So you’re ready to buy new tyres but you’re suddenly hit with a whole range of options and variety!
Which are the right tyres to suit you, your budget, your vehicle, your expectations and your safety?
While there isn’t a definitive answer to the question above – understanding what all the numbers, letters, symbols and tread varieties mean will greatly assist you in making an informed choice for your new tyres.
The first thing to remember when you have new tyres fitted – regardless of the make or style – is that they will undoubtedly make the car ‘feel’ different even if they’re exactly the same type of tyre fitted again! It takes a few miles to settle in to new tyres and to understand the subtle differences in handling and cornering that new tyres provide.
Tyre Size Information
Before you buy tyres you’re going to need to find out the size and specification currently fitted to your vehicle.
The ONLY way to get accurate detail is by checking the vehicle itself. Don’t rely on the handbook or on online resources.
Be sure to check both front and rear too as they can often differ in size!
A popular size for passenger cars is, for example:
‘205’ represents the approximate width of the tyre in millimeters
’55’ represents the sidewall height as a percentage of the width of the tyre – 55% of 205mm in this instance.
‘R’ represents the construction type – in this, as in almost all modern tyres, denotes a RADIAL construction
’16’ represents the diameter of the wheel measured in inches.
‘91‘ represents the load index (a reference chart detailing the maximum permissible weight the tyre can safely carry)
‘V’ represents the speed rating – in this instance a tyre with a manufacturers top speed rating of 149mph.
Speed Rating Information
The speed rating (denoted by a letter – ‘V’ in the example above) represents the maximum permissible speed for which the tyre is rated and indicates the speed at which the tyre can carry the load corresponding with its load index
You should replace your tyres with those of the same size, load and speed rating as recommended by the vehicles’ manufacturer.
Increasing the value of both the load and/or speed rating is acceptable practice but it is not recommended that lower value products be fitted.
The tyre should be able to withstand the forces applied to it at the vehicles maximum rated top speed.
There is currently no legal requirement for speed ratings but it is advised to check with your vehicle insurer of any potential issues that may arise when significantly altering specifications.