The 4,000 km Tire Test
TireNews puts Sailun’s Ice Blazer tire through the paces.
The debate about Chinese tires isn’t going away. Are they safe? Do they perform as well as the better-known brands? And can they really keep up with the more established brands in severe weather conditions?
To shed light on the matter, we recently put Sailun’s Ice Blazer winter tire to the test with a 4,000 km test drive into the heart of Quebec’s ski country, the Eastern Townships. Snow, ice and bone-chilling temperatures are par for the course in this part of Canada, making it the ideal testing ground for a winter tire.
Although we set out to test drive the Ice Blazer on snow and ice, thanks to climate change and shifting weather patterns, we ended up testing the tire in a broad range of conditions – everything from dry pavement, to deep mud, gravel, ice and eventually, the white fluffy stuff as well.
The tires were put on our test vehicle, a 2015 Kia Sorento, borrowed from the nice folks at Kia Canada, and were installed by Automotive Import Market (AIM) in Markham, Ontario. That’s where we learned the first bit of important information – that Sailun tires are much easier to install than some value brands.
In fact, one of the techs we spoke with said that Sailun tires never present a challenge when it comes to proper balance. They fit right, and they’re easy to balance, which translates into reduced labour costs for the retailer, and lower wait times for the customer.
We also learned who buys Sailun tires. “Anyone who is value driven in their tire purchase,” said Philip Hayman, president of AIM. “It offers fantastic bang for the buck and it’s a great product.”
Hayman also praised Sailun for the range of sizes the company offers. “What separates Sailun from many of the Chinese tire companies is they have a very broad line. So they offer everything from your 13-inch Toyota Corolla tire, right up to 22-inch tires, as well as low-profile tires for vehicles like BMW and Mercedes. So they cover the full spectrum of tire needs.”
Carrying a line that covers “the full spectrum of tire needs” makes perfect business sense, Hayman added. “People like me, who are running a business that satisfies retail customers and the smaller shops, can offer a line that is very complete. Plus I know the quality I’m getting.”
The staff at AIM also pointed out that it’s easy to sell Sailun products because the company invests heavily in marketing. “When we talk to people about Sailun,” explained Max Hayman, “and they’re not familiar with the brand, all we have to do is tell them to look up Sailun on the Internet. They have a great website, and that builds confidence in the brand.”
Our test drive began on a beautiful sunny day, giving us the opportunity to try out the Ice Blazers at highway speeds on dry pavement. Some people asked if these tires, because they’re value priced, were excessively noisy. We’re glad to report that they were no more noisy than any other winter tire. In fact, it would be unfair to use the word “noisy” at all. They were rather civilized.
About 600 km into our expedition, we finally hit the white stuff – snow and ice. Again, the Ice Blazers handled the slippery stuff with ease. Our Sorento was equipped with AWD, and the Ice Blazers dug into the ground at all four corners. Never did we feel like we were on unsteady ground, or that we needed more traction.
Once we arrived at our destination, we were faced with a steep climb up a snowy and ice-covered driveway. Yet again, the Ice Blazers dug in, never hesitating. We climbed up the incline with the sure-footedness of a military tank.
Two days later, thanks to some kind of freaky weather pattern, all that snow and ice turned into mud. A couple of days or pouring rain turned what was once a winter wonderland into a muddy bog. Yet again, the Ice Blazers dug in and pulled us through.
Dollars and sense
Upon our return we learned that our Ice Blazers, in the particular size needed for our test vehicle, retail for a bit over $800, installed. On the other hand, the same size tire from one of the better-known manufacturers would have set us back over $1,200. Quite the difference!
When you consider the performance of the Ice Blazer, and factor in the cost savings, it’s clear that Sailun makes sense. While many consumers complain about having to dish out top dollar for winter tires, our test drive proves that a value brand, like Sailun, can do just as good a job as some of the more established brands, but at a fraction of the cost.
Photos: Jack Kazmierski