The Subaru Forester is an excellent choice for the outdoor, camping, hiking lover who wants something dependable and versatile. When it comes time to replace the tires for your rugged SUV, which do you choose? The best tires for the Subaru Forester will really depend on your lifestyle, how and where you drive. The factory tires on your Forester are a great blend of treadwear, cost, performance and fuel efficiency. But if you hit the trails on rainy afternoons on a regular basis, you might want to choose something more appropriate for that activity. Here is an overview to help you decide which tire, at what price, might be a good fit for you.
Online tire prices are usually less than in store
We’ve recommended three replacement tires in both 17-, and 18-inch sizes, in budget, moderately priced and cost-no-object varieties. Whether you have plenty of cash to spend or are watching every penny, don’t worry; we’ve got you covered. All these tires have ratings of four-stars or higher based on consumer surveys:
There are two regular milestones that will suggest that it’s time to replace the tires, not only on your Forester, but any vehicle in your driveway: Time and mileage.
Considering most drivers cover between 12,000 and 15,000 miles per year, most Forester owners will pass the miles their original equipment tires were intended to cover well 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:
Original equipment Bridgestone Ecopia H/L 422 Plus tires on the Forester earn a 600 AA UTGQ rating. Unless they are damaged, these tires could last up to 60,000 miles before you need to replace 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. At that point, it doesn’t matter how good they look. It’s time for replacements.
There’s nothing wrong with putting on the same tires that were on your car when it came from the factory. Although they’re perfectly fine, you may be able to find a tire that’s better suited to your specific needs.
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 made less road noise for a minimal investment over stock, you’d probably decide on the slightly more expensive tire (that is, unless you’re trying to drown out the conversation of your back-seat-driving spouse.)
Depending on the year and model, you may be shopping tires to fit anything between 15-inch for older models to 18-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 wheel and tire the same. So, that means that downsizing an 18-inch wheel to a 17-inch wheel would include a proportionate upsizing of the tire sidewall to compensate.
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 Subaru Forester’s 18-inch wheels come with P225/55R18 98H all-season tires:
You may have noticed that the Subaru Forester’s two tire sizes have different diameters and different aspect ratios. Generally, automakers choose tires that have the same outer diameter. This allows them to have only one speedometer setting.
Now that you know what comes on a new Forester 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:
Online tire prices are usually less than in store
Check inside your driver’s side door for a white and yellow label that will tell you the exact tire pressure recommendations for your Forester model. That tire pressure can also change depending on the load of passengers you’re carrying, as well as the cargo load. Note that the pressure on the tire itself is never the correct setting, but rather a maximum.
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 Forester is all-wheel so the front tires will likely wear first making it important to rotate regularly.
Your Subaru Forester should have come equipped with a compact 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.
Several online retailers like Tire Rack offer regular discounts and free shipping for their tires. Their sites also have tire fit guides and pricing estimators to help you understand what you’re buying. Read more on the Best Places to Buy Tires Online and Save Hundreds here.
Most online tire retailers have free shipping or reduced shipping cost when you choose to have them installed at a partner shop. The retailer may have an arrangement with a local tire chain or installation center and can ship the tires there for free.
Retailers like Tire Rack offer fast shipping and can often have tires to your preferred installer in as little as two days. Many others, like Discount Tire Direct, offer the same fast and free shipping. It also depends on where you live. If you’re in a large metro area, close to a distribution center, it should be relatively quick. If you live 5 miles from East Moosejaw, it might take a little longer.
Some shops will offer free installation when you purchase tires from them, and online retailers often promote the same deal for people who choose to have installation done at one of their partners. If you do find yourself paying for tire installation, expect to pay between $15 and $50 per tire, depending on what is needed. That money pays for mounting and balancing the tire to ensure a safe and comfortable ride.
The tire pressure monitoring system (TPMS) is independent of your tires but should be checked at regular intervals to ensure no damage or malfunctions are occurring. Your local tire shop can perform this check as part of normal tire rotation or installation.
Yes! You can find the right fit, tread pattern, and speed rating on nearly any online retailer’s site. They sometimes offer specials and rebates around the time when people start looking for winter tires (late fall).
It’s certainly not a requirement to buy your tires and wheels from the same place, but you’re more likely to get a deal on the package if you buy from the same place. Check the retailer’s specials and decide from there. You may also find a better deal ordering either the tires or wheels online and buying the other component from your local shop.
Yes, and in some cases, rebates are offered alongside discounts on the tires. It’s important to ask questions and understand what you’re getting, so be sure to chat or call the retailer before ordering if the rebates are unclear.
Ordering your tires online vs. the shop will save you money