Replacing worn tyres in a timely manner is essential to road safety. However, with the multitude of choices in new tyres, car owners may have trouble narrowing down their options. Considerations like size, wet grip, fuel economy, and longevity help buyers choose long-lasting high-performing tyres as easily as possible.
Tyre Size, Speed, and Load Ratings
Size is naturally the first and most important consideration, and it is best to follow the manufacturer's recommendations in the car's handbook. Lacking the handbook, you can look for new car tyres with the same specification markings as the old tyres. The three size measurements that the new tyres must match are the width, sidewall profile, and rim diameter. The load and speed ratings are the last two markings on the tyre, given after the tyre size. For example, a tyre marked 205/55 R16 91W has a width of 205 mm, the sidewall height is 55 per cent of the width, and it fits on a 16-inch rim. A load rating of 91 means it can bear 615 kg, and a speed rating of W means the tyres can handle a maximum speed of 270 kph.
Winter tyres have softer rubber compounds, deeper tread, and more small channels called "sipes" that help the vehicle handle better and avoid hydroplaning in cold weather. Summer or all-weather tyres have harder rubber compounds, which means they last longer, and shallower tread in general, but vary widely depending on the manufacturer. Those who frequently drive in the rain should look for tread patterns that expel the water to one side for better contact with the road. Tyres have wet grip ratings measured by braking performance under wet conditions, with A being the best and G being the worst.
Approximately 20 per cent of the fuel in a vehicle goes towards overcoming the rolling resistance of the tyres. By creating tyres with low rolling resistance, manufacturers have helped improve fuel economy. The rating of a tyre ranges from A to G. The difference between an A-rated and a G-rated tyre in terms of fuel economy is 0.5 L per 100 km. This corresponds to significant savings over the course of a year for most drivers.
The softness of the rubber compound affects the longevity of the tyre, which is of concern to budget-conscious drivers. Summer tyres, for example, generally last longer than winter tyres. Race tyres and rally tyres also have varying levels of soft rubber and harder tyre ingredients. Top manufacturers in the industry, like Michelin, usually give an estimate of the tyre's longevity. This can range from 20,000 to 40,000 km. Naturally, road conditions affect longevity, so if you plan to do a lot of off-road driving, then off-road tyres are the best choice.