Are Westlake Tires a rip-off or a great tire?

The tire industry has evolved quite a bit over the years. Tires weren’t new in the early days of cars, but the tire industry was in its infancy.

In those days, there were only a few tire brands, which didn’t pose a problem since there weren’t many cars. Things start to change about a century later.

Things are very different today. The number of tire brands increased along with the number of cars. Today, there are more options than in the early 1900s, when there were fewer price ranges.

Today, there are many premium tire brands… but I would never use quite a few of them.

The most common types of tires are low-cost, mid-range, and premium. Obviously, they differ in price and performance, with the cheaper ones performing worse.

I wrote an article a while back outlining the worst tire brands. Several low-cost tire manufacturers produced pretty bad tires, some of which were unsafe to drive.

One of the brands on that list is Westlake Tires, which I will be reviewing today. As a result of where the brand ended up, the brand produces terrible tires.

I would advise you to avoid Westlake in most cases, but it does have one or two positive sides, which some people may find appealing.

Even though I dislike cheap tires, I’m going to review Westlake Tires and talk about the different tire models the brand offers.

Models of Westlake Tires

The brand makes up for its lack of quality with quantity, and I don’t mean by the number of tires produced. Westlake manufactures tires for passenger cars, SUVs, light trucks, and commercial vehicles, buses, and tractors. For today, I will focus on the passenger car options available from the brand.

Westlake Tires offers ultra-high-performance, touring, winter, and off-road tires, depending on the size and application.

There are several options available for each of these categories. On paper, you have a wide range of options, so there is a tire for every need.

I won’t be able to cover every model Westlake offers, so I’ll focus on the most popular options, since those are the ones people will be interested in. Yes, you read that right, Westlake has a drifting tire, as well as tractor or bus models.

Let’s get to the individual reviews without further delay.

TOP PICK
9.9/10 Our Score

Specifications:

  • Meets Westlake’s promises
  • Responsive

 

Zuper Ace SA-57 is Westlake’s attempt at an ultra-high-performance tire. This model is an improvement over the regular SA-57 model.

Aquaplaning resistance should be improved with its aggressive V-shaped tread pattern. Furthermore, the rubber compound is enriched with silica to improve performance in wet conditions.

For better handling, Westlake stiffened up the center ribs.

Zuper Ace SA-57 meets some of Westlake’s promises, but not all. Aquaplaning resistance is one area where the tire does pretty well. As a result, most of the water is evacuated easily, and the device remains stable.

The problem with this is that things can get a bit scary if you push it too far in wet conditions. On a twisty road, you can have some fun, but you’ll need to remain cautious.

The tire’s braking distances are not its strongest point in either scenario.

In terms of driving dynamics, I have some good news and some bad news. Zuper Ace SA-57 tires are responsive enough for a cheap tire. Unfortunately, it doesn’t offer a lot of feedback, which can be problematic when you’re driving it aggressively.

Considering the price, I would probably choose the Hankook Ventus Prime 3 or the S1. Both are similarly priced and perform better than the Zuper Ace SA-57.

Westlake Zuper Eco Z-108

TOP PICK
9.8/10 Our Score

Specifications:

  • Comfort Design
  • Five Circumferential Ribs

Westlake has the Zuper Eco Z-108 – a touring tire designed for comfort, safety, and efficiency. Westlake’s variable pitch tread design should provide low noise levels at various speeds.

 It is the overall design of the tire as well as the structure that should make it more comfortable and smoother. Last but not least, the Zuper Eco Z-108 has five circumferential ribs that aid in handling and improve gas mileage.

As with the previous tire, it’s a similar story. Zupe rEco Z-108 delivers in some areas, but falls short in others.

For the price, the tire is decently refined, offers plenty of comfort, and is low noise. The only issue is that the tire gets louder as the tread wears down, which is what you might expect from a touring tire. I’m not a huge fan of the rest of the performance.

Dry traction and grip are sufficient for driving around town at normal speeds, and that’s all you should expect. On the highway, stability isn’t the best, and your car may feel unstable at times.

You won’t want to drive aggressively on a twisty road either. Tyres lose grip quickly, and more powerful cars struggle to put the power down.

Another aspect of driving on wet surfaces is not as safe as I would like. Since the tire lacks grip and traction, it is quite easy to upset it. When it rains hard, you’ll need to be careful since aquaplaning resistance isn’t great.

In terms of dynamic driving characteristics, the ZuperEco Z-108 is a relatively poor performer as a touring tire. Westlake could improve this area by making it drive almost like a winter tire.

Based on my disappointment with the wet traction, I would probably recommend the Nokian Wetproof as a suitable replacement tire. It’s a bit more expensive, but it performs better almost everywhere.

Westlake SW618

TOP PICK
9.9/10 Our Score

Specifications:

  • SW618 studless winter tire.
  • Highway speeds can be relatively high

Unlike the others, Westlake offers only two models of winter tires, and I’ll be reviewing a winter touring tire. Snow traction should be improved by the aggressive tread pattern of the SW618 studless winter tire.

Cold temperatures do not affect the rubber compound’s performance on dry roads. It is also designed to be comfortable and efficient like most of Westlake’s touring tires.

The tire does not perform well in multiple areas during the winter, unfortunately.

As long as you keep in mind that it’s not a good idea to push the tire hard, the tire is fine to drive on dry roads.

Since it is a winter tire, its responsiveness is on the lower end of the spectrum, and it isn’t as sharp to respond as some of the other winter tires.

The tire performs well enough if you drive within the speed limits in wet conditions. Comfort levels are quite good for a cheap tire, but noise levels aren’t as good. Highway speeds can be relatively high.

As a winter tire, the SW618 should perform well in snow, slush, and ice, right? The tire feels more like an all-season tire than a summer tire.

If you accelerate aggressively, you may struggle with traction if you drive over snow. As long as you feather in the throttle, it will do well in slush.

Again, ice performance is lower, but you can install studs, so you should be able to get better performance.

The SW618 did not perform well in winter conditions. In those conditions, the tire felt unstable and unpredictable at times.

Firestone Winterforce 2 and Cooper Evolution Winter are slightly more expensive, but they perform better, especially in non-ideal conditions.

TOP PICK
9.8/10 Our Score

Specifications:

  • Designed for larger vehicles
  • Four circumferential grooves

Westlake has touring tires for SUVs and trucks. Similar to the Zuper Eco Z-108, the Zuper Trek Z-203 is designed for larger vehicles. Rather than an all-season touring tire, it’s a summer tire.

There are four circumferential grooves with plenty of lateral sipes, which should result in good water evacuation.

In combination with the tread pattern, the Zuper Eco Z-108 should provide decent traction on a variety of surfaces. With the previous tires, Westlake optimized the casing construction for a comfortable ride.

Compared to its smaller brother, the Zuper Eco Z-108, the Zuper Trek Z-203 was more or less similar to drive.

I can only praise the tire’s comfort and noise. Due to the rubber compound and design, the tire is relatively smooth and noiseless. As a result of the higher sidewall, it smooths out road imperfections a bit better.

The downside of a higher sidewall is how the tire drives. In a corner, you will feel the sidewall flexing, which is normal for a tire like this.

In terms of responsiveness and sharpness, don’t expect much. In terms of performance, it’s better than most winter tires, but it falls behind even mid-range options quite a bit.

On dry roads, Zuper Trek Z-203 traction and grip levels pass the safety mark, which means you shouldn’t expect it to perform miraculously.

As the speed increases, the tire feels slightly unstable, and you should be alert. You’ll be fine if your commute revolves around town.

When pushed hard, the tire struggles to find traction in the wet. Even if you don’t push it too hard, you can feel the tire slip. Water is kept away from the tread blocks by the grooves and sipes, so aquaplaning is not an issue.

For this category, I don’t have any recommendations, at least not in terms of a summer SUV tire. In terms of performance, Cooper’s Evolution H/T is a decent all-season tire that is slightly more expensive but provides better performance.

TOP PICK
9.7/10 Our Score

Specifications:

  • On-Road Performance is decent
  • Adquate grip

Last but not least, another SUV or light truck tire that can handle multiple terrains. Westlake offers the SL369 A/T for those who combine on-road and off-road driving.

With the zig-zag tread pattern, the tire looks promising when it comes to off-road traction. The large blocks should provide plenty of stability and reduce noise levels on the road.

The SL369 A/T is designed with reinforced sidewalls, so deflation for rock crawling shouldn’t be a problem in some extreme off-roading situations.

The SL369 A/T offers decent performance in some areas but falls short in others.

As long as the weather is dry, the performance on the road is decent. For a tire that can do some off-roading, the noise and comfort levels are good.

Remember that you are paying a lower price, so don’t expect premium quality. You should be fine with grip and traction levels. If you get these tires, you probably won’t be doing any aggressive driving with them.

Wet performance is affected, and I wouldn’t push the SL369 A/T too hard. Slower speeds won’t be a problem, and the grip will be adequate.

You will lose traction quite a bit when you accelerate aggressively, and the tire will slip quite a bit. Given the grooves and sipes, I expected a bit more aquaplaning resistance.

Off-road performance is a bit better, but still far from satisfactory. There will be no problem with dirt roads or hard-packed surfaces.

During rock crawling, the reinforced sidewall keeps the tire from getting damaged or squished. In mud, the SL369 A/T will struggle, despite its zig-zag pattern.

For this category, I recommend Kumho Road Venture AT51. It’s not too expensive, but it offers more performance than the SL369 A/T.

History of Westlake tires

In contrast to Michelin or Pirelli, you won’t find a lot of information about Westlake. A subsidiary of Zhongce Rubber Company, it is a Chinese company. The Chinese brand offers cheap tires that won’t perform as well as premium ones, but are safe to drive.

I like how ZRC operates. Competitors from that region make tires without conducting adequate research and testing.

As a low-budget option, don’t expect it to be as good as the premium options from ZRC. With good reason, the company was among the top 10 tire manufacturers in 2019. Numerous companies are under its umbrella, so it makes a lot of tires.

Westlake is one of those brands that entered the market in 1995 and was initially targeted at local consumers. As the US needed cheaper tires, retailers began selling them after a while. According to the company’s website, “safety” is its keyword.

To be honest, I wouldn’t consider these tires to be among the safest, at least not as safe as premium options. For normal driving conditions, I would categorize the tires as safe-ish.

Overview of Westlake Tires

After reviewing the 4 tires, you probably noticed a pattern. The tires performed well in some areas, but poorly in others. These cheap tires won’t be good at everything, and that’s the price you pay for going with them.

There is a good reason why I did not include the pros and cons section. In this section, I’ll discuss the pros and cons of most Westlake tires.

Pros

Westlake isn’t a brand I would recommend to everyone, but it does have some positive aspects.

Price is the most important factor. Due to its low price, it can be an attractive option for people who drive older cars or have a tight budget for new tires.

Although there are some drawbacks, the tires are generally safe to drive. Drive a bit more carefully and don’t expect them to be as good as some of the mid-range options on the market.

Some Westlake tires are also comfortable and quiet. In terms of touring tires, they don’t offer the smoothest ride or the lowest noise levels, but for the price, they’re pretty decent.

Most of the time, you will hear noise at higher speeds. In terms of comfort, they will do a decent job of reducing road imperfections and vibrations.

You will get a long-lasting tire depending on the tire model and application. Long-lasting doesn’t mean as long as premium options.

You actually get a pretty good deal when you take into account the price that is sometimes a quarter and the half treadwear warranty.

Cons

Now let’s talk about the negative aspects of the tires, starting with safety. Even though I classified them as safe enough to drive, there’s a reason why you pay extra for better performance when it comes to safety.

Most Westlake tires have problems with traction in some cases, which means that the braking distances won’t be as good.

Although they fall within the safe range, they are still longer than mid-range and premium models. Keep in mind that every inch counts when braking in an emergency.

Westlake tires are also susceptible to rain and wet roads. Many scenarios have low levels of traction and grip, so you won’t be able to drive as safely as you’d like. In various driving conditions, this would result in longer braking distances.

Winter driving is similar, which is the biggest disappointment. Westlake offers winter tires, which I recommend for harsh winter conditions.

Under those conditions, the tires don’t perform as well as advertised. They feel more like all-season tires with snow performance, which isn’t very positive.

Final Thoughts

Honestly, I wouldn’t recommend Westlake Tires. The tires have some positive sides, but I am not a fan of some serious negative aspects.

Because it’s a low-cost brand, there are a lot of compromises involved. If you’re chasing discounts, you may find a decent replacement for a similar price in some cases.

If you have an underpowered car and are on a tight budget, Westlake tires should be fine. Most owners of these cars don’t drive aggressively, so they won’t notice too many downsides. Although Westlake tires aren’t the safest option, I still caution you to drive cautiously.

References and Resources:

https://www.cargurus.com/

https://www.carmax.com/

https://carsandbids.com/

https://www.carsdirect.com/

Detailed Video Review and Explanation of Westlake Tires

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