When we choose which kind of tires to buy for our cars, we decide based on several factors. These might include quality, style, performance, and affordability. There is also the question of the type of tires to get. The options include all-season tires, premium tires, economy tires, and more. Whatever car you drive, be it a hatchback, SUV, or minivan, these questions are sure to be top of mind when you're tire shopping.
With that said, when looking at economy tires, do you ever wonder why they're made of a harder material than other types of tires? In this article, we aim to answer that question and more.
What are economy tires?
Economy tires, also known as budget tires, are affordable alternatives to mid-range and premium tires. Budget tires are typically made of a hard-compound rubber material. This is as opposed to the softer rubber commonly found on higher-end tires.
The reason for this is that manufacturers engineer hard-compound rubber tires to last longer than other options. Tire makers add all sorts of chemicals and additives, which might include carbon black and silica. Producing tires require a careful balance of compounds to achieve sufficient hardness while making them cheaper to produce. Because of this, economy tires are usually rated for more mileage than premium or high-performance tires.
Hard-compound rubber tires tend to be more resistant to wear than their softer counterparts, but they're not without disadvantages. Most economy tires have an inferior grip on the road, so acceleration and cornering ability are significantly reduced when they're equipped. Braking distance could be reduced as well. A road test by tire manufacturer Continental found that economy tires braked slower by about 16 feet compared to premium tires. This shows that budget tires may not be the best option in terms of safety.
More expensive tires made of soft rubbers, meanwhile, grip the road fairly readily. With premium or performance tires on, your car is well-equipped for dynamic driving. This helps your vehicle turn acceleration and cornering into relatively easy tasks. While big on performance, more expensive tires aren't really made with longevity in mind. Of course, tires from reputable brands can be durable no matter the price point, but it's a given that performance tires won't last as long because of their soft rubber composition.
Are economy tires worth buying?
Sure, but it depends on what car you have, your driving style, and your daily usage. You wouldn't fit budget tires on a sports sedan like the Honda Civic Type R because then you'd be compromising performance.
So, when and where do economy tires make sense to buy? Well, if you spend more time in the car doing normal driving, then budget tires could be for you. If you're not looking to get the best grip, braking power cornering ability, buying premium or performance tires wouldn't really make sense. Budget tires are therefore suitable for city cars that are driven for shorter distances. They could also work for a second car that you only use sparingly.
To sum up, economy tires are made of hard-compound rubber because they're cheaper to produce and typically last longer. The tradeoffs are they're not the best option if you want peak performance and high-speed safety. If you're not using them on your daily driver, or if you do very little driving, then they could be worth checking out.