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When it comes to budget vs premium tyres it comes down to research and development

Kwik Fit | Thursday 21st September 2017 10:52am

Continental AIBA centre

Let’s be honest, buying tyres isn’t everybody’s idea of fun. On the whole, people simply don’t set money aside for replacing tyres. As well as the unpleasant financial experience, just as off-putting is choosing from the huge array of tyres available, picking between budget, mid range and premium tyres, and, most of all, the unfathomable technical jargon. No wonder it’s so bewildering.

With this in mind we focus on a very important aspect of the tyre purchasing process - explaining why when it comes to budget vs premium tyres the latter are the best car tyres and the better choice, and why there’s such a price difference. Don’t get us wrong, budget tyres aren’t all bad, it’s just that when you compare their performance against premium tyres the results don’t lie: premium tyres perform better, and that means drivers are safer.

Premium tyres benefit from extensive research and development

Admittedly, premium tyre brands like Continental are more expensive, no argument. The first question we want to answer is why? Simply put, it’s down to the millions upon millions that all premium tyre manufacturers pour into research and development year after year. They’re continuously innovating to keep pace with the incredible rate of change that’s taking place with new vehicle development. As a result this means there is ever increasing demand, not just for performance, but driver safety too. The development of autonomous vehicles means R&D expenditure can only grow further.

Take Continental Tyres. They have tyre testing facilities across the world where each year more than 140,000 tyres are tested, over a total distance of 200 million kilometres! They’re that thorough! This means that before a new Continental tyre goes on sale, the prototypes have been through a rigorous process that involves more than 67,000 separate tests, taking them around the world the equivalent of 500 times. That’s a lot of testing!

So what exactly does all this testing really mean?

If you’re faced with a difference in price for a purchase you didn’t really want to have to make in the first place, this is an important question…

Fact: Premium tyres are safer

Just remember, when you’re driving, your tyres are the only contact your car has with the road. If your tyres are worn, or not of a sufficient quality, you and your passengers won’t be adequately protected. Throughout their rigorous R&D processes, tyre makers like Continental fine-tune their rubber compound formulations, tyre tread patterns and tyre structures. As a result, this ensures that they are exactly right for the different types of vehicles they’re designed for (known as OE – Original Equipment), the driving conditions they have to perform in, the unpredictable British climate, and a lot more besides.

premium tyre vs budget tyre stopping distance

And the upshot of all this R&D? Simple. Your car will grip much better in wet conditions, and brake that much faster when you need it most, compared to budget tyres. Unfortunately, not all tyre manufacturers can afford to invest in as much research and development as premium tyre manufacturers like Continental, and so typically they only offer tyres with lower-grade rubber compounds. 

Put simply, independent tyre testing shows that lesser tyres can add as much as 14 metres to your stopping distance in the wet (at a speed a speed of 50mph) when compared to a premium tyre like Continental’s PremiumContact 6. No doubt you already know from experience that a lot can happen in 14 metres, especially in busy town centres, on motorways, and on winding country roads…

Continental Tyres’ AIBA is a world leader in driver and tyre safety

At Continental’s AIBA (Automated Indoor Braking Analyser) facility, tyre safety testing is taken to an unrivalled level. In a completely automated process, endless test vehicles are accelerated to speeds of 75mph in the “Contidrom”. Based in Hanover, Germany, braking performance is tested on interchangeable road surfaces and weather conditions, such as the wet and ice. The tests take place all year round and the results define and direct product development. All this is done in the quest to provide the best driver safety achievable. This and much more form the core of Continental’s Vision Zero safety intiative – the drive to reduce driving accidents, injuries and fatalities to absolutely zero.

car in tyre testing centre

Not only are they safer, in the long-run premium tyres cost less too

Okay, so at the beginning your outlay for premium tyres will be more, but while the initial cost is higher it’s also important to consider the safety benefits compared to budget tyres – dramatically improved stopping distances and performance in wet weather conditions. Over time there’s also the financial benefits to consider. Typically with premium tyres – thanks to the research and development process – the rate of tyre wear is significantly slower when compared to budget tyres. 

Who says so? According to Which? in their independent tyre tests, based on an annual mileage of 12,000 miles, they observed that budget tyres only last for two years. Premium tyres on the other hand tend to last for five years. That’s right, the budget tyres will actually cost you more in the long run as you need to replace them up to three years sooner than a premium tyre. 

Premium tyres are also designed to reduce friction, or as it’s better known in the industry “rolling resistance”. The Which? tyre tests also demonstrated that lower rolling resistance results in your car typically using about 80 litres less fuel a year, not only saving you money but also resulting in lower CO2 emissions. That’s win-win, right?!

Next steps: seek expert tyre advice from Kwik Fit

At the end of the day, the tyre you choose will depend on the type of car you have, and how often, where and how you drive it, as well as other factors. As such, it makes sense to get expert, impartial tyre advice. Our  tyre technicians are trained to give the best advice for your vehicle, so head down to your local Kwik Fit centre for the best car tyres and choose right. Locate your nearest Kwik Fit centre here.


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