Tyre labels: how they help you compare products
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.