Apr 04, 2023
Major Tire Brands Ranked Worst To Best
It is often said that you should not compromise on any product that connects you
It is often said that you should not compromise on any product that connects you with the earth. This applies to shoes, mattresses, and, of course, tires. Modern pneumatic tires, while utilitarian in their purpose, are marvels of engineering that have been evolving ever since John Boyd Dunlop first developed them in the late 1800s. Michelin went on to patent the radial tires we use today. The strength, efficacy, and variance of different tires are evidenced by their essential function in motorsports, such as NASCAR, Formula One, and MotoGP.
A good set of tires provides a critical assurance between you and the road surface, and the best should be durable, adaptable, and readily available. However, when it comes to the best tire brands, the criteria are more general, as tires are produced for many different vehicles, applications, and road conditions. While not all tires are created equal, a new set of tires from any of the brands listed here will serve you well, and provided you look after them, they should go the distance.
Here we look at the top global tire brands and rank them according to quality, variety, performance, value, safety statistics, and consumer satisfaction data.
Hankook Tire & Technology Co., Ltd. is a South Korean manufacturer that produces over 100 million tires a year and is renowned for its performance tires as used in motorsports. These include Formula Drift and various global rally and touring car championships, of which they are sponsors and providers of specialist tires. Its statistics are impressive, with over 20,000 employees, eight production facilities, and 160 international export locations.
The company adopts a refreshingly environmentally-conscious approach to tire production, with a long-term goal to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by 50% in the next 25 years. It was awarded the Gold Class rating in Standard and Poor's Global Sustainability Annual Report and received a Platinum grade in the EcoVadis ESG evaluation. It has also been very active in the research and development department, opening Asia's largest tire testing track in 2022. In 2021, the year of its 80th anniversary, Hankook was awarded the title of Tire Manufacturer of the Year by Auto Bild magazine as it became the sixth-largest global tire manufacturer and provider of tires for such well-respected marques as Porsche and Audi.
What does all this mean for the regular daily driver? Hankook tires give sportier drivers performance and grip with products like the Ventus V12 EVO2, but they also offer an excellent all-season tire in the Kinergy 4S2 model and durable truck tires in the Dynapro AT-M series. They provide good mileage across the board and, as such, are an affordable solution outside of the big US and European manufacturers. Still, in terms of global sales figures, Hankook remains one of the smaller companies in the big league, which is what lands it in last place on our list.
With its origins in Dublin, Ireland, Dunlop dates back as far as the late 1800s, when it pioneered the pneumatic tire that we still use today. Now owned by the Continental, Goodyear, and Sumitomo tire companies, it is still a brand known and trusted worldwide, especially for its motorcycle and motorsport products. While Goodyear now operates it in North America, Dunlop produces tires for all types of road conditions and offers such reputable models as the SP Sport Maxx line of sport performance tires and Grandtrek truck tires.
Dunlop has a racing heritage dating back to the earliest days of motorsports. This is reflected in its high-performance tires, which benefit from innovative technologies and decades of research and development. These have been used in Le Mans endurance racing, Touring Car championships, and Formula One and continue to be celebrated in motorcycle racing of all categories, including Supercross, motocross, and off-road competitions.
While Dunlop's car tires may not be as popular today as they were in the golden era of motorsports, it maintains a solid product line that is both comprehensive and high-quality. Should you favor two wheels over four, Dunlop's range of motorcycle tires is considered among the best in the world. However, as it's not such a major player in the automobile market these days, it ranks a bit lower than its competitors
The Japanese are known for their durable and reliable vehicles, and this extends to their tire products. Yokohama tires are like the Toyota of the tire industry, as they produce affordable, reliable, and heavy-duty tires that go the distance. This quality is evidenced by the fact that they are often used in motorsports and are the official tire manufacturer for the World Touring Car Championship. Outside of sport, Yokohama's consumer products include excellent SUV and truck tires, as well as performance and all-season options.
As evidenced by much of Yokohama's publicity material, the company is genuinely progressive and well-intentioned — all while turning out a mean product. It also has a research and development center and three large manufacturing plants in the U.S., so Yokohama far exceeds its native borders, providing jobs and pushing for new solutions across continents. Like most top tire manufacturers, the company is committed to creating a sustainable and greener industry, even going so far as to plant 1.3 million trees in its manufacturing plants and sales locations.
Yokohama makes tires for most applications, including large-scale plant vehicles, motorsports, commercial trucks, and consumer automotive vehicles, with multiple models to choose from in each category. The company places lower in this list due to fewer global sales compared to its peers and a recent product recall of some of its Mississippi plant's tires, although it maintains a good reputation for quality and customer service overall.
[Featured image by Daniel Ahlgren via Wikimedia Commons | Cropped and scaled | CC BY 3.0]
To say that BFGoodrich has a long and distinguished history would be an understatement. The Ohio-based company traces its roots back to the 1800s, and it provided tires for the Model A Ford, one of the earliest production motorcars. It has since offered specialized synthetic rubber products for the sports industry and NASA. It is also the inventor of the tubeless tire that is now ubiquitous.
Fast forward to today, and BFGoodrich is one of the most prominent SUV, truck, and all-terrain tire makers. Its H/D Terrain and T/A Terrain tires are among the toughest for light trucks and SUVs, while the Trail Terrain and Mud Terrain models are designed for adventure vehicles. Additionally, the Advantage T/A and Advantage Control models offer year-round confidence for roadgoing vehicles, making this an ideal range for those who use their ride for more than simply getting from A to B.
Therefore, if you love going off the beaten track and have adventure in your soul, BFGoodrich tires would make a great pairing with any flat-bed, off-roader, or SUV, as they offer excellent traction, handling, and durability when you need it the most. This quality also extends to its street and highway-ready tires, but the fact that BFGoodrich products lean heavily towards the niche truck and SUV markets places it below the big hitters.
Like BFGoodrich (and LeBron James), Cooper Tires also hails from Akron, Ohio. Now acquired by Goodyear, Cooper continues to manufacture specialist tires for racing and outbound adventure vehicles in addition to its consumer product line. While this manufacturer is less well-known internationally than others in this ranking, it is among the most well-respected. Cooper Tires is a Fortune 500 company that has been an American institution for decades, having been founded during the outbreak of World War 1.
Those who use Cooper Tires will be well aware of their excellent handling, traction, and durability, which by extension renders them a cost-effective option. It is also an environmentally-conscious company that pushes for sustainability among rubber sources and recycles the vast majority of its waste products. It also strives to promote inclusivity among its workforce and prioritizes safety, education, and innovation, so hats off to them.
When it comes to innovation, Cooper has made its mark on the tire industry by introducing new technologies, such as Wear Square, which allows for easier tread monitoring at home, and Stabiledge, which keeps the tire tread open under pressure, improving traction during cornering and allowing for more stability overall. So, if you are looking for reliable and durable tires from a forward-thinking and conscientious company, Cooper should be high on your list of considerations.
[Featured image by Lutz H via Wikimedia Commons | Cropped and scaled | CC BY 2.0 DE]
Pirelli is an Italian brand that has had a fire in its belly since being founded in the 19th century. As well as being the tire of choice for iconic native marques, including Maserati, Lamborghini, and Ferrari, Pirelli is famous for its affiliation with Formula One. In fact, Pirelli has been the sole tire producer for F1 cars since 2011, and Pirelli's livery can be seen adorning race tracks worldwide. However, Pirelli is not all about high-performance tires, as the company also boasts an impressive line of quality consumer tires for many applications.
Tire models include the Pirelli P Zero, which excels on both wet and dry surfaces, and the Pirelli Cinturato, which is designed to improve ride comfort and reduce your car's fuel consumption. In addition to its specialty and super specialty tires, the Pirelli high-value range also produces tires for all seasons and weather conditions, plus its Elect EV range caters to electric vehicles. When it comes to innovation, Pirelli's technical Cyber Tyre, Seal Inside, and Run Flat tires show that this progressive brand is always at the forefront of tire research and development.
Whether you are buying tires for your prestige car or a regular commuter vehicle, Pirelli has something for everyone. It is a brand steeped in heritage and continues to build on its reputation as one of the most respected European tire manufacturers that is the choice of professionals the world over. However, its product line is more focused on performance tires, which keeps Pirelli from placing higher in this ranking.
Continental is another company that dates over 150 years and is the first producer of the treaded grooves that have been an essential component of all tires since. The company continues to go from strength to strength and is one of today's most recognizable brands. However, it should be noted that Continental is a premium tire brand, and as such, you should expect to pay much more than you would for a comparable set of tires from Yokohama or Goodyear.
Yet, as with most things in life, you get what you pay for, and Continental tires shine above much of the competition as far as quality and durability are concerned, with product lines including the TerrainContact H/T for all-season highway driving, ExtremeContact Sport for performance driving, TrueContact Tour for all-season touring, and its VikingContact 7 for wintery conditions. Continental offers tread life warranties of up to 80,000 miles, so you can be confident that they will remain safe for longer, and it provides a total confidence plan, which includes flat tire coverage, roadside assistance, and emergency trip interruption coverage.
Continental's innovations include ContiSeal technology, which automatically seals tire punctures, and ConteSilent, which reduces road noise for more enjoyable travel. While Continental tires are among the highest-quality options in this ranking, they lose points as far as value for money is concerned. However, if you are willing to pay the price, Continental has some of the best products and customer service going, and this helps elevate its position in this ranking.
Goodyear manufactures tires for many different purposes and even supplies aviation and heavy machinery companies. As a prominent innovator and one of the top four tire producers globally, Goodyear has made its mark on the public conscience through shrewd marketing devices, such as the Goodyear Blimp. Almost everyone is familiar with the winged sandal logo that adorns race tracks and billboards worldwide.
Ever since 1907, when Goodyear supplied tires for Henry Ford's trailblazing Model T, the company has gone from strength to strength, having developed the first nylon tire in 1942, broken the land speed record in 1963, and put the first tire on the moon in 1971. It has also been an official sponsor of NASCAR and the NHRA and was voted America's Greenest Company in 2012. Goodyear's popular consumer product lines include the Assurance commuter tire, the Wrangler off-road tire, the Eagle sports performance tire, and the Endurance trailer tire, all of which are renowned for their quality and durability.
Goodyear continues to innovate with tire technologies such as RunOnFlat, which allows you to reach a nearby service center after experiencing a puncture, and SoundComfort, which reduces road noise within your vehicle. In all, Goodyear is one of the best options for those looking for a reliable tire that performs well, with its excellent customer service and mobile installation making life that much easier when it is time to switch tires. The company also ranks highly on this list due to its being highly regarded for its customer satisfaction record.
In 1931, Shojiro Ishibashi, a Japanese businessman, founded the Bridgestone company, now the world's second-largest tire manufacturer. The name is derived from Ishibashi, which translates as "stone bridge." Having started life creating rubber work shoes and motorized bicycles, Ishibashi went on to provide the great Japanese motorcycle brands with tires and never looked back.
Bridgestone has since become one of the leading pioneers of tire design and is responsible for the invention of run-flat tires and its Ecopia technology, which improves fuel efficiency while reducing carbon emissions. The Bridgestone range provides for all types of consumer vehicles, with models like the Alenza AS Ultra (SUV), Turanza QuietTrack (grand touring), Dueler A/T Revo 3 (all terrain), and the Blizzak WS90 (wintery conditions).
Bridgestone tires offer exceptional value for money with tread life warranties that extend up to 80,000 miles. While the quality isn't entirely on par with brands like Michelin and Continental, as far as bang for your buck is concerned, Bridgestone tires are hard to beat, and this is reflected in their global sales figures, which are close to Michelin's.
The company operates on a strict set of philosophies gleaned from Japanese tradition. These principles provide a solid foundation upon which Bridgestone continues to balance a high-quality product with affordability. Bridgestone also prides itself on creative pioneering, integrity and teamwork, and observation-based decision-making. If you are putting your on-road safety in the hands of a tire company, it's good to know that they take their business this seriously.
Technically, Michelin isn't the largest tire manufacturer in the world. That honor goes to Lego, which produces tens of millions more tires for its toys than the French company does each year. However, as far as a serious ranking of consumer tires is concerned, Michelin is the brand that continues to dominate above all others.
Michelin is among the world's oldest tire brands, having been established in 1889. Its iconic Michelin Man logo represents the company's high-quality and impressive variety of products, making it one of the most successful tire companies in the U.S. and internationally. Its impressive research and development department is not only responsible for the tires on Bugatti's supercars but also those on the space shuttle.
Some high-end tire models include the Michelin CrossClimate2, which provides all-season performance in wet and dry conditions; the high-performance Pilot Sport 4S, which is commonly found on high-end sportscars; the Pilot Alpin PA4 for wintery conditions; and the Defender LTX M/S, which is for year-round highway driving. All these tires are reassuringly expensive but come with impressive tread life warranties of up to 80,000 miles.
As far as accolades are concerned, there are too many to mention, but it is J.D. Power's most rewarded brand for customer satisfaction, Tire Rack's highest overall rated brand, and Fortune's top tire manufacturer in its list of Most Admired Companies. Suffice it to say that Michelin has earned its rewards in its long and varied history. Just as the company awards stars to the best global food establishments, perhaps Michelin deserves a few gold stars of its own for services to road safety, tire innovation, and sheer overall excellence.