The cheapest car tyres in Australia

Those four bits of rubber separating you and your car from the road can be eye-wateringly expensive, so it’s tempting to take the cheapest option possible when you need to buy new tyres.

If you’re not a fastidious vehicle owner, it can be easy to let routine tyre checks fall by the wayside. With the daily commute to and from work, and having to ferry the kids off to school and footy practice, it’s not until you take the time to really look at your car tyres that you realise they are in fact really, really bald.

So, as any reasonable motorists would, you go to the tyre shop and try to pick out the cheapest set, so those boys in blue won’t give you a defect notice. Less than $400 fitted and balanced for a set of new tyres can be an alluring prospect, but it pays to ask yourself why some tyres are cheap, and some very expensive.

Australian Road Safety Foundation founder Russell White says that when buying cheap tyres, you are compromising on safety and your car’s handling capabilities – especially in the wet. “It’s like buying a cheap parachute,” Mr White said.

This isn’t to say that all cheap car tyres are no good, but that you probably get what you pay for. It stands to reason that the more you are willing or able to spend, the better quality you’ll get. However, if you are convinced that cheap tyres are the best short-term solution for your circumstances, the following table lists the cheapest tyres (as of June 2016) from three of Australia’s biggest tyre retailers, for the most common tyre size in Australia, 205/65/15.

Tyre brand and “model”

Price (per tyre)

Tyre retailer

Achilles “122”

 $79 jaxtyres.com.au

Bob Jane “All Rounder Plus”

 $89 bobjane.com.au

Kelly Tyres “PA868”

 $89 tyrepower.com.au

Maxxis “MA-511 Victra”

 $89 jaxtyres.com.au

Kumho “KH18”

 $95 tyrepower.com.au

Hankook “Optima K415”

 $95 jaxtyres.com.au

Dunlop “Monza”

 $95 jaxtyres.com.au

Vitoria “City Life”

 $99 tyrepower.com.au

Continental “ContiComfort Contact 5”

 $105 jaxtyres.com.au

Pirelli “Cinturato P1”

 $108  jaxtyres.com.au

Compare car tyre brands

What’s the difference between cheap and expensive tyres?

Generally, cheaper tyres consist of a harder rubber compound, which is cheaper to manufacture and means increased fuel efficiency by way of less rolling resistance. This in turn allows cheap tyres to have a longer life. The compromise with this, however, can be reduced cornering ability and grip, and poorer wet weather capability.

For example, in Formula One racing, cars usually start with hard compound tyres, before switching to soft compound tyres to improve cornering in the crucial latter stages of the race. This is an extreme example, but the effect is similar in real-world situations. More expensive tyres have a softer compound, which somewhat shortens their life expectancy, but their cornering and handling ability is usually superior, resulting in an arguably safer ride. Let’s summarise with the pros and cons of buying cheap tyres.

Pros Cons

Economical

Poor cornering ability

Longer life expectancy

Poorer wet weather handling

Arguably not as safe

Should you buy cheap tyres?

You must ask yourself if you’re willing to compromise safety to save money and go longer in between tyre replacements. If the answer is yes, then refer to the table for the market’s cheapest tyre offerings. Overall, expert opinion suggests that, by buying the cheapest tyres available, you are compromising quality and safety.

“A sky driver won’t just go with the cheapest parachute; they’d go for the best one they could find. It’s the same with tyres because one day, your life will depend on it,” Mr White said. “The tyres dictate how well your car will handle, ride and stop. So investing in a set of good quality tyres is potentially a live-saving investment.”

If you are budget conscious, the trick is finding the middle ground that satisfies both tyre quality and your hip pocket.

Compare car tyre retailers

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