Charley, thanks for going above and beyond with your knowledge. I can't thank you enough. I plan on going to some of the tire places around here but I was hoping to gain some knowledge on what I was looking for before I did, which thanks to you I have. But now it looks like I have quite a bit of reading to do.
I'm fine to switch out my tires, I use a little repair place down the street and I've become friends with the owner. They charge me literally $20 to switch out the tires and they balance them. Also, I really do like the tripletreds in the rain, they handle amazingly well.
We live in Southern California (completely opposite from the "rain forest" that you live in) so there is little need for snow or winter type tires. I've not seen rain in about six months. Going back East will be very different, it's going to be raining a lot.
So for my needs/purposes I simply need something that will handle well, be quiet, ride smooth, ease the gas prices and (Very Important) handle the wet weather like a champ! As well, in all honesty, I'm probably going to trade this one in for a newer model sometime in the next 3-6 months.
Then buy a Uniroyal AS (like my dad has) tire because cheap and great for wet and dry pavement. Also, smooth riding, quiet, and good gas mileage. The only thing it lacks is snow flake rating for Winter, but you don't care about that. Another cost effective option would be a Cooper AS.
There are probably other good low cost AS tires that I don't know about. But those two would be my choice for low cost. For slightly more money the excellent Hankook AS, which is what I want to buy for my Buick.
However, I am quite impressed with my dad's Uniroyal AS, especially since ride quality and price are great. The only reason I want the Hankook instead of Uniroyal is the Hankook AS has the snow flake Winter rating. Both are great on wet and dry highway. My dad's Uniroyal get great gas mileage. I don't know how the Hankook (or most others) are for gas mileage, but I assume are good. I do know the Uniroyal and Nokian give great gas mileage. Those two are (ironically) among the cheapest AS, and the most expensive AS.
My 3 favorite AS are the Uniroyal, Hankook, and Nokian.
The Uniroyal is cheapest, the Hankook and Nokian are Winter rated AS (year round use in all climates). Other than those issues, they perform about the same on highway (wet and dry) for normal driving.
The Nokian is the best AS (and most expensive) because it's rated for 140 mph, fast cornering, and high horsepower, as well as Winter rated.
But for normal driving the Uniroyal and Hankook are great. The Uniroyal is cheap and great, but not Winter rated. The Hankook is great, mid priced, and Winter rated.
So for you, the Uniroyal looks good. Also, even though it's not Winter rated, my dad's car is good enough on Winter roads using the Uniroyals. His Uniroyal AS are much better on Winter roads than any HT. All AS tires (even ones without Winter snow flake rating) are better on Winter roads than any HT.
A good AS tire frees you from worrying much about weather. An HT leaves you as the mercy of the weather, hoping for sunny and dry.