How much does the brand of car tire matter in safety and performance?

With most of things we buy, there are always varying opinions about the brand of the product. When it comes to tire, how much does the brand and name recognition of tire matter? Can how the tire is mounted and installed have more impact on tire performance? Tires also need to be maintained meaning periodic air pressure check, and rotation, and no tires, regardless of the brand, can prevent car accidents. If I buy expensive name brand tires can it reduce the chance of my getting into a car accident? Your opinions?

No offense, but let’s get right down to it . . .

What vehicle do you have?

What exact tires are you considering buying?

Tires differ in how they perform in varying conditions. Matching the tires’ characteristics to your driving conditions and performance parameters means a lot more than brand or price. November issues of Consumer Reports have their latest test results. has a tire decision guide that is also very worthwhile. The best tires for safety and performance will be the ones that best fit your driving conditions; probably not the cheapest that fit your car, but not the most expensive, either.


Tire are the MOST important part for driving safety. Not even the driver can compensate for a lack of tire grip. Those 4 gooey contact patches are the only thing between you and death. Installation is important but doesn’t compare to the quality of tire. Not always, but generally you get what you pay for. $40 tires are junk, $250 tires will always perform better. Not neccessarily wear longer, but usually they do that, too.

Reduce the chance of getting in an accident? Yes, absolutely.


Expensive tires will not eliminate a possible accident if you follow to close , drive faster than road conditions warrant ,don’t practice defensive driving or play with your phone while driving.

Tires do not have to be expensive to be good tires and I don’t think the mounting will change the performance.

It seems that you’re looking for a one size fits all answer and it doesn’t work that way. Most passenger car tires are designed to do all things reasonably well but they may not be excellent in all areas.

A set of Kelly Springfields I had were the absolute top to bottom worst times I’ve ever had in my life. Hydroplane easily on just a damp surface, spin on dry pavement while taking off from a light without even nailing the throttle, and E.G. a white knuckle ride. Those went to the junk pile PDQ.
On the opposing side I had a set of Kellys on an old Roadrunner and they were fantastic tires. Apparently they went downhill over the years.

The US Department of Transportation has minimum standards for tires sold in the US. Anything sold here meets minimum safety standards. Tires can be much better than the minimum acceptable standards. You need to decide how much it is worth to you to get better dry grip, wet grip, all weather handling, wear and noise. I like to upgrade all of those and looks for all season grand touring radials. I review tests if find on line. I typically avoid user opinions. How can someone compare tires when they only own one set for 35,000 miles or more? Tire comparison tests give me more usable information.

I’m sure that different brands and lines of tire have different traction characteristics, for better or worse, and rain presents another variable. Some tend to break loose more abruptly than others when their limits are exceeded, too. That said, the only problem I’ve had with tires was (methinks) due to inadequate size more than the make and line. My '87 Ford Escort came with 165-80 R13 tires, and once when a drunk made a left turn in front of me, I tried to brake and swerve and the car slid on dry pavement like it was in a bad snow. I replaced those tires with 185-70 R 13 tires and it was a huge improvement.

My Saturn SL-2 came with 195-60 R 15 tires and that car handled very well, including a time or two when I stupidly went into a turn waaayy too fast.

I think having a well-designed suspension attached to a good solid chassis helps, too. Some cars are just more buttoned-down than others.

Tires can be manufactured from a variety of materials, using a variety of manufacturing methods. There’s many compromises including cost of material, cost of the fixtures/molds, number of hours of human labor, and how long spent in the manufacturing pipeline. Variables in the compromise mix include how round the tire is, how well-balanced its mass is distributed, traction, weight, susceptibility to road damage, and tread life. So it seems pretty likely that some make/models of tires are inherently better than others, even comparing the tires of the same size and purpose.

Same goes with manufacturing peanut butter. Every peanut butter connoisseur knows by tasting experience which are the best brands and which – well – aren’t.

The brand of tire matters less than the tires place in the manufactures lineup. For example, I once made the mistake of buying Goodyear tires from Walmart that handled poorly and wore out in 22000 miles. Turns out they were made only to ne sold at Walmart and made in China. The replacement tires on my Camry are Goodyears and they are great tires. I would have bought Michelin Defenders but they are not made in my size.

The original tires on my Camry were Michelin and were not great tires, they wore out at 28000 miles. Most new cars come with tires that are shopped for by car manufacturers for price.

The old adage you get what what you pay for comes to mind. I actually hydroplaned a couple of weeks ago on the interstate in a heavy rain, first time ever, scary. Michelin tires, You have to know your limits and drive within the capabilities of the tires and vehicles performance. It can vary and if you know your limits that is what is factor 1.

Brands aren’t the only thing. Some individual tires have little traction and might even say so on the sidewall. If you really need traction for instance, traction A is good for a winter tire. If you ever see Traction C, you might avoid that one. I don’t know if there is a C rating for traction. Who would print that on their tires anyway?

I had some Yokohama AVID S33 tires which had about zero traction on snow. Don’t rely on the M&S letters on the tire. Some have traction and others have zilch. As far as the other qualities go, some owners manuals have a page about how to read the sidewall.

The traction rating on tires is for it’s stopping ability on wet pavement.

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Well, I mean, if they really screw up and mount the tire perpendicular to the wheel, yeah, it’ll impact performance. Otherwise, as long as it’s holding air and inflated to the proper pressure, and they balance the wheel properly, that’s pretty much the end of it. At that point, the tire itself is the deciding factor in performance.

If you’re interested in the best-performing tire, stop looking at price. Figure out what the mission is (best performing how? Cornering? High speed? Winter traction?) and then read reviews to determine which tire best suits that mission.


They can be mounted backwards. It happened to me with one of 4 new tires. If it’s a unidirectional tire the effect could be significant.


I give almost no credence to the brand of a tire. The only exception is with the Firestone tread separation scandal of several years ago, which I didn’t have to worry about because I didn’t drive a Ford Explorer. That’s the only time brand would matter, if there was some kind of known issue with a company’s tires.

Of course, if I drove a vehicle with large tires and/or a high center of gravity, I’d give a lot more attention to tire safety, but because I drive a small car that has a low center of gravity, the danger of a rollover happening because of a blowout is extremely low. That’s one reason I like driving small hatchbacks - they are inherently easy to maneuver at highway speeds, making it easy to recover from maneuvers that would roll a truck or SUV.

I will not buy no name/off brand tires, some are really bad, and I’m not going to try and guess which are ok. I stick with name brands, read tests, etc.

You might be surprised how many “professional” mechanics can’t understand the concept proper balancing

4 or 5 weights per side, totalling 8 ounces or more, and the tire STILL shakes up and down and/or dances side-to-side :frowning_face:

Mind you, these guys concentrate on that magic “0” sign on the balancing machine, above all else

If such a person were to install and “balance” tires on your vehicle . . . it might make a difference

I agree about tirerack. A couple hours on there will give you information about the tires you are considering, and let you know if you are getting the best price on the ones you buy locally.

Yes, handling, cornering, stopping distance, hydroplaning resistance, and snow/ice performance can help prevent accidents (not to mention improved ride quality). The name brand isn’t important, excepting your major names often have better performing tires than the cheap imports. Choosing the proper tire can transform your car.

Mounting and balancing are important, but most tire shops use similar equipment. Providing your tire is the proper size for your car and rims, and no mistakes are made in the installation, all should be the same with any shop. The tires’ balance should be checked at rotation, though some shops do not do so. I avoid fads that add to the cost… nitrogen air fills, siping and similar, but insurance is sometimes worthwhile.

One consideration is the conditions you’ll be operating the car in. 40 degrees is the standard break-point for tires. Your excellent summer tires become stiffer and lose performance as temps approach zero… and your winter tires wear quickly and may get sloppy in the summer.

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Well, the key words are “mistakes in the installation” . . .

Take it from me . . . who’s been turning wrenches professionally for quite some time by now . . . not every mechanic does things the same way

I worded it very tactfully, by the way :smiley: