Cheap tires continue to emerge in the US market. Most of them, though, are total garbage. They don’t work well on wet and snowy surfaces, don’t last very long, and aren’t particularly quiet and comfortable. The problem is, you can’t really know which brand is good and which isn’t. It’s nearly impossible, especially since nobody tests these tires.
Well, we do! We want to cover every tire brand you can buy in the US, including the budget once. One such brand is Westlake, which comes from China. Actually, it operates under the umbrella of Zhongce Rubber Company, which in 2019 was the tenth largest tiremaker in the world. Yes, guys, a Chinese tire manufacturer is now in the Top 10 list of the largest tire makers, and they continue to sell more products each year.
However, the company sells most of its brands in China. That’s because the market there has an increasing need for tires since people are buying vehicles at an increasing rate. A thing that is more interesting is that Zhongce has its own R&D department. Most cheap brands coming from China don’t have that, and as a result, the tires are unsafe on most surfaces.
Fortunately, you won’t experience that with Westlake tires. Of course, its father company doesn’t use the newest and most advanced technologies, but at least it tests the tires in various conditions.
But how do Westlake tires compare to premium competition from the US, Germany, Japan, and France? Well, that’s precisely what I’ll try to answer in this review of Westlake tires.
To do that, I’ll revisit most products from the Chinese company, but also give you my thoughts on them as a whole. Every tiremaker has its own advantages and disadvantages, and I’ll give you Westlake’s as well. So, without further ado, let’s dig in!
Top 5 Westlake Tires Review
1. Westlake RP18
The RP18 is the entry-level tire in Westlake’s range. It’s a touring all-season tire designed for small city cars, compact cars, mid-size sedans, minivans, and even some crossovers. The company offers the tire in many popular sizes, ranging from 13-inch wheel diameter to 16-inch wheel diameter.
Westlake is also kind enough to provide us with a lot of information on the tire. For instance, they utilized a variable pitch tread pattern to reduce road noise and provide a comfortable ride. Then, the tire also features angled grooves and siping for all-season capabilities, optimized grooves for enhanced contact patch, and four circumferential grooves for better hydroplaning resistance.
But how does all that translate into the real world? Well, it depends on which tires you compare the RP18 to. Against other cheap brands, the tire performs very well, actually. It has better dry traction and reacts faster to the driver’s inputs. Moreover, the stopping distances are shorter, and the tire feels safer at higher speeds.
The same difference remains on wet surfaces. The RP18 performs slightly better than its direct competitors, i.e., tires that are priced equally. Again, the handling is better, and the stopping distances shorter. As for snow, the RP18 doesn’t perform particularly well, but not a lot of cheap tires do.
However, when you compare the RP18 to tires from renowned manufacturers, it becomes clear where your money goes. There is a recognizable difference in traction and grip on dry surfaces, but it’s wet pavement where you can feel the biggest discrepancy.
Simply put, the RP18 doesn’t perform well if you push it too hard in the rain. The tire becomes nervous at the limit, and even an experienced driver will have problems keeping the vehicle from spinning. A premium tire will perform much better, no doubt about it.
In terms of comfort, though, the Westlake RP18 performs just fine. The ride quality is very smooth, even over some large potholes, and there is not much tread noise. Although, some users report the tire becomes noisier as it wears down. Also, the 45,000-mile treadwear warranty is very high for the price.
2. Westlake SU318
The SU318 is Westlake’s touring all-season tire for SUVs and CUVs. The company offers the tire in many popular sizes, ranging from 15-inch wheel diameter to 22-inch wheel diameter. Thus, this tire covers most crossovers and SUVs, including older models. It’s the same with the T, H, and V-speed ratings.
But what about its performance? Well, it’s the same story as the RP18. Overall, the SU318 performs better than its low-cost rivals, both over dry and wet surfaces. However, it also can’t come even close to the premium competition.
Nonetheless, I was satisfied with how this tire performs on dry surfaces. The steering feels responsive, and there is a good level of traction and grip. Moreover, the tire provides good stability at higher speeds.
In rainy conditions, the SU318 performs well for daily driving. Nonetheless, you shouldn’t push it too hard. The tire feels slightly nervous at the edge, and your vehicle might spin. It’s the same with snow traction, which honestly is pretty bad.
The SU318 does have redeeming features, though. The ride quality is very smooth, and there is not much noise on the highway. Also, the 50,000-mile treadwear warranty is excellent for the category and even comparable to some higher-cost options. Treadlife should be the same.
3. Westlake SL309
The Westlake SL309 is an interesting tire for drivers of commercial vehicles. It features heavy-duty construction, but it also comes with a 40,000-mile treadwear warranty, which is not usual in this category.
In terms of performance, again, it won’t win against any premium competitor. However, it fares better than most low-cost options. Moreover, on dry roads, you will never tell this is a cheap tire. The stability is very good, the cornering grip is excellent for daily driving, and the braking distances aren’t very long.
In rainy conditions, traction is good at regular speeds. However, you will experience irregular behavior if you push the tires hard, which doesn’t often happen in commercial vehicles and trucks. Snow and ice traction, though, aren’t its forte.
The best thing about the SL309 is that it behaves well under load, thanks to the robust construction.
4. Westlake SA07
The SA07 is an all-season touring tire with performance credentials. Available in 16-inch to 20-inch wheel diameter, this model fits mid-size sedans, performance sedans, and executive sedans.
Overall, the driving experience is by far the best you’ll have in a Westlake tire. The steering responsiveness is top-notch, and there are ample grip and traction for daily driving. Highway stability is excellent as well.
The tire suffers a bit on the wet pavement but overall performs better than its closest competitors. However, I wouldn’t use this tire in harsh wintry conditions since it lacks reliable traction. Also, the ride is a bit stiff, although the tire remains quiet on the highway.
5. Westlake SL369
The SL369 is Westlake’s all-terrain tire. It comes with a 40,000-mile treadwear warranty, which is excellent for the category and especially considering the price. The tire also provides excellent off-road traction, especially over hardpacked surfaces.
On-road performance is good over dry surfaces, but nothing to write home about on wet surfaces. Fortunately, the tire provides good traction on unpacked snow.
Westlake Tires Review: Buying Guide
1. Westlake Tires Positive Aspects
Perform well for daily driving
At normal speeds, all Westlake tires perform well. They work very well on dry roads and work better than other cheap tires on wet roads.
While premium tires will last even longer, you won’t find another low-cost option that lasts this long.
Comfortable and quiet
Most Westlake tires provide a comfortable and quiet driving experience.
2. Westlake Tires Negative Aspects
Wet traction when pushed hard
You wouldn’t want to push these tires very hard in rainy conditions. They perform well at normal speeds but aren’t too safe on the edge of grip.
Snow and ice traction
Westlake still doesn’t have a reliable tire for harsh wintry conditions.
Right now, Westlake produces some of the best low-cost tires on the market. They still wouldn’t be my top choice, though, especially since tires from renowned manufacturers perform better across all conditions. However, if you really need to save money, Westlake is a good brand.