Replacing tyres is one of the unavoidable and more expensive parts of living with a car, but driving with flat, worn or damaged tyres is unsafe and not something you should ever do.
Luckily, there are ways you can get a cheaper deal while still making sure your car is safe and in good working order.
Whilst the cheapest option for replacing your tyres might be tempting, be sure to never scrimp on your safety.
Are budget car tyres any good?
Budget tyres are a great option if you don’t want to fork out for the flashiest option – they're still safe and work just fine, but will cut costs and be significantly cheaper than the range-topping tyres.
All tyres have to meet the same safety standards, so even a budget set will need to meet the same requirements as the more expensive brands.
You might find that budget options don’t perform as well as premium tyres when in testing weather conditions like heavy rain, where they’ve been tested to have a longer braking distance, so you might consider a mid-range price option if your budget allows.
It’s worth noting that some cars perform better with a grippier tyre, and you should do your research on the safest option for your particular model before taking the plunge. Never sacrifice your safety for a good deal!
What’s the difference between budget tyres and premium?
While all tyres have to meet the same safety standards, premium tyres make it their goal to exceed the industry expectations.
These manufacturers put a lot of time and money into researching the best possible way to make their tyres, so you know you’re getting a quality product.
You’ll notice a labelling system on your own tyres and on new ones as you come to compare and buy. This is the EU regulation scale that rates tyres for three key points:
Noise: the noise level on the road is ranked from 1 sound wave to 3 sounds waves, with one being the quietest.
Fuel efficiency: graded A (best) to G (worst), tyres are ranked for how they impact fuel consumption.
Wet performance: ranked A (best to G (worst) for how well the tyre reacts and slows in wet braking conditions.
Budget tyres are likely to be on the lower end of this scale, but will still be safe and work just fine on the roads.
Premium tyres are likely to last longer than their budget counterparts, due to their thorough design and manufacturing process. The way you drive will impact this and how you maintain your car, but budget tyres will usually need replacing quicker.
Are budget tyres a false economy?
While the initial purchase of a cheaper tyre will save you money at the time of buying, it might work out as more expensive if you need to replace it quicker.
Premium tyres will last longer and cover more miles, so it’s recommended you opt for these if you really want to go the distance.
However, sometimes we just don’t have the spare cash to buy the flashiest models on the market. Budget tyres are always better than worn-out tyres that are dangerous and on their last legs.
You could try to find a part-worn set of premium tyres at a good price, or maybe look into the costs of a mid-level set.
You’ll need to consider whether investing in premium tyres could save you money in the long run, or weigh up the other options that fit your price point.
What are part-worn tyres?
Part-worn tyres are tyres that have already been used, usually taken from second-hand cars or write-offs. You can purchase these tyres at cheaper prices to fit to your own car, but it might not be the best option when considering safety and quality.
Although there are guidelines that sellers of part-worn tyres are supposed to follow to ensure they’re selling a safe product, that doesn’t mean that these guidelines are always adhered to.
Tyres should be in good condition, with no visible cuts in the tread or bulges in the side wall, and they’ll need at least 2mm of tread across the width and circumference of the tyre. They should also clearly be marked as ‘part-worn’.
Part-worn tyres are the cheaper option, but might not be as safe. You’ll need to consider whether it’s worth taking the risk to save some money, and thoroughly check over the tyres before you fit them on your car. You cannot always guarantee that they’ve been thoroughly checked and meet the best possibly safety standards.
If in doubt, it’s better to buy from a reputable seller that you feel you can trust. Driving with poor quality tyres can be really dangerous, and isn’t something you should risk.
Buying a used car can also help you save money - see our full range
Can tyres help you save fuel?
Fuel-efficient tyres are built to use less fuel and maintain tread for longer, so they can improve your fuel-economy and help you save money.
These tyres are made using a special compound to minimise heat resistance and create lower levels of fuel consumption. They’re also a more aerodynamic option, and their extra rigidness helps them roll more efficiently.
To find the tyres with the best fuel-economy, you’ll need to look for a good tyre efficiency rating when you purchase. As we said earlier, grade A is the gold standard for the most efficient tyres, so that’s what you should be looking out for if you want the most fuel-friendly tyres.
There are other tips you can follow to drive efficiently and save fuel, and also max out your mile range in hybrid and electric cars. Travelling light, utilising your gear changes, and keeping your engine warm is a good place to start.
Do you need winter tyres for your car?
Winter tyres are designed to give your car a better stopping distance in colder conditions, and provide better grip in testing weather. They have a deeper tread that’s better for handling snow, rain and ice, and offer a higher rubber content that stops them from getting brittle and splitting in extreme temperatures.
In the UK, winter tyres are not mandatory by law, so you aren’t required to fit them to your car. If you live in area that’s particularly cold, wet, or snowy, however, you might consider fitting winter tyres as an extra safety measure.
While it may seem expensive and unnecessary, your summer tyres will last longer and that could save you money in the long run.
How to make your car tyres last longer
There are a few things you can do yourself to make your tyres last longer, whether you’ve opted for budget, mid-range, premium, or even an extra winter set.
You should keep an eye on your tyre pressure to make sure it lines up with the guidelines in your car’s handbook, as incorrect pressure can lead to your tyres wearing more, or wearing unevenly.
The tread depth of your tyres is also important – the deepest grooves of your tyres should never be below the UK’s legal requirement of 1.6mm. This should be measured in the middle three-quarters of the tyre’s width, all the way around.
Having tyres that don’t meet the UK regulations can mean a hefty £2,500 fine and three points on your licence – not ideal when you’re trying to cut costs!
How to get the cheapest tyres for your car
Although tyres can be a large cost, using our handy tips can help you save money in the long run.
Buy your tyres part-worn or go for the budget option - consider whether cheaper tyres are the most cost-effective option, or buy a part-worn set.
Choose fuel-efficient tyres - tyres with a high fuel-efficiency rating can help you save money on fuel.
Shop around - you might be able to find a better deal or even a discount elsewhere. Take a look around and get some quotes.