Best Tires for the Nissan Altima

Updated March 16, 2020 by Chris Teague

No matter how gently you’ve driven your Nissan Altima, sooner or later you’re going to need new tires. Your tires are 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. We’ve focused on recommending tires for the latest model of Altima, which includes versions with all-wheel drive. Here is a summary of our recommendations.

Best 16-inch Tires for the Nissan Altima (S)

Best 17-inch Tires for the Nissan Altima (SV, SL)

Best 19-inch Tires for the Nissan Altima (SR, Platinum)

What Tires are On My Altima?

The 2020 Altima comes in seven different trims: S, SR, SV, SR VC Turbo, SL, Platinum, and Platinum VC Turbo. Depending on the trim, your Altima could have one of three different wheel and tire sizes:

Top Tire Replacement Brands for Your Nissan Altima

You probably weren’t thinking of tires when you picked out your shiny new Nissan Altima, but after a few years of ownership, the time has come for some new rubber on your car.

For each stock wheel size, we’ll provide a recommendation for a Budget, a Moderately-Priced and a Cost-No-Object replacement tire. Whether you're on the “penny-pinching cheapskate” end of the spectrum or you were voted “Most Likely to Get a Golden Parachute,” we think you’ll find something that works for you on this list.

Nissan Altima S (16-inch tires)

The Altima S has a relatively small 16-inch wheel, and there are several tire choices available that range.

  • Budget: Yokohama Avid Ascend GT - The Avid Ascend GTs are highly rated tires, with an excellent reputation for durability, and come in at around the same price as the original equipment tires.
  • Moderately Priced: Goodyear Assurance WeatherReady - The Assurance WeatherReady tires are recognized for their wet performance, and should provide you year-round service as long as you’re not plowing through deep snow regularly.
  • Cost-No-Object: Michelin Crossclimate+ - Though they land near the top of the price heap at around $160, the Michelin Crossclimate+ tire offers superior wear and load rating with great all-weather traction.

Nissan Altima SV and SL (17-inch tires) 

As the middle children of Altimas, the SV and SL trims have 17-inch wheels, with a large selection of tire types and tread patterns.

  • Budget: Cooper CS5 Ultra Touring - Like the SR, the SV and SL can benefit from an ultra touring tire like the Cooper CS5. They hold the road well and should provide better tread life than stock.
  • Moderately Priced: Goodyear Assurance Weatherready - These have a near-perfect rating from buyers, a good tread life rating, and confident all-weather traction, along with a decent price.
  • Cost-No-Object: Michelin CrossClimate+ - Same recommendation from the base model S, but in a 17-inch size. These tires aren’t cheap, but they’re an excellent choice, providing better traction, tread life and road-holding performance than stock.

Nissan Altima SR and Platinum (19-inch tires)

  • Budget: Cooper CS5 Ultra Touring - The Cooper CS5 is a long-wearing, well-regarded touring tire that provides great traction in the wet. Consumers have praised it for how quiet and comfortable the ride is.
  • Moderately Priced: Goodyear Eagle F1 Asymmetric - Right in the middle of the price range, the Goodyear Eagle F1 Asymmetric all-season tire is a solid choice that brings good wet and cold weather traction with a long treadwear rating and decent price.
  • Cost-No-Object: Dunlop SP Sport Maxx 050 - If it’s the ultimate in summer-only, road-holding performance you’re after, the SP Sport Maxx 050 is the ticket. They’re expensive, and you won’t be using them in the winter, but they can transform the handling of your Altima SR or Platinum.

When Should You Replace Tires?

Two major factors should be a consideration when deciding to replace tires on any vehicle, not just the Altima., time and mileage.

If you’re like most drivers, you travel somewhere between 12,000 and 15,000 miles per year, so your tires are much more likely to pass their useful life in mileage before any time-based expiration date rolls around. 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.

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 replace 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. (If you don’t have the extra $40 for the upgrade, call your mom. She loves you and wants to hear from you. Plus, she’d probably be willing to invest a few bucks in keeping you safe.) 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 Nissan Altima Tire Sizes

It’s easy to move up or down in wheel size, but the overall diameter of when and tire together should stay the same. This means that moving up from a 16-inch wheel to a 17-inch wheel is fine, but the tire sidewall size has to decrease to compensate. The same is true in reverse. Whatever you pick, we do not recommend changing wheel shape. Wheels have to be round, otherwise they don’t work (trust us we're professionals).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 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 Nissan Altima SV’s 17-inch wheels come with 215/55 R17 all-season tires:

  • 215 indicates the width of the tire from one sidewall to the other in millimeters. This tire is 215 millimeters wide.
  • 55 indicates the aspect ratio, or sidewall height, as a percentage of the tire’s width. In this case, it’s 55 percent or 118.25 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.

Now that you know what comes on the new Altima 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 Nissan Altima tire pressure?

A: In general, the Altima’s tire pressure should be set around 32 psi for cars with 16-inch wheels and 33 psi for cars with 17- or 19-inch wheels. Your specific car may be a little different, so to be sure you’re getting the right pressures to check the driver’s side door jamb for a yellow and white label that will tell you the exact recommended tire pressures for the front and rear.

Q: How often should I rotate my Altima’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. Some Altima models are front-wheel drive, which typically means the front tires will need to be replaced more often, so it’s important to rotate regularly. If you plan on rotating tires yourself, remember that all-wheel-drive vehicles have a different rotation pattern than a front- or rear-wheel drive vehicles.

Q: What is the best Altima tire change kit?

A: Your Nissan Altima 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 a 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.


Editor's note and disclaimer: Car Talk is supported by our fans, readers, and listeners. When you click on some of the links on our website, we may receive referral compensation. However, you should know that the recommendations we make are based on our independent editorial review and analyses. 

 

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