We’ve all been there. Standing in the tyre fitting centre trying to make a rational decision about which tyres to buy. A good quality premium tyre can come in at double the price of a budget tyre. It’s a dilemma we’ve all faced but perhaps it’s time to look at the facts.
The stark reality is that good quality tyres could save your life, the lives of your family or other innocent victims in a road traffic accident. It’s not likely, in fact it’s extremely unlikely but a possibility nonetheless. Premium branded tyres perform better in independent tests in all conditions than budget tyres: fact. (http://www.tyrereviews.co.uk/).
The premium brands (Goodyear, Pirelli, Continental, Michelin et al) have invested heavily in tyre design, rubber compounds and tread patterns the combination of which has perfected the high quality tyre; a tyre designed to stop your vehicle quickly and safely no matter what the road conditions. A car’s tyres are its only connection with the road and particularly in the wet, the design of the tread can make the difference between gripping the road surface and aquaplaning across a carriageway into oncoming traffic.
All tyres sold in the UK must fulfil safety criteria of course and our aim is not to over emphasise the difference between different brands but to present the facts. The majority of budget tyres are now manufactured in China and their quality has improved enormously in recent years. Although they are closing the gap on their premium brand rivals very quickly, premium brand tyres will still stop you more quickly and grip the wet road better, than their budget cousins.
So to recap, the chances of premium car tyres preventing a serious accident for you as an individual are, in reality, very slim, so if you are happy to base your buying decision on statistical probability a budget tyre could be a logical choice, particularly if you are a low mileage motorist. However, if like many of us, you carry a metaphorical rabbits foot in your glove compartment you may wish to err on the side caution and fork out for a more expensive but proven tyre. A good philosophy maybe to buy the best quality tyres you can afford.
A proportion of mid-range tyres are manufactured by the premium brand manufacturers under different brand names and these may offer a good compromise if you are on a limited budget but seeking peace of mind. If you feel more comfortable knowing that your tyre has been manufactured by one of these top brands rather than a company that you have never heard of, ask your tyre dealer about mid- range options.
Performance & Durability
Whilst safety is the first priority of the tyre manufacturer, durability and performance are also considerations. It is an assumption that premium tyres will last longer than budget tyres but when it came to searching out evidence for this we found very little. It is also true that modern technology uses softer compounds than in the past which grip the road surface better but do not necessarily last longer. Until more evidence is presented we think the jury is still out on the question of durability and value for money.
Tyre ‘performance’ is really something for the more discerning driver; those with expensive cars who take their driving very seriously. The difference in the ‘behind the wheel’ experience of different tyres is minimal to the average motorist. Far more significant in terms of driver feedback and performance is tyre inflation which can also have a significant effect on safety and durability. Whichever brand of tyre you choose, we advise you purchase an electric car pump (they are less than a £10 at Argos) and check your tyre pressures regularly. There is little point in investing in quality tyres and then not inflating them to the correct pressure.