According to the J.D. Power 2014 Original Equipment Tire Customer Satisfaction Study, tire quality continues to improve as the number of problems owners experience with their factory-installed tires drops. Study respondents ranked Michelin highest in three vehicle segments, and Pirelli highest in one.
Fewer tire problems
The number of problems owners experience with their original equipment tires has declined by 22% to 68.5 problems per 100 vehicles (PP100) in 2014 from 88.3 PP100 in 2010. Furthermore, the incidence of all tire problems measured in the study has declined over the five-year span, with the largest improvements in fast tread wear (4.4 PP100 improvement); slow leaks (2.6 PP100); and uneven wear (2.3 PP100).
“The steady drop in problems is reflective of the efforts manufacturers have made to improve the quality of their tires,” says Brent Gruber, director, global automotive division at J.D. Power. “The fact that the greatest improvements are in tire wear, which has the largest impact on satisfaction, is good news for consumers that place great value on long tread life from their tires.”
The study measures tire owner satisfaction in four vehicle segments: luxury, passenger car, performance sport and truck/utility. Satisfaction is examined in four factors: tire wearability; tire ride; tire appearance; and tire traction/handling. Rankings are based on owner experiences with their tires after 2 years of vehicle ownership.
* Overall satisfaction with original equipment tires improves in 2014 for luxury, passenger car, and truck/utility segments, while it declines in the performance sport segment.
* When owners do not experience any problems with their tires, 36 percent expect to purchase the same brand of tires upon replacement and 32% of owners say they “definitely will” recommend their original equipment tires to family and friends. Once an owner experiences a single problem with their tire, loyalty drops to 24% and advocacy dips to 18%, on average.
* Owners are more forgiving of problems related to slow leaks or a flat tire due to a road hazard or puncture. However, loyalty rates drop to single-digit percentages when the problem is related to poor traction, fast or uneven tread wear or rough ride.
* Nearly one-half of all owners believe the type of tire on their vehicle can affect fuel economy. However, only one-third of owners indicate they intend to have fuel-efficiency as a goal when purchasing tires in the future.
* While sub-compact car owners are most likely to indicate their intent to have fuel-efficiency as a goal when purchasing tires in the future (47%), midsize pickup (42%) and large light duty pickup truck owners (38%) are also highly likely to express intent in purchasing tires that will improve gas mileage.
“Automakers continue to focus on improving fuel economy across all of their vehicles, including pickup trucks, by reducing weight and using smaller engines,” says Gruber.
"While owners don’t want to compromise traction and ride and handling to save fuel, it’s clear that even truck owners are fuel-conscious consumers.
"Considering the volume of the pickup truck market in the United States and the receptivity for fuel-efficient tires among this segment of owners, there is considerable opportunity for developing and marketing tire products to meet their needs.”
Michelin ranks highest in three of the four segments: luxury (780); passenger car (752); and truck/utility (736). Pirelli ranks highest in the performance sport segment (739).
Pirelli ranks second in the luxury segment (764), and Bridgestone ranks third (741). In the passenger car segment, Goodyear ranks second (707), followed by Firestone (688). Bridgestone (710) and BFGoodrich (689) rank second and third, respectively, in the truck/utility segment. Pirelli is followed by Goodyear (732) and Bridgestone (724) in the performance sport segment.
The 2014 Original Equipment Tire Customer Satisfaction Study is based on responses from more than 29,000 new-vehicle owners who purchased a 2012 or 2013 model-year vehicle. The study was fielded between October and December 2013.
Bob Ulrich was named Modern Tire Dealer editor in August 2000. He joined the magazine in 1985 as assistant editor, and has been responsible for gathering statistical information for MTD's "Facts Issue" since 1993.