holycow, I'm not a tire expert but am just passing on what I hear from others and reading/research I do on my own.
Tire tiers are kind of nebulous, to tell you the truth. If you follow the tire forums, it gets rather confusing as to which manufacturers are in which tiers and even though there are typically three tiers, there seems to be sub-tiers within those three tiers. Also, there can be movement within the tiers ...i.e. Hankook was once considered a Tier III manufacturer and now is in Tier II.
Basically, you can look at it this way: the Tier I
tires are considered those from the "big 3 flagship manufacturers" ...Goodyear, Michelin, and Bridgestone. They generally command the highest price and have the biggest advertising budgets. Most consumers believe they are the "best quality" tires as they are the biggest sellers and have the largest share of of market and also OEM applications ...RV industry included for as we all know, most new motorhomes will come with Michelins and if not, Goodyear. Best quality is only what many consumers assume ...again, in the RV segment we know many RVers do not mind paying the premium prices for Michelins and Goodyears because they assume (and it's debatable whether it is actually true) they are getting the "best quality" product.
The Tier II
tires are the mid-market brands that do not quite have the volume of sales nor the advertising budgets as the "big 3" and some of the examples of the Tier II manufactures might be Dunlop, BFGoodrich, Continental, Yokohama, Toyo, Sumitomo, Hankook, Khumo, etc.
The Tier III
tiers are the "value brands" and are now mostly made up of the brands from Chinese manufacturers ...Samson, Double Coin, Sailun, Aeolus, etc, etc. They have the lowest profit margins and do little advertising. In the commercial trucking industry, they are getting quite popular as they represent a good value and are a good compromise pertaining to price, longevity, and comfort. The main complaint from the RV users of tier III tires is the rough ride that some of them might give, some worse than others. The quality of Chinese tires has steadily risen during the past few years and they are now considered quite safe ...again, I'm sure others would like to debate that point but as many have said in other recent threads, most commercial trucks are now using the Chinese brand tires so they can't be that bad any longer. And I'll post the link to the article about Chinese truck tires that I've been posting in these discussions the past few months now: CLICK HERE
As I said in another thread, I'm not sure if I'm quite ready to put tires made by the Chinese manufacturers on my motorhome ...yet. I'm okay, however, with the Tier II tires like Toyo, Yokohama, Hankook, etc. and by using a Tier II tire it could be a good compromise for now until we are all ready to accept the Chinese brands ...many are accepting their quality but the majority are not. I'm on the fence but am pretty close to considering the Tier III tires because I really hesitate in paying the premium prices for Michelins.