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Cheap Tires Still Aren’t as Good as Name Brand Tires


A red Volkswagen Golf is about to hit a foam human crash dummy on a wet track.

Screenshot: via YouTube

If you’ve ever had to shop for tires (which, if you’re reading Jalopnik, you probably have), then you know that decent tires cost real money. Want to replace the stock Michelins or Continentals on your ride with the same thing? Expect to spend around $1,000 without breaking a sweat. But, of course, the big-name tire brands aren’t the only brands — so are cheap tires good enough these days to be worth saving a few bucks?

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UK tire review site wanted to find out, so it pitted a Continental PremiumContact 7 against eight cheap tires (some of which are EU/UK only). The results are not likely to sell a lot of cheap off-brand tires.

The area that’s the most concerning is the difference in wet braking performance, where the Conti just walks away from the competition. This test is so important because it’s an almost worst-case scenario for a tire, and the consequences of getting it wrong can be dire.

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There was still a fairly pronounced difference between the tires in the dry, though not as pronounced as in earlier tests, and here we see the Continental again leading the pack. The rest of the field was closer in performance to the premium tire, though, with the Tomket Sport coming out as the best of the rest.

Another interesting thing about this particular test was the decision to test all-season, non-performance tires. This makes sense because people who are shopping for basic tires for their basic penalty box of a car are more likely to try and cheap out than someone shopping for max-performance summer tires for their sports car, though I am curious how that kind of test would pan out.

In the end, the takeaway is that if you absolutely cannot afford to buy a name brand tire, then some of the budget brands are a mostly viable, if much lower-performing option, but make sure to leave some extra room for braking, lest you find yourself in a crash.


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