Let’s face it, the tire is one of the most essential parts of any car. You can have 50 horsepower or 500, and you’d still rely on that little piece of rubber around your rims.
Cornering, braking, keeping you in a straight line, accelerating – the tires have a critical task, and they need to be good to perform excellently. To be more specific, when I say perform excellently, I mean to be safe to drive.
If you’ve read any of the previous reviews on this list, you may have noticed that I rarely mention a tire that isn’t safe. Some may not perform as well as I want to, but I’d still mark them as safe for most people. The reason for that is because the tires I review all come from reputable brands.
Some are cheaper, some are more expensive, but at the end of the day, all are from manufacturers with proven records of producing excellent tires. We’ve just covered a list of the best tire brands, so be sure to check that out.
At the moment, there are 3 types of tires you can find, and they are divided based on price and performance. You have premium, mid-range and cheap. As tires evolve and manufacturers include newer technologies, the boundaries aren’t always too clear. You may find a premium tire that, in some cases, may perform like a mid-range one and vice versa.
Before I start listing the tire brands that you should avoid, let me explain why.
What's In This Guide?
What makes a bad tire?
I could probably go on for days on this topic, so I’ll try to make this short.
A bad tire isn’t necessarily the cheapest one, and here’s an example. My 30-year-old Corolla has Tigar winter tires, which are considered cheap.
Before you call me a hypocrite, hear me out. The car had 70 horsepower from the factory. I’m guessing about 20 of those died in the past three decades, leaving me with an underpowered car. I drive it around town primarily, so going for something like a Michelin Alpine is a waste of money. The ones I have now are doing their job to keep me safe, which is what I need from them.
The reason why I had to tell the story is that often people say that the cheapest tires are the worst. While that is true, the ones I have on my car claim that the statement is false, meaning that it’s true to a point.
A bad tire starts from the factory. When you pay a premium price, you don’t pay it just for the performance. You also pay it for the research and development the manufacturer put into the tire and everything else related to the manufacturing. Cheaper brands don’t invest as much, which is why they are cheaper.
When there’s not much research and development, the manufacturer won’t test the tire to the limit before the massive manufacturing step. The result of that is a tire with an untested compound and tread design.
Another important aspect is the tread design. You can look at two tires, and they may seem identical. Upon closer inspection, you will see that they are not, and those minor differences can mean a good and bad performing tire.
Last but not least is durability. The tires I review here are, for the most part, very durable tires. Sure, they may wear down sooner than others, but the internal construction is designed to avoid the tire ripping itself to shreds. An exploding tire while doing 70 on the highway isn’t fun, believe me – I know.
To sum it up – a bad tire is the one that isn’t designed properly and didn’t pass serious safety checks before it gets sold.
Why should you avoid bad tires?
Technically I already explained why, but I’ll break it down in greater detail.
I’m just as enthusiastic about dancing with a car on a twisty road but only with a tire that will be able to perform as it should. Going into a corner carrying more speed, you will need to rely on the tire’s grip to stay on the road. In the rain, a tire with bad aquaplaning resistance can spin you out of control in a blink of an eye. Put the long braking distances into the mix, and you have a recipe for disaster.
Tires can be so bad that even everyday driving can be an issue. These are the ones most of us like to refer to as plastic tires. The rubber compound cannot provide enough grip or traction for a routine drive to work.
In most cases, this means that the tire will slip when accelerating or be prone to understeer. Essentially, it’s like a worn-down tire, but it’s new.
Durability also plays a massive part in how good or bad a tire is. A durable tire should last 40,000, 50,000, with some passing the 6-digit mark, depending on the type of tire. Then there’s the internal construction I mentioned.
Any tire from a reputable brand will be constructed to take the daily abuse that our tires go through. Steel belts, nylon wrapping, and tons of other techniques are used to prevent them from blowing up when you’re driving along.
The last piece of the puzzle is the warranty. I know that not all tires I’ve reviewed in the past have a treadwear warranty, but there is a workmanship or uniformity warranty at least.
With the cheapest and worst tire brands on the market, you get none of that. In other words, if your tire deforms and becomes wobbly, you’re out of luck because you cannot get a replacement.
Which are the worst tire brands?
Finally, we come to the part you’ve all been waiting for. The grand reveal of the worst tire brands that you should avoid:
- AKS Tires
There’s a common misconception floating around that the worst tires are Chinese, which is not exactly true. Take Accelera, for example; it’s a company from Indonesia and is still a bad tire manufacturer.
Another thing worth mentioning is that these are not the only lousy tire manufacturers. There are plenty more, but the 10 I have here are among the worst and should definitely be avoided.
Chaoyang is surprisingly a company that has been around for longer than you’d think. The company was founded in 1958 in Hangzhou, China. Throughout the years, the company has constantly increased its lineup with tires for multiple applications, ranging from bicycles to cars and even forklifts. The company falls under the Zhongce Rubber Group, which owns a few more tire brands on this list.
The interesting thing about this company is that there is a side of it that’s considered good. The company was mostly focused on bicycle tires in the earlier days, and some people consider them good. Chaoyang began making car tires recently, and I feel that the lack of experience and refinement is why they perform so poorly compared with other brands.
I may get some backlash about this brand, but hear me out. Geostar is a brand owned by Nankang, so for some people, that may be good enough to mark them as good, right? Not really. To be fair, Nankang isn’t a brand that makes excellent tires; it makes good enough tires at a low cost. Geostar is the brand that follows the same ideology and makes cheap tires that won’t perform too well.
The result of a cheaper option to an already cheap tire is something that I wouldn’t really classify as safe. Dry performance may be considered passable if you’re careful, but anything other than that is just unsafe and should be avoided.
Triangle is a much younger tire company and has been on the market since 1976. Founded in Weihai, China, the company initially produced tires for sweeper cars for the Indonesian market. As China’s car market began to rise, Triangle slowly switched to producing car tires. Up until the 2000s, the company was going through many changes, at which point it started to take things more seriously, hoping to produce better tires. In 2011 a contract between Triangle and the University of Akron was signed to improve the company’s research and development sector.
On paper, the company has a lot of potential as long as the R&D department does its job properly and starts producing good tires. At the moment, the biggest problem most of the tires face is wet. Many people say that there’s barely any traction for safe driving.
Another tire brand that’s under the Zhongce Rubber Group is Goodride. As a brand, this is among the younger ones on this list and has been on the market since 1997. The brand has a plethora of options that range from passenger car tires to trucks and busses. Looking at the lineup, I’d say that it’s mainly focused on commercial use because there are tons of truck, bus, or agricultural tires. Goodride is advertised as tires with competitive price, or in other words, cheap. While I’m not a person that will go on a rant against cheap tires, I still wouldn’t recommend these.
For the most part, the tires don’t seem to have significant issues with durability, and users report that the wear is decent. They also note that the traction and handling are significantly worse than other tires in the same price range.
The third Zhongce Rubber Group tire brand on my list is Westlake. It’s only two years older than Goodride, and the story is more or less the same, cheap tires, but with a catch. The tires from this brand are advertised as safe tires for the local market, meaning that they are mainly for China. Despite that, you can find them in other parts of the world. The biggest problem with these tires is that unlike tires developed in Europe or America, these don’t go through the same inspection processes. As a result, the company can make some cuts in certain areas to offer them at a lower cost.
Surprisingly, most models are decent-ish for slower speeds, as some users have reported them drivable around town. At higher speeds, the tires become dangerous because there is no feel of the grip, and you have no idea if the tire would stick to the road when cornering.
We’re kind of moving away from Chinese brands and reach Accelera. The company was founded in 1996 in Indonesia and is advertised as a brand that sells high-performance tires. Accelera is part of Elangperdana Tyre Industry, founded in the same year, meaning that it’s not a company with a reputation for being on the market for too long. The company’s lineup consists of tires for passenger cars, off-road, and even racing, which is quite surprising.
The reason why I’m surprised is the fact that there are rising tires from a company that has high-performance road tires with poor performance. Like some of the other brands on this list, the wet performance was where the tires struggled the most. Some owners reported that they had to be very gentle with the throttle and brake pedals to get some barely safe driving experience.
This is a weird brand which only cements my opinion that its tires should be avoided at all costs. For starters, there is no information on the company that manufactures the tires. You will find some info on the dealerships that sell them, but there is nothing in terms of ownership or headquarters, let alone used technologies or features. In my eyes, this looks like a brand that makes the tires out of someone’s basement.
In terms of performance, these are the worst. Even at slower speeds in perfect conditions, the grip and traction levels are so low that you almost feel like they’re made from plastic. Performance in less ideal conditions is much worse.
In some ways, Compass reminds me of Chaoyang. The company sells bicycle tires as well as passenger ones. On top of that, the company also sells car parts from various brands. To me, it looks like a wholesale that has a tire manufacturing plant. The company came to the market in 1998, and since then, it hasn’t shown any signs of making some improvements.
The performance on these tires is as you’d expect, considering that they’re on this list. Longevity and comfort aren’t the worst, but the performance is not something you’ll want to experience.
Sunfill is a tire brand that falls under the Unicorn Tire Corporation, which is a US brand. Yes, you read that correctly; it’s a US brand that manufactures its tires in China. As such, you’d expect to have something good to offer, especially when you consider that there are a lot of things made in China that aren’t bad. Unfortunately, that isn’t the case.
The company has been around since 2007 and has two problems. The first one is the lack of available models, and with only a handful of options, there’s isn’t much it can offer. The second problem is the performance, or the lack thereof. In most cases, the wet performance is the weakest point, and the tire has some of the longest stopping distances I’ve seen.
The last tire brand that’s under the Zhongce Rubber Group for this list is Trazano. Similar to the previous one, it’s a US-based brand founded in 2009, so it’s still a minor in this industry. The most interesting thing is that there isn’t even a website to look at the available models. Instead, you will have to rely on the resellers’ information. The company sells the tires as safe and reliable, but there are far from it.
Performance on most of the tires isn’t the worst in the world, but you’d still be getting a lot less than with similarly priced models from a reputable brand. As the tire wears down, you will start to notice a bigger problem: uneven wear. You will have much less tread around the center of the tire when compared to the sides.
How to tell if a tire is bad?
Well, the most obvious thing you can do is read a review, but that may be a problem. There are some slim chances that you’ll find a review on these kinds of tires on a reputable website. In most cases, you can find some info about them on the website that sells them, with a lot of praise about how good they are in the review section. You should take those with a grain of salt.
Technically, you won’t really know if a tire is terrible or not, so the next section will be just for you.
How to choose a good tire?
A good tire is a very broad definition, so I’ll try to explain it from two perspectives.
I’m a sucker for getting behind the wheel of a car and take it on a track. For these applications, a tire oriented towards performance is the way to go. Both the premium and mid-range segments have excellent high-performance tires, and regardless of which one you go for, you won’t be making a mistake.
One thing to note is that you’ll need to be aware that you won’t be getting the same levels of grip and traction. You can either get a feel for this yourself or see if it’s a tire that we’ve done a review on.
If your daily driver is a car that won’t be any good on a track, your primary goal will be safety. In this case, I wouldn’t advise you to go for the more expensive options, especially if you have an older car. To be clear, I’m not saying that the performance ones are bad, but you will be paying a higher price. The biggest issue is that you won’t be using the tire with the fullest potential, so it’s the same situation as with my winter tires. I took the safe road and didn’t spend a fortune on an expensive set of tires.
In this case, even if you go for the cheaper options, as long as it’s a manufacturer that has a proven record of having good tires, you shouldn’t have any issues.
While grip and traction are essential, I’d say the most important aspect is the braking distances. Yes, you will have shorter braking distances with more expensive tires, but that doesn’t mean that the cheaper ones will be 10 times longer. Even though they will be longer, the stopping distances will still be short and safe, which is the primary goal.
For some, this may boil down to personal preference, while for others, it may not make a difference. In the past, I’ve had Hankook, Falken, Continental, Firestone, etc., as daily drivers. My personal preference is to have a tire that can deliver good performance.
My advice in this regard is to look at the specific model, not the brand. I’ve seen mid-range tires that have braking distances like some premium ones. I’ve been surprised by the low noise that some mid-range tires had or the rough ride on premium ones.
At the end of the day, you should be paying attention to the tire application, summer, winter, all-season, touring, high-performance, etc. You won’t find a perfect tire that will deliver the best performance in all conditions, so choose according to your needs.