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Buying Cheap Budget Tyres? Information & Opinions on Safety Risks

What was used in the test?

  • Premium tyres: Michelin (£70), Goodyear (£60), and Continental (£58).
  • Budget tyres: Arrowspeed (£44), Ovation (£37), and Sunew (£37).
  • The car: Vauxhall Meriva
  • Equipment: GPS-based timing equipment

Test 1 – stopping distances in dry conditions travelling at 70mph:

  1. Michelin Pilot Sport 3 – 48.5 metres
  2. Continental ContiPremium Contact 2 – 51.1 metres
  3. Sunew YS112 – 52.2 metres
  4. Goodyear Optigrip – 53.4 metres
  5. Ovation VI-182 – 53.4 metres
  6. ArrowSpeed CP661 – 53.9 metres

So comparing the best premium brand tyre against the worst budget tyre, the stopping difference was 5 metres longer for the budget tyre. Goodyear didn’t fair too well in this test did they?

Test 2 – stopping distances in wet conditions travelling at 70mph:

  1. Michelin Pilot Sport 3 – 59.5 metres
  2. Goodyear Optigrip – 62.1 metres
  3. Continental ContiPremium Contact 2 – 64.3 metres
  4. ArrowSpeed CP661 – 68.2 metres
  5. Ovation VI-182 – 76.0 metres
  6. Sunew YS112 – 82.4 metres

Looking at that there are some shocking differences, especially when stopping distances are so important in terms of car safety. The budget tyres took an average of 14 metres longer than the premium tyres. Two other tests were undertaken measuring the lateral grip (with the premium tyres showing better grip) and the cabin noise generated (which was roughly the same overall). You can watch a short video of the tyre test conducted by What Car?.

Tyre Shopper opinion on cheap budget tyres?

Looking back at the overall results it is clear that there isn’t actually a direct correlation between the price of tyres and the quality of them. The stopping distances in the wet were alarming, but the rest of the tests show that there is only a small difference in quality – in some cases the budget beating the premium!

One company representative from Nexen objected to the evaluation from What Car? by saying:

“Drying braking: OK it is not a great result for Arrowspeed, but we have to consider that Arrowspeed is not far away from Goodyear’s result. Wet braking: Arrowspeed is the best out of the lower priced brands and also not far away from the other premium brands such as Continental. Lateral grip: close to all premium-brands and the same result as Goodyear. Noise very good result, better than Michelin and Goodyear and same result as Continental.”

And interestingly pointing out that:

“…considering all factors, including price-offer, the Arrowspeed – tyre has the best price-performance – relation in the test.”

The Michelin UK car tyre marketing manager Jianni Geras had the following to say:

“Although we are obviously very pleased that the Pilot Sport 3 was the clear winner in this test, the poor performance of the budget brands is very alarming. It’s clear from this that the large investment we make in R&D is hugely beneficial to drivers and this doesn’t even take into account the environmental performance of our tyres in terms of improved fuel efficiency and class leading longevity.”

So there we have it, a small number of tests conducted on a range of expensive and cheap tyres shows there is a difference in quality – especially in the wet – but certainly not half the quality even though they are half the price!

Jack Underwood

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