What is an “Original Equipment” tire?

Simply put, Original Equipment (or OE) tires are the tires that a vehicle was originally equipped with from the factory.

To select OE tires, automakers work with tire manufacturers to choose or develop tires that complement the characteristics and purposes of the vehicle. For instance, for a luxury car an automaker may choose a tire with a luxurious, quiet ride. For a hybrid, an eco-friendly low rolling resistance tire. And for a sports car, a tire that features better handling and overall performance.

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In some cases, tire manufacturers actually develop and test custom-made versions of their tires, or even launch new tires to address a specific OE application. For example, Michelin develops spec versions of some of their performance tires to be an ideal match with select Porsche 911 models.

There can be several OE tires available for a specific vehicle. Let’s say you drive a 2013 Honda Accord sedan. Depending on what style you drive, it could be equipped with tires of as many as six different brands.

Are OE tires always the best choice for my vehicle?

While vehicle manufacturers typically choose OE tires that are a practical match for the vehicle, it doesn’t necessarily mean OE tires are the best possible option. Not every OE discussion between the vehicle and tire manufacturer involves high level tire development that’s specific to the vehicle, and fundamental to the vehicle’s performance.

There are a number of factors that influence the choice of OE tires – status of business relationship between the vehicle manufacturer and tire manufacturers, anticipated vehicle sales by region and expected use (may or may not be reflective of your circumstances), and of course, economics. (You know, that whole profit thing.)

So it’s definitely not universally true that OE tires are the best tires available during vehicle development and manufacturing, let alone the best choice for your vehicle and circumstances on an indefinite basis. This is especially true if your vehicle has aged. Tire technology is always advancing, and the OE tires fitted to your vehicle 5 or 6 years ago, even 3 years ago, will likely be behind the curve as compared to more current tires of the same type.

Historically speaking, it’s fair to say that OE tires have been a mixed bag. Some are almost unanimously applauded by users, while others develop less than stellar reputations due to deficient performance, durability (treadlife), or both.

There’s enough variability in terms of OE tire quality that a full review of tire options when your OE tires expire is a probably good move.

Not to mention, OE tires are sometimes quite a bit more costly than arguably superior replacement tires.

Finding and choosing OE tires or replacement tires 

When you shop on TireBuyer.com using your vehicle information, it’s likely that you’ll see at least one tire marked “Original Equipment.” For those content with the performance of their OE tires and not inclined to make a change, your tire search stops here.

The rest of the tire search results (the “field”) are replacement tires – that is, tires that are a fit for your vehicle size wise, but a different tire make and/or model.

Is it possible that certain replacement tires are a better fit for your vehicle and unique driving circumstances? Absolutely, that’s always a possibility. Learn how to screen and filter tire search results according to your preferences, and hone in on the likeliest tires here: How to find the right tires.

FAQs & Myths

I need new tires. Do I have to buy OE tires?

In select cases where the OE tires were engineered from the ground up in conjunction with the vehicle, and are fundamental to certain performance characteristics of that vehicle, then sticking with OE tires could be considered almost mandatory. This is, however, far more exception than rule. (The Bugatti Veyron with its 254 mph top speed comes to mind…)

For the majority of us not driving European sports cars, using only OE tires is not mandatory. However, before moving on from OE and buying replacement tires, be sure to conduct research on your OE tires. Understand and anticipate how they might influence or change the way you drive your vehicle, and be sure those changes would be welcomed.

Why would I buy replacement tires instead of OE?

If you haven’t loved your OE tires, or want to change something about the way your car drives – for example, make it more fuel-efficient or give it a quieter ride, sportier handling, or better wet traction – replacement tires might just deliver those desired attributes.

Affordability is another common motivation. Sometimes replacement tires are substantially less costly than OE, and the performance and/or longevity of the OE tires don’t justify the premium price.

Also, as explained above, OE tire quality is not always ideal, and as your vehicle ages, tire technology does too. Replacement tire options for your vehicle might be more modern, better performing, more durable, and even less costly!

How do I choose the right set of replacement tires?

Search for a set of tires that emphasizes the qualities you want your vehicle to have (quiet ride, sporty handling, better off-road performance, etc.). 

After generating tire search results by entering your vehicle or tire size, utilize the tire performance category filters on the left side of the TireBuyer.com webpage to help guide you.

For example, touring tires will emphasize comfort and low noise, while ultra-high performance tires will focus on exceptional handling. (Get an overview and find basic descriptions of the tire performance categories here.) To see more information about a tire, just click on the tire’s name in your list of search results.

And if you’d like help finding the perfect set of replacement or finding OE tires, our tire experts are ready to help – just give them a call at 866-961-8668.

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