The Real Cost of Cheap Tyres

Sunday, 31st May 2020

Tyres are a distress purchase for many car owners, so when the time comes to replacing them it's no surprise that many motorists shop on price. But if you buy ‘cheap’ tyres, you could be sacrificing safety.

After all, your tyres are the only thing connecting your car to the road. And when you’re travelling at speed on a wet road, wouldn’t you rather be sure you’ve got a set of tyres that can keep you safe?

What is the Difference Between Cheap and Expensive Tyres?

To the untrained eye, you might think the only difference between cheap budget tyres and more expensive premium tyres is the brand name. But that’s not true.

Whilst a cheap budget tyre on a retail shelf can look similar to the more expensive premium tyre alongside it, there’s a big difference in the quality of construction, materials and product testing.

High-quality rubber compounds found in premium tyres result in enhanced road performance and grip. This is important because when low-grade rubber tyres fail to grip wet roads well, there could be awful consequences.

Do Cheap Tyres Wear Quicker?

Cheap tyres will often wear quicker than premium tyres from manufacturers such as Goodyear, Michelin and Dunlop. As with many things we buy, it’s often the case that ‘we get what we pay for’. Depending on what sort of driving you do, you may not need the highest end of premium tyre on the market, and a mid-range tyre may be appropriate.

However, one thing worth pointing out, is that cheap new tyres will still be a better investment than part worn tyres. So even if don’t have a particularly big budget to spend on tyres, avoiding part worn is well advised.

At HiQ centres, you can take advantage of payment assist on your tyre purchases. This means you can spread the cost of your tyres, making the cost of premium quality, safer and better performing tyres much more manageable.

Are Cheap Tyres a False Economy?

Cheap tyres will cost less than premium tyres up-front. But is that initial outlay going to cost you more money further down the line?

As we have made clear, the tread on cheap tyres will often wear much quicker than the tread on premium tyres. If you’re driving regularly, you’re only going to end up having to replace them a lot sooner than premium tyres. So in the long run, you’re going to be out of pocket.

By their nature, premium brands are always innovating to remain competitive. For example, Goodyear’s EfficientGrip Performance 2 tyre boasts 50% further mileage than its predecessor and 20% more than its competitors, proving that you will get more miles from premium tyres.

How Many Miles Will New Cheap Tyres Do?

There’s no easy figure to put on this, as it depends on many factors other than the quality of the tyre’s manufacture. Things like your driving style, road and weather conditions will all mean that your tyre’s lifespan will vary.

A new set of tyres should last a minimum or 20,000 miles, however cheaper quality tyres may not last that long. The important thing you need to do is keep an eye on tread depth and any other signs of damage. As soon as your tread is close to 1.6mm then you should absolutely be changing those tyres, regardless of how many miles they’ve done. Take a look at our chamber of horrors to see some scary looking tyres that should never have been on the road.

Monitored Tests

In monitored tests by leading manufacturers a tyre size 205/55-16 was put through its paces.

Five budget brands were tested against the leading manufacturers such as Goodyear and Dunlop and the results were something of an eye opener.

The difference in aquaplaning between the lowest budget brand and a premium tyre was a staggering 8.5 metres.

The test on cornering grip was a 28% higher lateral acceleration with the premium tyre that equivalent to a 13 per cent difference in cornering speed.

Finally in comparison "wet braking" between top and bottom places on a partially worn tyre was 20% (11m or 3 car lengths).

In other words, just because a tyre can be legally sold in the UK, that is no guarantee of its performance in safety-critical aspects of normal driving.

At your local HiQ Centre, our fully qualified tyre professionals can always recommend the right tyre for your vehicle depending on what driving you do, such as short journeys around town or regular trips up and down the motorway.

More from HiQ blog


If you think that all tyres are the same, watch this video and be amazed at the difference in premium and budget versions. Safety comes first at Goodyear.