The ABCS of buy­ing new tyres

Matamata Chronicle - - Motoring - By KYLE CASSIDY

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.

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