06/01/2011: Can you bag a bargain with budget tyres?
Have you thought about buying budget tyres for your car? Well if not, you might wonder what all the fuss is about. After all, if your car manufacturer, who designed and built the machine you’re driving around in, thought budget tyres were right for your car, surely they would have fitted them in the first place. Well if you look a bit closer, you’ll see that this is not necessarily the case. When you buy budget tyres you’re buying one set at a time whereas your car maker bought in bulk.
But does this mean that any budget tyres you might consider buying are in some way inferior to the tyres that were originally fitted to your car? This is a far trickier question and you might think that you need to be something of an expert on budget tyres in order to give a satisfactory answer. In fact although the picture is confusing, and it’s clear that some tyres sold as budget tyres are inferior to those originally fitted to your car, some are actually pretty good but just cost less to make.
To take a good example, which does have a bearing on the quality of budget tyres, it’s fairly obvious here in the West that the Chinese economy is booming as a result of high investment in new technologies, lower wage rates and rapidly expanding home demand. This means some budget tyres purchased from Chinese manufacturers are made very efficiently and very cheaply compared to some Western manufacturers. These budget tyres can clearly be an excellent choice for your car.
In fact the China Rubber Industry Association has recently reported that tyre production in 2010 is likely to be over 10% greater than for 2009. In terms of tyre numbers produced, including budget tyres, this amounts to 420 million this year compared to 380 million the year before. It is expected that by 2015 total production will reach around 570 million tyres per year. Many of these will be considered as budget tyres in terms of the actual prices that Western consumers will have to pay.
On a more cautious note, it’s worth remembering that a very large amount of research and development is carried out by Western manufacturers, so it pays to look carefully at any budget tyres you may be considering. In particular, don’t buy budget tyres without reading the many tyre comparison tests that are published in print and online by the popular motoring press. One horror story that appeared recently showed that a ‘look alike’ of a leading brand had vastly inferior grip, braking and handling performance compared with the tyre it was imitating.