Budget tyres vs premium tyres

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.

Mid-range brands

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.

Budget tyres

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.

Improved labelling

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.

Are budget tyres better value than premium tyres? Find out at TheCarExpert.co.uk


  1. A lot of tyres will crack through lack of use , like 2500 miles a year . I have had good tyres , and budget tyres . For low miles and town budget are better , for higmiles and motorways pay the best you can . It’s how you feel safe when driving . It’s a matter of choice .

  2. I would think the only fair test comparison has to based on tyres of the same make and model car or robot, same size, same load capacity, same speed rating and same time of manufacture. I was thinking of using extra load tyres on my 2014 Honda Civic DTEC Tourer but they are not listed in the technical book and info.uk.car@honda-eu.com want to pass the buck to the dealership on what is suitable or not.

  3. I am just ready to replace the Michelin front tyres on my 2014 Honda CRV. Itook it to a Tyre fitter who suggested I replace again with Budget tyres ( Having not looked what was fitted) he then said, “how many miles have they done as 18,000 miles is the rough time budget tyres would last. Then told him these were the original tyres (As on the back) and they had done 40,000 miles.

    • I had Goodyear tyres on my car then when they were nearly worn out I had new budget tyres fitted which I won’t mention names. Well my observation was the nearly worn out Goodyears still gripped better than the budget tyres. On the budget tyres wheels were slipping alot at stop streets and traffic lights. And I am not heavy on the accelerator and brake

  4. Hi I’ve got michelin fuel savers on my honda hrv 2003 3 yrs later still on 4.1 on all four after 24.000 miles no problem.

  5. Interesting age old saga, who can tell the difference between butter and margarine. Two factors matter the most. Driver ability and road conditions. In normal driving one has limitation over speed and traffic. Road condition is another big factor. Top it all with weather condition and we have a witches cauldron.
    Tyre producers are keeping with and probably ahead of what they want you to have and use, afterall they are in business of making money. How many drivers or tyre buyer have ever given a thought to external tread pattern which is a single most important factor. Finally if you can keep your vehicle within the Circle of Traction (a bit of physics) the rubber compound will not let you down no matter what name it carries or its orign of birth. I repeat again; “The Circle of Traction” is the most important single factor.

  6. I have found from experience that certain tyres perform differently on cars from manufactures.At present I have a 4×4 that is eating a premium brand tyres insofar they will be worn out only covering 10,000 miles.The tyres previously on the car was a budget tyre and covered approx 25,000 miles.I do remove tyres when they get down to 3mm.

    The car has never been used off road and has been serviced every 2500 miles and has recently been 4 wheel tracked and adjusted.

    I do begrudge in spending over £500 for tyres that do not last.

    I am considering going back to the economy tyre that gives a far better service life for a very similar driving experience.

  7. Having spent well over 20 years of my life doing driving jobs from couriering to chaufering totalling well over 2 million miles I have tried a lot of tyres. I have had crap budget tyres and crap premium tyres. I even had a set of remoulds that were far superior to every other tyre I had had on that car (Rover Vitesse 2.7).

    To suggest that budget tyres are incapable of a trip from Lands End to John O’Groats shows a complete lack of knowledge to be polite and you are clearly not a car expert!

    I would like to say that premium tyres are always better than budget tyres but I have to say it is often very hard to tell any difference except in the wallet. I have had premium tyres that have such thin sidewalls they were forever getting blown out if you grazed the kerb even at parking speeds. I have had premium tyres that caused serious steering issues. Likewise I have had a set of budget tyres that refused to wear out and on one particular stretch of road they appeared to try and make the car swap ends in the wet which was not fun.

    The bottom line is that it comes down to individual preference. Its a bit like clothing, does a fancy brand name teeshirt last any longer/keep you any warmer than one bought at Asda or Primark? Probably not but you are paying a lot more for the privilage. If you want to spend big money on a tyre, bear in mind some sports cars are tyre specific, then that is fine but for the average user they will see no difference in the grip/safety they get from a budget tyre compared to a big name/big price premium tyre. And that applies to tyre life as well.

    • The point about budget tyres covering the journey from Lands End to John O’Groats has already been covered previously, and I don’t think the author of this article intended it in a literal sense, but more describing the suitability of a cheap tyre being able to handle a wide variety of conditions and loads compared to a premium tyre.

      And to be equally polite, if you think that a set of remoulds are the best tyres you’ve ever had then either you’re deluded or you’ve never bought a set of decent tyres.

    • Are people that stupid, any intelligent person is aware that you were exagerating with the statement about Lands End to John o’Groats. Ive worked in the tyre trade for 31 years and i can tell you that there are good quality budgets, but at the end of the day a premium brand will have a lot less problems later on in the tyres life. Ive replaced many a budget tyre , Googride included, and the inside of the casing has started to breakdown. Its the big boys that put the hard work into design and technology, left to the budget manufacturers we would still be driving on cross ply tyres.

  8. “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”.

    So Budget Tyres won’t last 1,000 miles? Bullshit!

  9. I find the ‘what car’ and ”auto expres” tyre tests a joke! Why
    They all start by saing the folowing: ” We tested the WORST Budget tyre, Against the BEST rated Premium tyr and ‘thr resuls were shocking’!!

    in case any of you missed that, here it is again!
    We tested the WORST Budget tyre, Against the BEST rated Premium tyr and ‘thr resuls were shocking’!!
    How about teasting like for like?? ie, an ‘C’ rated budget/mid brand V ‘C’ Rated premium?

    1)Also, sorry to say, but every car magazine /motoring journalist is in the pockets of pireeli etal…
    2) Budget tyres do NOT pay for ANY advertising, this is a HUGE cost for te premium ( or well known brands) WHO pays for this? the customer does! ie 30% of a premium tyre is advertising cost!

    ALL tyres imported or otherwise, HAto be safe, it is not ust the labels, it is much more then this. Wher ethere is almost always a given, is that more expensive tyres will last longer ( if both are taken care of) compare to cheaper brands, even then, not always enough to justify the silly cost of them! no bias!! be honest in your reports and ome up with REAL evidence rahter then what you think!

    GOODRIDE, (as an example) has been around for 60 Years and has won countless awards and is widely used in North america as well as dozens of countires and ALL over the EU, yet massively less expensive

  10. Why does Kwikfit say the old tyres they replaced were budget yet I NEVER have budget tyres fitted. My garage says none of mine are, or ever have been, budget and that includes the ones fitted by KwikFit!

    • You'd have to ask KwikFit. I'd guess shoddy sales technique to try and get you to swap all of your tyres for the ones they recommend and are incentivised to sell you?

    • Hi Gary. I’m sure that most cheap tyres are capable of travelling more than 1,000 miles, but I think that the author was suggesting that cheap tyres do not cope with different road conditions up and down the country as well as better tyres, and certainly won’t last as long as a decent set of tyres.

    • Well I’ll be doing Lands End to John O’Groats along with an additional 2000+ miles in two weeks around the UK on budget tyres. I’m getting new front shoes on my 3 shortly, and soon after I’ll be heading out on my two week driving trip.

      I’ll report back if I live through it all with problems or not – how’s that for real world testing!?

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