There was no way of determining which brand of tyre was the best in terms of durability, safety and value for money. I usually used price as a surrogate for quality whilst well aware that it was not a good surrogate. There was also the suspicion that the garage or tyre fitting company was offering the tyres that provided them with the best commission and not the ones that were best for the buyer.
The problem was poor information. To make a good decision a buyer needed information on tyre quality and comparative information on a range of tyres.
The EU solved the first part of the problem by introducing a compulsory labelling scheme for tyres. The new standard gives motorists a way of comparing new tyres on their fuel efficiency, wet grip and noise. The wet grip rating is particularly important.
The wet grip scale runs from A to G and each point represents 3 metres of stopping distance. The difference between a tyre rated A and one rated D is 9 metres, or the difference between stopping safely and sharing the drivers seat with the back of a lorry.
Of course, this labelling scheme is one of the reasons why Britain has to leave the EU. How dare those bastards in the EU dare give consumers information which is damaging to industry profitability. Without high profits factories will close and millions will be put out of work. When Britain is out of the EU our usual practice of
The established tyre retailers have not been enthusiastic about providing customers with comparative information so enter the online retailers, such as Blackcircles.com. These do provide the comparative information that has previously been unavailable. In addition to providing information they will supply tyres directly to the you or arrange for a nearby garage to supply and fit the tyres.
I checked the BlackCircles web site recently when I wanted two new tyres and was able to find a tyre with a rating of B/A/68. That is, a fuel economy rating of B, a wet stopping distance of A and a decibel rating of 68. Just what I was looking for and at a price of £65 per tyre [including fitting, tax and wheel balancing]. I rang my local garage and they quoted £73 for the same tyre and service, though they cut their price to £68 when I told them the Blackcircles price.
Blackcircles is not the only online tyre retailer. As more people become aware of them I would guess the existing tyre retailers, like HiQ, are going to experience some disruption.
The old system gave tyre manufacturers no particular incentive to research and produce better tyres. The new system will and I expect that industry will also suffer some disruption, at least in Europe.