Do you understand the ratings on your tyres?

When purchasing new tyres you will often be asked what size you need. The garage may have a system where they can look up the tyres for your vehicle but if you have had different aftermarket alloys fitted or want a different size tyre to what is standard then you will need to have this information to hand.
A tyre has three numbers such as 105/55/R15 written on the side of them. The first number indicates the width the second number indicates the profile and the third number indicates the tyres size in inches. After this you may notice another set of reading; a number followed by a letter. The number indicates the loading rating. This number is linked to a table which tells you the load that each tyre can carry. Remember this is times by four (as long as all tyres are the same) when you are working out what load the total vehicle can carry.
The final reading is the speed rating. This is shown by a letter and again is a reference to a rating on a separate table. An R rating, for example, would be a maximum speed of 106mph. It is important to not only check the size but also the other ratings on the tyre when purchasing new ones.

Budget tyres may save you money but cost you your safety

When it comes to buying tyres we are often given two or three options by the garage each with a different price, these are usually based on a budget tyre and mid-range tyre. These are the two most popular choices for our motorists and many people opt for the budget just to save that few extra pounds. If you look online then you will probably find you are inundated with different makes and prices of a tyre. The tyres usually have ratings for road noise, wet grip/drip grip and fuel economy.

Before committing to any tyre be sure to compare these ratings as often you will find a budget tyre that is the same price as another one but has a lot better ratings.

If you can afford to then it is advisable to fit the best tyres possible for your vehicle. Tyres really can and do make a massive difference in driving and safety. They can shorten stopping distances and make the car handle a lot better than budget tyres.

If you think you will struggle to replace all four tyres for mid-range or prestige tyres then why not do two and then the other two a few months down the line as long as they have enough tread to last you until then.

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.