Best Tires for Your Honda Civic

No matter how gently you've driven your Honda Civic, there's going to come a time when regular maintenance items become a priority. One of the most important items that affect the performance and safety of your Civic is the tires. They're the one connection between your car and the road, and all of your car's road-holding abilities are down to the palm-sized patch of contact between the rubber and the road surface.

Best Tires for the Honda Civic

A note on model years: The list above and most of what we'll be discussing here covers replacements for the CURRENT Honda Civic -- the tenth-generation car that's been in production since the 2015 calendar year. Most of this information will translate all the way back to the eighth-generation car -- 2005 to 2011. Once you get into the seventh generation and older, the sizes for most trim levels are going to be smaller, but a lot of the information on the tire brands and models will be applicable.

What Tires are On My Civic?

The current Civic Sedan is available in five different trim levels (LX, Sport, EX, EX-L, and Touring). The original equipment tires -- the tires that came on your car when it was new -- are as follows:

  • LX - Hankook Kinergy GT or Firestone FT140 215/55R16 93H
  • Sport - Goodyear Eagle Sport All-Season 235/40R18 91W
  • EX - Continental Pro Contact TX or Firestone FT140 215/50R17 91H
  • EX-L - Continental Pro Contact TX or Firestone FT140 215/50R17 91H
  • Touring - Goodyear Eagle Sport All-Season 235/40R18 91W

Top Replacement Tire Brands for Your Civic

We’ve taken a look at tires for every Civic trim level, and we’ve come up with recommendations, based on tread life, wet performance and consumer reviews:

Honda Civic LX: The original equipment tires for the Civic LX cost between $115 and $135 each to replace, depending on which brand was on your vehicle. Splitting the difference, the BF Goodrich Advantage T/A Sport is an excellent tire that receives high ratings from consumers. You can typically find these tires for $125 each, plus mount, balance, and road hazard warranty.

Honda Civic EX and EX-L: Depending upon which tire came on your Civic from the factory, replacing them typically runs between $145 and $165 each. The only major difference between the EX and the EX-L is leather seating, so the tire replacement for both is the same. The Goodyear Assurance Weatherready provides excellent wet weather and winter performance and comes in at the high end of what an OE replacement tire would cost. The Goodyear Assurance Weatherready gets outstanding marks in consumer ratings.

Honda Civic Sport and Touring: Civic Sport and Touring owners are typically more interested in dry weather performance and ride quality than traction in the winter months. If they’re in the northern part of the country, they’re generally the type of driver who will switch over to a dedicated winter tire once the weather drops below 30 degrees. They’re also less concerned about price. For that reason, we’re recommending the Michelin Pilot Sport A/S 3+ for its dry weather performance and exceptional ride comfort on long trips. These tires typically hover in the $190 each range (plus mount and balance), compared to the OE tires, which were significantly less at $165 each.

When Should You Replace Tires?

There are two regular milestones that will suggest that it’s time to replace the tires, not only on your Civic but any car in your driveway: Time and Mileage. Considering most drivers cover between 12,000 and 15,000 miles per year, the vast majority of Civic owners are going to be past the mileage that their original equipment tires were intended to cover before they’ll go past the tire’s usable age.

The life of your tire can be somewhat predicted by its UTQG (Uniform Tire Quality Grade) rating. Tire manufacturers apply their own grades to tires for treadwear, traction, and temperature. When you’re researching tires online, a UTQG will come up next to the tire name in three digits and a number (ex. 500 A A).

You can glean a bit of info from the tires by reading this rating:

  • 500 - The durability rating of a tire, compared to a control tire with a tread life of 100. To obtain a grade, tires run on a 640 kilometer course for 11,520 km. Every 1,280 km, the tread depth is measured, to provide a projected tread life. The higher the number, the longer the predicted tread life.
  • A - This is the Traction rating of a tire, which indicates how well a tire stops in wet conditions. The highest letter grade is AA, followed by A, B, and C.
  • A - The second letter in the UTQG is the Temperature rating, which indicates how well a tire holds up to extreme heat. A is the highest, followed by B and C.​

Original equipment tires on the Civic all received between 500 and 560 tread life ratings. In general, you could easily expect those tires to last 40,000 miles before you replaced them.

The other consideration is time. Each tire has a raised date code on the sidewall. The number begins with the letters “DOT” followed by 12 digits in three four-digit groups. The date code is the third group of four digits. To decipher the date of your tires, the first two digits represent the WEEK the tire was produced, and the second two digits represent the YEAR.

For example, if your tire’s date code is 3217, that indicates the tire was manufactured in the 37th week of 2017, or sometime between September 11 and 17th that year.

Once tires go beyond five years old, it’s time to consider replacing them. Tires are made up not just of rubber and steel or kevlar belts, but chemicals that help the tires resist UV rays, temperature changes and a lot of other environmental hazards. Those chemicals start to break down after five years or so, and the tires aren’t doing the job that they need to do.

Why Not Replace with Original Equipment Tires?

There’s no harm in replacing your tires with the shoes it came with from the factory. However, depending on what kind of driver you are, there are significant reasons to purchase something different.

You only need to purchase ONE set of tires for your car every four years or so, depending on how much you drive. When an auto manufacturer purchases tires, they buy them by the hundreds of thousands. For the manufacturer, the decision to choose a supplier one brand or another comes down to a price point.

For you, your consideration may be completely different. If you could get a tire that stopped 20 feet shorter for an additional $10 per tire over the original equipment, you’d probably do it. Similarly, if there was a tire that provided less road noise or longer tread life for a minimal investment overstock, chances are, you’d probably decide on the slightly more expensive tire.

Changing Honda Civic Tire Sizes

Depending on the year and model of your Civic, you may be shopping tires to fit anything between 15-inch wheels for older models, up to 19-inch wheels with various widths and sidewall sizes along the way.

It is possible to change the wheel and tire sizes, but a general rule of thumb is to keep the total diameter of the wheel and tire the same. So, that means that downsizing a 19-inch wheel to a 17-inch wheel would include a proportionate increase of the tire sidewall to compensate.

Downsizing wheels has its advantages. Benefits include:

  • Better ride quality – A fatter sidewall means more cushion for poor road conditions.
  • Cost reduction – Large wheel sizes mean that tires are more expensive, so moving to a smaller wheel size will mean less costly tire purchases.
  • Seasonal changes – Winter and snow tires are available for a larger selection of smaller wheel sizes, and the narrower footprint will provide better traction.
  • Off-road – Many people choose to downsize wheels for off-road use to increase the vehicle’s shock absorption capabilities and bump traction on loose surfaces.

On the other side of the coin, going up in the wheel size has its benefits:

  • Better handling – Slimmer profile tires make for less rubber to move around.
  • Better looks – This one’s subjective, but many people feel that larger wheels look better than smaller wheels with more rubber.
  • Better braking – Larger, wider wheels provide a bigger patch of rubber on the ground to slow the vehicle, reducing braking distance.

How to Read Tire Sizes

When reading tire sizes, it’s important to understand what the numbers mean.

The Honda Civic EX’s 17-inch wheels come with 215/50R17 91H all-season tires:

  • 215 indicates the width of the tire from one sidewall to the other in millimeters. This tire is 215 millimeters wide.
  • 50 indicates the aspect ratio, or sidewall height, as a percentage of the tire’s width. In this case, it’s 50 percent or 107.5 millimeters tall.
  • R means radial tires. Radials are the most common type of automotive tire and have fabric woven in at various angles with a tread that is strengthened with additional layers of rubber.
  • 17 indicates the wheel diameter.
  • 91 is the tire’s load rating H is the tire’s speed rating.
  • H-rated tires have a maximum top speed of 130 mph.

Now that you know what comes on the new Civic and how to read the size numbers, let’s look at the different types of tires available to you. Depending on the type of driving you’re doing, where you live, and the weather, you have a variety of choices for tire types:

  • Touring and All-season tires provide a smooth ride, good wet and dry traction, decent winter traction, and longer tread life. These tires are acceptable for winter use but can’t be expected to provide the traction and stopping power that a dedicated winter tire can.
  • Performance tires are focused on providing confident handling, better wet and dry traction, and a sporty feel. Their higher grip and speed ratings come with a tradeoff of shortened tread life and reduced ride quality.
  • All-terrain tires are built to maximize off-road traction and provide good durability overall. Their construction means more noise and less comfort on the road, but winter traction and tread wear are acceptable.
  • Winter and snow tires are made with special rubber compounds that maintain grip and pliability when temperatures drop. They are also built with special tread patterns to maximize the vehicle’s ability to start and stop on very slippery roads.

FAQ:

Q: What is the best Honda Civic tire pressure?

A: Honda suggests a pressure of 32 to 33 psi for both the front and rear tires. Check inside your driver’s side door for a white and yellow label that will tell you the exact tire pressure recommendations for your Civic model.

Q: How often should I rotate my Civic’s tires?

A: Rotating tires is more about the tire than it is about the car. A typical rotation interval is somewhere between 5,000 and 7,000 miles, though specific cars and tires may change those numbers a bit. The Civic is a front-wheel drive car, so the front tires may be worn more quickly than the rears. It’s important to keep this in mind and to not ignore the need to rotate your tires.

Q: What is the best Civic tire change kit?

A: Your Honda Civic should have come equipped with a spare tire and changing tools in the trunk. In this case, you already have everything you need to physically change the tire, but you may want to carry an extra roadside emergency kit with an upgraded lug wrench, jumper cables, and emergency markers just in case.

Q: How do I know what size tire is on my car now?

A: All of that information is contained in the information on the sidewall of your tire. The Tire Industry Association provides an excellent guide to finding the tire size, the UTQG rating and the date code of your current tires at its website.

Q: Are age and mileage the only reasons to replace a tire?

A: Absolutely not. There are many other reasons to replace your tires, mostly due to road hazards. Any punctures, cuts or abrasions -- especially in the sidewall -- should be the reason to consider at least replacing one tire. If there are any bulges or other visible deformities in your tire, that’s when it’s time to place a call to replace them.

Q: Do I have to replace all four at once?

A: It’s always a good idea to, but it’s not 100 percent necessary. If you’ve got one tire that’s had a puncture and the other three are in good shape, there’s no reason to replace all four. Tire rotation will become that much more important, though, to allow the tread on all four tires to wear more evenly.

Q: Can I mix and match tire brands?

A: That’s not such a great idea. If you’re going to replace two tires, it’s a good idea to find tires of the same brand. If you absolutely have to mix and match brands, replace two at a time on the same axle.