TROY, Mich.-Loyalty is not passe, at least when it comes to original equipment tires. Based on stated intention, and not actual purchases, J.D. Power and Associates has found that more than 60 percent of the vehicle owners it surveyed intend to repurchase their OE tire brands.
That tends to contradict other data indicating only about a third of those consumers generally remain loyal.
Lee Nauert, Power's manager of tire research based in Troy, has seen those other studies, and admits 60 percent ``sounds a little bit high. But we've had some reports that tend to follow our results.''
J.D. Power's 1995 Original Equipment Tire Study showed that while luxury car owners tend to remain most loyal to their current OE tire brand, the faithful begin to waver somewhat when it comes to light truck (LT), full-size pickup truck and mini-car drivers.
The international market research firm has conducted its OE tire satisfaction survey since 1989.
For the second year, Michelin tops the Power list in the cars and compact van category, with BFGoodrich a close second. Pirelli, Uniroyal, General and Goodyear all approximated the industry average.
Overall, respondents expect more than 45,000 miles from their OE tires-higher than in previous Power surveys. Less than 20 percent of consumers report tire problems in their first year of ownership, approximating last year's results. Power said those who have tire problems, however, have them with an average of two tires.
Last year Power found that a higher incidence of problems with OE tires lowered consumers' satisfaction, with 59 per-cent willing to repurchase them.
The company, which ranked 11 tire brands, noted a 7-percent increase in consumer satisfaction with LT tires, though that category still lags satisfaction with tires on cars and compact vans.
Five brands earned below average satisfaction scores in the car/compact van @@Category: (alphabetically) Bridgestone, Dunlop, Firestone, Toyo and Yokohama.
But Yokohama, for the first time, was the tire satisfaction winner among light trucks, sport utility vehicles and full-size vans. It knocked over Bridgestone, which held that spot in 1994, when Yokohama and Toyo were not ranked due to insufficient samples.
In that same category, Michelin placed a close second, Bridgestone and Goodyear scored above the industry average, Firestone and Uniroyal hovered around the average, and BFGoodrich and General scored below average. Dunlop, Pirelli and Toyo sample sizes were insufficient for segment ranking.
The index was based on a representative sample from some 19,000 vehicle owners across the U.S. and, for the first time, included data from persons leasing vehicles. It measured six separate performance levels, including product quality, wearability, safety, traction, ride and styling.