Tires Sure Are Cheap These Days

A few weeks ago Elizabeth Warren asked her audience, “Have you seen what it costs to put a new set of tires on your car?” As it happens, I got new tires today, and the answer is $600 for the extremely average passenger tires I need for my Mazda 3. That seemed like a lot! But naturally that got me wondering: Is that a lot? It turns out the answer is a resounding no. The cost of tires has plummeted over the past 50 years:

There are two things going on here. First, adjusted for inflation, the cost of tires is about half what it was in 1968. Second, tires last about twice as long as they used to: 40,000 miles vs. 20,000 miles. When you put those two things together, we pay about one-quarter as much for tires over the course of 40,000 miles as our parents did during the Summer of Love. What’s more, modern radial tires are safer than old tires; they handle better than old tires; and they’re less prone to punctures than old tires. How about that?


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