If you have ever phoned a tyre fitter to enquire about the cost of replacement tyres for your vehicle, you will know that there is a huge range of tyres available for virtually any car – from world-renowned premium brands at premium prices, to wide choice of mid-range tyres, to budget tyres from brands that you’ve probably never heard of.
Consequently, choosing the right tyre for your car and for the mileage and conditions in which you drive can be a confusing business. And with a huge differential in terms of the price of premium and budget tyres, often the temptation is to aim for value without giving consideration to whether premium tyres are worth their weight in… well, rubber.
Premium branded tyres
For premium tyres think Goodyear, Michelin, Pirelli, Bridgestone et al. These are the tyres that, although black and round like their cheaper counterparts, will deflate your bank account faster than your last blow-out. But by purchasing a premium tyre, you are also paying for the huge sums invested in tyre technology, engineering and safety testing that goes into making these tyres both hard-wearing and safe. In product tests carried out by car magazine What Car?, premium brands consistently outperformed their cheaper rivals, offering improved wear, grip and fuel efficiency. If you tend to cover many miles each year or engage in a lot of high speed driving such as on motorways, then these tyres could be well worth shelling out a little extra for.
Sandwiched between the upper and lower echelons of the tyre market are the mid-range brands, which tend to sport familiar premium brand names or are often manufactured by these companies under a different name. These tyres are often a good compromise for general use, offering more in the way of wear and fuel efficiency than the cheapest alternatives and benefiting from the same technology invested in the premium brands, but at a more reasonable price.
The key question concerning budget tyres is whether you get what you pay for and whether buying cheaper tyres is actually economical in the long run. The answer is a confusing “possibly”. These tyres, which are more suited for slower speeds on urban roads or for cars that only do low mileage, are more appropriate for second cars or ‘runarounds’ where distance isn’t an issue. Of course if cost is a serious consideration, a budget tyre is a preferable option to a more expensive tyre that is badly worn or distorted. Essentially budget tyres offer good value so long as you don’t expect to complete a tour from Land’s End to John O’Groats.
With EU requirements now in force for tyre manufacturers to provide clear performance labelling on tyres, consumers are able to make a more reasoned judgement about the tyres that are most suited to their vehicle, their journeys and their style of driving.