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Budget tyres vs premium tyres

Do budget tyres represent better value for money than premium tyres? We help explain what you should look for

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If you have bought replacement tyres for your vehicle, you’ll know that there’s a huge range of tyres available for virtually any car. From world-renowned premium brands at premium prices, to a wide choice of mid-range tyres, to budget tyres from brands that you’ve probably never heard of, the choice can be mind-boggling.

Unsurprisingly, 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 tyres

For premium tyres, think Bridgestone, Continental, Dunlop, Goodyear, Michelin, Pirelli and so on. These are the tyres that, although black and round like their cheaper counterparts, will deflate your bank account faster than your last blowout.

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, premium brands consistently outperform 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 premium brands under a different name. As one example, Firestone tyres are made by Bridgestone.

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”.

As with cars themselves, there are a growing number of tyre brands coming from China, with names you may not recognise. Their tyres are cheaper – often significantly – than equivalent size tyres from big-name Western brands.

Under gentle loads – slower speeds and short journeys on sunny days – such tyres may be perfectly capable. But when pushed harder, or in an emergency situation, they are unlikely to perform as well as more expensive tyres.

If cost is a serious consideration, a budget tyre is a preferable option to buying used tyres.

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.

Latest car tyre features and advice