Michelin brand tires earn the highest customer satisfaction among passenger-vehicle and light-truck owners replacing their tires, according to the J.D. Power and Associates’ 2001 Replacement Tire and Retailer Customer Satisfaction Study.

Firestone, which has seen its share of troubles in the past year, did not rank particularly well.

In the 10th year of this national study, Michelin has ranked highest in customer satisfaction for its replacement tires among light-truck owners for seven consecutive years and among passenger-vehicle owners for the past three years. (Passenger-vehicles include cars and compact vans; light-trucks include pickups, SUVs and full-size vans.)

Rating categories include the Replacement Tire Satisfaction Index: situational performance (e.g., fast start traction, handling responsiveness, etc.), long-term performance (e.g., reliability/dependability, wearability, etc.), design and product quality.

While buyers of other brands are more sensitive to tire price, Michelin tire buyers are more likely to mention reliability, durability, and tire handling and performance as key reasons for their purchase, with less emphasis on price, says Jeff Zupancic, director of the tire practice at J.D. Power.

Following Michelin in the passenger-vehicle category are: Toyo; Pirelli and Uniroyal (in a tie); Cooper; and Goodyear respectively.

Tire brands performing at or below industry average, in alphabetical order, include: BFGoodrich; Bridgestone; Douglas; Dunlop; Firestone; General; Kelly; and Sears.

Among light-truck owners, BFGoodrich follows Michelin, with Cooper and Goodyear ranking third in a tie. The remaining brands performing at or below industry, in alphabetical order, are Firestone, General and Uniroyal.

The Replacement Tire and Retailer Customer Satisfaction Study is independently funded by J.D. Power and Associates and is based on responses from more than 9,500 vehicle owners in the United States who have recently purchased replacement tires for their vehicles.