Here are our top tips to help you find the right tyre.
While tyres might look like they are just black, round and made of rubber, there are a surprising number of aspects to consider when purchasing a new tyre. Your tyres are the only thing between your vehicle and the road and they have a huge impact on your vehicle’s performance, from stopping distance to handling on wet roads. We’ve put together a handy guide on the factors to consider when purchasing your new tyres.
Your tyre size probably isn’t one of those things you’ve memorised, but luckily, if you’re after a quick quote to compare our prices, we have a vehicle registration checker linked to the DVLA that allows us to access your vehicle details, including tyre size. Simply enter your vehicle’s registration and you’ll be offered a range of suitable tyre sizes. However, not all of these will be an exact match for your tyres as they might have been modified since leaving the dealership. As such, we always advise our customers to double check their tyre size on the sidewall of the tyre before confirming any booking.
There are lots of reasons to have your tyres fitted in pairs, from balance and stability to even wear, and at Tyres on the Drive we think it’s so important that we offer free mobile tyre fitting on two or more tyres. You’ll notice when you order your new tyres that if you change the quantity from 1 to 2 or more, the charge for mobile fitting disappears in the basket. Magic! So, why else fit tyres in pairs? The front two tyres are fitted to the same axle on your car, as are the rear pair. It’s a little like a seesaw – if you have a worn tyre with 4mm tread on one side, and a new tyre with 8mm tread on the other, the balance between the tyres won’t be right, leaving you with an uneven, unstable drive. This could cause you issues while you’re out and about from an unpredictable drive at best, to being uncontrollable in emergency situations at worst. That’s why it’s also important to make sure that the tyres on each side of the axle are the same size and brand, with the same tread pattern and ratings. You shouldn’t mix winter and summer tyres either. So next time you need new tyres, think about fitting them two by two!
Most vehicle manufacturers will have worked closely with a premium tyre brand to optimise a tyre for the needs of their vehicles, called Original Equipment, or OE fitment. More common with premium or high performance brands, an OE tyre will have been finely tuned and matched to a particular vehicle. For example, Jaguar has a specific range of tyres that are marked with a J rating, usually found after the tyre size on the sidewall. Manufacturers will always recommend that you purchase an OE tyre because of the technology and time spent tailoring the tyre to the needs of a specific vehicle. This is by no means mandatory, but it is worth checking whether your warranty becomes invalid if you purchase a different tyre.
Since November 2012, it has been compulsory to display the EU tyre ratings on every tyre sold. This labelling demonstrates the tyre’s fuel efficiency, wet grip and noise performance, showing the standard of the tyre using a visual grading. The tyre’s fuel efficiency is measured on its rolling resistance (how long it takes for a tyre to spin round to the same point). The longer it takes for it to spin around, the more fuel it takes to power the wheel. As a tyre’s rolling resistance is accountable for 20% of fuel consumption, it can be cost-efficient to purchase a higher-rated tyre.
Are you buying your new tyres in winter or in summer? The significant difference in driving conditions can have a dramatic effect on the handling of your vehicle. In recent years, there has been a huge increase in demand for winter tyres as people are educated on their benefits. Winter tyres are not just used in extreme weather conditions, they also improve the handling and control of your vehicle in all road conditions below 7 degrees, whether wet, dry or indeed icy. Made using more of a natural rubber compound with a wide groove pattern, a winter tyre stiffens up once the weather reaches below freezing point, giving improved grip on snow. Whereas, the compounds of summer tyres provide more effective grip and handling on both wet and dry roads in warmer conditions above 7 degrees, as well as increased fuel efficiency.
One of the main factors in the decision-making process is cost. Like most things in life, the phrase ‘you get what you pay for’ rings true with tyres. Premium brands receive their status because of the knowledge, expertise, money and time invested in optimising a specific tyre for the needs of a specific vehicle. It takes around three years to develop a new tyre type before it hits the shelves as the brand seeks perfection in the balance of ride, handling and road noise. When comparing price, technology and specifications, you’ll find that mid-range tyres sit in the middle of the marketplace as they clearly offer more in the way of performance and wear when compared to the budget brands, and benefit from similar technology and performance as the premium-branded tyres, made with materials of a lesser quality to allow for a reduction in price. Budget tread patterns cannot be patented, so when a premium brand releases a new tyre you tend to find a budget brand will mimic the styling and pattern of the new product, getting through quality control in around three months. So the big difference between premium and budget brands is not in the look of the product, but in the compounds and quality of rubber used, which affects stopping distances and the overall lifespan of the tyre.
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