16 November 2021

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In the motoring world, there are few products that vary more in price than tyres.

As anyone who has ordered replacement tyres will know, there is a vast range of options, varying in quality and price. Many people are unsure of the benefits a premium tyre can bring, or alternatively whether cutting down on tyre costs is a worthwhile compromise. To help you properly navigate the minefield that is the tyre market, we’ve put together a handy guide so that you can be informed when the time comes to replace your tyres.

When it comes to fitting out your personal vehicle or a professional fleet, there are lots of areas where the difference between economy and premium products isn’t that different - supermarket fuel, for example, is held to all of the same safety standards as premium fuel.

Whilst there is some evidence to suggest that premium fuel has some additional benefits, there is also a lot of information that implies premium fuel isn’t necessary to get the best performance from your vehicles. When it comes to the tyres you choose, things are a bit clearer, but it’s still important to consider the business requirements and the needs of your fleet when it comes to choosing the right kind of tyre.

What is the difference?

Tyres can crudely be broken down into three groups: economy, mid-range and premium. 

Economy tyres: cheap and cheerful

Economy tyres are those which compromise on certain qualities for a lower cost. While these won’t be winning any F1 races, they are functional and for many people, do the job just fine. However, as with most products, if you cut costs, you could also be reducing the safety of your tyres.

Premium tyres often advertise that they are safer than their cheaper counterparts, which in normal weather conditions isn’t always the case, but in adverse conditions, economy tyres can be pushed to their limits. When roads are wet or icy, for example, the level of grip economy tyres have can be affected. According to some studies, economic tyres can increase standard stopping distance by up to 15 metres when compared to premium tyre manufacturers, particularly in wet conditions. Studies also found that economy tyres can have braking distances and grip levels which are up to 30 per cent worse than their premium counterparts in adverse conditions, which means it can be more difficult to control the car.

With all this said, drivers in the UK buy the highest percentage of budget tyres compared to any other European nation. In the UK, rainy conditions are very common, but compared to a lot of other European nations, our climate is relatively mild, and icy conditions aren’t as severe as in other northern European countries. This is one of the reasons that economic tyres are so popular here in the UK, compared to other countries.

However, budget tyres still have to meet a wide range of required safety standards, and can’t be sold if these standards aren’t met, so you can be confident that your tyres are still safe to use. As long as you are aware of the tyres you have and how it affects your driving, then economy tyres can be a great way to save money on both personal and business travel costs.

Mid-range tyres: best for the average driver

Mid-range tyres are self-explanatory and in fact, this category covers the largest share of the tyre market. These are often manufactured by some of the leading brands, yet are offered under different brand names at a slightly lower price than the premium product. Dunlop is a great example of a mid-range tyre that performs extremely well for the average driver.

Premium tyres: the best of the best

Finally, premium tyres are top of the quality list and unsurprisingly top of the cost list too. Premium tyres are produced by the industry heavy weights, namely Michelin, Pirelli, Goodyear and Bridgestone. These tyres consistently come top of the polls in terms of reviews and are the ultimate tyre to choose for all round high performance.

Premium tyres are the most long-lasting tyres in general*, and if you need tyres for a specific purpose or terrain, it could be more cost-effective long term to make the investment into premium tyres. Specialist tyres or premium tyres for driving on rough surfaces, gravel and in adverse weather conditions can be exceptionally important when it comes to keeping your vehicles in good condition, whereas economy tyres are better suited for standard tarmac driving. If you regularly travel many miles, a premium tyre may also have a longer life than less expensive counterparts.

According to Kwik Fit, premium tyres with an ‘A rating' save an average of 80 litres of petrol over the course of a year – or roughly £110 per year at current forecourt pricing**. When you also add up the expense of buying many budget tyres over the course of a year, you can understand why less expensive alternatives aren't always the best option. Premium tyres, while more expensive upfront, can end up being the more cost-effective alternative, with the potential benefit of decreased greenhouse emissions and a smaller personal carbon footprint too.

Premium tyres are generally more highly rated than economy options, which mean they need to be quieter too, as this is an important aspect of the EU tyre rating process. This is especially important on congested streets where traffic noise is an issue. They also produce less noise inside your vehicle, making for a far more enjoyable driving experience for you and your passengers.

What should the choice be for you?

Premium may offer the best all-round tyre performance, but at a premium price this is to be expected and understandably many drivers will want to know about whether such an investment is worth it. The fact of the matter is that there is no one-size-fits all answer to the question of tyre choice.

Decisions should be made depending on general car use, the desire for efficiency and of course budget. If you clock up serious mileage on your vehicle, it may be sensible to steer clear of the lower end tyres as cost cutting on initial tyre outlay for an active driver could be more costly in the long run as they may need replacing more regularly.

If you have drivers who clock up less mileage, you may decide to opt for the cheaper tyre options. If the car isn’t regularly used, there can seem little logic in splashing out on premium tyres.

An important factor that should not be neglected is efficiency. Better tyres, when maintained at the correct pressure, mean a more efficient drive, thus you get more MPG out of your vehicle’s engine. This can save costs in fuel and reduce general car maintenance issues, and should be considered as a factor.

Due to the large number of tyre brands, models and varieties, and their relative similarities, it can be difficult for consumers to choose which tyre is appropriate for their vehicle. Some cars, particularly performance cars, come with suggested brands listed in the owner's manual, but for the typical motorist, it can still be confusing. In recent years, the EU Tyre Label has helped consumers better understand the differences between tyres by providing clear information on each tyre's effect on efficiency, noise, and grip - independent of price.

Annual tyre tests are also published in some magazines, evaluating the best tyres on the market, and a large number of websites provide tyre evaluations and information on where to buy them to help consumers make the right choice. Allstar can also support your fleet with ServicePoint Tyres, providing cost clarity and complete control of your tyre replacement purchases. With an extensive tyre catalogue available, as well as a nationwide network of tyre fitter, you can select the best tyres for your commercial fleet based on the type of job you do, your budget, the size of your fleet, and a whole host of other considerations.

How to choose your new tyres

After November 2012, all new tyres sold in the EU come with a standard label. It divides the tyre into three categories, each with a rating: fuel efficiency, wet grip, and exterior noise. The label itself resembles the ones found on household appliances or on your home's Energy Performance Certificate (EPC). The point of the EU Tyre Label is to equip drivers with sufficient objective and trustworthy information to help them make an informed decision when purchasing new tyres. The scale runs from green A (the best rating) to red G (the worst rating). The decibel level of external noise caused by the tyres is also measured.

These labels and ratings take a few different features into account, including:

  • Fuel efficiency
  • Wet grip (based on stopping distances in wet weather conditions)
  • External noise (rated in decibels)
  • Tyre speed rating (the maximum speed a tyre is safe to use at)
  • Tyre load rating (the maximum weight a tyre can carry)

No matter the quality

Whether you decide to invest and choose premium tyres or keep costs down and choose economy, there are some rules that you can follow to get the best out of your tyres.

Ensure that your tyres are balanced, don’t think that by purchasing two premium tyres and two economy tyres will benefit your vehicle. In fact it will do more damage than good. All tyres need to be similar tread and quality. By purchasing two types, some tyres may need to be replaced sooner than others, which will affect the efficiency of vehicle.

Similarly, you must regularly check the tyre pressure and tread on all five tyres (including the spare tyre). As it is illegal to have tyres below a certain tread and pressure. Having under inflated tyres also means that it costs the vehicle more fuel.

When fitting new tyres you should also try to replace all of the tyres at the same time. If this isn’t possible you can also rearrange the tyres so that the two newest tyres are at the front of the car. If this isn’t done it will mean that the tyres are deteriorating at different speeds which may cause the car to become lopsided and can damage the vehicle.

Regardless of choice, ServicePoint Tyres can assist you with your tyre replacement by ensuring your tyres meet the exact specifications of your fleet, through an online purchase completed in four simple steps. Learn more about ServicePoint here.

*When used in accordance with their design parameters.

**Correct at the time of publication.

 

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