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Buying Tyres? It pays to shop around

Annually Lightstone Consumer look at the real ‘street pricing’ for tyres available at tyre fitment specialists around South Africa. The results are revealing and enlightening.
The Lightstone researchers used a ‘mystery shopping’ technique where tyre fitment specialists were called and asked for the ‘best price’ on a specific tyre size. While this is how most consumers shop for tyres it’s not necessarily the right approach. “Tyres are safety critical,” says Lightstone Consumer MD Paul De Vantier “and while price is always important it shouldn’t be the first consideration”. “Buyers should consider tyre wear too – on face value a tyre quoted may seem cheaper but may only last 30 000 km while a slightly more expensive tyre may last 90 000 km.”
One of the interesting survey findings was the plethora of tyre brands available in South Africa. Across almost 2 500 recommendations received 81 different brands were encountered.
“Many of these tyres, including the brand names you may have never heard of, are actually of fairly good quality, however consumers should be cautious and take the advice of a trusted tyre specialist.”
The Lightstone survey was conducted in Gauteng, KwaZulu-Natal, the Eastern Cape and the Western Cape, with the focus being on the major metro areas.
24 popular tyre sizes
24 of the most commonly used tyre sizes – across the spectrum for passenger and light commercial vehicles were targeted. These were:

  • 155/70R13
  • 185/65R14
  • 205/60R16
  • 225/45R17
  • 245/70R16
  • 155/80R12
  • 195/65R15
  • 205/R16R16
  • 235/35R19
  • 245/75R15
  • 175/65R14
  • 195/80R14
  • 215/65R16
  • 235/40R18
  • 255/60R17
  • 175/70R14
  • 195/R15C 80R15
  • 215/70R16
  • 245/35R20
  • 265/65R17
  • 185/60R15
  • 205/55R16
  • 225/40R18
  • 245/45R19

Understanding Tyre Size
Here is a guide on how to read Tyre sizes correctly. Using a 205/60 R16 as an example:

  • 205: Section Width – this is the width in millimetres.
  • 60: Aspect Ratio – this is the percentage of the tyre’s sidewall height compared to the tyre’s width.
  • R: means the tyre has a radial-ply construction
  • 16: Rim diameter – the diameter of the rim in inches.

Prices vary by Brand and by Area
Take for example a 185/60R15: Prices quoted ranged from significantly, depending on the brand or region; The average price of a Continental tyre in this size could range from R874 in the Eastern Cape to R1 065 in Gauteng. But the permutations don’t end there; within Gauteng the price for the same tyre can range from R650 to R2 475.
If you are not fussy about the brand you can find the same size tyre for R518.
Prices by Branded Retailer
Here prices vary too. We surveyed prices from the major branded retailers; Best Drive (455); Dunlop (137); Hi Q (258); Independent Retailers (215); Speedy (246); SupaQuick (241); Tiger Wheel & Tyre (316); TrenTyre (81) and Tyres & More (435). Using the same tyre – a Continental 185/60R15 we found that prices within the same franchise could typically vary from R820 to R1 200.
Prices by Region
It was found that although prices by region varied within different tyre sizes and brands but remained comparatively similar; we couldn’t say that on average any region is more expensive than another although it was noted that the market is particularly competitive in KZN and Gauteng.
Low Profiles
While bigger rims and low-profile tyres look great and offer improved handling, think twice before selecting this option. When it comes to replacing the tyres a low profile 17-inch tyre can sometimes cost twice as much as a standard profile 16 inch.