The right set of car tyres ensures better driving performance and safety. Moreover, it contributes significantly to the ride quality.
Yet when it comes to buying new car tyres, many of us have no clue as to what we want. Sounds familiar? Do you dread walking into the garage for your car tyres,wanting to get done with the process quickly, and come back with whatever the mechanic recommends?
I am not saying that all mechanics out there fleece you, but there is a chance that you may be paying a lot more for the tyre than you need to.
Change this NOW by understanding how to choose the right tyres for your car. It is quite simple really.
Choosing the Right Car Tyres
Choosing the right car tyres depends on two factors - tyre related and car related.
Tyre related factors include:
- Speed rating,
- Tread pattern,
- Wet and dry performance weather considerations and
- Durability of the tyre.
Car related factors include:
- The car itself (every car has a unique recommended tyre size),
- Nature of use of the car such as whether it will be driven mainly on highways or on city roads,
- Extensive or occasional usage, and
- The weather conditions like rain or snow, etc. which your tyres will be most subjected to.
You already know the car related factors. Just educate yourself about the tyre related factors and choosing the right car tyres will be a breeze.
You have spent thousands of pounds on your car. Now spend just a few minutes to learn about car tyres, so that you can use your car optimally and safely.
Tyre Considerations for Choosing the Right Car Tyres
- Tyre Size
Wikipedia defines tyre as an outer covering for the wheel of the vehicle that acts as a shock absorber. (For a more technical definition of a tyre by a leading tyre manufacturer, Michelin, refer here). So your car tyre size is closely related to the wheel size of your car and should perfectly fit around the wheels. All cars have the manufacturer’s recommendations on the right size of tyres and you should refer to your car manual while changing car tyres.
Having said that, we know tyre sizes are not easy to read. Here is making sense of the random (or so they appear) set of alpha-numericals that appear on the tyre’s sidewall and represent the tyre size.
A typical tyre marking reads like this 175/65 R14T and indicates information about the tyre width, sidewall profile, nature of construction (R is for Radial), diameter of the wheel rim and the speed rating respectively. The Bridgestone website offers an easy to understand diagrammatic explanation that you may wish to look over.
Using this Information to Buy Your Car Tyres
- If you drive mostly in the city (and not highways), your maximum speed is not going to be very high. So you can politely decline the salesman’s offer of a car tyre with V or H speed rating. These are more expensive than the S or T rated tyre, which should be adequate in your case.Car tyre speed ratings are explained here. Go on, find out which is the ideal speed rating for your usage?
- A low profile tyre offers improved handling characteristics, but shock absorption is poor over bumps and potholes, making for a harsher ride. So if you drive mostly on smooth highways, low profile is good for your car, but not for country road driving, where your car tyres often encounter uneven surfaces.
These are just two instances, but I am sure this has given you an idea about using the tyre size information to choose the right car tyres.
- Tyre Tread
The tyre tread is the pattern you see on the surface of the car tyres and is the part that makes actual contact with the road. The tyre tread affects grip, braking response, wet weather performance, noise levels and tyre life. (Incidentally, racing car tyres are called slicks and have no tread at all, for obvious reasons. These tyres need no grip, only speed, in case, the reason was not that obvious).
With usage, the tyre tread wears away. In the UK, it is illegal to drive with tyres that have less than 1.6mm tread depth (across 75% of the tyre). And most experts recommend that it is time to change your car tyres,when the tread depth falls to 3mm. All car tyre shave tread wear indicator bars moulded into the tread to give you an indication of the tread status. And this is how you can check your tyre tread depth.
How to Use this Information While Choosing Car Tyres
Companies manufacture tyres with varying tread patterns which work well under different conditions. So the right car tyre for you would be one that is best fitted for the kind of surface that you mostly drive on – wet or dry, off road etc. and your extent of usage.
For instance, if you are on the road extensively your tyre tread should offer long tyre durability. You can save money with cheaper car tyres, but if the tread is worn out, you are putting your life in danger. Is it worth the risk?
- Tyre Type
There are different types of car tyres and the right ones for you depend on your driving conditions.
- Performance Tyres
These are the right car tyres for your sports car or if you really like to ‘step on it’ on the motorway. But you should know that performance tyres ensure grip (for safety) at the cost of durability. So such car tyre shave limited life.
- All Weather Tyres
You can call them ‘regular’ car tyres and they are the ones that your car comes fitted with (unless of course you have a high end model or larger light truck). This tyre works well under all moderate weather conditions and offers good balance between various factors like grip, braking response, tyre durability and noise levels. This is the recommended car tyre for most cars.
- Wet/Mud/Snow/Ice Tyres
These are car tyres with specialised tread features to perform well (and safely) on varying surface conditions.
The wet tyres’ treads are designed to efficiently displace surface water. The tread in mud tyres is large and chunky, so that mud falls away without getting impacted and affecting tyre performance. And snow and ice tyres are made of softer rubber with extra stripes in the tread for better grip.
Choosing the right car tyres is important to get the best out of your car and to remain safe on roads. I am not saying that cheap tyres are the best option. They definitely are not, but there is no need to spend hard earned money on expensive car tyres,when you don’t need those features, right? Every pound saved is a pound earned. Stick to well known and reputed brands and make sure that you know exactly where to find the right car tyres.