Why are some tyres cheaper than others?

Why are some tyres cheaper than others?

15 Jul

By Gwyn Fennell

In this short article, we try to help by explaining what goes into making a tyre in the first place, so you can judge whether cheap or budget tyres are worth gambling on, or not…

Laying down rubber facts

Just because – to most untrained eyes at least – all tyres look the same, it doesn’t mean they are the same. Simply put, they’re not.

And yes, while all car tyres are made of rubber, it’s the way that rubber is processed with other ingredients – such as carbon, fabric and polymers – into what’s known as “compounds” that makes all the difference.

But what kind of difference?

Good quality rubber compounds mean safer tyres

Tyres made from low-grade rubber compounds aren’t as effective at gripping the road in wet conditions, with potentially negative effects on stopping distances. The truth is that these tyres are usually the ones sold as “budget” or “value” tyres.

Leading insurer, Direct Line, asked various tyre industry experts to make the case for buying budget tyres. None would. Not a one. This is chiefly because the experts believe premium tyres are critical for road safety. Like you, they also want to be able to stop quickly and safely on wet roads.

Premium tyres also last longer

The quality of the rubber compound – and its design – also affects what’s known as the rate of wear. You’ve guessed it: the higher the quality, the longer they last.

In fact, in tests conducted by Which? – based on an annual mileage of 12,000 – budget tyres only last for two years. Tyres made with high-grade compounds, by contrast, last up to five years. That’s three years longer than budgets. Still think budget tyres are the best deal? You do the maths.

Research, development and testing

 
So how do tyre makers know what constitutes an optimal rubber compound or design for a tyre?

The answer boils down the massive amounts of money that top tyre brands invest in R&D – research and development. They’re constantly innovating to keep up with the phenomenal rate of change that’s taking place with new vehicle development, which in turn means ever increasing demand for performance, but most of all, safety.

 
Take Continental. They have tyre test and development sites all over the world, where each year more than 140,000 tyres are tested over a total of 200 million kilometres. It means that – before a new tyre goes on sale – its prototype forerunners have been through a process that involves over 67,000 separate tests, taking them around the world the equivalent of five hundred times. It’s one of the reasons why Continental’s award winning tyres are known the world over for their high safety characteristics.

Working with car makers

Safety is certainly one of the reasons why one in three new cars in Europe is sold from factory to showroom with Continental tyres “Original Equipment”.
This is really relevant because it demonstrates two things:

  • Brands like Continental are preferred by car makers because they produce the kind of quality tyres that bring out the best characteristics in the cars they make.

  • A commitment to invest in research and development to keep producing ever safer, better-designed tyres.

Trust the experts

Ultimately, it’s up to you which tyres you buy, but now you know why some tyres cost more than others and you’re in a better position to make an informed choice. But sometimes, it’s good to talk to a trusted expert too. You can get in touch with your local Protyre professional. They’ll be happy to provide impartial, expert advice about tyre safety, what’s tyres are best for your vehicle, expert fitting and much more. You can find your nearest Protyre garage here.

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Author

Gwyn Fennell
Gwyn has been in the motor industry for over 35 years with experience in vehicle design, electrics, engine management, geometry and of course tyres. Continental has been Gwyn’s home for the past 15 years, where he has become a qualified trainer and examiner to both IMI and NTDA standards and now working towards the IQA qualification. Gwyn’s job has evolved and expanded in recent times and a more accurate but less pleasing to read title would be Technical Customer Service & ContiAcademy Training Centre Manager. It’s no surprise that Gwyn has excellent knowledge from the tyres up so when any technical questions come his way you know he’ll be providing the best advice possible.
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