“Think long and hard about bargain-basement tyres”

Buyers think less about tyres than baby seats, airbags and braking systems, says Mike Rutherford - but they’re just as important

Opinion tyres

When on the other side of the world a few months ago, I met up with an old friend who’s a senior executive at a tyre company. I asked him the same question I always ask him: what’s new in the tyre world? 

Ultimate tyre test: best tyres 2015

And, in turn, he gave me his usual answer: the latest news, he insists, is that they’re still black and, er, they’re still round. It’s an odd game, the tyre business, as Michelin recently proved by buying rags-to-riches for £50million. 

Advertisement - Article continues below

Another big player is Micheldever, which includes Protyre and claims to be the UK’s largest independent wholesaler, distributor and retailer of six million tyres annually. 

Peugeot 308 SW - tyre

“The great news for the consumer is that over the last 18 months, prices have fallen relentlessly – in some cases by more than 20 per cent,” Micheldever CEO Duncan Wilkes told me. “Having said that, some motorists are still making dumb decisions.”

Guide to winter tyres

He added that there’s a “very strange schizophrenia” among certain drivers, who are highly safety conscious when it comes to the type of child seats, airbags and braking systems they buy, but barely think about the four pieces of rubber beneath them.

“They’re leaving it later and later before changing their tyres. From a road safety perspective, it’s extremely concerning.” Cheap-as-chips products concern him, too: “It’s rarely the case that cheapest is best – and that’s certainly true when it comes to tyres,” Wilkes said. But he would say that, wouldn’t he? After all, he’s got round, black things to sell. 

Winter tyres

“Let’s put it like this: a driver with, say, a Ford Fiesta needs to know that if he’s only paying £35 for a new tyre, he’s probably only getting a low-budget Chinese one,” he continued. 

And according to Wilkes, even if a driver goes to £45, they’re probably still only in premium Chinese territory. But a mid-range product can be had for £55, whereas £65 buys in the “decent” mid-range and £75 upwards fetches premium rubber.

In short, avoid being dumb, dumber or dumbest – think long and hard about bargain-basement new or used tyres. Instead, invest your hard-earned cash in, at least, quality mid-range rubber. 

But also invest your time in knowing the right tyre pressures, then checking and adjusting them with military-like commitment and precision. And keep reminding yourself that your valuable car never touches the road – unlike the black, round things it has perched in each corner.

Would you buy cheaper tyres for your car? Let us know in the comments below...




‘What better than a thumbs-up from an existing owner?’

Editor-in-chief Steve Fowler gives his view on our 2020 Driver Power survey, and is especially pleased by Kia's success
8 Apr 2020

'The advice around what we should do before, during and after we drive our cars is less than clear'

Only essential driving during the Coronavirus lockdown is allowed, but what we need to do before, during and after our journey isn't as clear, says Mi…
5 Apr 2020

‘It’s Car Care Week, so head outside and show your motor a little love’

If you can’t drive your car, editor-in-chief Steve Fowler thinks you should wash it instead. When you're done, send us a pic and we’ll print the best
1 Apr 2020

'The temporary shutdown of car factories could benefit manufacturers and customers'

With car factories around the world closing temporarily, it may give manufacturers the chance to clear out the current backlog of unsold new cars, say…
28 Mar 2020

Most Popular


Kia Telluride named World Car of the Year 2020

The Kia Telluride has been named World Car of the Year 2020, beating the shortlisted Mazda 3 and Mazda CX-30
9 Apr 2020
Tips & advice

What to do about your diesel particulate filter during lockdown

The coronavirus lockdown is forcing people to drive their cars less, which could be a problem for owners of modern diesels
7 Apr 2020
Volvo S90

Volvo S90 loses petrol and diesel engines from line-up

The flagship Volvo S90 saloon is now only available with the company’s range-topping, 385bhp T8 plug-in hybrid powertrain
9 Apr 2020