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What Tires to Buy for Your Prius?

Discussion in 'Gen 4 Prius Main Forum' started by Bob Welcher, Nov 27, 2023.

  1. Bob Welcher

    Bob Welcher Junior Member

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    Four
    Almost 2,400,000 Prius have been sold in the United States since 2005. Many of these vehicles have 195 / 96 R15 tires that will require replacement at some point.

    I owned a 2010 Prius with Michelin 195 / 96 R15 Energy Saver tires, and when I sold the Prius, the tread wear was in line with the 65,000-mile limited warranty. They may be great tires, but they may not provide the best low rolling resistance for optimum mpg. My 2010 Prius only got 40 mpg – I’m unsure if it was the Michelin Energy Savers installed or the software upgrade for the inverter overheating problem the Gen 4 Prius’ encountered.

    Michelin has discontinued the Michelin 195 / 96 R15 Energy Saver tires, but most other Energy Savers sizes are still available. I could find any information on why Michelin discontinued the size of the Energy Saver. One complaint on Michelin’s website reported that the 195 / 96 R15 Energy Saver tires were chunking, which might have been why Michelin discontinued this size (is it possible that only one size would experience a fail?). Another possibility is that the tire did not have sufficient low rolling resistance to allow the Prius to achieve 54 mpg. I contacted Michelin support to find out if they would manufacture that size energy saver in the future. The support agent gave me no information about why Michelin discontinued this size or if Michelin would manufacture this size in the future.

    As a Michelin tire fan, I installed Michelin Defenders ($155) on the 2021 Prius Prime. After installing the Defenders, I took a 187-mile trip at an average speed of 68 miles per hour, and the Prius mileage was 40.9 mpg. On a prior 252-mile with the Dunlops, the Prius averaged 51.6 mpg. Another trip for 442 miles averaged 53.7 average mpg. (See attached energy consumption screen photos.)

    The 40.9 mpg is a drop of almost 20% in fuel efficiency with the Michelin Defenders. So, I returned to Discount Tire, and they agreed to switch the tires to another tire under their customer satisfaction (“We aren’t happy unless you’re happy”) program.

    For the 2021 Prius Prime with 195 / 65 R15 tires, the OEM factory tires are the Bridgestone Ecopia EV 422 plus (Firestone), Dunlop Enasave 01 A/s (a poorly rated / underperforming tire), and Toyo Nanoenergy A 41. I’ve never heard of Toyo, and the Dunlops only lasted 28,000 miles, so without Michelin Energy Savers, I chose the Bridgestone Ecopia OEM tires ($169), thinking that Toyota knew they would hit the mark for low rolling resistance and the 54 mpg.

    My 2021 Prius Prime came with the Dunlop Enasave tires. These tires enabled the Prius to achieve 54 mpg regularly. Unfortunately, these tires required replacement at 27,000 miles. Without much of a choice of energy-saving tires, I chose the Bridgestone Ecopia (Firestone) as a replacement. The tire has a 70,000-mile guarantee, but many owners report far lower miles from these tires. The Bridgestone Ecopia tires have a 90-day return policy if there are any immediate problems. The warranty is reasonable, with a percentage of wear correlated to the percentage warranty allowance (50% wear = 50% replacement discount).

    To have a comfort zone with these tires and protect my investment, I am relying on the Bridgestone warranty/guarantee if the tires have a shortened lifespan. The Bridgestone (Firestone) warranty/guarantee is a little tricky – one of the requirements is to keep the tires aligned. The only way to prove that you have kept the tires aligned is to perform regular, documented alignment checks, ranging from $90 to $100. One owner complained that Bridgestone denied the warranty adjustment because he had no alignment performed every 6 months.

    The Bridgestone/Firestone warranty manual has a Maintenance Record chart to record the mileage, date, and retailer for inspection, rotation, balance, and alignment. I am assuming that Bridgestone requires the documented maintenance records for the warranty. On the Maintenance Record, the Recommended Inflation Pressure includes a line for the months of the year, which may indicate that you are to have the inflation pressure measured monthly.

    Discount Tire assured me that if I rotated tires every 5,000 miles and kept the tires at recommended pressure, I would get good mileage out of the Bridgestone Ecopia.

    If you buy the Ecopia tires and intend to keep the Prius for a long time, the best bet is to buy a lifetime alignment for the vehicle, which costs about $200. Buying the lifetime alignment from a Firestone Dealer/Service Center keeps the information in-house since Firestone owns Bridgestone tires.
     

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  2. BiomedO1

    BiomedO1 Senior Member

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    If you have a Sam's Club, Costco, or BJ nearby it may be worth it to take a look. They haven't given me any issues on warranty replacements and do free 5K mile rotations and flat repairs. They've replaced two Goodyears on my SUV without hassles. Goodyears has thin sidewalls, so if you hit a chipped curb just right - you can rip a hole into them or travel on gravel pothole roads.

    I've got 33K+ on my OEM Dunlops and probably got another year left on them. Still a few 10ths from the warning bars.
     
  3. Bob Welcher

    Bob Welcher Junior Member

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    I switched from the Michelin Defenders to Bridgestone Ecopia tires (OEM on the 2021 Prius). On a 227 mile trip the Bridgestone tires averaged 51.6 mpg, which will improve as the tires wear in.
     
    BiomedO1 likes this.
  4. Drakxyfly

    Drakxyfly Junior Member

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    And what time of year was it when you switched tires to defenders? Fyi Toyo tire have been around for about 80years now and is a very well known brand..

    So long story short, basically your spending $250-$300 more every year in tires, to try and save a few mpg, and your driving in inferior tires that don't handle or brake as well. Not sure how any of that makes sense but ok.
     
    #4 Drakxyfly, Dec 4, 2023
    Last edited: Dec 4, 2023
  5. Bob Welcher

    Bob Welcher Junior Member

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    I purchased the Michelin Defenders in November - 50s and 60s. I switched to the Bridgestone Ecopia on December 1st. Mileage with the Defenders was 40.9. With the Bridgestone tires the last trip was 227 miles 51.6 mpg. An 18 mile round trip for dinner tonight netted 62 mpg. Big difference.

    Still haven't hear anything about Toyo and the Discount Tire manager said he didn't know anything about them either. Bridgestone Ecopia were the same price as the Defenders and from my research they are definitely not an inferior tire. I like the Bridgestone's ride and handling better than the Defender's. And I wouldn't call a 20% difference (14 mpg) in gas mileage "a few mpg" especially over the life time of the Prius.

    I think I'd rather have my cake and eat it too. Great mileage and long lasting tires, which i think I will have. Time will tell.

    I'll file updates as time goes by.
     
    #5 Bob Welcher, Dec 4, 2023
    Last edited: Dec 4, 2023
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  6. parked

    parked Junior Member

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    I have Michelin Defenders on my 2017 Prius Two, and I tend to average around 52 mpg city/hwy, where I go up an 800 ft high hill to get home.

    I dislike the squishy swaying sidewall feeling on low rolling resistance tires, which is especially bad on the Ecopias we have on our Honda, so I add just a tiny bit of pressure to stiffen that up a little. The Defenders have borderline safe traction, IMHO, and the extra pressure exacerbates that some. But they will age out long before wearing out, just like they did on my old Tacoma and Prius C that ran Defenders.
     
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  7. Drakxyfly

    Drakxyfly Junior Member

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    I will start by saying any manager of a discount tire who says they don't know anything about Toyo either is lying to upcharge you or has no business being a manager at a tire store. Not saying they are the greatest tires out there but the Proxes888 are extremely well known track and performance tires.

    There are three other threads in this forum alone, that were made in the past 2 to 3 weeks, talking about winter tires and MPGs right now. Let me break this down for you: there wasn't a loss of 20% from switching to defenders tires, period end of story. You switched your tires over in Winter time just like everyone else and saw a drop in mpg and assumed it was the tires which is not possible. First and foremost winter time. Winter time has been known to drop MPGs by up to 30% in hybrid vehicles. I took a 900 mile road trip in September and then October. In September I got 58 miles a gallon and in October I got 50 miles per gallon on the same trip. The only difference was it was 30° colder in October. Second winter gas comes in at the end of September beginning of October. Winter gas you'll lose about 3 to 4% MPGs. Third, Michelin is known to use a break-in compound that negatively affects MPGs, they themselves will tell you this and that mpg will return to normal after 1/32-2/32 wears down. Fourth, you went from old worn and tires, with less tread and height, to brand new tires with more tread more height, weight and more rolling resistance. This thread pops up four or five times a year every time someone changes their tires. Like I said there are three different threads about this in this forum alone right now.

    Tires simply don't make that big of a difference as your saying. Independent test by tirerack show the biggest difference by switching to rolling resistance tires with 6.7% miles per gallon savings. The proof is in the poster above still getting 52 miles per gallon with the defender tires. Tires which are yes superior to any energy saver tire. Energy saver tires simply give up grip and handling for low rolling resistance. The average savings on a low resistance tire is about 3 or 4%, or a mile to two miles per gallon difference.

    Now let's look at the wear and cost. By your own admission the new Ecopias, only last about 25,000 mi. This means you have to place them every 2 years compared to the Defenders five to six years. Plus now because you want to use the warranty, you have to get it aligned. To even claim the warranty you have to drive the tires down to the 2/32nd, further making a tire which is has less grip and increased stopping distances, more dangerous. So let's say worst case scenario your 10 miles per gallon drop in mpg is accurate, which is isn't, but we will use that as a worst case scenario. If you fill up once a week with the 10 mi per gallon difference, at $4 a gallon would cost you about $115 a year extra. Changing tires every other year at a current cost of $1100 for the Ecopias with certificates, versus every 5 to 6 years, you can subtract out the extra $115 cost for fuel, and other tires, running Ecopias will cost you $250 to $300 more every year, when you break down the cost of replacing tires more frequently and the alignment over the first five to six years. Considering most people only keep their car 7 to 10 years, You will do this four to five times with the Ecopias, meaning You will spend $1,200 to $2,000, (which includes all the extra time and effort of the alignment and logging tire pressures ect) more over the course of owning the vehicle for 10 years to save a couple of miles per gallon, all the while using an inferior tire. That's the best case scenario as like I said, you really didn't loose 10mpg from tires. In reality it's costing more than that. Defender and the step above then the Michelin Cross Climate 2, are some of the best if not the best all season tires available on the market. Sorry but the math just doesn't add up. Your not really having any cake at all, but to each their own I guess. GL!
     
    #7 Drakxyfly, Dec 5, 2023
    Last edited: Dec 5, 2023
  8. Bob Welcher

    Bob Welcher Junior Member

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    Drakxyfly, question: I see nowhere in your responses about owning or having personal experience with Bridgestone or Toyo tires. May I ask the source of your information and the basis of your statements and opinions?

    According to Car Talk, Bridgestone is #6 in sales, and Autoweek puts Bridgestone # 5 in the US. Toyo is not in the top 15 on either list.

    I have been a customer at Discount Tire for 15 years and have done business with this manager for 6 years. I trust his judgment and doubt he has any hidden agenda. BTW, I don’t think it is appropriate or acceptable to call the manager (or anyone) names on Priuschat.

    I think what the Discount Tire Manager is indicating is that he has had little experience with Toyo, even though Discount Tire sells them, but probably not many. Reviews give Toyo an average of 4 to 5 stars, which is very good. The average mileage warranty for Toyo passenger tires is 40,000 to 50,000 miles, which is probably inflated (no pun intended). Toyo may sell more truck tires than passenger tires.

    “We’re talking winter tires here…” The Bridgestone Ecopia Plus are not winter tires; they are touring tires.

    “Winter time has been known to drop MPGs by up to 30% in hybrid vehicles. “ It is not “winter time” – in November and through December 6th, it has been in the 50s and 60s. The temperature has had nothing to do with the mpg. The same weather and road conditions were present when the Defenders got 40.9 and the Bridgestone got 50.6.

    I have owned two Prius cars and have never experienced a “30%” drop in mileage in the winter – maybe 3 or 4 mpg, but not 30% (15 mpg). That’s ludicrous.

    While there have been reports of Bridgestone Ecopia tires lasting 25,000 miles, which could be due to driving habits or maintenance, driving style and conditions, etc., they will probably last many more miles. Even if they don’t last the full 70,000 miles and only 40,0000 miles, the warranty is 50/50 (wear/reimbursement) on replacement costs.

    As I stated, time will tell. Thanks for your input.
     
    #8 Bob Welcher, Dec 5, 2023
    Last edited: Dec 5, 2023
  9. Drakxyfly

    Drakxyfly Junior Member

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    No difference if I have or haven't run Toyo tires in the past(which I have), it's one of the top tire mankers in the world. Funny you mentioned Bridgestone because Bridgestone was founded in Japan in 1931 and Toyo was founded there as well just 14 years later. Toyo , Yokohama, and Bridgestone are the top three Japanese tire manufacturers. If you have ever read a car magazine in the lobby of a Discount tire you would see ads for them. BTW no one called anyone names, and the truth still holds: if you have never heard of Toyo, you shouldn't be managing a tire shop. Now what you said about them meaning they have not having any experiences with that particular Toyo is a different story, and not what you said originally. Toyo is one of the top 10-15 tire manufacturers in the world......
    The Largest Tire Manufacturers in the World (New)

    Yes we are talking tire here and you compared the Ecopias to the Defenders, so it's irrelevant if one is all season and one is winter, which they aren't. Both are all season touring tires, neither are a winter tire.
    Sorry it's not even a question as to if temperature effects mpg, it 100% does. You can read story after story of people with Teslas and other evs cars dying in the cold. It has to do with battery chemistry, especially Li-ion like the new gen 4 Prius uses( except the AWD the used NIMH because it has better cold weather performance). Again I'm not going to keep reiterating over and over again other posts, but it's a proven FACT cold weather drops mpg. I didn't say it absolutely will drop it 30% it can..... Fuel Economy in Cold Weather | Department of Energy.

    So yeah not crazy at all, but less ludicrous then claiming the tires dropped your mpg 20%, when numerous independent testing have shown nowhere near that difference when changing to LRR tires. The average difference was 1-2mpg. Yes it's winter time because your getting winter fuel in the ground starting in Oct by the latest. Unless you logged each trip with the temperature your comparison isn't accurate. If it was 10 deg colder in the trip with the Defenders, that makes a big difference. I have had five different hybrids, and even up sized one car and changed to high performance all season tires and still got the same mpg.


    I've dealt with the same District Manager at Discount tire for 20years, and used to have wholesale accounts with them. I get the maximum discounts and credits possible. The warranty is a pro-rated amount given to you in purchasing a new set of tires and they only give a very minor amount back, nowhere near the difference in having to replace them more than twice as often. Plus as mentioned previously, you have to drive the tires down to 2/32 to claim the warranty. Tires which are already known to have significantly less grip, so I can't imagine them at 2/32. Your tires are literally your direct connection to the road and are what make it go and stop. By your same line of thinking, the Defenders would last even longer. You would get 100k miles or more with them, and would have much better traction. I would personally prefer being able to stop and turn my car properly vs saving a couple mpg, especially in the case where your actually spending more money to do so. If you get four to five years or 40k from the Ecopias your a winner. GL, cheers!
     
    #9 Drakxyfly, Dec 5, 2023
    Last edited: Dec 5, 2023