Every car needs tyres, but how do you make sure you’re fitting your vehicle with tyres from the very best brands?
This handy guide will outline the top tyre brands to purchase from, including budget tyres, high-performance tyres for adverse weather conditions, and premium tyres for luxury vehicles.
Let’s take a look at the best car tyre brands for 2021 in our ultimate guide.
How to select the best tyre brand for your vehicle
Selecting the right tyre brand for your vehicles isn’t quite as straightforward as shopping with the biggest brands, as we’ll outline below.
Many vehicle manufacturers recommend particular tyre brands and models for new vehicles, offering some direction for buying replacements. Communities around older vehicles and specific sellers/manufacturers can also recommend the best tyres for your car.
We’ll outline what makes a strong, durable and safe tyre, before diving into some of the leading brands and straightforward tests you can conduct at home to check the condition and stability of your tyres.
What makes a strong, durable and safe tyre?
Let’s take a look at what makes the perfect tyres, ones that are strong, durable and safe.
A great starting point. Good tyre grip is essential for a comfortable drive. It keeps your vehicle on the road and helps your car speed up or slow down rather than just spinning and skidding when you accelerate or brake.
Tyre grip is important in all weather conditions or road environments. You want your tyres to grip in the cold and the wet conditions as much as you do on tarmac roads on a warm day.
Changeable weather conditions, such as those in the UK, can make it difficult. Drivers need to be prepared for sudden drastic weather conditions and spells that can damage the quality of tyres and make regular drives difficult.
While many gas-guzzlers love to hear the sound of their engine as they drive down the open road, too much noise may be a sign of unhealthy tyres.
It’s not just electric and hybrid drivers who enjoy a quieter ride, but those who value safety and assurance from their cars. A well-pumped up tyre with plenty of comfortable air suspension will see you over speed bumps and smaller potholes with little noise irritation, even at moderately high speeds.
Poorly fitted tyres that don’t grip properly (more on that below) rattle and roll on the road, highlighted by a noisy ride that might just signal it’s time for a change. Keep a low profile and make sure your tyres are gliding silently across the road.
Plenty of grip is good for your tyres, but it shouldn’t come at the cost of poor tyre wear.
Tyres made of soft, sticky rubber provide more grip on tarmac surfaces, but equally, they’ll wear down quickly and need replacing more often. This makes your tyres not just a riskier option for long drives, but a more expensive one you’ll need to frequently replace.
A happy medium of soft car tyres that can handle more speed and hard tyres for a more controlled drive is what you should aim for.
10 of the best tyre brands
There are many different tyre brands out there to buy from, so making the right choice can be difficult if you don’t know anything about them.
Below is a list and a brief outline of some of the top brands out there right now that all car owners should be aware of before purchasing their next tyres:
One of the biggest names in global tyre manufacturing. This French developer has been providing quality, reliable tyres to vehicles since 1889.
The company has continued to innovate, developing the radial tyre and involving itself in the hyper-competitive world of motorsport, primarily Formula 1.
Much like the restaurant star-rating system of the same name, Michelin has become a signifier of tremendous quality, whether it’s commercial vehicles or MotoGP/F1 supercars. Premium tyre manufacturers for any kind of vehicle.
Japanese company Bridgestone is the largest tyre manufacturer in the world.
If that’s not enough to convince you, this company has been the sole provider of tyres to motorsports such as MotoGP and the IndyCar Series (through subsidiaries).
Bridgestone produces everything from high-performance race tyres to economical, everyday options for light-duty travel. A rich history backed up by a quality product, what more could you want?
American manufacturer Goodyear is the top-selling tyre brand in the United States.
Originally established to manufacture bicycle and carriage tyres in 1898, their long and storied development saw them transitioning into other vehicles, including the tyres used on the moon by NASA.
Heavy-duty Goodyear tyres are seen as some of the most reliable and durable in the business, cemented by historic involvement in everything from space travel to Formula 1 (including the title of the most successful sole tyre supplier in the sport’s history).
If you’re a frequent watcher of Formula 1, you’ll be well aware of this Australian company.
Pirelli tyres are a staple of team garages across motorsport, being introduced as the standard control tyre for every team in 2011.
It’s not just the top tier of racing that values this brand though. Pirelli is now recognised as the cutting edge developer of tyres for average joe vehicles and high-end sports cars alike, making them one of the most widely respected companies in motoring and signifiers of the highest quality of driving.
MRF (Madras Rubber Factory)
MRF is the undisputed king of motorbike, moped and scooter tyre production, marking their place as the king of two-wheeled vehicles since 1946.
This Indian enterprise can be found in every manufacturer of two-wheeled vehicles worldwide, with top brands shipping their tyres into over 64 countries worldwide.
A versatile company that also ventures into developing gear for other Indian pastimes, such as Cricket, having MRF tyres on your motorbike are as good a starting position as you can get.
Although they were only founded in 1972 (making them relatively young by the standards of this list), Apollo is still a company with a significant reputation.
In that time they’ve become the biggest tyre manufacturers in India and gained significant traction in the 100 countries they ship to worldwide.
They might not be a household name outside of their native country, but Apollo remains a quality option for drivers looking to step out of their comfort purchase.
German engineering is a sign of significant quality, and that’s no different with this tyre developer.
Continental tyres are known worldwide for a safe, smooth and premium drive, with a 150-year history to back up their bold claims.
Continental owns and sells a large range of brake systems, auto electrics and safety systems to complement their tyre development, but the brand will always be synonymous with the best of rubber wheels.
Long before their majority-ownership by fellow manufacturers Goodyear, Dunlop was a popular, safe bet with motorists looking to buy quality goods and save money worldwide.
The quality of their parent company has been passed down to Dunlop, resulting in some nifty tyre tech complemented by their patented steel cord design, first innovated in 1972.
With a worldwide presence and household branding, Dunlop continues to provide quality experiences for motorists every day.
Founded in 1917, Japanese developers Yokohama have a long and storied history and have become an instantly recognisable brand to fans of motorbikes and MotoGP.
This manufacturer is responsible for many firsts in the industry, including snow, tubeless and steel radial tubeless tyres.
In recent years, Yokohama has leaned heavily into the high-performance aftermarket, designing tyres for specialist vehicles and motorsport aficionados
South Korean developers Hankook cover a wide range of tyres for both light vehicles and HGV options such as trucks.
They produce, on average, 92 million tyres a year, making Hankook one of the most prolific companies for manufacturing tyres worldwide.
Hankook is also known for the production of batteries, brakes, wheels and other parts of vehicle manufacturing.
When should you change your tyres?
Let’s take a look at the signs you should be changing your tyres for improved performance and safety.
Tyre wear is one of the main signs you should look to replace yours and have new tyres fitted.
The minimum legal depth for a car tyre tread in the UK currently stands at 1.6mm. You can easily measure this by standing a standard 20p coin in the tread groove. If the rim around the edge of the coin stands out, your tyre has worn away and should be replaced.
Tyres are designed to be inflated to very precise pressures. This can be checked with the use of a gauge.
While many refilling stations have air machines to test this, they can be quite inaccurate. You are better off purchasing a pressure gauge yourself to test your tyres more frequently.
Underinflated tyres cause faster wear, use more fuel and can cause sudden deflation, also known as a blow-out. Checking cold tyres, in particular, once a month can ensure tyres are performing as they should and avoid the most costly damage.
This simple check will give you an immediate indication as to the strength and condition of your tyres. Conduct them during cold weather spells, before long trips or when the car is loaded for best results.
The rule of thumb when it comes to tyre age is the 5-year rule. Typically, tyres are fit for retail for up to 5 years from their original production date. You can tell this by looking at the sidewall of the tyre to find its ‘DOT code’.
The final four-digit code will outline the manufacture week and year of the tyre. For example, 0320 would be the 3rd week of the year 2020.
Of course, you shouldn’t go solely by this rule, as tyre longevity will be impacted by usage.
Should I use seasonal tyres?
Most drivers will use summer tyres all year round, but switching to seasonal tyres can have a significant impact on the performance and durability of your tyres.
Consider following this rule when it comes to seasonal tyres:
- When temperatures are below 7°C, switch to winter tyres
- When temperatures are above 7°C, switch to summer tyres
All-season tyres offer decent grips and handling in a variety of weather conditions, but may struggle to offer the stability of specialist seasonal options.
Can I use off-road tyres on road?
If you’re driving a 4×4 vehicle with off-road tyres for more than a third of the time you use it, it might be best to change to road tyres. Improper use can see increased wear and tear on off-road tyres designed for the difficult terrain experienced in off-road driving.
Are there more eco-friendly tyres available?
Eco-friendly tyres offer lower rolling resistance, demanding less engine power to rotate the tyre and thus fuel. This lowers the volume of harmful emissions produced.
Bridgestone is known for eco-friendly and efficient tyres.