Should I Buy Tires Made in China?

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Should I Buy Tires Made in China?

Good press for Chinese manufacturing is hard to come by these days. American consumers have faced numerous issues with products imported from the country. Lead-laced toys, melamine-tainted toothpaste and pet-food recalls are a few incidents that come to mind. But what about tires? Should you trust your life to bargain rubber?

YOU GET WHAT YOU PAY FOR

Matt Edmonds is the vice president of TireRack.com, a massive online retailer that sells all kinds of automotive parts from brakes and wipers to suspension kits. Regarding these Chinese products he said “we have not, quite honestly, found tires that are up to the level of the performance that we need them to be in order to offer them.”

Typically Chinese tires play in the value end of the market where price is king. “It comes down to you get what you pay for,” Edmonds said. “There’s only so much you can save in raw materials” adding, “the real difference comes down to research and development.”

Tire Rack Logo

A huge amount of engineering goes into producing a tire, much of which is invisible; they’re far more than just rubber doughnuts with some random tread pattern slapped on. “The ‘black magic’ as we call it is the compound. That does everything from impacting how a tire performs in different conditions to how long a tire lasts.”

He also said that some Chinese companies have been sued for directly copying tread patterns from other well-known tire makers. But just because their products looked the same didn’t mean they performed equally. The knock offs were missing the advanced engineering found in name-brand tires and as a result they “didn’t work well at all” Edmonds said.

MADE IN CHINA = BUYER BEWARE?

But just because a tire is manufactured in the Middle Kingdom doesn’t automatically mean it’s junk. Edmonds said “we have a few SKUs that are made in China from a few major manufacturers.” He also said “[there’s] a line called Fuzion that is actually manufactured by Bridgestone.” It’s an entry-level brand they introduced and while it’s not as good as their top-tier product, it is less expensive.

Fuzion Tire Logo“If they’re [the major name-brand tire manufacturers] having the tire built in China they’re having it built to their specifications. They maintain control of that raw material,” he said. Not to mention the engineering and development work. What TireRack.com does not offer are tires that are designed and engineered in China by Chinese firms.

Getting down to brass tacks, Edmonds said cut-rate tires from Chinese manufacturers are not generally a smart buy. “I think it’s very hard to justify” he added, especially when things like reduced traction, questionable tread life and elevated noise are factored in. That set of ultra-cheap tires may not be such a screaming deal if your car slides off the road when it’s raining or they need to be replaced after just six months of service.

SIFTING WHEAT FROM CHAFF

Dynamic Tire Corp. VP of sales and corporate accounts Brian Mielko said quality and value can be found in the Wild, Wild East but you’ve got to know where to look. His company specializes in importing different tire brands from China.

“If it’s got wheels we can probably put a tire on it” he said. The products they distribute run the gamut from passenger car tires to rubber for commercial vehicles and large mining trucks.

Essentially what they’ve done is take the guesswork out of purchasing tires from offshore companies. “Who are the premium factories, the best factories?” asked Mielko. These are the firms his business deals with.

Dynamic Tire Corp.

Some of the brands they handle include Sailun, Prime X, Triangle and Diamondback. Sailun is one of the biggest companies they work with. According to Mielko tires from these different companies, and others, are available across Canada and through certain retailers in the U.S.

Of course this story goes far beyond North America. “The Sailun brand is sold in 125-plus countries worldwide” said Mielko.

SEE ALSO: Should You Buy Summer Tires?

Additionally, he pointed out that Chinese industry is perfectly capable of making first-rate stuff. “Don’t tell me the ground that the factory sits on has anything to do with the quality of the product coming out of it” he said. Going on, “they build a heck of a lot of the parts for airplanes that are overhead;” they also make Apple iPads and Sony flat-screen TVs.

Candidly, Mielko said they can build you a terrible tire or they can build you a great tire… It all comes down to engineering and materials.

Tire MakersMichelin, Goodyear, Yokohama and Continental “they’re all there building tires in China” Mielko said, adding that Pirelli’s biggest factory is located there.

Proving the capability of his products Mielko said they do special drive events on racetracks. They invite customers, dealers and automotive journalists out to sample their tires and compare them back-to-back with other brands’ offerings. Making things as fair as possible he said “we buff the sidewall off – the branding’s gone.” All tests are done blind.

In these sorts of competitive comparisons he said their tires perform and hold up just as well as the offerings from other, more well-known companies, but they are significantly cheaper. He said a savings of anywhere between 40 and 50 percent can be expected.

But how is it possible that these tires are so affordable if significant corners haven’t been cut? “The bottom line is we make less money per tire” said Mielko. He also noted that they have smaller engineering teams and don’t spend nearly as much on marketing. Of course “we’re building in China so there is a lower cost base [too].”

ROLLING FORWARD

China Flag TiresDespite being somewhat down on Chinese tires, arguably for good reason, Edmonds said as manufacturers over there learn they will improve, eventually bringing more competitive products to the U.S. “The Chinese market has to invest in the necessary research and development” he said, but “they have a huge market to fill over there,” which will help give companies experience.

But still, it’s probably an uphill battle. Chinese tires may be significantly more affordable but Edmonds said “we wouldn’t offer something we wouldn’t feel comfortable with.” Acknowledging these issues Mielko said “there are [Chinese] tires out there that are terrible,” but as he pointed out, it really depends on the brand you choose.

  • Soyntgo4it

    Lots of tires are built in China I purchased 4 that were made in China and I haven’t had any issues with them..

  • LittleBoyOfMoon

    Big Name brand tire manufacturers would not put their names on the tire IF they deemed the tires to be substandard. I would stick to popular name brands, though, to err on the safe side.

  • Rickers

    To answer your question: NO!

  • chavitz

    Brands are important cues for consumers, but if obsessive of brands. Then you are going to be fleeced for sometimes literally same quality of products as those inexpensive ones, because tire makers spend a lot of money promoting your tire to publicly be recognized. A Typically example is that certain manufacturer put the same popcorn into two different packages in same quantity, and a well known brand asks for $2.99 and another unknown for 1.99 in the same store shelf. Be your own expert

  • Dante

    I have been very happy with the 2 sets of Kumho tires from Korea, better than the Goodyear or Bridgestone I have had on the same car. 131k miles now, time for a 3rd set of Kumho summer tires. I drive hard and fast!

  • Zefe

    Hi my name is Zefe, I’m in the tire business and I been tryin to contact the tire makers (like Goodyear, Michelin, Toyo and does brand’s) to sell tires on my business but mostly non of then have not return my e-mails or calls, the only one who reply to me said that I need to buy a million tires per year, for me it’s too much yet, so I’m get in the Chinese brand’s that only require a fraction of that, if American brand’s changes the policy then I will sell them, and I never had a problem with any of the customers on the Chinese tires.

  • Barbados

    Hi anyone ever heard of a company caled Sinoco Tires they are looking for a broker and Im trying to google them but keep coming up blank and wondering what their reputation is like? If anyone can shed any light would be greatly appreciated thanks

  • Tomcat

    As the article states, you get what you pay for. There is a reason that one product is significantly cheaper than a major brand and it isn’t just corporate profits or labor costs. I have owned both Chinese made and American made tires and have found the American made, regardless of brand, is significantly better in terms of wear, fuel economy, and handling. I work in the construction industry and it is the same there. Quality built tools last much longer than cheap ones as they are engineered for long term use. Cheaper made products rely on the “throw away” society to continuously supply them with customers when the cheap product breaks. However, you can keep buying the cheap products over and over again thinking you are saving money, or invest in a more expensive product that will last much longer and give you better satisfaction. In other words, you get what you pay for.

  • Anderson

    Hello I’m from China and I have searched the company name . It’s a trade company in Honkong . That’s all I know .

  • Anderson

    Hello Zefe , I am Anderson froM China and I am a tire supplier . My E-mail is : yfpchengxue@gmail.com
    I think we can talk more if you need tires from China manufacturer .

  • Anderson

    Hello friend , Glad to hear that from you . I am Anderson from China and I also a tire supplier . My E-mail is :yfpchengxue@gmail.com
    I think we can talk more if you want to purchase tires from China .
    Regards

  • lynn finlayson

    I bought bridgestones for my cad catera. never could keep them in balance. put new kumho ties on my mercury awd and cracked around the rim and tread in 2 years. got general 20s on my G8 and only 3 years old and also cracked by the rim and between tread. got dunlaps on my pickup and also cracked at 4 years old. all cars set in the carport, out of the sun. got an old Suzuki sidekick with pearless tires. 04-92 build date. no cracks. got pearless on my chevy luv, no cracks. got pearless on my 58 chevy and 62 chevy, no cracks, not out of balance, no flats… don’t make them anymore, and always setting in the sun… guess if they are good, they don’t sell enough to keep in business…
    I would like to see the government mandate the tire manufactures put the tire pressure in big, bold letters, and the build date, right next to it, and also the pre-balance mark, all in one area, on the tires, so when the tires are mounted on a rim, the store or person mounting the tire, lines this information, right next to the valve stem, so whoever has to look for this information, knows where it is located and can see how much air to put in a tire… right now, its impossible to find, and print so small, you cant even focus on any of it…

  • amin werfalli

    hi

    pls check my list and my traeger prices if you can supply us let me know our market looking for economic prices and Commercial brand so kindly check and ket me know
    thanks
    amin
    almursheed1@gmail.com

  • Always_wear_a_smile

    Maybe for now. You are lucky but I’m sure you are not that confident with the brand.

  • Always_wear_a_smile

    I bought a replacement tires for our family vehicle. The thread and the overall appearance looks promising. I know I was buying a Chinese company manufactured car tire for a cheap price for a pair. Everything seems to be working nice as I was reminded in the dealership that I need to maintain the air gauge to 30 since it’s a cheap tire. I felt that the tire is slippery when taking on breaks unlike the branded tires I used to have. Before once I step on the break, the tires sticks on the road, now it’s a little scary to break. Well, that’s really a concern but the worst of it all is when the side of the tire accidentally got ripped when I maneuvered to park the cark at the side of the road. My branded tires, did touch the pointed street gutter before but it only left a scratch. This time the China-made tires ripped off. Now, I realize how weak and poor the product is. BEARWAY tires and the like are a waste of money. I don’t recommend people to buy this junk products from China.

  • Soyntgo4it

    No issues still, and still have plenty of miles left on the..

  • Concern

    Hello Barbados
    Did the company employ someone in Barbados? I see they are targeting other islands in the caribbean

  • Concern

    Hell Zefe
    Have you ever heard of Sinoco Tire company. Do you know anyone doing business with them

  • Tiger Kuwayne

    Hi. Am in Jamaica and i Just signed a contract with them to be a Broker in Jamaica but i can’t get any info on the net about them

  • Tiger Kuwayne

    Yea any body know sinoco tires

  • Tiger Kuwayne

    Hi. Am in Jamaica and i Just signed a contract with them to be a Broker in Jamaica but i can’t get any info on the net about them

  • concern

    hello Tiger

    How did you get the job advertisement. Who interviewed you and how did you do the interview. The website s now unavailable. Why did you call yourself tiger kuwayne. Is that your real name

  • Concern

    When did they hire you for the job. And do you have contact numbers for the company.

  • Concern

    did you ask questions about the company. Do the currently have customers in Jamaica or do you have to find new customers for the business?

  • Concern

    what is the name of the person who interviewed you and how did you get the contract you signed. off. they company is also looking to hire someone in my country

  • Jim

    @tigerkuwayne:disqus , it’s a scam. I’ve been contacted by the same person.

  • Concern

    Just as I thought. thanks.

  • Simon Cloutier

    Every people I know that buyed Chinese tires has regret it… No surprise here… I do not recommend it…

  • Kuwyne Edwards

    They are scamming people and letting the people they are seeking to be brokers to collect the scamming money so they won’t get into any trouble… they did it to me so if the contact any of you contact the relivant autority in your country asap

  • Kuwyne Edwards

    They are scamming people and letting the people they are seeking to be brokers to collect the scamming money so they won’t get into any trouble… they did it to me so if the contact any of you contact the relivant autority in your country asap!

  • Kuwyne Edwards

    They are scamming people and letting the people they are seeking to be brokers to collect the scamming money so they won’t get into any trouble… they did it to me so if the contact any of you contact the relivant autority in your country asap
    Nelson Petter

  • Jimmy Sinclair

    Yeah sinoco is a scam, they got me too.

    Report to police if they make any contact.

  • Frank Crouch

    Hmm…seriously? I am an owner of two taxi bases in Sydney Australia, I’ve used Goodride tyres for 10+ years, and had no problem with it, made in China.

  • Anon

    Of course the big tire companies don’t want you buying Chinese tires at less than 50% of their price. It would cut into their huge profits. Thus spreading false propaganda on Chinese tires is needed.

  • AMERICA GREAT AGAIN? IMPOSIBLE

    CHINA FUCKS AMERICA & FUCKS TRUMP! LAZY RACISTS, GAY VIOLENT AMERICANS! YOU WANT TO BE NUMBER 1 AND “GREAT AGAIN” BY BRUTE FORCE????? IMPOSIBLE, THOSE YEARS ARE COMPLETELY GONE ASSHOLES! FUCK YOU & FUCK ANIMAL TRUMP!

  • AMERICA GREAT AGAIN? IMPOSIBLE

    CRAZY, LAZY, VIOLENT, RACIST AMERICANS! MADE IN AMERICA IS SHIT! AMERICA WILL NEVER BE NUMBER ONE AGAIN!

  • Max Medina

    Down Trump