How to choose between premium, medium or economy tyres? Whether you’re buying tyres for the first time or you just want to test out a new model, the multitude of brands available can mean you end up spoilt for choice! As with other tyre-related choices, a lot depends on your personal preferences and driving style, but to help make things a bit clearer, here’s everything you need to know about brand families.
Tyre brands: from premium to budget
Premium brands, performance leaders
The six so-called premium tyre brands are also the best known. They sell high quality tyres and belong to leading tyre manufacturers:
Why are premium brands the tyre market leaders? It comes down to the following factors:
High performance in key criteria:
- Short braking distances in dry and wet conditions
- Reliable handling on all types of roads
- Enhanced durability
- Superior ride comfort
- Fuel savings thanks to innovative technologies used in green tyres
- Significant investments in research and development, technology perfected in test centres where tyres are rigorously checked
- A wide range of sizes
- Original equipment for new vehicles
- Tyres which often obtain excellent test ratings
- After-sales service
At the time of purchase, it may cost more to buy a premium brand tyre but, considering the long-lasting performance of these tyres, the cost per mile is not necessarily more expensive than that of an economy tyre.
Mid-range brands, good value
A few intermediate brands belong to large groups, for example BF Goodrich (Michelin) or Uniroyal (Continental), while others are independent. Generally speaking, tyre manufacturers don’t invest as much in their mid-range brands as in their premium brands, however some of these brands manufacture highly specialised products.
- Nokian Tyres
Intermediate brand tyres can be a good choice in terms of value for money because:
- They have a solid reputation for particular tyre types (for example, BF Goodrich for 4x4 tyres, Toyo and Yokohama for sports tyres and Nokian for winter tyres).
- They are usually cheaper than premium tyres.
As some mid-range tyres are specialised, not all of them provide as well balanced performance as the best premium products. Before buying, make sure the tyre’s performance strengths correspond to your type of vehicle and driving style.
Budget brands have less experience than premium brands and offer entry-level tyres that come with an attractive price tag but often reduced performance.
There is an extensive choice of budget brands. Here are just a few examples:
Ambassador, Dayton, General Tire, GT Radial, Kingstar, Kormoran, Maxxis, Nexen, Riken, Sumitomo, Tigar, Viking.
The performance of budget brands varies with a few common tendencies:
- Unbeatable prices
- Often lower performance than other brands, especially for fast driving or use in difficult conditions.
- A poorer balance of performance criteria
It’s a good idea to check the tyre label ratings for budget tyres to get a better idea of the performance levels to expect. Budget tyres could well surprise you, in either a good or bad way, particularly in terms of safety.
Six questions you should ask yourself to choose the right tyre brand
As you’ve no doubt realised, the tyre market is vast! There are a large number of different brands, some belonging to the same tyre manufacturing group, not forgetting the various models that exist per brand. The question is how to find the best tyre for you?
When buying tyres, as well as any advice from professionals, friends or family, there are six key questions to consider:
- How do you use your vehicle (long-distance travel, daily use, track days for leisure, off-road trekking etc)?
- What type of road do you drive on most often (country lanes, motorway etc)?
- How often do you use your vehicle?
- What is your driving style (fast, calm etc)?
- What weather conditions do you face most often (snow, rain, ice etc)?
- Where do you set the price for safety?
- Opting for a leading brand, will guarantee a high level of safety, superior ride comfort, durability and a reliable after-sales service.
- If you’re looking for a specific tyre (e.g. 4x4 or sports) it might be a good idea to investigate mid-range tyre choices.
- When opting for budget tyres it's important to bear in mind that performance in terms of safety varies considerably, with some tyres achieving reasonable standards, and others less so.
- The cheapest tyres will not necessarily save you money in the long term. Tyres with a higher initial price tag tend to have a longer life and a higher rolling resistance resulting in a lower cost per mile.