Tyre la­bels: how they help you com­pare prod­ucts

What Car? - - Advice -

These were in­tro­duced in 2012 to pro­vide con­sumers with use­ful in­for­ma­tion on tyre per­for­mance in three ar­eas so those from dif­fer­ent brands can be com­pared more eas­ily. They pro­vide rat­ings for wet grip, fuel ef­fi­ciency and noise. You should also be able to see this in­for­ma­tion on­line when you’re brows­ing tyre re­tail sites.

Al­though the la­bels were in­tro­duced as part of an EU di­rec­tive to re­duce fuel con­sump­tion by pro­vid­ing driv­ers with easy-to-read in­for­ma­tion, we’d also rec­om­mend us­ing them to com­pare the wet brak­ing per­for­mance of tyres.

The wet brak­ing rat­ing on the la­bel re­lates to the stop­ping dis­tance from 50mph and is graded from A to G, with A be­ing the best per­for­mance and G the worst. The dif­fer­ence be­tween these two ex­tremes can be around 30%, or one to two car lengths, so it’s im­por­tant to pick tyres with a good rat­ing.

The fuel ef­fi­ciency rat­ing is also use­ful, be­cause a car’s tyres can ac­count for around 15% of its fuel con­sump­tion. It is based on the rolling re­sis­tance of the tyre and again is shown on a slid­ing scale from A to G.

Hav­ing too lit­tle rolling re­sis­tance can in­crease the car’s brak­ing dis­tance, so check that any po­ten­tial pur­chases also have a good level of wet brak­ing.

Hav­ing your car’s tyres un­der­in­flated cre­ates more rolling re­sis­tance, so it’s im­por­tant to keep them prop­erly in­flated if you want to achieve op­ti­mum econ­omy.

There are two rat­ings for ex­ter­nal noise. The first is a deci­bel (db) read­ing that tells you how much noise the tyres gen­er­ate out­side the car, mea­sured in lab­o­ra­tory con­di­tions. There are also up to three sound wave arcs, which are used to demon­strate how noisy the tyres are com­pared with oth­ers. One arc means the tyre is rel­a­tively quiet, while three means it’s rel­a­tively loud.

The rat­ings on the la­bels aren’t the only fac­tors to take into ac­count when you’re choos­ing new tyres. It’s also im­por­tant to get ones with an ap­pro­pri­ately high speed rat­ing; that’s the let­ter at the end of the tyre size de­tails on the sidewalls. For ex­am­ple, V means the tyre is rated up to 149mph.

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