Every part of an automobile is important, but perhaps no auto part is more important to performance and safety as your tires.
At first glance, tires are just hunks of rubber on the bottom of our cars. Their whole function in life is to be slowly ground down by erosion as you go from place to place in your vehicle. How well they grip the road and handle obstacles like potholes or weather can actually be matters of life and death. So, while you probably spent hours or even days looking into luxury car makers, you should also spend time looking into the best luxury tire brands. Just like you want to make sure you get the perfect shoes for your feet, you want to make sure that your car’s tires are of high quality.
A Bit About Luxury Tire Brands
The term “tire” is a shortened form of “attire,” because in their earliest days they were known as “dressed wheels.” Originally made from leather or bands of metal, rubber started to appear on tires in the mid-to-late 19th Century.
History of Tires
John Boyd Dunlop (whose company is on this list) is credited with the modern tire’s invention. His son got headaches from riding his tricycle on the street, and Dunlop thought rubber tires would help. By 1892, Dunlop’s patent ended up declared invalid. Their design and others spread across the world. Once vehicles with rubber tires, both bicycles and cars, started winning races, their supremacy became complete.
In the late 1940s, the Michelin company invented radial tires, which were rated safer than other versions by the late 1960s. Today, it is by far the dominant method of construction. In the U.S. radial tires have a market share of 100 percent. Italian tire-maker Pirelli improved on this construction with an eye towards racing, creating the wide radial tire. Still, for decades Michelin’s method has defined how tires are produced. Still, advancements in design and tread have allowed tires to become more dependable and safer over time.
What to Look for in a Tire
You have to know what sort of tires your vehicle needs. If you have a light truck, an SUV, or a Crossover vehicle, you will want to make sure you have tires with balance points best for wide, tall vehicles. Similarly, if you want a smooth, quiet ride in a touring car, you will need tires designed specifically for that. Just like you wouldn’t wear tap shoes to play golf or water-socks at a funeral, you want to make sure that your needs are met by your tires.
For example, if you want to save on gas or just reduce your carbon footprint, you can try low-rolling resistance tires, which help propel the car with less energy. On the other hand, if you’ve got a gas-guzzling sports car and want to tear up the highway or the backroads, you’ll need performances tires with designs taken from professional racers. (Though, you probably should not do this, at least not going faster than the posted speed limit.) If you're not sure what sort of tires would be best for your luxury car, contact your dealer.
How Much Should Tires Cost?
Tires, like most auto parts, vary in their costs depending on size, model, and make. You can find the best luxury tire brands offering wheels for fewer than $100 per wheel or you can pay more than $400 per wheel. Of course, if you’re not going to change out the tires yourself, you will also have to pay for labor. Unless you’re a serious driver, you might not put much thought into your tires.
If you live in a part of the world where it snows, you might think about seasonal tire changes, if you think of them at all. But when it comes to tires, you shouldn’t skimp on them. They are very important to how your car functions and the safety of those inside and directly outside of the car. A bad blowout or skidding out of control can cause a major accident. So, investing a few more dollars in your tires to help avoid such a thing is worth every penny.
The Top Ten Best Luxury Tire Brands
Below you will find our choices for the top ten luxury tire brands out there. Unsurprisingly, they are all big names in tire manufacturing. When it comes to tires, typical luxury accouterments are meaningless. They wear down over time, and your safety is more of a concern than style. These tires will look and perform great on any car, from your kid’s used car to your brand-new luxury model.
It’s not just their eponymous blimp that makes Goodyear something of an American institution, it’s that their tires are consistently some of the best you can get. The company has roots as far back as 1898 in Akron Ohio. Akron, for a time, was the tire capital of the United States, home to a number of other companies, as well. It was named after someone, but not its founder, Frank Siberling. Rather, the company is named after Charles Goodyear who invented vulcanized rubber. Even though we all don’t drive like maniacs going in a circle, Goodyear proved itself where the rest of the car industry did: the race track. Goodyear has the most racing wins, constructor championships, and even starts in racing history. You can find their tires in most shops, including their own branded ones. You can even find them on Amazon.
This company, also known for it’s distinctive and prestigious travel and dining guides, is based in France and dates back to almost a decade before Goodyear. Édouard and André Michelin ran a rubber factory and developed at pneumatic tire that did not need to be affixed to the rim with tape or glue. Decades later they developed the first run-flat tire, which could run on a special foam lining in case of rupture. Of course, they weren’t done innovating, as they then invented the firs radial tire. Also, the company’s iconic mascot, the Michelin Man, has been around since the beginning. He’s been helping them sell tires so well, they are one of the top three largest tire manufacturer in the world. They first came to America in the 1960s, but today you can get them anywhere in the world, even via Amazon.
This Italian company is now purely a tire manufacturer, but when it opened for business in 1872 it was a rubber manufacturer. In the early days, the company specialized in early scuba gear, but eventually it found its niche making some of the best luxury tires on the market. In 1974, around three decades since the last major tire innovation, Pirelli invented the wide radial tire. Until then, unless a car could handle the thinner radial tires it had to use slick tires. Alberto Pirelli, at the behest of the Lancia racing company, found a way to reduce the height of the sidewall while still using the radial structure. Along with tires, Pirelli focused on telecommunications, specifically cables. Yet, in 2010, it became a tires-only business.
Also based in Akron, Ohio, Firestone joined the game late, in 1900, but it positioned itself as the nemesis of Goodyear, the leader in the market. Even though they started the company with but a dozen employees, Firestone became one of the biggest names in the business. Henry Ford had a personal friendship with Harvey Firestone, and in 1906 won the contract to provide tires for Ford Motor Company. Over the next three quarters of a century Firestone was one of the best-known tire brands. Through the 1970s, Firestone was a manufacturing powerhouse, winning defense contracts along with tire production. However, by 1979, the company was almost bankrupt, spread too thin. The company was eventually sold to Bridgestone and restructured. Today, Firestone is still one of the premiere luxury tire brands in America.
5. BF Goodrich
Today BF Goodrich is owned by the Michelin Company, who picked them up along with Uniroyal in 1990. However, the original Goodrich company dates back to 1870. Dr. Benjamin Franklin Goodrich purchased the Hudson River Rubber Company in Akron, Ohio. At first, they made firehoses and belts for engines. However, by 1896 they were making pneumatic tires for both bicycles and automobiles. They were one of the only such companies their side of the Appalachian Mountains. BF Goodrich embraced science and research, and this led to their tires were cutting edge. In fact, their reputation for science and technology led to their involvement in constructing the first pressurized suit for use in space and synthetic rubber. Today, BF Goodrich tires are made with Michelin quality and the company’s historical devotion to cutting-edge technology and design.
In the 1980s, Japan became one of the dominant forces in the automobile industry. So, it’s only sensible that with all those cars being sold, they developed one of the best luxury tire brands. In 1983, OHTSU Rubber & Tire launches the Falken brand, introducing it to the racing community. By 1988, the company sold tires in the U.S. and Europe. Today, Falken is a huge presence in motorsports and has a number of partnerships. For example, they are the official tire of Major League Baseball and they sponsor teams in England and Germany. They have a major U.S. presence today, with corporate headquarters in California and a rubber factory in Tonawanda, New York. This came about after Falken ended a partnership with Goodyear. Their tires are ultra-high performance and racing tires.
By the time Cooper Tire, originally called the M and M Manufacturing Company, opened in 1914, Akron was already the tire capital. In fact, their original business was not so much making their own tires but selling repair kits and rubber patches. In the 1920s, they relocated to Findlay, Ohio during a merger with the Giant Tire & Rubber Company. And they merged again in 1930 to form the Master Tire Company, led by I. J. Cooper. They were a huge contributor to the war effort, and in 1946 they were recognized by the U.S. government. They changed their name to Cooper Tire and Rubber Company, after I. J. Cooper was replaced by W.B. Brewer. The Brewers would run the company until the early 1980s. While many of the other best luxury tires brands consolidated and merged, Cooper has kept growing. They’ve expaned into China, Korea, and England. Today, Cooper is a steady force in the market, and they produce a quality product.
8. Continental AG
Germany makes two of the best luxury cars in the world, the BMW and the Mercedes Benz, so it’s only natural they have one of the best luxury tire brands. Like all the other companies here, Continental started out as a rubber company in 1871. The Hanover, Germany-based company made bicycle tires and automobile tires. However, unlike some of the other companies on this list, they diversified. They also make brake systems, electronics systems, and components for the car’s body and engines. After 137 years in business, Continental faced disaster in 2008. They were targeted for a takeover by the Schaeffler family, and they’ve since turned the company around. Today, not only is Continental one of the best luxury tire brands, the company itself is one of Germany’s hottest investment opportunities.
Bridgestone is a multinational company that has been in the tire business since 1930, founded by Shojiro Ishibashi in Kurume, Fukuoka, Japan. The name itself is a word-for-word translation of the Japanese word meaning “stone bridge.” They opened their doors in 1930, but soon they were all but nationalized for Hirohito’s war effort. After the end of World War II, rubber and tires were products that were heavily regulated. To survive, the leaders at Bridgestone realized they would have to devote themselves to innovation and new tire technology. In 1951, they were the first to bring rayon cord tires to market in their home country. Eight years later they introduced nylon tires. By 1967, however, they were also selling radial tires already on their way to becoming the industry standard. In 1988 the company purchased Firestone. Now, a company that struggled to survive the aftermath of World War II is the largest manufacturer of tires in the world, as of 2017.
South Korean automakers, like Hyundai and Kia, have made a name for themselves in the global automotive business. While they’ve not really broken into the luxury automobile space yet, their tires have. Hankook is one of the best luxury tire brands on the market and the only Korean company on our list. The company began as Chosun Tire Company in 1941 but changed the named to Hankook 27 years later. Making both radial and bias-ply tires, the company recently opened factories in Tennessee and Indonesia. They hope to become the fifth-largest tire manufacturer in the world, and they seem close to achieving it.
When looking for the best luxury tire brands, look to companies with proven track records and years of history.
The most recently-established company on this list was founded in 1983, 35 years from the time of this writing. This is not to say that young companies or one yet to be founded will not eventually become an industry leader. When rubber tires started hitting the streets, there were surely some wood-and-metal wheel-makers who never saw these upstarts coming. But, until such time that some young upstart proves their product’s worth on the track or in the market, look to the brands that have proven themselves.
What do you think of the list? Are there any brands that are left off that you think should have been included? Share your thoughts, feelings, and experiences in the comments below. Don’t forget to share the article on social media if you liked it.
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