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Who knows tires? Seeking advice on buying 4 for my Camry
Posted by: reezekeys
Date: April 23, 2009 09:19PM
I just bought a used Camry (2002). It's an LE (according to the logo on the back of the car) , however I'm confused because it seems to have a lot of the XLE features, one of them being 16-inch wheels (stock LEs use 15-inch).

I need four tires. The existing tires are 215/60 HR16. Interestingly, the manual specifies 16-inch tires at a "V" speed rating, which seems high for a family sedan. Maybe they're assuming the XLE or SE trim line, or the Camry with the 6-cyl engine?

Anyway, I'm looking at two Cooper CS4 touring tires. They're well-reviewed and there's a rebate deal right now. The two models cost almost the same but differ in two respects: one of them has a speed rating of T but a UTQG treadwear rating of 780. The other one has a higher speed rating, H, but a lower treadwear rating - 560.

I put lots of miles on a car-- about 28K/year, a fair percentage of them highway, so I'm inclined to go with the tire with the higher treadwear and lower speed rating. What I am hoping to find out is: given that the stock speed rating is V, and my current tires are H, what might I be compromising going down further to a T rating? Thanks!
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Re: Who knows tires? Seeking advice on buying 4 for my Camry
Posted by: space-time
Date: April 23, 2009 09:24PM
I am not tire expert, but you talk a lot about speed ratings, yet you forget to mention how fast you drive!
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Re: Who knows tires? Seeking advice on buying 4 for my Camry
Posted by: jdc
Date: April 23, 2009 09:31PM
i have a 2002 XLE (150,000 miles on it, ugh) with some bridgestone potenzas on it -- seem to be wearing very well and are quiet -- the last set i had were les schwab toyo whatever -- very noisy

i dont think the last ones i had were V rated -- but i can go outside and check...



----

The Secret Diary of Steve Jobs [www.fakesteve.net]


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Re: Who knows tires? Seeking advice on buying 4 for my Camry
Posted by: davester
Date: April 23, 2009 09:44PM
Go explore the tire rack site in detail. Look at their ratings and reviews for tires that fit your car. After a while it will become pretty clear which tires suck and which are good. If in doubt, call them...I've found their sales guys to be very informative and they really don't have a stake in which tire you buy.




"In science it often happens that scientists say, 'You know that's a really good argument; my position is mistaken,' and then they would actually change their minds and you never hear that old view from them again. They really do it. It doesn't happen as often as it should, because scientists are human and change is sometimes painful. But it happens every day. I cannot recall the last time something like that happened in politics or religion." (1987) -- Carl Sagan
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Re: Who knows tires? Seeking advice on buying 4 for my Camry
Posted by: reezekeys
Date: April 23, 2009 10:10PM
Thanks everyone. Space-time, you asked how fast I drive. Well, nowhere near any T, H, or V max speed rating. I might hit 75 occasionally, but only for short bursts.

Since my initial post here, I've googled some more and found another thread with a guy facing the exact same issue. He claims the Toyota dealer said the T rated tires were fine. But there are a few posts with the opposing viewpoint, telling him to stick with the V rated ones.

JDC- it's late (well here in the NYC area it is!), don't go outside! I know the Bridgestones are good tires. I'm looking hard at the Cooper CS4s because of the rebate and some glowing reviews, which all seem to mention how quiet the ride is. I spend a lot of time in my car so that's something I'll definitely appreciate.
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Re: Who knows tires? Seeking advice on buying 4 for my Camry
Posted by: deckeda
Date: April 23, 2009 10:13PM
Quote
space-time
I am not tire expert, but you talk a lot about speed ratings, yet you forget to mention how fast you drive!

The speed rating doesn't have much to do with what to choose by itself. A good H-rated tire is what many cars benefit from, despite an H-rating being good for sustained speeds up to 130mph. In other words just because people don't regularly drive 130 doesn't mean an H-rated tire shouldn't be considered.

In general, higher ratings bring a stiffer sidewall and better steering response, all else being equal. I put V-rated tires on my minivan, not because I drive like a demon but because I wanted sharper steering. It comes at a cost of a rougher ride, all else being equal.

But speed ratings are only 1 aspect of a tire's likely characteristics.. These things aren't like speccing out a PC, the sum of the features won't be an accurate predictor of your satisfaction. Take davester's advice.
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Re: Who knows tires? Seeking advice on buying 4 for my Camry
Posted by: reezekeys
Date: April 23, 2009 10:33PM
Davester>>Go explore the tire rack site in detail. Look at their ratings and reviews for tires that fit your car<<

Yea, I searched under Camry XLE, saw mostly lots of negative reviews of the Bridgestone OEM tires. Tirerack doesn't carry Cooper. Not to mention the Town Fair dealer near me has way better prices. But I have learned a lot from the site (and others) about speed ratings, treadwear ratings, load ratings, etc.
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Re: Who knows tires? Seeking advice on buying 4 for my Camry
Posted by: jdc
Date: April 23, 2009 10:36PM
FWIW my camry and my 2000 honda accord EX came with michelin MXV4 plus tires -- 99.99% sure they were H rated

only got 45000 miles out of them -- but they were the best riding and quietest tire i have ever had on any cars -- got them again on my honda... but skimped on the camry to get the 70000 mile rated toyos...



----

The Secret Diary of Steve Jobs [www.fakesteve.net]


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Re: Who knows tires? Seeking advice on buying 4 for my Camry
Posted by: reezekeys
Date: April 23, 2009 10:45PM
Quote
deckeda

In general, higher ratings bring a stiffer sidewall and better steering response, all else being equal. I put V-rated tires on my minivan, not because I drive like a demon but because I wanted sharper steering. It comes at a cost of a rougher ride, all else being equal.

But speed ratings are only 1 aspect of a tire's likely characteristics.. These things aren't like speccing out a PC, the sum of the features won't be an accurate predictor of your satisfaction. Take davester's advice.

What you say generally agrees with what I've seen in my searching. Higher speed ratings give you better handling & shorter stopping distance at the expense of tread life. I also understand what you say about the rating not being an absolute predictor. (Forget about V, the Cooper I'm considering is not even an H -- it's a T). Exactly why I asked my initial question. I must say that I read in another thread that the higher speed rating does not necessarily mean better handling -- but if it worked for you, great. I'm a musician & often drive long distances to gigs. Less road noise is more important to me than jackrabbit handling.
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Re: Who knows tires? Seeking advice on buying 4 for my Camry
Posted by: reezekeys
Date: April 23, 2009 10:49PM
Quote
jdc
FWIW my camry and my 2000 honda accord EX came with michelin MXV4 plus tires -- 99.99% sure they were H rated

only got 45000 miles out of them -- but they were the best riding and quietest tire i have ever had on any cars -- got them again on my honda... but skimped on the camry to get the 70000 mile rated toyos...
So there's a trade-off between tread life and lower road noise? Great! :-(

I really would like to buy a set of tires that'll get me through the next TWO winters.
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Re: Who knows tires? Seeking advice on buying 4 for my Camry
Posted by: jdc
Date: April 23, 2009 10:54PM
well, "winter" around here is a bone chilling 40ยบ at night...



----

The Secret Diary of Steve Jobs [www.fakesteve.net]


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Re: Who knows tires? Seeking advice on buying 4 for my Camry
Posted by: Lux Interior
Date: April 24, 2009 01:33AM
After many years of tyre buying, I definitely recommend the round variety. If I ever see that @#$%& that sold me the octagonal ones again, I'll show him what-for!
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Re: Who knows tires? Seeking advice on buying 4 for my Camry
Posted by: reezekeys
Date: April 24, 2009 09:14AM
Quote
Lux Interior
After many years of tyre buying, I definitely recommend the round variety. If I ever see that @#$%& that sold me the octagonal ones again, I'll show him what-for!

Crap! It's $200 more for the ROUND ones! burnout smiley
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Re: Who knows tires? Seeking advice on buying 4 for my Camry
Posted by: Dakota
Date: April 24, 2009 10:35AM
Don't waste your time with reviews and all. You'll buy the cheapest.
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Re: Who knows tires? Seeking advice on buying 4 for my Camry
Posted by: Grateful11
Date: April 24, 2009 11:14AM
Just put a set of Michelin Latitude Tours on my wife's Tahoe and those
are the quietest, best riding tires we've ever had but they should they cost
$850 for 4. The old ones had at least 2 with separated belts, nearly
undriveable.



Grateful11
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Re: Who knows tires? Seeking advice on buying 4 for my Camry
Date: April 24, 2009 11:22AM
Can you rank: price, tread life, noise, dry performance (braking and cornering), wet performance, snow performance, and ride comfort?

High tread wear ratings (above 500) can imply that the tires have a hard and slick compound which increases braking distance and reduces cornering safety. Buying just on the lowest price could be risking your safety, but it is also a well known sales tactic to give a customer at least 2 price options. A lot of people will take the mid range option not wanting to pick the lowest category. It can be a nearly identical product that is marked up to give the impression of higher quality but is in reality something that the sales person is pushing for a higher profit.

The speed rating (in order: S, T, U, H, V) is also a sort of heat rating. Higher speeds generate higher heat in the tread and sidewalls when the car is loaded up. From the Tirerack site, "The maximum operating speed of a vehicle must be limited to the lowest speed rated tire on the vehicle." Stores can be sued for damages if they install tires with a lower speed rating and they fail due to a manufacturing defect. I would be very leery of a store that would be willing to break this rule without the customer making an exceptional issue of wanting to pay less for a lower rated tire.

A quick search said the 2002 V6 Camry has an electronically limited top speed of 135 mph. That would imply that even the H rated tires recommended by Tirerack might be too low a rating to be installed under the guidelines.



in tha 510.
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Re: Who knows tires? Seeking advice on buying 4 for my Camry
Posted by: reezekeys
Date: April 24, 2009 11:52AM
Filliam: My Camry has the 4-cyl. I'm actually very impressed by the acceleration of this engine, but I'm quite sure it'll never get to 100mph. Still I know the speed ratings aren't meant to be taken literally. I've read both sides of the argument online -- many say that Toyota over-specifies for liability reasons and H tires are fine.

At this point I'm leaning towards the H rather than the T-rated Cooper CS4. I just visited my local Town Fair Tire and they didn't have them in stock but the quote was for more than I thought -- the web site implies that everything is included, but it actually does not include balancing and valve stems. So, along with the "recommended" rear alignment ($49, the front is included w/the tires), tax, and disposal fee I'm looking at around $600 for the set.
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Re: Who knows tires? Seeking advice on buying 4 for my Camry
Posted by: reezekeys
Date: April 24, 2009 11:58AM
Quote
Filliam H. Muffman
Can you rank: price, tread life, noise, dry performance (braking and cornering), wet performance, snow performance, and ride comfort?

I was originally thinking that tread life & comfort were more important to me due to the 28K/year I put on my car and my many long trips to & from gigs. After more research & reading threads like this one I'm probably leaning more to getting the higher-speed-rated tires since people seem to say that they handle better and give me shorter braking distances. Of course I've read some conflicting opinions about that too.
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Re: Who knows tires? Seeking advice on buying 4 for my Camry
Date: April 24, 2009 01:01PM
Quote
reezekeys
Quote
Filliam H. Muffman
Can you rank: price, tread life, noise, dry performance (braking and cornering), wet performance, snow performance, and ride comfort?

I was originally thinking that tread life & comfort were more important to me due to the 28K/year I put on my car and my many long trips to & from gigs. After more research & reading threads like this one I'm probably leaning more to getting the higher-speed-rated tires since people seem to say that they handle better and give me shorter braking distances. Of course I've read some conflicting opinions about that too.

Tirerack has a lot of information about this, but it only helps on the exact brands and models that they carry and Cooper is not one of them. A lot of tire retailers have specially branded tire lines specifically to prevent exact product comparison and price matching. Remember that mounting, balancing, and disposal fees can make up 50% of the cost of cheap tires. Some shops might require an alignment check to qualify for warranty provisions. It might be a good idea to have the alignment checked anyway if it has not been done since the car was bought, especially if the old tires show signs of uneven wear.

You can sometimes get a feeling about the tire shop employees, if they can be trusted to give good evaluations of their products. Most tires with a wear rating over 400 should last 3 years or 50,000 miles given normal wear and proper alignment.

I found an overview of the CS4 product line. [www.motortrend.com] It sounds like the T rated tire has an 80,000 mile guarantee. If both of the models of Cooper tires have the same UTQG traction and temp, ratings go with the T rated tires. Hopefully both of them have a rating of at least "B A." These letters should come after the wear/durability number, ex: 780 A A. The first letter (AA, A, B, C) is for traction. The second letter is a temperature/speed rating, and should be A for both tires since each has at least a T speed rating.



in tha 510.
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Re: Who knows tires? Seeking advice on buying 4 for my Camry
Date: April 24, 2009 01:07PM
I have a 2003 LE 4-cyl and just had 4 tires put on from Sams club. I paid under $400 for BF Goodrich and they ride well and are quiet. We'll see how long they last. Here is the size: P215 60 16 94T
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Re: Who knows tires? Seeking advice on buying 4 for my Camry
Posted by: deckeda
Date: April 24, 2009 08:07PM
Quote
reezekeys
I must say that I read in another thread that the higher speed rating does not necessarily mean better handling -- but if it worked for you, great.

Yeah, that's why I peppered my response above with a few "all else being equal" provisos. Any tire that seems too good to be true relative to competitors probably is. I've been there.

I have a philosophy and preference for tires that discounts the importance of long life and looks for other characteristics most likely to promote a purchase I'll be happy with, because I'll be living with these things, you know? So when I go to tirerack.com or wherever to see what's new, I skip the vehicle selector and just click on tires in my size and sort by characteristics important to me. And then I look a little outside those assumptions.

If you'll rarely drive in snow, I suggest heavily discounting the "need" for tires that do OK there. The price you pay the other days of the year is sub-par rain and dry performance. Freezing temps and snow are way different needs compared to anything above freezing, and in order to make a tire that doesn't put you in the ditch when it's snowing they have to give up a lot on the other end.

Best tires I've ever had were outstanding in the rain but scary in snow --- but advertised as "hi po summer, dry-weather" tires. I've had "hi po summer, dry-weather" tires that could not be made to slide in the rain despite not being "rain tires." I've never had a "normal, good-in-the-rain" all-season tire that truly drove as confidently in rain as in the dry.

******************************************

"View all 70 tires." Uh, OK! [www.tirerack.com]

Pay attention to tread characteristics and design, and learn why some treads look the way they do. They are not guarantees, but fair indicators. Which ones are likely to do better in the rain? Snow? Be quiet? Pick your poison. The good news is that the price spread between different types doesn't have to be large.

Most of my purchases have been local, unless I just HAD to have something else. After you save money online it's often wiped out once you have get them put on locally anyway. Local tire stores will often negotiate. Firestone is famous for advertising "buy 3 get one free." I've gone in and got that deal when it wasn't advertised, by asking.
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Re: Who knows tires? Seeking advice on buying 4 for my Camry
Posted by: reezekeys
Date: April 25, 2009 08:34AM
deckeda - thanks. I have to admit that I have no clue about tread design. So there's a trade-off between wet traction & snow performance. Something new I just learned. I'm in the northeast (NYC metropolitan area) so I definitely see snow during the winter. I also drive my 9-yr old around a lot (the "chaufeuring" to various after-school sports activities is starting up big-time this year!), and I carpool other parents' kids too. The equation changes when it's your kids. Maybe I should be thinking of snow tires...
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Re: Who knows tires? Seeking advice on buying 4 for my Camry
Posted by: deckeda
Date: April 25, 2009 11:34AM
Quote
reezekeys
Maybe I should be thinking of snow tires...

Only for winter. That doesn't help you now.

What many people in your type of clime do is buy a spare set of wheels and put snow tires on them. Store them in the other seasons. Such a setup would provide you with superior snow and ice traction for many years because of course you'd only have them mounted for a few weeks or couple of months each year.

Something cheap like 15" OEM steel wheels from an LE would be perfect. Junkyards have them of course. Scan craigslist or local eBay auctions for people who've upgraded to fancy 16s etc. Do some homework to see what other Toyotas or other brands also use wheels with that bolt-pattern and your choices expand greatly. FYI that generation Camry (all models) needs rims with a "5-114" pattern. 5 lug nuts, spaced 114mm apart. Also referred to in the rough inches equivalent, "5-4.5" Very common pattern, also used by many other brands, but the wheel offset is also important. A discussion of wheel offset is out of scope for this thread, because there's no one number that's relevant for each car or wheel. A Toyota Camry-specific enthusiasts forum would provide oodles of knowledge, and very quickly too.

Goes without saying that if all of this appeals to you, you must budget for two sets of tires + extra rims this year. Of course, it would permit you to concentrate now on tires that didn't need to be good in the snow.
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Re: Who knows tires? Seeking advice on buying 4 for my Camry
Posted by: reezekeys
Date: April 25, 2009 01:42PM
Thanks for these tips. Not sure I can fit two sets of tires in the budget right now. At least I'm gonna look at snow performance much more closely (if I decide to try and make it with one set of tires -- which is what I've done my entire life actually!). I'll also find those Camry forums you speak of. I'm a long-time Subaru person, making the switch now. I've had three Legacys, always used all-seasons, never got stuck in snow -- and they were FWD. not AWD Legacys too! Had to switch because all the Legacys in my price range had the infamous 2.5L engines with head gasket failures.
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