Car dealer says vehicle manufacturers, not tire makers, design tires!

Bob Ulrich
Posted on November 22, 2011

Earl Stewart has been around tires a long time. He founded Earl Stewart Toyota in the North Palm Beach, Fla., area more than 35 years ago.

And because of his dealership's "Free tires for life" plan, he has given away a lot of them, at least $1 million worth.

But that doesn't mean he knows everything about tires. His latest blog is a case in point.

Stewart writes a blog for "The Hometown News," a community newspaper in nearby Fort Pierce, Fla. It also appears on his website.

Barry Steinberg, CEO and president of Direct Tire & Auto Service, alerted me to Stewart's latest blog, "Why new car tires wear out so fast."

"It is a full moon or April Fools Day," was his note attached to the blog. Here are some of the reasons why.

Stewart: "The tires that came with your last new car were not designed by Michelin, Goodyear, Bridgestone or any other tire manufacturer. They were designed by the manufacturer of your car."

Me: Tire specs and tire designs are two completely different things. Need I say more?

Stewart: "The OEM tires that came with your car can’t be replaced -- which is a good thing -- after they’ve worn out. And they will wear out much sooner than they should. This is because virtually all auto manufacturers specify very soft rubber which means they wear out too fast."

Me: This first part of the statement isn't true, according to Steinberg, who says he sells a lot of OE tires at the replacement level. It all depends on what the customer wants. As for the second part, sometimes it is true. When car buyers become tire buyers, tread wear becomes more of an issue.

Stewart: "Another way the car makers delude you into thinking your ride is very smooth is by recommending low tire inflation. The number you see on your door jamb or in your car’s owner’s manual is the car manufacturer’s recommended air pressure. The number on your tire is the tire maker’s recommendation. The number on the door jamb is the minimum and the number on the tire is the maximum."

Me: Yes, there is a maximum range on the tire that is higher than the air pressure recommended in the owner's manual and on the door jamb. But as we all know, the tire manufacturers nearly always defer to the vehicle manufacturers' recommendations, which represent the optimal pressures for balanced vehicle performance, including ride and tread life.

Stewart: "A famous brand tire makes all different kinds of tires to many different designs and specifications. Just because it’s a 'Michelin' doesn’t necessarily mean it’s a good tire. If Michelin made that tire for an auto manufacturer who designed the tire with only two things in mind -- low cost and soft ride -- you didn’t get a very good tire."

Me.: I'll let anyone from Michelin answer that one if he or she wants to.

"He's so far off the mark, it's ridiculous," says Steinberg, who knows a little something about tires. He owns a four-store chain based in Watertown, Mass. And he was Modern Tire Dealer's first "Tire Dealer of the Year" in 1993.

If you want to read more, click here and scroll down. What do you think about Stewart's comments?

Related Topics: Barry Steinberg, car dealerships, Direct Tire, OE tires

Bob Ulrich Editor
Comments ( 3 )
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  • Tom Donaghy

     | about 12 months ago

    Just replaced Bridgestone tires on my 2016 4Rinner at 36,000 miles, warranteed for 62,000 miles. They came with the vehicle, OEM. Called Bridgestone re warrantee: was told they were “ Auto manufacturer spec tires”. Please go to them, went to Dealer and was told to go to Bridgestone. We talked. The service guy stated that most SuUvs and light trucks wore the OEM tires out in 25-35 thousand miles!! I am a believer. Tires on new vehicles are shit.

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