What questions do you ask yourself before you buy a new tyre – or set of tyres – for your car?
If you are just thinking about price alone (and let’s face it, most of us do make our choices based on cost), then it may be time to think again.
There are a number of factors that you should take into consideration before you hand over your credit card.
Here at Motors.co.uk, we’ve pulled together our top tips to help you make the most of your wheels!
1. What kind of car do you drive?
You’ll not be surprised to know that a small run-around car has different tyre needs from a high-performance sports car. Tyres come in a huge variety of sizes, so make sure that you check carefully what you need.
Look on the side of the tyre wall or in your vehicle handbook. It will say something like:
205/55 R 16 91W.
But what does this mean?
205 refers to the width of the tyre in millimetres while 55 is the ratio or aspect profile, the height of the sidewall as a percentage of the width. The lower the number, the lower profile the tyre.
R is radial construction; 16 is the wheel size; and 91 is the load rating – the maximum load that each tyre can support.
W is the speed rating and refers to the maximum speed for a tyre when it is correctly inflated and under load. W means it can go over 168mph, while Q (the lowest speed rating) is 100mph. There are 12 codes altogether.
2. What kind of driving do you do?
If you do a lot of motorway driving, you may prefer tyres that offer low noise, greater comfort and fuel economy. If you tend to do short, urban journeys, then safety and economy are likely to be the priorities. Buy the tyres that best suit your needs.
3. Premium or mid-range?
Premium tyres are made from very high quality materials and are constructed to last 15,000 to 20,000 miles under normal usage. They tend to offer improved stopping distances, superior fuel economy and grip and also have lower noise levels.
Mid-range tyres are safe and offer good value for money. They can also be long-lasting, depending on your style of driving.
It’s also worth knowing that some of the bigger brands own the smaller ones. You can get a full run-down of what’s on the market here.
4. New or part-worn?
If you opt for part-worn tyres, be extra vigilant.
The Motor Vehicle Tyres (Safety) Regulations 1994, part of the Consumer Protection Act, set out the minimum safety standards for anyone selling part-worn tyres.
Anyone contravening these rules can face a penalty of six months' imprisonment, a fine of up to £5,000, or both.
There are a whole host of rules relating to the sale of part-worn tyres, including:
• All part-worn tyres that have not been re-treaded should be permanently and legibly marked 'PART-WORN' in upper case letters at least 4mm high
• They should be free of bulges, tears, or lumps
• They must not have any cut over 25mm or 10% of the section width of the tyre on the outside of the tyre
• No ply or cord should be exposed internally or externally
• The grooves of the original tread pattern must be at least 2mm deep across the full breadth of the tread and around the entire outer circumference of the tyre
Make sure you inspect the tyre thoroughly before it is fitted to the rim.
5. Are winter tyres worthwhile?
There is a lot of debate about whether winter tyres are really necessary in the UK: On the one hand they offer far superior grip in conditions below +7 degrees centigrade – not just snow but ice and rain, too. On the other hand, they are expensive and can’t be done in pairs – you’ll need the full set, so think around £500 for the tyres, plus fitting costs.
Winter tyres are also not as safe as summer tyres during the milder months, meaning they’re not necessarily an all-weather solution.
Which tyres are right for your car will depend on your personal preference. If you live in a remote area and often need to use roads which become impassable during cold snaps, or in Scotland or the North of England where weather conditions can be significantly worse, then winter tyres may be a sensible option between the months of October and March, and could actually save you money as you’ll be less likely to need a large off-road vehicle. However, if you live in the South of England or in a town or city which is well connected by (gritted!) major roads, you're not as likely to need them and they probably won’t get enough use to justify the cost.