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Tire (tyre) brands come in three categories:

  1. Major brands that advertise extensively
  2. Relatively unknown brands that are actually made by the major brands
  3. Relatively unknown brands that are manufactured in their own factories.

Tires in categories 2 and 3 are usually much less expensive than tires in category 1, since you don't have to pay for all that advertising.

The question is: Do tires in categories 2 and 3 go through as much (or even more) rigorous testing as tires in category 1?

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    I sure hope they do. :) – JoErNanO May 2 '16 at 12:32
  • In general, across many different industries, products with bigger names will have more testing and be higher quality. That's how the name got to be big - good quality products to the consumer. They have to protect that name and grow, so ensuring quality is very important to the company. – JPhi1618 May 2 '16 at 14:42
  • @JPhi1618 I'm going to have to disagree with your comment. Many bigger names of products produce inferior products, and are able to attain large market share solely via successful marketing and advertising. – RockPaperLizard May 2 '16 at 19:36
  • @JPhi1618 I was thinking about it a bit more, and I had this thought: Sometimes smaller brands create superior products than the big brands in order to increase their image and market share. Every major brand started out as a small brand at some point. I am speaking across all industries, and not specifically referring to tire brands. (Obviously, the existence of my question shows that I have no idea whether or not this is applicable specifically to tires.) – RockPaperLizard May 2 '16 at 22:18
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In the US, the NHTSA (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration) is the governing body that controls testing and specifications of motor vehicles. They mandate that a certain set of standardized tests are carried out on all tires sold for highway use. Tires that are made for off-road equipment and possibly some trailers might not have to undergo the same testing, but, in general, all tires sold for cars and trucks in the US must meet the testing standards. I can only assume that other major world markets have a similar governing body and required tests.

So, this is a partial answer to your question. All tires sold must meet some minimum testing, but I'm not sure if "brand name" tires are subjected to more testing.

Per my comment on the question, I assume that the bigger companies do more exhaustive testing to put out the best quality tire possible, and they more than likely have more advanced, specialized tests for their performance, wet weather, and winter tires. But again, this is only speculation.

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    It should also be noted that tire testing produces a tire grade, literally A, B, or C, for traction and temperature. Thus, a better tire isn't better strictly because it's tested more, but rather that it returns better results from a given test. More info at tirerack.com/tires/tiretech/techpage.jsp?techid=48 – Tom Penny May 2 '16 at 18:55
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Fun fact: the average mid-sized car tire sees ~800 revolutions per mile, so every component of a 50k mile tire must endure more than 40 million loading/unloading cycles! (note: some tires are not guaranteed for 50k miles). Source + testing information can be found in the PDF titled 'The Pneumatic Tire' on this page.

Regardless of mileage rating, all tires that can be legally fitted to commercially sold vehicles (in the US, including farm, low load, and low speed tires) are required to meet minimum standards prescribed by the Department of Transportation's (DOT) Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard (FMVSS) No. 139. For most tires, the requirements include: high speed endurance, mileage endurance, low inflation pressure performance, tire strength (road hazard), & bead unseating resistance testing.

To answer your question, major tire companies definitely hold their tires to internal standards that meet & exceed those prescribed by FMVSS 139, while cheaper brands will likely only meet the minimum requirements (no source). While the amount by which major brands exceed the standards will vary, and is not readily available so far as I can tell, this article indicates that Toyo recalled 585 of their Proxes 4, Proxes F24, and Nitto NT555 brand tires because, despite meeting federal regulations, they did not meet Toyo's internal dimensional tolerances.

To elaborate on FMVSS 139: From what I understand, each test is conducted at 100°F, is repeated several times at several psi ratings up to the max pressure, and at several loads up to max load (except low inflation performance test). Each new test is conducted on a brand new tire. All testing is done in a controlled lab on a drum with a 17.6' circumference, such that 300 revolutions = 1 mile.

High speed testing lasts 90 minutes, and is based on the tires speed rating. The tests consist of 20-30 minute cycles that increment from 20 mph below speed rating up to the maximum speed rating of the tire.

Endurance testing takes place over 36 hours through a variety of different acceleration, speed, pressure, and load conditions.

Low pressure testing is similar to high speed testing, but done at highway speeds 50, 65, 75 mph with the tire at or near maximum load inflated to 20 psi.

Tire strength is tested by loading the tires contact patch onto a plunger with a set surface area. The test ends when the tire fails, or plunger forces the tire to touch the rim.

Bead unseating is done by pushing a solid block of some surface area into the sidewall of the tire up to a minimum load. Surface area and load vary depending on tire size, psi, etc. Results are Pass/Fail only.

  • Thanks! I really appreciate your answer as it includes many important details. Unfortunately, the essential part is left largely to conjecture and not fact. From your answer, it is clear that all tires must meet certain standards (or at least the individual tires that are physically tested!). The Toyo story is a worthwhile single data point. Whether or not brand-name vs. no-name tires have different internal standards is left purely to speculation and is not supported by any facts. It's possible that no-name tires have internal standards as well, but they just didn't fail to meet them. – RockPaperLizard May 2 '16 at 22:13
  • Alright, so endurance is mandatory. What about performance? Grip and noise? – I have no idea what I'm doing May 3 '16 at 7:42
  • @IhavenoideawhatI'mdoing Good point, grip and noise are not measured, regulated, or even considered in federal testing, but you can bet your bacon major tire manufacturers use grip and road noise as quantifiable metrics. – MooseLucifer May 3 '16 at 13:08
  • That's undoubtedly true with the major manufacturers. Though can one can legally sell tyres made of plastic, as long as they don't fall apart during testing? – I have no idea what I'm doing May 3 '16 at 13:27
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    @IhavenoideawhatI'mdoing I could be wrong, but there doesn't seem to be a test to see if the tire actually grips the road (but road tires must have rain channels). So yes, you could make a plastic tire, though you may by liable for lawsuits if a tire is directly linked to injuries (Firestone/Ford) or does not meet local traction laws. A/S vs summer vs winter tires seem to be determined by the manufacturers, who are kept honest by market forces (ie a company could claim a summer tire is an A/S, but sales would slump when customers hydroplaned at 35 mph and wore the tires out after 15k miles). – MooseLucifer May 3 '16 at 14:55
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In Europe, only tires with an EU Tire Label are allowed to be sold. Big brands were initially happy for the introduction of this label, but were disappointed about the results. Those "crap" Chinese tires were performing almost equal with the big brand tires, but cost half as much.

A lot people say "it's your safety don't do it". The companies would be very happy if we would listen to those scary advice.

For my own car, I needed a set of 225/40/18. I did some research on the internet and looked for reviews, tests, and experiences. All those tests are sponsored by the big brands. Or the tires were not tested equally.

Most people also do want to believe that their #1 brand tire is performing the best because of the marketing and the price they have paid for them.

I decided to buy a set of Fortuna F2000 for less than half the cost of a set of Dunlop/Bridgestone tires, and they perform great, even in the Netherlands where it rains often.

Most people tend to make pronouncements without substantiation or repeat each other

I heard these comments:

  • "There should be a reason why the tires are expensive."
  • "yeah the cheap tires are ok but it certain situations they require a longer brake distance"
  • "Chinese tires are bad"

Of course, there are tires that perform badly, but the big brand tires also have them. There aren't many manufacturers. If you research about it you will find out that there are huge companies selling different brands. The #1 brands are paying alot for marketing.

There are too much variables for testing a tire properly. For example look at Youtube for some tire tests and make a conclusion for yourself. Some tests with the same brands could have contrary results. There is no 'best' tire

The tires should also match your requirements.

  • Soft rubber: extremely good grip, wears alot, higher fuel consumption
  • Hard rubber: less grip but lasts long, lower fuel consumption
  • And so on...
  • Yes, there is a documented psychological phenomena that when people pay more for something, they think it's better, even when it is not. – RockPaperLizard May 4 '16 at 9:57
  • The same applies to engine oil, premium fuel and brakes. With engine oil people are scared to damage their expensive car. With premium fuel people tend to believe that their car is economical(because they are aware about it). An higher price doesn't mean better quality. – com2ghz May 4 '16 at 10:09
  • I was guilty of buying Premium fuel for years, which did nothing but deplete my wallet. My logic was that for a little extra money every fillup, I was reducing the chance of needing extra maintenance. Once I educated myself about fuel, I realized that I was doing nothing more than throwing money away. Lesson learned. – RockPaperLizard May 4 '16 at 10:16
  • Interesting, this is the exact opposite of what @Hobbes says. Any references? – I have no idea what I'm doing May 4 '16 at 11:00
  • The usefulness of the EU tire label is limited. It shows the results of only 3 tests (rolling resistance on dry, grip on wet, noise level), and the label is supplied by the manufacturer instead of an independent organisation. – Hobbes May 4 '16 at 12:32
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Going by the results of tests carried out by consumer organizations: no-name/unknown-brand tires often don't perform as well as the well-known brands. Worse: performance tended to be uneven. Cheap tires that worked well in the dry would have 2x the stopping distance of all the others in the wet, for example. There are outliers, both positive and negative of course. In the latest ANWB/ADAC test, an unknown brand was one of the top scorers.

A-brands do spend more effort on research and production. They use more accurate machines for tire assembly, and they add steps to the production process to ensure quality and reduce the chance of failure. The price difference isn't just a matter of marketing. (source: conversations at a company that builds machines used in tire production. Tire companies are secretive about the details, so no link to corroborate this.)

  • Thank you for your answer. Your ideas sounds interesting, but we have no idea if what you write is truth or fiction, because you have not linked to any references. Also, you have not provided any evidence to support any of the claims in your second paragraph. It's all great information if you can support it. – RockPaperLizard May 4 '16 at 10:02
  • Thanks Hobbes! Not many of us have conversations at a company that builds machines used in tire production. Can you disclose your relationship to the industry, so we can evaluate if there is any conflict of interest? – RockPaperLizard May 4 '16 at 10:44
  • The company I work for supplies IT services to the tire machine company. That's about all I can say without breaking my NDA. – Hobbes May 4 '16 at 11:13

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