J.D. Power: Michelin and Pirelli rank highest

March 30, 2015

The latest J.D. Power 2015 U.S. Original Equipment Tire Customer Satisfaction Study shows owners of run-flat tires replace tires more frequently in the first two years of ownership than do those with non-run-flat tires. Study respondents ranked Michelin highest in two vehicle segments, and Pirelli highest in one.

The 2015 study measures tire owner satisfaction in four vehicle segments: luxury, passenger car, performance sport and truck/utility. Satisfaction is examined in four factors: tire wear; tire ride; tire appearance; and tire traction/handling. Rankings are based on owner experiences with their tires after two years of vehicle ownership.

The study finds that overall satisfaction among owners of run-flat tires lags that of owners of non-run-flat tires across the luxury, passenger car and performance sport segments, a pattern consistent with previous iterations of the study.

The difference is most pronounced in the performance sport segment, where satisfaction with non-run-flat tires averages 685 points on a 1,000-point scale and satisfaction with run-flat tires averages 612. In the luxury segment, satisfaction with run-flat tires is 24 points lower than with non-run-flat tires (688 vs. 712, respectively).

In all three of the rank-eligible segments, the largest gaps in satisfaction are in tire ride and tire wear.

"The use of run-flat tires is likely to increase as automakers continue to view them as a viable option for improving fuel efficiency by eliminating the need for a spare tire, thereby reducing the weight," says Brent Gruber, director, global automotive division at J.D. Power. "It's vital that auto and tire manufacturers address the ride and wear issues, which are still not meeting customer expectations. Customers expect that run-flat tires won't compromise tread life or the ability to provide a quiet and comfortable ride."

Owners with run-flat tires also replace tires more frequently in the first two years of ownership than do non-run-flat customers. While the replacement rate for run-flat tires owners is slightly higher in the first year of ownership (10% vs. 7%, respectively), the discrepancy becomes more pronounced in the second year of ownership, when 27% of run-flat tire owners replaced at least one tire, compared with 16% of non-run-flat tire owners.

"While tire manufacturers have made improvements in addressing dealers' reluctance to repair run-flat tires in the same way they would non-run-flat tires, customers with run-flat tires are still replacing them at a much higher rate," saysGruber.

The study’s key findings are:

Tire brand image influences customer satisfaction with the product. Manufacturers that convey an image of product value and environmental responsibility positively influence overall customer satisfaction.

However, a customer's image of the brand can erode over time if the product ultimately fails to meet their performance expectations. Projecting the right image for the brand is crucial, as 51% of customers who intend to purchase new tires cite brand reputation as a criterion for purchase, the highest among all purchase criteria.

For owners who have replaced one or more of their original equipment tires within the last eighteen months, the most commonly cited criterion when selecting their new tires is that they match the other tires already on the vehicle. This is true for both purchase (32%) and lease (48%) customers. The second most frequently cited criterion is a recommendation from a sales or service person, cited by 11 percent of customers. Past experience with a tire brand and the advice from sales and service personnel are also very influential considerations when purchasing tires.

Among generational groups, Gen Y customers (those born between 1977 and 1994) rely more heavily on their family and friends as a source of information for which replacement tire brand to purchase than do the older generations.

The study brand rankings are:

Michelin ranks highest in two of the three rank-eligible segments: luxury (745) and passenger car (714). Pirelli ranks highest in the performance sport segment (693).

Pirelli ranks second in the luxury segment (710), while Goodyear ranks second in the passenger car segment (669). In the performance sport segment, Michelin ranks second (692) and Goodyear third (691).

The 2015 U.S. Original Equipment Tire Customer Satisfaction Study is based on responses from more than 29,000 original owners of 2013 or 2014 model-year vehicles. The study was fielded in November and December 2014.