No matter how gently you’ve driven your Nissan Altima, sooner or later you’re going to need a set of 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.
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:
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.
The Altima S has a relatively small 16-inch wheel, and there are several tire choices available in that range.
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.
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:
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.
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 $50 per tire over the original equipment, you’d probably do it. (If you don’t have the extra $200 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.
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:
On the other side of the coin, going up in wheel size has its benefits:
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:
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
It’s always a good idea to, but it’s not 100 percent necessary. If you’ve got a front-wheel drive Altima, one tire has 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. With AWD vehicles, follow your owner’s manual’s instructions.
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 and tire model. If you absolutely have to mix and match brands, replace two at a time on the same axle.
There are lots of options for new tires these days, so make sure you shop around. Your local tire retailers are a good place to start. However, make sure to check out the big online tire shops like SimpleTire and Tire Rack for the best prices. Read more on the Best Places to Buy Tires Online and Save Hundreds here.
Ordering your tires online vs. the shop will save you money