The credit crunch is putting a strain on household budgets, but anyone who scrimps on tyres could pay a heavy price further down the road, according to a leading car magazine.
Buying budget tyres from the Far East may save a few pounds to start with, but they can seriously affect the way a car copes in wet weather, a report in Autocar has revealed.
Autocar tested five leading budget brands – the GT Radial, Linglong, Nankang, Triangle and Wanli – against an established premium tyre from Continental. The magazine conducted its own tests for wet handling and braking, dry handling and braking and aquaplaning, plus a more stringent high-speed test.
A test revealed that a VW Golf fitted with Continental tyres – costing around £75 each – had the shortest stopping distance when braking at 50 mph on wet roads compared to the cheaper Chinese and Taiwanese imports.
Tyres from Linglong came last in the trial, slowing to 27.8 mph at the spot where the Continental-equipped car had stopped.
Senior tester Jamie Corstorphine said: ‘We expected the bargain tyres in this test to fall short of the Continental, but we were not prepared for just how poorly some performed.’
Imported tyres from China and Taiwan currently account for one-fifth of all tyres sold in the UK, and although these pass the minimum ECE R30 high-speed test, there are no statutory tests for braking, handling or aquaplaning performance, and even the R30 test is considered inadequate by many car makers.
TV’s car consumer champion Quentin Willson recently recommended shopping around for the best price and singled out etyres where customers could buy tyres at lower prices without compromising on quality and have them fitted at work or home for free.