Cars that come off the factory floor are equipped with OEM tires. The term stands for ‘original equipment manufacturer’, which means that the carmaker made it themselves or ordered them from one of their direct suppliers. Unfortunately, OEM tires are known to wear out sooner than other types.
OEM tires don’t last as aftermarket tires because they’re built with a different set of priorities in mind. These tires maximize comfort using softer materials that are suitable for general uses. Unfortunately, the trade-off is that they are not built to maximize long-term durability. So, they wear out after about 30,000 miles instead of the 75,000 or so miles you’d get from aftermarket tires.
Read through this guide to understand what OEM tires are and why they don’t last as long as aftermarket models. You’ll also see recommendations on whether or not to upgrade to aftermarket tires immediately.
What Are OEM Tires?
OEM tires are the ones that come equipped on your car as it rolls off the factory floor.
The term OEM stands for ‘original equipment manufacturer’. If it seems familiar to you, it’s because that term is also used for other car spare parts. More specifically, OEM parts are those supplied to the carmaker by, you guessed it, other original equipment manufacturers.
OEM tires are also referred to by other names like original equipment (OE) tyres. Or, a simpler way to refer to them is to call them factory tires.
Regardless of what they’re called, the most important thing you must understand about these tires is that they’re perfectly safe to use.
Unfortunately, OEM tires don’t have the best reputation among drivers. Plus, there are misconceptions about them that come from a lack of understanding.
The bottom line about OEM tires is straightforward: they’re tires that are safe and will get the job done. They’ll maintain your car’s grip on the road and keep you and the vehicle safe while driving.
However, they have one drawback: they don’t last as long as aftermarket tires.
Factory tires will last quite some time, but they’ll wear out sooner than aftermarket tires would. That’s not a significant problem, but it’s something to keep in mind so you can plan ahead for when the time comes to replace them.
Read: Does Changing Tires Affect Wheel Alignment?
Why Don’t Factory OEM Tires Last Long?
There are 4 reasons why factory OEM tires don’t last as long as the aftermarket ones sold at your local workshop. They are:
1. Designed By The Carmaker, Not The Tire Company
The first reason OEM tires don’t last long is that they’re designed by the car makers themselves and not a tire company. Or, at the very least, the carmaker is the one that provides the specifications for those tires.
That has several implications for the tires’ lifespans.
Firstly, car makers aim to minimize how much they spend on tires. That way, they can also keep the price for the whole vehicle as low as possible. As a result, the carmaker isn’t likely to request the most durable or most expensive materials for their tires.
Secondly, car makers aren’t tire experts. They focus on ensuring the whole vehicle functions correctly instead of designing the perfect tire.
That’s quite different from aftermarket tires which are designed by tire specialists with plenty of experience in the field. Plus, they likely have trademarked materials and designs that ensure their tires last longer than any OEM tire would.
Read: Why Low Tire Pressure Negatively Affects Your Driving
2. Softer Materials
From a technical standpoint, OEM tires don’t last as long because they’re typically made from softer materials. These materials make for a much better ride but are not suitable for long-term use.
Let’s be clear: tires made from softer materials are still safe. The only issue is that they don’t tolerate as much punishment as aftermarket tires made from a more durable blend of materials.
Read: Faulty Tire Pressure Sensor (Signs & Causes & Fixes)
3. Car Makers Prioritize Comfort
Aside from minimizing costs, a carmaker’s priority is keeping their potential and actual customers satisfied. Part of that is done using tires that prioritize comfort over anything else, like performance and durability.
OEM tires are excellent for highlighting a car’s qualities, especially the comfort it provides. So, a customer is more likely to purchase the vehicle when they take it for a test drive and notice how comfortable it rides.
Besides that, the comfort provided by OEM tires also keeps buyers happy and reinforces that their buying decision was an excellent one.
4. Designed For General Use
Lastly, remember that OEM tires are designed to work well in most conditions. That means they’re suitable for general use and are not specialized for any particular terrain or weather condition.
As a result, OEM tires will wear out faster when they experience additional wear from more challenging driving conditions.
Read: How Many Miles Should Tires Last?
How Long Should OEM Tires Last?
Typical OEM tires will last approximately 20,000-30,000 miles. Naturally, the actual mileage differs between cars. Plus, it’s also heavily influenced by things like driving habits and road conditions in your area.
You can likely drive using OEM tires at that mileage for up to a year.
You should put that number into context by comparing them with aftermarket tires. Non-OEM tires you buy from a reputable brand can last up to 75,000 miles or more before needing replacements. In terms of time, that means aftermarket tires can last for years before you have to replace them with new ones.
Should You Upgrade From OEM To Aftermarket Tires?
Now that you understand how long OEM tires can last and why they wear out relatively quickly, should you upgrade to aftermarket tires?
Well, the answer is ‘it depends’.
Firstly, remember that those OEM tires are paid for. The price you paid for the vehicle includes those tires, so your hard-earned money went towards purchasing them.
From that perspective, it would make sense to use those OEM tires all the way through and only upgrade them when they wear out. That way, you’ll get your money’s worth.
However, some people would prefer to upgrade them immediately for aftermarket tires better suited for their driving conditions. For example, those who drive to different states often might feel better upgrading to highway tires instead.
The logic here is that there’s no point in waiting for the factory tires to wear out before switching to new ones that perform much better.
Of course, upgrading to new tires will cost you money even though you just bought a new car. But the returns in terms of performance and durability might be more worth it for you.
Overall, it’s a personal decision that you need to take some time to decide on.
Remember: those OEM tires will wear out, and you’ll have to replace them eventually. So, you have to choose whether to replace them now or wait until later.
Read: Tire Rotation and Balance Cost
Overall, OEM tires will still serve you well despite having a shorter lifespan than aftermarket tires. They were designed or chosen by the carmaker with a different set of priorities than that of a tire company.
OEM tires are designed for general use while maximizing comfort. The tradeoff is that they’re not designed for long-term durability, which is why they wear out around the 30,000-mile mark. Still, you can choose to preemptively upgrade your OEM tires to aftermarket ones or wait until they wear out to do so. Whatever happens, you’ve already paid for those tires anyway.