Tire suggestion for 2002 Golf TDI GLS

estefania

Member
Joined
Dec 28, 2004
Location
Washington, DC
TDI
Golf TDI 2002 silver 4dr
We need new tires, and I thought I'd hop on this amazing forum to get suggestions. Our garage suggested the Kumho TA31 Grand Touring as a 'mid-price' option. We aren't sure how many more years we'll be driving this car, so we are looking for the least expensive, safe option. We'd also appreciate thoughts on who has the best prices for tires and installation (DC area).
Thanks!
 

Rob Mayercik

Veteran Member
Joined
Dec 19, 2001
Location
NJ, U.S.A.
TDI
2002 Jetta GLS, Baltic Green/Beige
General Altimax RT45.

A large number of folks on this board have run the RT45's predecessor (the RT43, now discontinued) for years and been quite pleased with them, myself included - I got just shy of 80K miles out of the RT43s I just replaced at the end of January, and they weren't quite down to the wear bars.

I've only put about 3K or so on the RT45s since getting them, but so far I'm as happy with them as I was with the RT43s (in other words, General didn't "screw up the formula" when they updated the RT43 into the RT45). I paid $130 per tire for the RT45s up here in northern NJ, not counting mounting/balancing and "road hazard" protection, but I don't think that's necessarily on the "high end" of the price spectrum.

Unfortunately I can't help wtih local pricing/installation, but maybe see what local installers Tire Rack shows for your area?
 

oilhammer

Certified Volkswagen Nut & Vendor
Joined
Dec 11, 2001
Location
outside St Louis, MO
TDI
There are just too many to list....
I would never recommend any of the Korean brands (Kumho, Hankook, Nexen). Been a tire dealer for 30+ years, they've never had anything that inspires confidence, and the way they shill so hard for kickbacks on sales, it's pretty clear that's why ANY shop who is "recommending" them, is doing so.

We've had good success with the General (part of Continental) Altimax RT43s, and now they are the RT45s. Sold and installed a LOT of them. Thousands. Good tires. Balance well, wear well. I currently have RT43s on two of my three Golfs, and a set of RT45s on another. My only complaint is that they are not as quiet as the Michelins I normally would run, and I am pretty sure they don't have quite the low rolling resistance either as the MPG suffered a small amount.... but probably not enough to make a huge difference throughout the life of the tire given how much more the Michelins cost. And the RT45 also has a better snow rating so I'm not as inclined to bother with swapping on snow tires like I once did.
 

oilhammer

Certified Volkswagen Nut & Vendor
Joined
Dec 11, 2001
Location
outside St Louis, MO
TDI
There are just too many to list....
So far the RT45s do not even have 10k miles on them. 95% highway. They show no signs of wear. Not sure I'd buy them again, though. They are not the quietest tire, and I am pretty sure they are contributing to this BEW+09A's inability to get much beyond 40 MPGs, if it even hits 40.

They do well in rain, and dry ground seems perfectly acceptable.... this car doesn't get driven "at the edge". however. I didn't expect them to be as quiet nor have the LRR rating the Michelins I normally buy do, but the extra noise is noticeable. I've also noticed the RT43s I have on my other Golfs have cost a couple MPGs, too.

In your area, you probably have much more winter weather than we do, so they'd probably be a better year round tire. I would not say they are a bad tire, I've just been spoiled by Michelins. Long life, super quiet, reasonable grip, not-so-great in the snow (which is why I would swap to winter wheels/tires if the need arose). But the Michelins cost more. And I don't think they'd last any longer comparing treadwear rating numbers of similar.
 

lemoncurd

Veteran Member
Joined
May 24, 2019
Location
Eastern CT
TDI
2013 CJAA GTB2266
gotcha, ill keep them in mind.

it looks like i can get michelin defender2's put my car at costco for like $60 more out the door.... given how bad i got burned on bridgestrone im quite hesitant to switch brands again until the price difference is substantial.

though, they seem like a good tire for us to throw onto the volvo! it doesnt see nearly as many miles, nor are we going for quiet ride / MPG lol
 

oilhammer

Certified Volkswagen Nut & Vendor
Joined
Dec 11, 2001
Location
outside St Louis, MO
TDI
There are just too many to list....
Yeah, the Defender line is Michelin's cave to high treadwear.... and nothing else. They're on the cheap end, have rock-hard compound, and are not the quietest.

It's all a trade off, really. Long lasting (high treadwear number) = a hard rubber. Hard rubber = less grip and more noise. A super sticky, super quiet tire, will have a much shorter life (low treadwear number), but be far superior during that time period. Also, the harder compound tires tend to go square on the inside edges, instead of just wearing out, which means that while the "tread" may last much longer, the last 50% of its life the car sounds like you are driving down a cobblestone street being chased by an Apache helicopter. This will be more noticeable on wider lower profile tire sizes. I have a CC here right now with some godawful Firestone Firehawks that the radio cannot overcome at speeds over about 25. Ear-bleeders, as we like to call them. You can SEE how unround the inside edges are.

Unfortunately, Michelin is the worst for killing off a tire model for certain sizes, so the rock-hard Defender may be all that is left for most of my cars. :(
 

Rob Mayercik

Veteran Member
Joined
Dec 19, 2001
Location
NJ, U.S.A.
TDI
2002 Jetta GLS, Baltic Green/Beige
So far the RT45s do not even have 10k miles on them. 95% highway. They show no signs of wear. Not sure I'd buy them again, though. They are not the quietest tire, and I am pretty sure they are contributing to this BEW+09A's inability to get much beyond 40 MPGs, if it even hits 40.

They do well in rain, and dry ground seems perfectly acceptable.... this car doesn't get driven "at the edge". however. I didn't expect them to be as quiet nor have the LRR rating the Michelins I normally buy do, but the extra noise is noticeable. I've also noticed the RT43s I have on my other Golfs have cost a couple MPGs, too.
Interesting. Iv'e only got about 5500 miles on mine since putting them on at the start of February, but I'm not seeing a significant difference in MPG from the RT43s - so far all my tanks have been in the 41-43 range (an ALH+01M doing 90% highway in somewhat-less-than-flat NJ), not counting one low tank recently caused by lots of idling to track down that coolant leak I mentioned over in the MKIV forum). Considering that over the about 78,500 miles I ran the RT43s I averaged 42mpg (with the highest being 45.46mpg), the small pile of data thus far on the RT45s is putting them about dead even (statistically speaking) in MPG for me.

Oh, and that's with running the RT45s at 35PSI vs the 38-39 I had the RT43s set to.

Agree the RT45s are fine in the rain, but I think they're quiet (though I've never run Michelins). Looking forward to seeing how they do in snow next winter, provided NJ gets any...

how many miles do you have on them?
i drive alot. like 30-40k miles / year, so getting tires that last a while means alot to me
That kind of mileage per year is going to kill most tires in just over 2 years, I'm going slightly longer, but I'm only doing about 25-26K per year.
 

lemoncurd

Veteran Member
Joined
May 24, 2019
Location
Eastern CT
TDI
2013 CJAA GTB2266
That kind of mileage per year is going to kill most tires in just over 2 years, I'm going slightly longer, but I'm only doing about 25-26K per year.
yeah, my michelin defender t/h's are about to hit 2 years old and theyre basically worn out.
 

oilhammer

Certified Volkswagen Nut & Vendor
Joined
Dec 11, 2001
Location
outside St Louis, MO
TDI
There are just too many to list....
Rob, I doubt the RT45 is any different than the RT43, but they are without a doubt no Michelin... at least, not the Premier or Primacy I'd typically run previously on my other cars.

I was expecting this BEW+09A Golf to be able to at least get to 43-45 and it can't. Maybe I was just expecting too much of it. Our BHW Passat can tag 40, and it's a guided missile in comparison (and a couple fat chicks heavier, too).

But I for sure noticed a 2-4 MPG average hit with the ALH+5sp Golfs with the RT43. Both of them, repeatedly. Is it enough over the life of the tire to warrant the added expense of the Michelins? Maybe, maybe not. But water under the bridge now, as they've discontinued those tires anyway.
 

Rob Mayercik

Veteran Member
Joined
Dec 19, 2001
Location
NJ, U.S.A.
TDI
2002 Jetta GLS, Baltic Green/Beige
Fair enough - my car came with the Goodyears, and it's never had Michelins on it.

I'm guessing other BEW+09As have done better, since you see this one's performance as an anomaly...
 

oilhammer

Certified Volkswagen Nut & Vendor
Joined
Dec 11, 2001
Location
outside St Louis, MO
TDI
There are just too many to list....
I've only owned one other one, and not long enough to really track any meaningful data. The manual BEW I had for a short time would happily touch 45-47, though. And it did have Michelins on it. I just figured since the overall final gear ratio with the BEW+09A is pretty much the same as the ALH+5sp that it would only have to deal with the hit from VE to PD fuel economy loss, but I guess this Jatco box is just that much of a hit to the economy. Automatics suck. :(
 

Rob Mayercik

Veteran Member
Joined
Dec 19, 2001
Location
NJ, U.S.A.
TDI
2002 Jetta GLS, Baltic Green/Beige
One thing that I recall distinctly from back at the 2006 TDIFest was that even two cars of the same year/model/configuration can often perform quite differently - one could be a rocket, and the other a slug despite being physically identical to the naked eye. Was something MrChill said, probably during one of the presentations (though I don't remember which one).

Maybe this one's the "slug" of the breed.
 

oilhammer

Certified Volkswagen Nut & Vendor
Joined
Dec 11, 2001
Location
outside St Louis, MO
TDI
There are just too many to list....
Well my Golf is no "slug", it runs fantastic... and I am 100% certain the engine is as healthy as it could be, because I'm the only one that has ever touched it since PDI. I find more nuanced differences with the ALHs, though. The PDs seem to be pretty much lock step all the same to me, although the BRM's worn turbo control mechanism can make them behave a bit differently than one another sometimes.

But Chris isn't wrong, for sure.

I think I'm probably making a bigger deal out of it than it is worth. Car's in tip top shape, really. Wife has been driving it almost every day now.

The fact that I can "hear" these tires is what leads me to believe they are costing it a MPG or two.

But you know, something else that got me thinking.... these ugly wheels that the 2003+ A4 Golfs got, they might weigh more than the Avus wheels all the rest of my cars have or had. The Avus are pretty light.
 

Rob Mayercik

Veteran Member
Joined
Dec 19, 2001
Location
NJ, U.S.A.
TDI
2002 Jetta GLS, Baltic Green/Beige
I think I'm probably making a bigger deal out of it than it is worth.
Yeah, I know that feeling, getting annoyed by every little imperfection, even the ones nobody else can see/hear. I occasionally find the rattling of the OBD connector annoying (bolts are tight, have checked), but knowing it's not something that impacts safety or drivability is allowing me to ignore it for now. One of these days, though, I'm going to track down some washers and do something about it...

But you know, something else that got me thinking.... these ugly wheels that the 2003+ A4 Golfs got, they might weigh more than the Avus wheels all the rest of my cars have or had. The Avus are pretty light.
You might be onto something there. I seem to recall someone on here assembling a pictorial list of all the various VW wheels, but I don't recall where to find it or if it included weight info.
 

Rob Mayercik

Veteran Member
Joined
Dec 19, 2001
Location
NJ, U.S.A.
TDI
2002 Jetta GLS, Baltic Green/Beige
Yes, that's the one I was thinking of. Unfortunately, a bit light on weight data, but still, thanks for the link!
 
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