The ABCS of buying new tyres
Before setting out on a road journey many of us are more concerned with organising our iPod than checking the most important part the car – those black, rubbery hoops that keep you on the road.
It is a task that is often forgotten but checking your tyres are in good condition could save your life.
Correct inflation is crucial for optimum grip and tyre durability. Do not over- inflate them to improve your fuel economy – this decreases the contact patch with the road, diminishing grip and increasing stopping distances.
Refer to your car’s tyre pressure guide, usually on a sticker where the door latch is. Some recommend increasing the pressures if you are carrying a full load or towing.
Tread depth is the other aspect to inspect – if your tyres look worn, it is time to get new ones. But buying the right tyre can be tough, as they are not all made equal and some are much cheaper than others.
Cheap tyres are appealing but they generally do not perform as well as those that cost four times more.
Having said that, independent tyre tests show it is not always the most expensive tyre that comes out on top.
So, unless you do the research yourself, you will just have to take the tyre shop’s advice or buy the rubber recommended by the car’s manufacturer.
One thing you can look at is the Uniform Tyre Quality Grading System information that’s stamped on most tyres.
This is a United States government initiative to help consumers compare tyres. It measures the tread wear rate, traction performance and temperature resistance.
The tread wear grade, a number between 100 and 600, indicates how durable a tyre is.
A tyre with a 400 rating should last twice as long as a tyre rated at 200 but usually it will not have as much outright grip.
The traction grade rates how well the tyre performs under braking in wet conditions with an AA-rated tyre being the best, followed by A, B, and C.
The temperature grade is an indication of the rubber’s resistance to sustained heat, such as when travelling long distances at higher speeds.
The best tyres have an A rating, followed by B and C.
This is not an absolute guarantee on a tyre’s performance but it does help you compare tyres and choose the right tyre for your purposes.