A Purchaser's Guide to Car Tyres

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A Purchaser's Guide to Car Tyres

Car tyres are arguably the most important single component of any vehicle. They are the only thing connecting the vehicle to the ground, and the incorrect tyre can make a great car drive terrible. The necessity for tyres developed from the need for traction and shock absorption between wheels and vehicle carriage bodies. Early tyres were simple metal bands affixed to wooden wagon wheels. With improvements in technology, tyres developed into an advanced piece of engineering that not only keeps cars glued to the road, but also doubles as a critical part of the vehicle suspension.

The tyres of every vehicle provide the necessary grip for forward acceleration, turning, and braking. Most common automobiles utilise tyres constructed of rubber, mainly for its frictional and dampening properties. As there are many different types of cars and trucks, there are just as many different types of tyres. Historically, tyres are available through tyre sales centres. However, just like almost everything else a consumer would need, tyres can also be purchased over the Internet. There are stores dedicated to selling all types of tyres, and websites like eBay offer the consumer a potentially low-cost alternative to in-person and online store shopping.

Different Types of Car Tyres

Car tyres are as diverse as the cars they mount on. Just as it would be a poor choice to put mud terrain tyres on the latest Italian sports car, it would be just as bad as installing racing slicks on a basic electric hybrid. A modern road car tyre's performance is based primarily upon its tread material, tread design, construction, load rating, and speed rating. As most modern tyres are of the radial type, learning about construction and maintenance of the type of tyre helps consumers become informed buyers. Understanding all the different types of tyres and how they perform is necessary for the shopper to make an educated purchase.

Summer Tyres

First on the list is essentially the highest performing tyre you can drive on the street. Summer tyres have aggressive tread designs to maximise traction in dry and wet environments. The tread rubber is formulated for high temperature grip, and friction increases with increasing temperature. These can come in a variety of performance levels, with the higher grip models and higher speed/load ratings demanding a higher cost. While these perform very well in warmer weather, they should never be used in colder temperatures, as the rubber becomes very stiff and loses traction dramatically.

Snow Tyres

At the other end of the spectrum is the winter, or snow tyre. These tyres are made specifically for driving on cold, slushy roads. Just as the summer tyre provides large amounts of traction in warmer weather, these tyres do the same in colder temperatures and even in snow. The tread material is significantly softer than and heats up much easier than summer tyres, allowing the rubber to grip well below freezing. The tread design incorporates many small slits, called sipes. These sipes create more internal friction and heat when the tyre rolls, increasing the ability for the rubber to grip. When driving on snowy surfaces, the sipes become packed with snow and aid in traction on the slippery stuff. These tyres typically have lower speed ratings, as they are designed primarily for traction in cold and slippery conditions. Similar to how the summer tyre should never be used in the winter, the winter tyre is not best suited for use in warmer weather. If used in the summer, the softer tread material wear down considerably faster than in the winter. The tread design is also not as stable as the summer tyre and affects the vehicle's overall performance.

All-Season Tyre

Somewhere between the summer and winter tyre falls the all-season option. It is a compromise on all facets of performance. It performs adequately in hot and cold temperatures, but it never has as much dry grip as a dedicated summer tyre nor will it have much traction in the snow. It is, however, a good choice for the driver who is looking for a little bit of both worlds while on a budget. Speed ratings can be high, as can be load ratings.

Off-Road Tyres

When the driver ventures off to a racetrack, or needs the required grip on a rally circuit, the proper tyre can bring out the best in the car. While road tyres are a compromise on performance and longevity, and comfort, track tyres and dirt tyres are designed specifically for one thing: going fast. Track tyres usually have slick treads and have significantly more grip than any road tyre. The tread is very soft, and because of this it cannot last very long. They should only be used on the racetrack and never on the street or in the rain, unless the manufacturer states it is acceptable to do so.

Dirt tyres have knobby treads and provide maximum traction on loose road surfaces. The same knobby features that provide gravel-throwing grip are also noisy and uncomfortable on the street, and would wear down faster than a real road tyre. Just as in the case of the racing slick,, it is not advisable to run this tyre on public roads.

Tyre

Summer Grip

Winter Grip

Cost

Longevity

Summer Tyre

#####

 

£££££

#####

Winter Tyre

###

#####

£££££

#####

All Season Tyre

###

###

£££

######

Racing Slick

########

 

££££££££

#

Dirt Tyre

####

####

££££££££

#

The prices above are objective according to the make and model of the unit. Longevity can also be determined by how quickly the car is driven and the terrain.

Tyre Sizing

Just as there are all different types of tyres, there also exist many different sizes. Tyre sizes are based on 3 numbers: section width, aspect ratio, and rim diametre. An example of tyre size is 235/55/R17 (or 235/55/17). A tyre of this size has a section width of 235 millimetres, aspect ratio of 55, and rim diametre of 17 inches. The section width is the overall width of the tyre while looking directly at the tread. The aspect ratio is a unit-less number describing the wall height of the tyre while looking directly at the sidewall. It is a per centage of the section width. In this case, the wall height is equal to 55 per cent of 235 mm, which is 129.25 mm. The last number is simply the diametre of the wheel, in inches. The size, or code, is generally moulded into the sidewall of the tyre. Along with the code, the tyre load and speed ratings are moulded in as well.

Choosing the Right Tyre

When shopping for a car tyre, the first step should be deciding which size or sizes fit the vehicle. The proper tyre size should be provided by the auto manufacturer in either the owner's manual or on a sticker in the driver's side door jamb. Some tyres may be more desirable for many reasons, and they may not be the exact size. If a different size tyre is chosen than what is recommended, it should be noted that the intended performance of the vehicle can be altered.

When choosing which type of tyre to install, it is important to determine the environment the tyre is used in. For example, a daily driven (all year round) sports car that sees time in northern Europe and the occasional racetrack exhibition would benefit from a multi tyre setup: summer tyres in the summer, winter/snow tyres in the winter, and racing tyres for the occasional track day. On the other hand, a basic commuter car owned by a budget-minded driver would probably do best with a simple all-season tyre. The former situation costs significantly more than the latter, however the maximum performance of an already high-performance car can only be fully obtained with the correct tyre for the correct event.

Where to Find Car Tyres

Car tyre manufacturers sometimes have specialised stores dedicated to selling and installing tyres, along with performing other vehicle maintenance work. If purchasing tyres through a service station is less than desirable, the buyer can opt to browse the Internet for tyre outlets. Some companies sell tyres exclusively online. They also have the ability to drop ship a set of tyres to an installation centre chosen by the buyer. There may be cost benefits to buying online. An alternative to buying through an online store is to purchase tyres through an auction site like eBay.

Buying Car Tyres on eBay

There are 2 main ways of finding tyres on eBay: searching and browsing. Searching is the simplest, and this entails entering search terms into the main search bar and perusing through the auction listings. For example, if the size of tyre is known, it can be typed into the search bar as such: " 255/75/R17&". The listings that show up will have the search terms included in the title and description.

Browsing is slightly more time intensive, but the results might be more refined. To begin browsing, start on the left and click "motors", then "car wheels/tyres/trim", and finally "tyres". All listings classified as "tyres&" will be shown. Above the listings there are boxes for inputting tyre dimensions, tyre type, speed rating, and manufacturer. These options further refine the search.

Sort Listings by Price

Once the buyer determines the budget, the listings can be sorted by price. This helps the buyer have an understanding to what the online auction market is like for tyres. Another tool to determine the market price for tyres is to search for sold listings.

Know the Seller

Purchasing car tyres on eBay can be a dodgy experience, therefore it is important to know the seller of the tyre(s). A useful tool for determining the quality of the seller is to check the seller's feedback and also to search for top rated sellers.

Conclusion

Tyres are a very complex and important piece of automotive equipment. The type of tyre determines how well a vehicle performs in specific conditions. If the wrong tyre is used at the wrong time of the year, the ill-equipped car can at best hinder performance and at worst potentially cause an accident. Matching tyres are essential for each car and for each season. The treads determine the stability of the car and handling of the roads.

Today, tyres are available for purchase through many specialty tyre stores. They are also readily available on the Internet, on websites such as eBay. You can search and browse for many different types of tyres on eBay Stores and auction listings. Being equipped with the proper knowledge on tyres and the ability to confidently navigate eBay aids the consumer in making a wise purchase.

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