EU TYRE LABELLING
Since late 2012 all new tyres have to conform to a EU-approved labelling system. This info is displayed using the same easy-to-understand labelling system as used for white goods, where the tyres are graded on wet weather performance, fuel efficiency, and road noise. This does make it easy to compare tyres on a like-for-like basis, but there are a few things to consider:
It’s labelled as fuel efficiency to sound catchy for general motorists and is part of the EU’s drive towards lowering vehicle emissions, but what the tyre is actually tested for is its rolling resistance. This is the amount of energy it takes to keep the tyre rolling. Yes, a higher rolling resistance will cause the car to burn more fuel, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing in terms of performance as it often means the tyre has more grip!
The EU grades range from A to G ( with no D rating to help differentiate between the higher A- C grades, and the lower E- G grades) with A being the best performer and G being the worst performer.
WET WEATHER PERFORMANCE
The wet weather label is probably the most important one for everyday motorists to look at, showing the tyre’s performance in wet and slippery conditions. The test involves driving a car along a wet road at 50mph and measuring the braking distance to come to a complete stop. The difference between each rating is around 3m stopping distance, meaning that there’s a huge 18m difference between the best A grade and worst G grade tyres!
Noise pollution is a hot topic these days, so to keep an eye on things all tyres are now tested for noise levels and marked accordingly. The label shows this as a decibel figure indicating how loud the tyre is. But there’s a second bit of information to be found in the number of sound bars next to the dB figure: one black bar (two empty) shows the tyre meets current legislation; two black bars ( one empty) shows the tyre meets future noise limits; and three black bars means the tyre is at least 3dB under the future noise limits.