How do I know which tyres to buy?

July 27, 2020

Buying the right automobile tyres is one of the most important decisions you can make for your car, as it will affect many aspects of your driving, particularly in regards to safety. However, knowing which tyres are best suited to your particular car is not always so easy, as there are almost as many tyre options as there are types of cars, so we’ve put together this handy guide to help you.

The first step is establishing certain specifications such as the size of the tyre and its speed and load rating. Car companies make this relatively easy for you by placing this information inside the car. If can be found either in your manual or by opening the driver’s door and looking at the sidewall, where you’ll find a tyre placard.

Tyre placards contain a lot of information, such as the recommended inflation pressure for the tyres, as well as what types of tyres will suit the car, with a series of numbers and letters, which don’t really mean much by themselves, such as P215/60 R 15 94 H.

P – ‘P’ stands for ‘passenger vehicle’. Depending on what kind of vehicle you drive, you could also see ‘LT’ (light truck’), ‘M’ (motorcycle), or ‘T’ (temporary tyre);
215 – the width of the tyre in millimetres;
60 – aspect ratio or height of the tyre as a percentage of its width; in this case, the height is 60% of the width – 215 x 60% = 129mm;
R – construction code; in this case, ‘R’ stands for ‘radial construction’, meaning the cord plies are arranged radially (90-degree angle) from the centre of the tyre;
15 – wheel diameter in inches;
94 – load index, or the maximum weight the tyres can carry when operating normally (below 210kph), in this case, 670kg (a Load Index table indicates the proper loading);
H – speed index, or the maximum speed capable when the car is at its maximum load capacity.

With the above information as a guide, you’ll then have a better idea of what tyres will be suited to your car.

Next, it’s helpful to know what kinds of conditions you usually drive in, whether it’s mostly dry or wet conditions, or a combination, and the climate of where you live (hot and dry, hot and humid, cool and wet etc.) If you have an SUV or 4WD, then you will also need to consider the types of roads you encounter. Different tyres are available with varied traction performance, such as highway tread, all-purpose, all-terrain, or mud terrain.

The performance and speed rating of the tyres should match or exceed the requirements of your vehicle, otherwise your handling and safety will be at risk if, for example, you have tyres which are suited to a car which weighs less than yours.

What you can afford will likely be a factor, so it is best to choose the best tyres depending on your budget. Be aware that if you decide to purchase cheap tyres in order to save money, handling and safety can also be compromised. It is also best to stay away from retreads (old tyres which have been given a new tread and sidewall rubber), as they may be unstable and behave unexpectedly at high speeds or have inferior grip, durability and braking performance.

Jim’s Mobile Tyres are here for any questions you may have about which tyres are best suited to your car. Plus, we’ll come to you!

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