January 28, 2009 Tires are a distress purchase for many car owners, so when the time comes to replace them it’s no surprise that many motorists shop on price. British magazine Autocar has performed some interesting comparison tests revealing that fitting budget tyres can seriously affect your health. wet weather. With on average 200 days of rain each year in the UK, the magazine tested a range of budget Chinese imports against a premium brand in wet conditions and found an alarming discrepancy in stopping distances.

Imported tires 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.

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.

Autocar 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.”

With on average 200 days of rain each year, a wet handling and braking test is vital for learning about the capabilities of a tire. Braking from 50mph, the Continental stopped in the shortest distance, followed by the Nankang, GT Radial, Wanli, and Triangle, with the Linglongs taking the longest to stop. Shod with the Linglongs, the VW Golf Autocar used for its tests was still doing 27.8mph at the point where it had stopped on the Continentals.

Overall the Continentals easily won, scoring top marks in all but one test. A consistent performance earned the GT Radials second place, but a wet lap time 3.4sec adrift of the Continentals indicated just how far even it falls short.

“Having seen how the five cut-price tyres in this test perform, we’re in no doubt that quality pays dividends,” said Corstorphine.

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