Information on your car tyres and how to keep safe on the road.

Whatever your preferred tyre choice and style, there are many considerations to take into account when buying your car new tyres. Click4Warranty would very much like you to take your time and have done your research before you buy to ensure that your cars tyres match not only your budget, but also your cars top speed amongst other criteria touched in in the article. As a buyer you should always be aware of what you are paying for. The same applies for buying a used car warranty. It is important to ensure that you protect yourself against financial loss by taking out the very best used car warranty for your personal needs when your manufacturer's car warranty cover is due to expire.

The tyre is the only contact between the vehicle and the road. Therefore they should not only be safe, but also hard-wearing, high quality, durable and provide a comfortable drive. To achieve all this and more, tyres need to be stringently manufactured sometimes using up to 200 separate raw materials. The difference between a cheap and expensive tyre is partly due to the rubber compound being of a better quality and higher temperature when made. So it may or not come as a surprise to many of us, but there are many different types of tyres that are manufactured for our vehicles. Some of which are made for a specific purpose, others are purely used for performance.

Tyre Width and Tread


The tyres grip depends on its rubber compound and the grooves that are present in the tread pattern as it is this that does all the work. The tread determines how well the tyre grips on a dry road. Each manufacturer designs its own tread pattern to achieve this. 
In wet conditions, the tread grooves disperse road water, ensuring that the tyre stays in contact with the road and therefore grips. If it is not achieved, then aquaplaning can occur. This is when there is no direct contact between the tyre and the road, the tyre looses grip and the driver loses control of the vehicle. The more efficiently the grooves expel the water, the better the tyre will be at maintaining grip in wet weather conditions.
There are many types of tread pattern, all of which are used for different performance issues including noise reduction, wear, traction with the road, driving forces such as cornering, steering and high speed braking.

The sidewalls combine with the air in the tyre, to carry the weight of the vehicle. The outside of the sidewall should always be where you find the tyre details including size and specification details.

There are legalities in relation to these particular attributes. This is due to that they are, regardless of the tyres performance qualities, the main safety features of a tyre. The manufacturer must be responsible for any relevant sidewall markings and an owner must be responsible for the condition of tyre including the width and tread depths. Click4Warranty want all British motorists to keep abreast of the latest Car Safety and Technological Changes

The legal minimum tread depth for car tyres is 1.6mm, continuously around the band of the central tread of the tyre, circling 75 % of the tyre. The other grooves, must have a depth of a least 1 mm again, circling 75 % of the tyre. It is always advisable to change the tyre before it gets to this level, not only for safety reasons, but legal reasons too. If you do not, and you are caught driving on illegal tyres you could be fined up to £2,500 in Britain, and may possibly receive three penalty points too.

Belted/Radial Tyres


Nowadays, the radial or belted tyre has almost completely replaced the cross-ply tyre. The materials of the radial tyres inner casing, runs perpendicular to the direction of tyre travel. If viewed side on, the materials run radially, hence their name. The only problem with this, is that the materials cannot absorb the lateral force when cornering nor the forces when accelerating. To correct this, the materials are supported by another structural material for example steel belts.
The steel belts are rubber encircled ropes of steel wire. They give structural rigidity and maintain the tread flat in contact with the road. With bead-wires, the ultra-strong steel wires hold an extreme resistance to stretching, therefore holding the tyre to the rim, even during very high performance driving.

Run Flat Tyres


Manufactures have now developed tyres & systems that allow a vehicle to continue moving despite there being a loss of pressure in the tyres. There are two systems available. The reinforced tyre sidewall brands on the market include Bridgestone, Continental, Dunlop, Goodyear, and Pirelli. The other is the rubber clip attached to the rim brands using this include Michelin. It is however necessary that the run flat tyre must operate in conjunction with any tyre pressure warning systems. Although new cars will automatically be provided with the appropriate tyre choice, if car buyers are replacing run flat tyres with aftermarket upgrades, due care must be taken to ensure that they are compatible with your car.


Summer Tyres


These particular tyres provide excellent driving and braking performance, both on dry and wet roads, during temperatures above freezing in the spring, summer, autumn and winter. Summer tyres critically perform well in warm weather and are not suitable in cold driving conditions. The simple block shaped tread on the tyre ensures that the tyre's contact with the road is as firm as possible, giving maximum grip at all times.


Winter Tyres/Cold Weather Condition Tyres


These tyres are specifically designed to perform when the weather turns cold or there is a need to drive in snow or driving in icy conditions is un avoidable. The tread has a blocked design with deep, wide blades or grooves. These ensure that there is superior traction and braking performance on winter road surfaces. The tread rubber gives excellent friction and allows flexibility at low temperatures. Most of the current designs are centered towards the braking performance and driving control on icy roads. The designs and rubber technology at present have improved the performance of the winter tyre dramatically thanks to millions of dollars worth of performance testing and information gained from sports such as World Rally and Track Motor Sports.


All-Season Tyres


As their name might depict, they are designed to be used all year round. This naturally saves you having to change the tyres to suit the time of year. The tread of an all-season tyre are more complex than other tyres. This is because of the longer block-edge that is used for winter. More blades or grooves are apparent in these tyres to ensure improved braking and driving performance, produced by maximising the effect of its edge. All-season tyre tread designs provide superb all-around traction for various road conditions, whilst still providing even wear and low noise.


Snow Tyres


Snow tyres are especially designed to perform better when driving in the snow. They have been designed to replace the standard tyre for the winter months to ensure driving on the snow and ice is safer. They have much deeper treads that increase the traction and the rubber used maintains its elasticity in the cold temperatures. The deeper treads also work to displace higher volumes of snow, sleet and ice then an tyre would do with fewer and more shallow tread. The performance is much better on various road conditions, including sleet, mud, ice, and even road flooding.


4WD Tyres


4wd tyres are produced for high performance on 4x4 vehicles, they will often be made for driving off-road too. Today many vehicles are built with four wheel drive capability, 4wd (4 wheel drive) is no longer the sole domain of Land Rover Discovery and Toyota Land Cruiser. Modern saloon cars like the Mitsubishi Evo and Subaru’s WRX also have four wheel drive systems which can be engaged either permanently or in the case of the Subaru Forester 4wd can be engaged and disengaged as dictated by driving conditions. This means that standard road cars can now also be fitted with specially designed tyres specifically suited to their road cars. Gone are the days where 4wd’s are only used by the military and emergency vehicles.


The Car Tyres Sidewall Markings


Markings are apparent on all tyres, if your tyre doesn’t have any, then it is not an acceptable tyre and it may be best for you to walk away. The markings hold all sorts of information and will help you choose the right tyre for your car and no when printed on your tyres a S does not stand for Sport!

If your tyre has 175/65 R14 T imprinted on it then:
• 175 is the tyre width in mm 
• 65 is the tyre sidewall profile or the sidewall height as a percentage of its width 
• R means radial (rather than a cross ply) 
• 14 is the diameter of the wheel rim, in inches 
• T is the speed rating which must match, or exceed the maximum speed of your car.

Speed ratings are as follows:
S 180 km/h or 112 mph
T 190 km/h or 118 mph
U 200 km/h or 125 mph
H 210 km/h or 130 mph
V 240 km/h or 149 mph
W(ZR) 270 km/h or 168 mph
Y(ZR) 300 km/h or 186 mph
ZR Above 240 km/h or 149 mph

Brands

It used to be the case that there were only 3 or 4 brands that were available, but due to merging and the needs of the consumer, more budget brands have been formed.
Michelin (France)
This is the world’s number one tyre manufacturer. They own Michelin, BF Goodrich, Kleber, Uniroyal and Riken. 
Bridgestone (Japan)
One of the top 3 manufacturers. They own Bridgestone, Firestone, Daytona and Europa. 
Goodyear Dunlop (USA)
Recently merged to form one of the largest tyre manufacturers in the world. They own Dunlop, Goodyear, Fulda, Falken and Kelly. 
Yokohama (Japanese)
In the top 10 list of manufacturers.
Pirelli (Italy)
In the top 5 of manufacturers. They have recently developed the Ceat and Courier brands. 
Cooper Tyre (USA)
They own Cooper, Avon and Mastercraft. 
Continental (Germany)
They own Continental, Uniroyal, General Tyre, Gislaved and Semperit. 
Toyo (Japan)
They are one of the newest budget firms. 
Kumho (Korea)
They are a budget range with an emphasis on sporting tyres. 
Vredestein (Netherlands)
They have an enormously wide range of tyres and are constantly working on innovative solutions, which they prove in practice by regularly introducing new tyres.

Other Tyre Terms

Rolling Resistance

The rolling resistance of your tyres can affect your fuel economy. Correctly pumped tyres are essential to the tyres performance and your fuel economy. Therefore some tyres are described as “fuel savers”, “eco” or “energy” tyres. These tyres may have low rolling resistance. A general rule is that the narrower a tyre the more fuel you will save and they often, though not always, are less likely to aqua plane on road surface water at higher speeds! Interesting and completely logical when you think about it!

Tyre Pressures

Always check that your tyre pressures are correct. Their pressure should be detailed in the handbook and often are found on or around the driver door. To ensure safety, you should check the pressure every couple of weeks when they are cold. Why when cold you may ask? Simple, hot air expands and when you drive your tyres warm up and the air in them expands. This then gives you a false reading when checking your tyres. An interesting note here is how Formula 1 use this principle. Cold Formula One car tyres are actually quite flat! They need to be brought up to temperature very quickly for optimal performance. Optimal performance is when the tyres are blisteringly hot and that makes them sticky, used for gripping at high speed around corners, but the hot tyres also expand the air in them, which in turn inflates the tyres. You must not drive with under or over inflated tyres as this will hinder the handling of the vehicle. Uneven pressure on all 4 tyres will also increase tyre wear and fuel consumption.

Wheel Alignment

If you find that your tyres are evenly worn across the surfaces then it has a good alignment, otherwise if the wear is uneven, this could be due to over or under inflation. If it is worn on one edge it could be due to bad alignment. It is then essential that you have your wheel checked by a reputable garage.

Wheel Balancing

If your wheels are unbalanced, not only will you feel a vibration in your steering wheel, but the vibrations become more violent as the balancing gets worse. These vibrations can cause mechanical damage to your car and the distraction to the driver is dangerous. Always seek professional help as soon as you feel that there is anything at all that may be wrong with your cars tyres. Not only your life, but those of your family and other families are also at stake. Again, it is essential that you have your checked by a reputable garage.

Spare Tyre

Always ensure that your spare wheel is in good condition. Check the pressure, and the tyre treads every few months, so avoiding any problems if you need to use it. It should also be within the legal limit in regards to its tread. Spare tyres can be full-size or temporary space saver “mini spares”. These are designed to take up less room in your vehicle and to get you home. They are not however meant to be driven on for long periods. They are usually not suitable for speeds over 50mph.

Tyre Care

It is essential that you maintain the tyre pressure, for safety, economy and for the sake of the environment. So check that all your tyres are at the correct pressures, every couple of weeks. Don’t forget to check your spare.

When you do this, also check for any tyre damage at the same time. Any cuts, lumps and bumps, scrapes or kerbings could result in tyre failure, so if you are in any way unsure, get it checked immediately. Noticing uneven wear could mean that the wheel alignment is incorrect, or if you have braked suddenly, there may be a flat area. So again, always have them professionally checked if you have been involved in any situation involving emergency or heavy braking.

Remember that not only is it illegal to have tyres below the legal limit of 1.6mm, but you may well also void your insurance. They will also encourage skidding and aquaplaning. So ensure that you regularly inspect the tread.

Directional Tyres

Directional Tyres guarantee the best possible sound reduction and water dispersion. For these reasons the tyres must be fitted correctly. Directional tyres are fitted with the arrow point and the words “ROTATION” pointing towards the forward driving direction of the vehicle.

Asymmetrical Tyres

Tyres with an asymmetrical tread also exist. These have a more open tread on the inner section and less open tread on the outer section. The less open tread is intended for high traction on a dry road and road adherence in corners while the inner section has a more open tread that results in an improved dispersion of water.