Budget, Mid-range or Premium Tyres – Which Should you Choose?
Choosing a replacement tyre when the old one has become too worn should, in theory be an easy job, but once you start looking at all the choices, it can soon become overwhelming. If you trust your local car garage, you can ask them for their opinion, and they’ll likely have their favourite brands, but you will still have to decide whether you’re going to opt for budget, mid-range of premium tyres. So what exactly are the differences? Is it worth spending more for a premium tyre, or are budget tyres sufficient for your needs? Let’s take a closer look and find out more. Understanding the different types of tyres will make sure you make the right choice.
Premium tyres, as you’d expect, are the most expensive type of tyre. You’ll instantly recognise the names of premium tyres such as Pirelli, Continental and Bridgestone. But with tyres, it isn’t simply all about the name. You might buy a designer t-shirt and pay twice the price simply because it’s got a cool logo on it with the quality of the shirt being pretty much identical to much cheaper shirts. With premium tyres, you get the logo, but that logo stands for high quality. Premium tyres are factory fitted to vehicles, so if you’re buying the same tyres that BMW or Mercedes trust to fit on their cars, then you can be pretty sure they’re a decent tyre.
A premium tyre will have undergone a lot of development work during its creation. Top quality compounds will be used to make the tyres and they will have been very well tested. So you can rely on a premium tyre to be hard wearing and therefore long lasting, and also to perform well.
So while a premium tyre will cost you more initially, if you can afford the outlay, it may work out to be more cost effective in the long run as it’s likely to last longer than a cheaper tyre. In addition, if you travel every day, rain or shine, perhaps commuting to work, then the peace of mind of premium tyres can also be of benefit, knowing you have the best tyres for driving in adverse weather conditions. At any point in time the average tyre only makes contact with the road with the same surface area as the palm of your hand, so a little peace of mind that you have bought the best tyres possible can go a long way.
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While there’s no doubt that premium tyres are going to be the best you can buy, what if you need to replace all four and the price is just too eye-wateringly expensive? Mid-range tyres are often worth a look, however, this middle ground can be quite confusing and it requires a little research if you want to be sure of making the right decision.
Theoretically, a decent mid-range tyre should be of a reasonably good quality, durable enough for the average driver and not too pricey. But you do need to be careful. Some disreputable garages will sell you a tyre they call a ‘mid-range’ when it’s actually a budget tyre, quietly pocketing the price difference for themselves. So it’s always wise to know your tyres to be sure you’re not being taken advantage of.
Don’t be instantly put off just because you’re being offered tyres with a brand name you’ve never heard of. There are some very good mid-range tyre manufacturers out there with decent quality products, they just don’t get the same publicity as the Pirellis and Michelins, so don’t rule them out, look them up and check the reviews. One good way to find out if the tyres you’re looking at are good, is if they’re OE (Original Equipment) tyres. That is, if any manufacturers choose to have them factory fitted to their vehicles. You can be pretty sure that massive car companies wouldn’t just fit any old tyres to their brand new cars, they’d do their research and a lot of testing, so it’s going to be a tyre you won’t regret buying. While not as cheap as a budget tyre, you will save a little money when compared with premium tyres.
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As the name suggests, budget tyres are the cheapest type of tyres you can buy. If you’re short of cash and need a new tyre, then a budget tyre will be the most affordable. We can’t always know when we’ll need to replace a tyre, if we get an unexpected puncture for example, and so we can’t always budget for such eventualities. In this case, with little cash to spare, a budget tyre is a far better option than going for a part worn or re-tread tyre which is unlikely to last long and could even be dangerous.
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Steer clear of part worn tyres
It is definitely advisable to opt for a budget tyre and avoid part worn. The problem with part worn tyres, is, while it may look like there is life left in the tyres, you simply don’t know the history of the tyre and it could be damaged. Small pieces of glass or nails in a tyre can cause a blow-out and that could cause a serious accident. It’s just not worth the risk. With a budget tyre, while it isn’t going to be the best quality tyre, you at least know it’s brand new and hasn’t suffered any damage that you don’t know about.
So which tyres should you choose?
When it comes down to it, the more you spend, usually, the better the tyre. So a premium tyre is always going to be a dependable choice. They’ll last you longer too, so you shouldn’t have the expense of a replacement for a while. Don’t forget, unless you’re confident with replacing tyres yourself, you’ll have the expense of your garage’s labour, as well as the tyres themselves, so while budget tyres may seem like a bargain, they may not really save you much money in the long run.
Are there any circumstances when a budget tyre would be the best choice? Well, if you just don’t have the cash then yes. they’re certainly a better option than delving into the rather murky depths of the re-tread or part-worn market. They’d also be okay if you rarely use your car. Perhaps it’s a second car, just sitting in the garage in case of emergencies, or you only use it to drive to the local shop once a week. In those circumstances, you might be fine with budget tyres. Tyres do degrade over time. The rubber deteriorates and cracks can appear, so you perhaps wouldn’t want to spend a lot of money on tyres if you rarely use your vehicle. But, for any regular car driver, it’s much better to buy mid-range or premium tyres if you can afford to do so.
Some other important considerations
There are some other factors that come into play, that you may want to think about when you’re choosing your tyres.
Keep your balance
Firstly, your tyres need to be balanced. That means, they need to be the same or similar, or you can actually cause quite a bit of damage and lead to uneven tyre wear meaning they’ll need to be replaced again sooner. So if you’ve got four premium tyres on your car, and you need to replace two, you really should be replacing them with premium tyres. In these circumstances, you’d probably be better off replacing them all with budget tyres than having that mismatch in type. It is recommended that you change all your tyres at once, but of course, that’s going to come at a cost and not everyone will want to do this, another option is to fit the newest tyres on the front wheels of the car, and have the older tyres at the rear of the vehicle.
The pressure’s on
Another thing to bear in mind is that the better the tyre, the better it will be at maintaining tyre pressure. With your tyres at the right pressure, you’ll be driving more efficiently, and so you’ll get more miles to the gallon. So good tyres can actually save you on fuel costs.
Always read the label
Brought in under European legislation in 2012, tyres must now be labelled giving you an easy-to-read overview of the tyre’s fuel efficiency, noise levels and grip in the wet. This label is a legal requirement and so be very wary if you’re offered tyres that do not have this label. You can find out more about these energy rating labels on the European Commission website here, but briefly, the label shows three ratings. Fuel efficiency is rated from A to G with A being the most efficient. Wet grip is likewise rated from A to G, with A being a tyre offering the best performance in wet conditions, and the noise levels are given both in decibels as a figure, for instance 72 dB, and visually as a 1, 2 or 3 part filled image, similar to that which you’d see for the strength of Wi-Fi or mobile phone signal. These labels can really help you choose between similar tyres so they’re well worth checking out.
A better drive with premium tyres
It is said that around 50% of the feel of the way your car drives is determined by the tyres. So you might have a luxurious sports car, but put budget tyres on it, and you’re going to loose that quality feel straight away. In reverse, stick premium tyres on your battered old vehicle, and you’ll give it a new lease of life, it’ll feel so much better to drive, so this too, could be a deciding factor on whether or not you go for premium tyres. Don’t just think that because your car is old it’s not worth it, it could actually make a big difference.
How long will my tyres last?
This is a question that is pretty much impossible to answer as there are so many factors at play, from the way you drive and how well maintained your vehicle is to the condition of the roads you drive on, but, it is fairly safe to say, that the better quality the tyre, the longer it will last. Car manufacturer Michelin suggests that you have your tyres inspected by a professional on a yearly basis, and expect to replace them every five years. They also say that even if the tyres are not worn out, they should be replaced after ten years anyway as they may have degraded over time, even if they look okay.
There are some ways in which you can extend the life of your tyres, getting more for your money by ensuring they last as long as possible. The RAC have some good tips for this which you can check out here.
So to conclude…
So, to sum up, go for the best tyres you can afford. Do your research and read reviews, pick tyres with a good reputation. If premiums are too pricey then opt for mid-range. Budgets should be a last resort but are much better than going for part worn tyres. Investing a little extra in your tyres now, could save you money in the long run, they’ll be safer, and your car will feel better to drive.