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How to Choose New Car Tyres

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Need new tyres? It might be tempting to just opt for the cheapest available set; but there really should be some research and consideration put into getting new tyres for your wheels. Just like wearing the wrong type and size of shoe, if they don’t fit, they’re difficult to walk in. Similarly, you should look for car tyres that are a perfect fit for your vehicle and result in optimal driving. Not only does this give you a smoother ride, it’s also imperative for safety. Tyres have a huge impact on your handling, they are your only connection with the road after all.

Types of Car Tyres

There are three main types of car tyre. All-season, Summer and Winter. Typically, Australian drivers opt for all-season tyres because it’s more cost effective and less hassle than having to change your tyres with the seasons. There are some other tyre variations you might like to consider depending on your vehicle, the environment and weather conditions, and how you like to drive.

SUV Tyres

SUV tyres should prioritise stability, handling and braking. They should also offer added rigidity for optimal off-road control. There are a range of SUV tyres to suit many applications. Wet and dry performance, high-performance luxury SUV tyres, and aggressive all-terrain driving.

Sports Tyres and Ultra-high Performance tyres

Do you drive a swanky sports car? You’ll be looking for top quality sports tyres. You might want to keep these pricey tyres off a regular family sedan however, they tend not to last as long.

All-season and summer ‘ultra-high performance tyres’ are usually found on luxury sedan and sports vehicles. They provide better handling than a regular all-season tyre and perform well in most conditions – except for very cold and icy weather.

Small Car Tyres

Small car owners will usually look for value for money and longevity in their tyres. It’s worth spending that bit more on a good brand to minimise wear and maximise driving comfort.

Quiet Tyres

For some drivers, road noise can be an unwelcome distraction. Quiet tyres minimise the amount of road noise that reaches the cabin as you drive, for a more comfortable driving experience.

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Deciding on a New Set of Tyres

First, locate your manufacturer’s manual to find which tyres are most suited to your car. If you can’t locate your manual, check the driver’s side door jamb. Here you will find a complex and confusing set of letters and numbers such as P195/60R16 63H M+S. Here’s how to decipher your unique car tyre code.

Car Tyre Code Meanings

1. The first letter, in this case P, indicates the type of vehicle class or the intended use for the vehicle.

P = Passenger Car

LT = Light Truck

ST = Special Trailer

T = Temporary – Spares for example.

2. The next three digits 195 indicate the width of the tyre in millimeters.

3. The following two or three digit number – 60, tells us the aspect ratio of height to width recorded as a percentage.

4. Next, you’ll find a letter telling us the construction of the tyre. If there is no letter here you can assume the tyre is a cross-ply tyre.

B = Bias belt (rigid ride)

D = Diagonal

R = Radial (the most common construction for passenger cars)

5. Next up we have 16 – the tyre rim diameter that the tyre should be fitted to=

6. The following two digit number and letter 63H tell us the speed rating and load index of the tyre. 63 is the maximum weight one tyre can carry. In this case 63 = 272kgs. H is the speed rating index indicating the maximum speed at which the tyre should travel. H = 210 km/hr.

7. Finally we have M+S. This section outlines suitability in extreme weather conditions.

M+S = Mud and Snow. Commonly found on all-season tyres with average traction in muddy or snowy conditions

M+SE = Mud and Snow Spike tyres

M+T = Mud and Terrain tyres designed to perform in mud or on rocky or gravelly terrain

We should get to know the meaning of our unique tyre codes and consider the various brands carefully. It’s important to find the best type of tyre for your vehicle and the type of driver you are.

What are your dry and wet braking capability requirements? How do you feel about road noise? Of course good fuel economy should be a consideration, and value for money – but most of all, safety. Tyre’s typically only last about four years, it’s best to make those years count.

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Should you buy refurbished tyres?

A retread is a used tyre that has been given a tread facelift to extend it’s life. The old worn tread is replaced by a new tread using a hot and cold curing method. This process is used widely in the trucking industry due to the high cost of new truck tyres. This method is an environmentally friendly way of ‘recycling’ and repurposing an old tyre; but buyers should be wary, as the full history of the tyre cannot be known. Many insurance companies consider retreads unsafe and don’t recommend them for passenger vehicles.

If you’re considering secondhand or refurbished tyres, be sure to check the date of manufacture. All tyres are stamped with a code indicating this. If your tyre was manufactured after 2000 (which we hope it has been!) you should find a four digit code. The first two digits tell us the week in the year, and the last two digits indicate the year of manufacture. If your four digit code is 1011, your tyre was manufactured in the 10th week of 2011.

If you find a three digit code, your tyre was manufactured pre-2000, so best to steer yourself in another direction.

Which Brand of Tyre is Best?

Now you’ve decided on the type and size of tyre you need, which brand should you choose?

If you would like to see how 11 of the top brands stacked up against each other in a survey of over 1,000 motorists, let me steer you in the direction of Canstar Blue’s Car Tyre Reviews of 2019. Participating drivers rated their car tyres on factors such as stopping ability, all-weather handling, road noise, durability and value for money. And the winner is…Michelin!

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Do your research when deciding on a brand and take into consideration their ratings and user reviews. If you’re unsure, always consult a professional. Your trusted mechanic or tyre specialist should have you rolling smoothly and safely.

How to maintain your tyres

Now you’re trending new tread with brand new rubber! How do you look after your tyres to ensure they can best look after you?

  • When you have your new tyres put on, ensure you have a balanced and a wheel alignment undertaken by a professional.
  • Keep your tyre pressure inflated to the car manufacturer’s recommendation. You can find the tyre pressure kPa or psi in your manual or on a sticker usually positioned inside the driver side door frame, on the petrol tank flap or in the glovebox. Try to get into the habit of checking tyre pressure every other time you fill up with fuel, and definitely prior to embarking on any distance driving.
  • Do a visual check of the tread to make sure there are no stones, glass, nails or screws embedded in there
  • Check the wear of your tyres, if it appears uneven, you may need to have your suspension or steering checked.
  • Keep up your scheduled services to ensure your tyres are checked and rotated appropriately.

So many essential parts of our vehicles we take for granted. Who would have thought a simple tyre could be so complicated! As with everything, we recommend consulting a professional should any element of your vehicle be showing signs of disrepair. Windscreens, engines, tyres and airbags – they’re all there to keep us safe, so ensuring they’re working to their optimal ability is priority. Happy tyre hunting!

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