Terrible Treads: Ranking the 6 Worst Tire Brands

flat tires

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When you buy a set of sticker tires, you expect them to last a long time. However, not all brands give you the same quality. Today’s economic climate may mean searching for more affordable options. While budgets are great, you could end up with one of the worst tire brands. Which ones should you avoid? Here’s a guide to your wheels and how you should shop. 

What Are the Worst Tire Brands on the Market?

Higher-quality tires typically mean you’ll pay a premium at the checkout counter. These six options may be cheaper but could make your ride more vulnerable. Avoid the worst tire brands and instead opt for ones with trusted reputations. 

6. Cooper

If you’ve never seen a Cooper tire, you may recognize its parent company. Goodyear bought the Cooper Tire and Rubber Company in 1960 and has used the business to sell tires for trucks and motorcycles. The tires you get from Cooper aren’t the same as Goodyear’s, disappointing those who want the high quality. Cooper owners complain about grip and the recent recalls with the company. 

The past few years have seen a handful of Cooper tire recalls, leading to serious questions about their quality. For example, Cooper faced a 430,000-tire recall due to bulging and separation in the sidewall. Cooper’s Discoverer and Evolution tires faced scrutiny along with other subsidiaries. 

5. Westlake

If you need the cheapest tires on the market, you can find brands like Westlake at local retailers. Walmart sells discount brands to attract average customers, so you’ll likely find Westlake tires here. While the price point is attractive, consider the quality before you purchase a fresh set. 

Westlake tires are among the worst tire brands because you get what you pay for. The short-term costs may help in the short term, but your tires and suspension will suffer over time because of the poor quality. Westlake tires sacrifice longevity and cut corners, making them a less appealing option than their competitors. 

multiple stacks of tires

4. Douglas

Another cheap tire you’ll find at Walmart is Douglas. In fact, this brand is a Walmart exclusive and another subsidiary of the Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company. Douglas tires aren’t for your car enthusiasts who emphasize performance in their hot rods. Instead, you’re most likely to get a set if you have a strict budget and can’t afford one of the name brands. 

Douglas has some redeemable qualities like affordability. surprisingly good traction and safety. They might be serviceable in a pinch, but you’re better off finding better tire brands. One recurring complaint about Douglas tires is their loud noise, which can be troublesome in the city and residential areas. 

3. Waterfall

Waterfalls are nice when you’re in Yosemite or Victoria Falls. However, the waterfalls aren’t as good for your tires. This brand comes from a Turkish manufacturer and is typically on the discount rack. Waterfall tires are known for their EcoDynamic option, utilizing special compounds to create fewer emissions and lower costs. Your average car produces about 4.6 metric tons of carbon dioxide (CO2) annually, so this feature is a welcome sight. 

However, the tire is still one of the least expensive options for a reason. Like Douglas, Waterfall tires are noisier than premium brands and less reliable. The quality of your drive is less smooth and less enjoyable than tires from other manufacturers. 

2. Lionhart

Imagine you have everything packed for a cross-country road trip. You’re excited to see Los Angeles as you drive on the famous Route 66. Everything is going great until you get a flat tire around Oklahoma City. If you have a Lionhart tire, you can expect to see this type of problem.

Lionhart tires are among the cheapest in North America and aren’t typically the ones you get on a new car. These products are for replacements, carving a niche in the American auto market. The tires have decent handling but are infamous for their quick wear. Experts say your tires should last 70,000 miles, so avoid getting Lionhart if you want the most bang for your buck. 

1. LingLong

When considering reputation, LingLong may have the worst in the market. This business originates from Shandong, China, and has produced tires since 1975. Auto enthusiasts know LingLong because of its questionable quality. They say the company cuts corners and sacrifices quality, thus making them one of the worst tire brands. 

While some sets may be serviceable, LingLong has a history of low quality. The tire brand recently got in trouble due to a massive recall. In 2020, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) recalled 2,830 LingLong tires because these units could have faced sidewall separation. 

What to Look for in Your Tire Selection

Buying tires can be complicated if you don’t know what you’re looking for. The worst tire brands typically won’t excel in these three categories. 

Braking Distance

brake disc as part of the suspension system

Safety is priority No. 1 for your car, so examine the braking distance in your tires. This quality refers to how quickly your vehicle stops when you hit the brakes. Even safe drivers must slam the brakes if a hazard suddenly appears in front of them. Wider tires will suit your needs the best if braking ability is your primary concern. 

Tread Life

close-up look at tire tread

Tires rely on their tread for grip, so tread life should be another critical factor in your tire purchase. Michelin, Continental, Yokohama and other high-quality tire brands consistently provide the best longevity for tires based on their material selection. Compare your tires to NBA players — getting LeBron tires is preferable to a set of four Bill Waltons. 

Fuel Economy

Believe it or not, your tires impact your fuel economy. The modern emphasis on lowering emissions means exploring better tire options is worth your time. Generally, smaller tires will have less rolling resistance, leading to better miles per gallon on the road. Ultimately, it comes down to size. Heavier tires make your engine work harder to move your car, so make fuel economy a priority. 

Avoid the Worst Tire Brands for a Better Experience

Tires are critical for your car because you can’t go without them. While some manufacturers have discount options, some brands give you the worst tire possible. The redeemable qualities go out the window when you’re stuck on the side of the road changing your tire. 

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