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It’s not a case of putting any old rubber on your car. You need the right size, speed rating and tread. So, have you got the right rubber on your ride?
Tyres are one of those things that are often overlooked. It’s strange that so many motorists don’t see them as a priority. The tyres are your connection to the road. Everything the car does goes through the tyres, everything. And that’s the case if your car is a Morris or a Maserati.
Tyres can completely transform the way your car behaves on the road, for better or for worse. Tyres are important. Imagine an Olympic runner trying to set records while wearing flip-flops – poor tyres on your car are the same principle.
But then there’s the other issue, in that tyres all pretty much look the same. So how do you know what you’re rolling on? How do you know it’s right for your car? What can happen if you’re driving on the wrong tyres? So many questions!
Don’t be overwhelmed though, as we’ve put this handy guide together for you so you can be sure you’re driving with the right tyres.
You’d like to think that it would be hard to put the wrong size tyres on your car, but actually, it’s not. Okay, so you can only ever a fit a tyre that has the same diameter as your wheel, but profile and width can change and as such, be well off.
When a manufacturer specifies a car’s tyre size, it does so to strike a perfect balance of performance, economy and safety. Get it wrong and all of these factors can go out of the window. For example, if your car’s standard tyre size was 205/55 R16 but you had you 225/60 R16 tyres on the car, you’re going to suffer. The tyre would be 20mm wider (205/225) than stock, which would increase rolling resistance and as such, would bring down your fuel economy. The taller profile of 60 means the car would feel softer and less ‘planted’ due to the car moving about on the tyre wall.
This works the other way, too. If you had a tyre that was smaller than the manufacturer’s specification, you might see in an increase in economy. However, the car would have less grip and as such, would be unsafe to drive.
Incorrect tyre profile can also get you points on your licence. If you fit lower than standard profile tyres you are going to reduce the rolling radius of the wheel (the distance it takes to do one revolution). This will alter the reading on your speedometer, as it has been calibrated for a specific size. Not only that, a smaller rolling radius means more revolutions to cover any given distance, which in turn means poorer fuel economy.
If you’re wondering if your car has the right size tyres on it, you can check by putting your registration into Motokiki. Just do that, and we’ll bring up a list of manufacturer-specified size options.
If you like to have a set of summer tyres and a set of winter tyres, don’t forget to do the swap when the seasons present themselves. A summer tyre is designed to hold its shape and structure in even the hottest of conditions. Put it in a colder setting and it will effectively just be a hard ring of rubber. If it’s hard, it can’t grip the road well. That will make for an unsafe car, especially when the weather gets really cold and frosty.
In the case of winter tyres, they simply aren’t designed to cope with prolonged exposure to high temperatures, as such, they’ll be overly soft in the heat. This will ruin the way your car handles, it will increase rolling resistance and as such, fuel economy and you’ll wear them out far, far sooner than you’d like.
A healthy tyre isn’t just a tyre with lots of tread, it’s also a tyre that isn’t too young. The older a tyre gets, the weaker the rubber becomes. This can lead to sidewalls cracking, which can then lead to blow-outs. That’s the last thing you want.
Ideally, you don’t want your tyres to be any older than five years. If your tyres are older than that, it would be advisable to go to a tyre fitter to have them check the overall condition, though it may be best to look at changing them.
To work out how old your tyres are, look for the four-digit number on the tyre, about 1cm tall and contained within an oval outline. If the number is, say, 1723 that means the tyre was made in the 23rd week of 2017. If you have a three-digit number, that means your tyres are pre-2000, so get them changed as a matter of urgency!
Tyres aren’t just available in different sizes; they’re also made in different speed ratings. In the real world this isn’t going to be an issue for many cars, as the lowest speed rating of N is for speeds up to 87mph. However, if you have a car that you plan to take on track, or if you have a performance car, you need to have the correct speed rating to match any potential speeds the car might reach (in a legal setting, of course). If you have too low a speed rating, the tyres could break up if they exposed to excessive speed for too long.
Noise ratings are exceptionally important for you, the driver. As you’ll see when you search for a tyre, it will have a decibel rating. The higher this is, the noisier the tyre. This obviously isn’t great for the environment, but more crucially, it’s not great for you. Noisy tyres will mean a lot of road noise when on the move, which could well ruin the driving experience of your car. This something you don’t want to overlook.
There are three different groups of tyres. Economy tyres, mid range tyres and premium tyres.
When comparing the three, economy tyres tend to compromise on certain quality which means you can buy them for a lower cost. Economy tyres are functional but if you cut cost then you could reduce the safety of your tyres.
Mid range tyres is exactly what it says on the tin. They’re mid range. You’ll find that this category actually has the largest share in the tyre market and they’re often manufactured by some of the worlds leading brands, however they’ll be sold under a different brand name at a slightly reduce price compared to the premium tyres.
Premium tyres are top of the range; In quality and in price. You’ll find premium tyres are always on top when it comes to high performance and reviews and tend to be a high contender with drivers clocking up the miles.