It has been reported by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), that 11,000 accidents happen due to tire blowouts in the USA – many due to poor-quality tires.
The tire industry experiences some of the most intense competition in the world of manufacturing. Every manufacturer is racing to produce tires in every category and address the different consumer pain points.
With that comes compromises in the products released into the market. This may mean that a tire brand trades performance, cost, tread life, aesthetic appeal, etc., and focuses instead on the other categories. Still, it is important that as a consumer you do not get roped into getting wheels that compromise safety on the road as that puts you in great danger.
Often, specialized and high-quality wheels cost a premium, and many consumers tend to scout for tires at the lower end of the catalog. You sure can get good quality tires for what may seem like a bargain, but to do so, you need to be armed with a guide that gives you direction on what a tire must have, what you may overlook, and what you must outrightly avoid.
This information is what we will equip you with in this guide to enable you to make the right choice of tires, especially if the price is an inhibiting factor in getting those amazing sets of wheels with rave reviews you’ve been eyeing.
Tire Buying Guide
The points we’ve included in the list below will help you settle on the right tires, leaving you with little regrets as to the choice of wheels you’ve made. The considerations you ought to focus on include:
Just like in any other industry, a brand’s reputation is important in the tire industry. The nameplate inscribed on a tire’s sidewall carries with it a significance that every consumer should pay keen attention to. It gives you something to eyeball when you do not wish to go through the rigors of selecting a tire or are stuck between two or more tires that fit your selection criteria.
Some manufacturers are dedicated to serving consumers of specific clusters, others excel in catering to a wide-reaching customer base, yet others have little regard for their reputation. All that matters to them is what reflects on their bottom line.
Manufacturers situated in certain geo-locations have wanting industry reputations in the tire sector, as we’ll see with the case of Chinese tire manufacturers. In contrast, others have amassed a solid reputation, case in point for Japanese, American, and French manufacturers.
China leads the rest of the globe in the country with the highest number of factories. This allows them to produce a superabundance of all kinds of products, most of which retail at very competitive prices. This explains why most Chinese tires have lower price tags than the competition. However, you should not purchase tires made by unknown or little-known Chinese brands.
We are not vilifying China in any way, but we advise that you avoid most China-made tires altogether, as there are few checks in place to guarantee the quality and safety of tires made in Chinese factories. And, as has been observed over time, these manufacturers trade all the essentials with attractive pricing to entice consumers to choose their products.
You’ll often see exact replicas of high-quality tires produced by reputable brands, such as Michelin, Bridgestone, Goodyear, Pirelli, etc., but that cost a lot less. Nearly all of these tires, however, are made with substandard materials that compromise safety and quality. In addition, should you purchase a Chinese brand tire and it incurs a defect that is typically covered by a warranty, you do not have the guarantee that the manufacturer will bear its cost.
Cost is the most determining factor in the moving of tires off the shelves. Consumers may resort to more affordable tire options when they are constrained by budget. In the process, more often than not this means sacrificing one or multiple features of similar, higher-priced wheels.
Therefore, as a consumer, you should know what you’re comfortable with sacrificing when purchasing that cheap tire.
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3. Tire Features
Tires have functionalities suited for different types of vehicles and are equipped with different features to withstand different conditions. These features comprise performance in mild and inclement weather, durability on the road, and performance on specific road surfaces, among others.
They are also assigned different ratings based on their test performance, the most popular of these grades being speed and treadwear ratings. Some tires also feature great designs, which is a choice factor for drivers who focus on a tire’s appeal to the eyes.
All wheels come with warranties that guarantee them for varied durations depending on their estimated lifespan.
In choosing a tire, see whether it is compatible with your type of vehicle and if it is equipped with features to perform well on your region’s roads and climate conditions.
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4. Safety and Quality Standards
Road safety is vitally important for every road user, and at the center of it are safe tires. Whatever tire you settle on, it must tick the boxes in safety and quality guarantee.
Most well-known brands have all their tires assessed for these checks before leaving the factory, and the results of the tests are publicly documented. This guarantees the safety and quality of their tires. The best manufacturers will have very few tire recalls.
As we mentioned, most Chinese tire brands do not prioritize such accountability. They do not test their wheels in-house and produce them using substandard materials. This puts the lives of road users at risk.
Therefore, we advise that you check for publicized tests and results on the safety and quality of the tire you’re looking to purchase.
It is essential to check the date of the manufacturer of a tire before purchasing it. Although they may never have been on the road, tires lose some of their qualities the longer they stay on the shelf due to subjection to heat. Therefore, you should buy tires that have not stayed on for a long time on the shelves since they left the manufacturing plant.
Other Factors to Consider
Aside from the factors we’ve mentioned, it is also important to observe good tire maintenance practices to have your tires last longer. This also ensures that in the event of a fault, your warranty claim won’t be turned down by your manufacturer, which would otherwise result in you footing the fixing costs entirely from pocket.
Also, in choosing tires for your car, we recommend that at the very least, you use the exact same pair — in size and brand — for the front or rear axles.
List of Worst Tire Brands to Avoid Buying
- Westlake Tires
- Chaoyang Tires
- AKS Tires
- Goodride Tires
- Geostar Tires
- Telluride Tires
- Compass Tires
- Trazano Tires
There is a reason why Chinese tires are inexpensive and cheap; it is because you are getting what you pay for. Putting a high-end brand of tire on an old car may seem like a waste of money, but it may depend on how much you value your vehicle and your life.
Some Chinese tire brands are worse than others, but there are also a couple of Chinese brands that are safe enough to put on your car. Here is some background on a few popular Chinese tire brands that may help you to change your mind about going for the cheaper option.
Chaoyang is part of the Zhongce Rubber Group, which owns many other tire manufacturers in China. Founded in 1958, Chaoyang makes tires for all types of vehicles from their factory in Hangzhou. Along with owning a lot of tire brands, Zhongce has just gone public with an IPO valuing the company at $4-$5 Billion.
A key product for Chaoyang is bicycle tires, which is where they began but have also gone on to develop car tires. You can also find their products on industrial vehicles like forklifts and diggers. And slower-moving vehicles may be where these tires are best suited.
Chaoyang’s car tires are better than some newer firms but do not expect perfection. Though the company has a long history, its journey with car tires is short, and this is perhaps the reason for the performance being so bad.
Goodride is also controlled by the Zhongce Rubber Group, though the underlying business did not start until 1997. Goodride makes tires for a range of vehicles, from cars to farm vehicles, and with competitive pricing.
Goodride seems to be better at making tires for the commercial market than general transportation. You see these tires on buses, trucks, and other low-speed vehicles that you would not expect to see driving down a highway.
Goodride tires tend to receive praise for their price and longevity, but not for grip. Goodride’s tires get poor reviews for handling because, in general, the grip is bad. But at least you can expect these tires to last longer than their competitors.
Westlake is another tire manufacturer under the ownership of Zhongce Rubber group and was founded in 1999. The tires from this factory are aimed at the local Chinese market with a comparable price point in mind.
Westlake tires are sold to the international market, and they do have some positive reviews. Tire owners claim that the performance is adequate at slow speeds and when driving through town. Though when it comes to faster speeds on the highway, the experience is less than positive.
The grip seems to vanish on the road, along with the driver’s confidence that the tires will hold on while going around a corner. If you get these tires, it is safer to stick to using them on town roads with few bends.
AKS tires are another brand that you will find sold around the world, offered by mechanics that want to offer a cheap alternative. A salesperson may also want to display this tire against their other brands to explain why they are cheap and dangerous.
The finish on the tires looks bad and amateurish, and the performance is one of the worst on the list. Traction in low speeds is minimal on AKS Tires. If you decide not to go any faster, then you are making a wise decision since the tread makes it feel like you have no grip at all.
Some people feel that the tires to come out of AKS are the cheapest and most dangerous ever to hit the road. If you put these tires on your car, you may be too scared to drive it after.
The company came into being in 1998, producing bicycle tires, a similar story to the manufacturers under Zhongce. But when they advanced into car tires, the technology did not seem to catch up with them.
It may be the case that these are the perfect tire for a bicycle that you what to have a low amount of road friction on. Or put them on a bike you have little interest in since they will increase your chance of crashing.
The ride is poor, and the grip on a Compass tire is not great but not the worst. You can live with the performance if you are not worried about the ride, and the lifespan is also not as bad as the other brands.
Trazano is a new company founded in 2009 but still owned by the Zhongce Rubber Group. The difference is that this manufacturer is based in the US, so you would think there is more oversite on the production process.
Because of the production location, the price of the Trazano is like other more reputable western brands. And the performance is better than some others on this list, but by no means is it acceptable.
Trazano tries to pass itself off as a western brand, but the quality is slightly different from other Chinese tires. The tires tend to wear unevenly, and for some reason, the tread seems to thin out most in a ring in the middle of the tire — worth avoiding.
The Worst Tire Brands from China – Are they Safe?
Chinese tire brands should be avoided as they are not put through the same safety inspections as American-made tires.
Goodride, Westlake, Trazano, and Chaoyang are all run by the same group, so their tires are all similar. Chaoyang is bad, but you could live with their tires, and it does feel like they are giving you a half-decent ride.
Though of all the tire brands, Goodride is preferable over the other companies in the group. Goodride tires tend to last the longest, though the grip is still not great.
AKS is too dangerous to recommend. Even at slow speeds, you may be battling with the steering to keep your vehicle driving straight. This is a brand of tire that you should look at to remind you why it is worth paying more.
If you must go with one of these Chinese brands, then choose Compass, which at least offers some level of grip. The lifespan of Compass tires is enough to make their cost justified. Compass, being one of the few not under Zhongce, has been able to come up with better designs and manufacturing processes.
Sam is Automole’s editor-in-chief and classic car enthusiast. Sam is studying mechanical engineering at Cockrell School of Engineering, Austin. He also writes for many top automotive publications and appears on the Collecting Cars Podcast.