Yonkers, New York – Tire shoppers are generally happy with the purchase process, but more than half of them don’t research what they’re buying, according to a new survey by Consumer Reports. Research is an important step, especially when buying replacement tires that are different than the car’s original equipment, the magazine said.

Of those surveyed, 44 per cent researched to find the best tire for their needs overall. However, just 39 per cent of those under age 35 researched, compared to 49 per cent of those aged 55 and over. Women were far more likely to ask a mechanic for advice, while men preferred magazine ads for information.

Of those buying new tires, 51 per cent purchased at a dedicated tire store. Only 11 per cent bought at a car dealership, an option favoured more by women. Warehouse stores drew nine per cent, while department stores reached eight per cent. Despite multi-page ads in car magazines, online shopping accounted for only two per cent of sales.

Tire shoppers at least 35 years old, and those who did not research, were more likely to choose the same tire they were replacing. Shoppers who changed models were swayed most by price and availability. The most popular reasons for changing tire models were price (29 per cent), availability (18 per cent), tread life (13 per cent), winter grip (nine per cent), dry and wet grip (six per cent) and handling (six per cent).

Only one in each 50 respondents was motivated by improving fuel economy. Consumer Reports said that while low-rolling-resistance (LRR) tires can make a measurable difference, it falls well short of the eight mile-per-gallon average that survey respondents expect. According to government estimates, tire rolling resistance accounts for about four per cent of a car’s fuel use in city driving, and perhaps seven per cent on the highway. In its tests, Consumer Reports said that LRR tires can save one to two miles per gallon.

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