AGOURA HILLS, Calif.-Michelin and Pirelli tied for the ``best overall'' position among 12 passenger tire brands ranked in this year's Original Equipment Tire Satisfaction Study by J.D. Power and Associates. According to the Agoura Hills-based marketing information firm, it was the first time in the eight-year history of the study that two tire manufacturers have tied for the top spot.
In the light truck tire category, Michelin stood alone at No. 1, followed closely by Bridgestone, only one point behind.
The study's results were based on the opinions of 15,347 consumers, who were surveyed a year after their purchase of a new vehicle and asked about their OE tires. The questions covered brand awareness, loyalty, product quality and performance, Power said.
In the passenger vehicle category, comprising cars and compact vans, 12 brands were rated by enough consumers to be ranked. After Pirelli and Michelin, which have both topped the category in previous years, Continental placed third in what Power called ``a stellar performance,'' followed by BFGoodrich.
The remaining eight brands fell below the industry average and Power declined to identify them.
Last year, Michelin led the passenger vehicle category, followed closely by BFGoodrich. Pirelli, Goodyear, General and Uniroyal were all at or near the industry average. Continental was not ranked in 1995 due to an insufficient sample size.
Power ranked eight brands this year in the light truck category, which includes compact and full-size pickup trucks and sport utility vehicles, as well as full-size vans.
After Michelin and Bridgestone, Firestone and Goodyear placed third and fourth, respectively. The remaining four brands fell below the industry average and, again, were not identified.
Last year, Michelin placed a close second to Yokohama in the light truck category, followed by Bridgestone, Goodyear, Firestone and Uniroyal. Yokohama did not make this year's ranking due to an insufficient sample size, Power said.
More than 70 percent of the consumers in the 1996 OE Tire Satisfaction Study agreed that the tire brand on their new car or light truck was ``very important,'' said Lee Nauert, J.D. Power's manager of tire research.
However, about 40 percent of those who had to replace a tire during the first year of vehicle ownership chose another brand-``looking for better performance in longer mileage, traction and handling characteristics,'' he said.
``Nearly 10 percent of consumers replace an average of two original equipment tires in the first year, at an estimated cost of more than $160 million,'' he said.
Owners of luxury cars and large basic automobiles recorded the highest levels of OE tire satisfaction, particularly in the areas of tire safety, style, ride and wear, Power revealed. The firm suggested that may, in part, be due to the fact that many of these vehicle owners are among the older respondents in the study, ``who may remember tires that did not perform nearly as well as today's higher-tech lines.''
The lowest satisfaction was reported by owners of compact cars and full-size pickups, Power said.
According to the study, vehicle makes shod with the most satisfying OE tires were: Acura, Buick, BMW, Cadillac, Chrysler, Jaguar, Lexus, Land Rover, Lincoln and Mercedes-Benz.