Getting your tyre sizes right

All drivers should know where and how to find the size of tyres fitted on their vehicle. It is quite easy to find this information out, but you do need to know where to look. On the side of every tyre is printed the size it is normally written like 195/55/ R15 87V. If we break this down we can see that it tells us a lot of information about the tyre. The first number in this example is the tyre width in mm, the second is the type height as a percentage of the width and the third letter and number is the diameter. The next number (87) is the load capacity and the final letter is the speed rating. All of this information tells you what you need to know to select the right tyre for your vehicle. There is not necessarily only one tyre size that will fit your car and some cars have different sized tyres on the front to those on the back.

If you are looking to buy a new tyre it is important to check the size of the tyre in which you want to replace in case it is different. You should also check to see that the tyre on the other side of the axle also matches that, if not you may need to get both tyres replaced or ensure the new one matches the one on the other side.

 

Knowing which tyres to buy

If you go to a garage and enquire about having new tyres fitted, you may be a little overwhelmed at the choice you have available to you. You may hear the terms part worn or budget and not have a clue which ones you need. Below are a few examples of different choices you have:

Part worns – these are tyres that have been previously fitted to another vehicle so do not have the full tread on them. They often come from other countries where the legal limits are higher than in Britain, allowing them to be resold here. The problem with part worns is they may only have 3 or 4 mm of tread left on, which is the depth in which most garages recommend you change them anyway.

Budget tyres are brand new but the cheapest range. They vary drastically in quality depending on the make but you should be able to find out information such as wet grip rating, road noise and fuel efficiency.

Premium tyres are usually the most expensive but often have the best ratings, they are usually brands such as Continental or Bridgestone. Often they will cost upwards of £65 each depending on the make and size.

 

 

Checking tyre pressures and wear – the right way

It is so important to correct maintain and look after your tyres as they are a massive part of the safety of your vehicle. They not only contribute hugely to the safety of the vehicle but also to the fuel consumption and handling of the vehicle.

It is vital to check your tyre pressures and to also check for wear or damage to your tyres every couple of weeks at least and when going on a long journey. Checking tyres pressures can often be done at most petrol stations but these have sometimes been shown to be inaccurate and if you are unsure as to whether your tyre is inflated properly then you may not wish to drive on it. Ideally you should use a home tyre pressure gauge that can be picked up from many car parts shops such as Halfords for as little as £10. You simply unscrew the dust caps, push the tyre pressure gauge on to the value and look at the reading. You will need to know what the correct pressures should be for your car which is normal stated in the handbook or sometimes inside the driver’s door pillar.

When checking pressures it is also advisable to check for damage to the tyre, this may be noticeable cuts or tears, bulges or wear. If they tyre is damaged then you need to take it to a tyre repair shop to see if it needs repairing or replacing, if the tyre is showing signs of wear then you can do a simply check with tyre depth gauge to see how low the tyre is. Anything under 3mm is advised to be change although the legal limit is 1.6mm.

 

 

 

What to do if you have a flat tyre

If you have a flat tyre on your car then there are different things that you can do depending on where you are when you notice it, below is a guide to what to do in different scenarios.

If your car is parked up and you come to it and notice a flat tyre then the first thing to do is inspect the tyre for any obvious signs of damage or any foreign objects that could be lodged in the tyre, if you cannot see any then it may be that the tyre just needs more air as things such as changes in temperature or the car being stood still can cause the tyre to need inflating.

If you notice that you have a flat tyre whilst driving it is likely that you will notice that you are unable to accelerate as quickly as usual and you may feel the car pulling to one side. As soon as you notice this you must pull over to the side of the road carefully as soon as it is safe to do so. Driving on a tyre that has a puncture can be very dangerous so you must do this very carefully and ensure that the vehicle is in a safe position as far off the road as possible.

If you are on the motorway or dual carriageway then you must call your breakdown company as it would not be safe to attempt changing a tyre at the side of such a fast busy road and in doing this you could cause a very serious accident.

Buying tyres online or in store

When it comes to buying tyres everyone wants to get the best deal for the type of tyre they are buying. You can choose from a number of different makes and models of tyres within the budget range, mid range or premium ranges and each will come with its own rating for fuel economy, road noise and wet grip.

You can often buy tyres online or you can buy them in store and many people wonder which will get you the best deal. It is easier to compare prices online as you do not have to spend ages on the phone calling through to multiple garages but you may be offered a better deal in store. If you have found a tyre online that you like and seems a good price then before you order, call the garage and ask them if they can do you a better deal in store. This is especially important if you are buying multiple tyres at the same time as they may be able to offer you a larger discount.