital to your safety.
That’s why manufacturers spend a lot of time and money on their prototypes.
If their tires are at fault for an accident, then they’re not going to sell many of them.
The same goes for tires that are unreliable.
They sprout leaks all the time or their tread wears down fast.
If the tires don’t support the handling of your car, then the companies could face expensive lawsuits.
Figuring out how to improve the handling of your tires on the road is also costly.
The manufacturers need to figure out the shortcomings of their current products, then refine them.
That might mean they need to invent a new kind of material or a new tread design.
Once they’ve settled on a prototype, they need to check that it does offer superior handling.
If the car veers off the road or the driver experiences difficulties in steering, then they have a dud.
That means going back to the drawing board and starting over again.
Those that do make the cut are more expensive because they likely require more materials or different processes in the assembly line for their manufacture.
The more handling that a tire offers, the more expensive it’s going to be.
4. Increased Braking Capability
Tires help your car slow down and come to a stop.
When you press your brake, it stops the tires from turning.
The quality of the tires determines how fast you stop.
Certain variables like the tire’s size, the tire’s tread, and the tire’s condition will help determine how quickly you can stop.
A large tire will slow down faster than a smaller tire because it has more surface area to drag against the road.
The tread determines the speed with which you stop because its grooves help dig into the ground and stop the car.
The condition of the tire also determines the speed with which you stop because bald tires glide against the road rather than digging into it.
More expensive tires focus on these qualities that help braking capabilities.
It’s why you’ll see racing cars with large wheels.
They need more surface area to both launch themselves at the start but also to stop in the event of an emergency.
Tires with more surface area need more materials in their makeup.
The more materials that a tire possesses, the more expensive it’s going to be.
The tread of a tire also needs to be deep and wide.
With a high-performance tread, the tire can catch the road more easily and slow itself down.
That’s also why you won’t see a large tread on racecars.
They don’t want the tread to cause friction on the road and slow them down.
For cars on standard roads, size and high-quality tread are important.
The design and manufacture of treads cost money.
It takes special machines to form tread in a tire.
The machine needs to be delicate to ensure it doesn’t create a fault in the tire.
If the tread is too deep or wide, then it could have an impact on performance.
It may also make it easier for the tire to blow out or leak.
Finally, the condition of the tire also makes it more or less expensive when it comes to braking capabilities.
Brand new tires don’t have any wear and tear.
They have an outer layer that further helps the tire make friction with the ground and stop the car.
Worn-down tires lack this outer layer.
They also tend to have tread that no longer exists.
They’re called bald tires and it makes it difficult for your car to slow down on the road.
It can also cause them to drift on the road.
Expensive tires use high-quality materials to form this outer layer on the tire to improve braking capabilities.
Used tires or inexpensive tires lack the outer layer.
That’s also why you’ll notice that used tires that are still in great condition and have this outer layer still are more expensive than bald tires.
The ability to brake well makes a tire more expensive.
5. Road Noise
Cars used to be extremely noisy.
Loud tires and engines were to blame.
Tires emit noise when they’re in use.
More expensive tires emit less noise.
Since many car owners consider reduced noise a luxury rather than a necessity, it comes with a luxury price tag.
Some vehicles require the use of a quiet set of tires.
Trucks, for example, that drive through neighborhoods need quieter tires than they would use normally.
This is an attempt to help reduce the disturbance of those living in the neighborhood and improve customer satisfaction.
Making a quiet tire isn’t easy.
The tire still needs to be safe for use on the road.
It needs to last as long as possible.
It also needs to impact fuel costs as little as possible.
That type of engineering is expensive.
The fact that it isn’t something that all tires require also drives up the cost.
To make a quiet tire, manufacturers need to reconfigure their factory’s settings to create it.
That costs time and labor.
Those add to the price tag.
Since these types of tires are smaller in number and sell to a niche market, the price is also more expensive.
With specialized demand and few suppliers, manufacturers who make quiet tires can increase their price.
While tires have come a long way since they were first made in regard to noise reduction, there are some types of tires that take reduced noise to a whole new level.
You can expect them to be expensive.
6. Longer Tread Life
One of the most important aspects of a tire is its tread.
The tread determines everything from the lifespan of the tire to its ability to handle certain conditions on the road.
The tread of the tire works by using its small gaps to cause friction on the road.
This creates drag.
The drag helps to keep your car on the road.
Too wide of tread can put a lot of drag on your car.
That impacts its performance and fuel costs.
Too thin of tread doesn’t give enough drag which means braking and handling your car is more difficult and less reliable.
Over time, the tread starts to wear down.
That’s because rubber is the main ingredient in the production of tires.
Rubber loses its form and starts to degrade over time.
This is especially true for rubber on roads.
The asphalt and stone rip the rubber slowly over time.
It tears into it.
The tread closes the more that the driver uses the tire.
Eventually, it will close entirely, and a bald tire will form.
This tire has no tread and isn’t safe to use on the roads.
Because it doesn’t have any drag, the car can easily glide across the road.
While that may seem like a great thing for fuel costs, it comes at the cost of handling.
You won’t be able to brake quickly or even turn your car that well.
That’s because the tire relies on that drag and friction to help steer your car where you want it to go.
To make high-quality tread, manufacturers need to use various materials, formulas, and processes.
That takes time and money.
That’s why tires with superior tread are more expensive than those with standard tread.
The longer that a tread can last, the longer the tire lasts.
The higher quality a tire is, the better the materials used in its production.
Better materials are more expensive than cheap, economical materials.
That also means that drivers are going to buy fewer tires.
Since the tread lasts longer, the owner won’t need to replace them as often.
Manufacturers need to make up for the missing revenue by increasing the price of the tire.
That makes high-quality tires with long-lasting tread expensive.
7. Better Gas Mileage
A car’s tires also add to its fuel efficiency.
In a world where more drivers are seeking to reduce their carbon footprint and make their cars as green as possible, gas mileage is important.
It also makes owning a car cheaper since you don’t have to pay for as much gas to get to your destination.
Several factors influence a car’s gas mileage, and one of those is tires.
Tires that offer better gas mileage are more expensive because more engineering goes into them than standard tires.
A set of tires influences gas mileage through their texture and size.
Tires that have large treads are going to have better handling on the road, but they’re also going to have less efficient gas mileage.
That’s because the tread creates more drag and friction on the road.
It requires more fuel from the car to push itself forward and overcome the friction or resistance between the road and the tire.
Other types of tires use high-quality tread, but they keep it small to have as little of a negative impact on fuel efficiency as possible.
Since they still want to offer great handling, they rely on high-quality materials and processes to make the tire.
That costs money which means the tire is going to be expensive to cover those costs and still make a profit.
If gas mileage is a concern, then you can expect tires that boast better gas mileage to be more expensive.
8. Off-Road Requirements
Off-road tires are often even more expensive than tires used for everyday travel on the roads.
That’s because off-roading puts a lot of stress on the vehicle and its tires.
These tires are expensive because they use high-quality materials to make them tough and durable.
No one wants an off-roading set of tires that blow up or spring a leak when they run over a rock or branch.
While tires aren’t invincible, off-roading tires need something extra durable to be worth buying.
Since they’re specialized, they come at a higher price.
The production process uses more materials to make them, there are more quality assurance steps, and they’re also part of a niche market.
Not everyone goes off-roading.
As such, there are only a few suppliers.
The small market leads to high prices, especially as demand increases during the off-roading season.
If you plan on going off-roading, then you can expect your tires to be expensive.
9. Snowy Conditions
If you buy a seasonal tire, then you can expect them to be expensive.
People who live in climates where they experience both summer conditions and snowy winter conditions often use different sets of tires.
Summer tires are better suited for dry roads.
Winter tires are better suited for snowy conditions.
In particular, winter tires use a bit more material than summer tires because they need to have thicker tread.
The car needs help to grip the road as much as it can during the winter.
Wet snow, ice, and even dry snow can make it difficult for tires to grip the road.
As a result, the driver is unable to stop or steer the car in the direction they want to go.
The only way to give the car that extra bit of help is to use tires made specifically for snowy conditions.
Since these tires are specially made for use during the winter season, you can expect them to be expensive.
The factory has to change its processes and adjustments to produce winter tires instead of their standard tires.
It also requires more materials.
Anything that’s seasonal also naturally comes with a higher price tag.
You can save some money by using the same tires all year round or by holding onto your seasonal tires and exchanging them as needed.
10. Custom Tires
A final reason tires are so expensive is the choice to buy custom tires.
Many drivers like to modify their cars by buying custom tires.
Most often, they buy tires that are several sizes larger than what they actually need for their car.
This adds to the price of tires for several reasons.
For one, larger tires require more materials in their manufacture.
Second, custom tires need special attention.
They can’t go through a factory assembly line because the manufacturer is only producing one or a few.
They’re made to order instead of factory-made.
That costs labor, time, and money.
Another reason custom tires are more expensive is that everything then needs customizing.
The hubcaps need to fit the tires, even the car itself needs adjusting to fit the new tires.
The more customized your tires are, the more expensive they’re going to be.
Tires are expensive because they’re made to be durable, long-lasting, and offer better mileage on the road.
Custom tires are the most expensive type of tires.
You can save money by shopping for used tires or by holding onto your seasonal tires and switching them out through the year.
Consider the reasons above when you’re shopping for tires to help you find the best price.