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Quality A/T Tires on a Budget

One crucial yet often neglected part of a vehicle keeps you in contact with the road. Depending on their size, you only have a few inches of actual contact patch per tire. With so many choices, how do you choose what will suit needs the most?  Is price the limiting factor? Is availability and issue?   What are the performance goals tires need to meet?  Surely, I am not alone in being bumfuzzled and overwhelmed with choices.  

Cost is a major limiting factor when searching for tires. The budget stayed around $200 installed per unit, which, for a 2010 Chevy Silverado Z71 4×4 was hard to do.  The size being searched for was 265/70/18.   The assumed goal was on road performance in high traffic areas, excellent snow performance, and high performance in wet conditions. Also included was a need to access some off-road opportunities. This rule out any highway tread that most companies offered.  

Have you looked at the cost for solid AT tires?  Gadzooks!  I’m not a rookie when looking for this particular part. I had previously ran Yokohama Geolander AT/S and got 50,000 miles out of each set of tires.  Each time they were purchased, it came out to be $240 per unit, installed after tax.  Yes.  About $1000 for rubber.   So… is that $200 per tire installed goal a reality?  

The search was on. Using websites like, and a few others, the nerves were kicking in.  The quest is absolutely challenging.    All of these great tires are coming up under $190 per unit… but what about installation costs?  On average, in the Northern Virginia area, it is $20 to $25 per tire installation plus a $2 per tire disposal fee.  Boom! Budget destroyed.  Or was it?  

I contacted my local tire shop- Discount Tire in Manassas, VA and told them my predicament.   Mark, their lead salesperson, was super patient with me.  I had been a customer before and he knew I wasn’t kicking the tires for a price check.  He gave four options.  Three were Ironman branded tires made by Cooper and a set of Falken by Sumitomo.  After careful examination of the tread pattern, temperature, and tire wear rating, it was clear the Falken’s were the best value.  Numbers aren’t enough- trusted opinions are needed.  

Hitting the social media car groups, which can be dangerous, a question about quality of the Falken Wildpeak A/T3W was posed.  Areas of concern included expected mileage and overall performance.   Of course, the trolls came alive suggesting Michelin and other brands, but that was quelled quickly.  The overall response on the Wildpeak A/T3W was surprisingly positive.  Taking that I actually know these people and they wouldn’t steer me wrong; a call was made and the order was placed- at $195 per unit INSTALLED. That took my final price to $826.80 after tax- only $26.80 over the goal.  Not only was there happiness in on my part, but the Misses was ecstatic the budget wasn’t totally blown! 

Two days later, the tires arrived and the truck was getting new shoes.  I was sad to see the Yokohama Geolander ATS go, but looking at the stance, the decision absolutely looks to be the right one.  After an initial 100 miles, the looks are growing on me.  Hopefully, the Falken Wildpeak A/T3W performs the way they appear.  Keep your eye out for a full review of the tire in all conditions accessible at the time. 

By MJ Cummins

Michael Cummings

Michael Cummings

Michael Cummings is a drivers education and World History 1 teacher at IDEA Public Charter School of Washington DC. He is also a second amendment advocate pushing for the training and competencies regarding firearms in all opportunities.

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