Written by Hejab Azam
26 June, 2019
Although they’re an often overlooked aspect of vehicle maintenance, using high-quality tyres is essential to ensuring your car’s performance, safety and roadworthiness. Every accelerative, braking and directional force passes through your tyres, so it’s essential to make sure that you’re investing in the best ones for your car. A tyre’s ability to grip, especially in wet conditions, will deteriorate well before approaching the legal minimum tread depth of 1.6mm, so you should start looking for replacements when the depth reaches around 3mm.
Whether you’re looking to replace your car’s tyres or deciding which to get on your next car, you may be considering opting for all season tyres. While your car’s handbook will be able to guide you as to the correct size you need, there are many other things to consider before making a decision, including your location, motoring needs and weather conditions. Read this handy guide to find out whether four season tyres are right for you and which are the best all-round tyres available on the market today.
Before buying any new car tyres, you need to know the size of tyre your vehicle requires. This is printed on the outside edge of the tyres fitted to your car in raised lettering, and can also be found in your vehicle’s handbook. This code may look like this ‘225/55 R 17 97 W’ and will detail the cross section width, the aspect ratio, the construction tyre, the rim diameter, the maximum load that the tyre can carry and the maximum speed of use. On some vehicles, the tyre size may also be printed on a sticker inside the driver’s door.
There are some other factors that can impact tyre performance that you may want to compare, including the tread, steel belt, sidewalls and bead wires. The tread determines how well a tyre grips, with grooves designed to disperse water in wet conditions and help the tyre maintain contact with the road. A good tread prevents aquaplaning, where the tyre rides on top of the water rather than passing through it and thereby increases the likelihood of a driver losing control. The steel belt consists of rubber-wrapped bundles of steel that give structural rigidity to the tyre and help the tread maintain good contact.
The sidewalls work with the air in the tyre to carry the car’s load, with a lower and stiffer sidewall helping the tyre to retain its shape when cornering, ensuring smoother handling. Bead wires are ultra-strong wires that hold the tyre onto the rim, resisting stretching even at high speeds. All of these factors will impact how suitable a tyre is for your car. Another marking to look out for is the industry-recognised label that was made compulsory in 2012, which displays the rolling resistance on a sliding scale from A (best) to G (poorest), wet grip, and external noise of the tyre.
How long your tyres will last depends on the tyre you’re using, your driving style, and the condition of the roads you traverse. To check your car tyre tread depth, take a 20p and insert the 2.7mm outer rim into the shallowest part of the tyre. If you can see the bottom outer rim of the 20p from side-on, it’s a good idea to think about choosing a new tyre.
In the UK, most vehicles are fitted with summer tyres as standard. Summer tyres offer the highest grip in warm dry conditions, but are also designed to operate safely in the wet – making them ideal for driving between the months of March and October. Some drivers often switch for winter or all-season tyres to optimise performance during the colder months. Winter tyres are constructed from a different rubber compound that stays supple at lower temperatures and utilise road blocks with small ‘sipes’ that improve traction on snow or ice.
All-season tyres or all-weather tyres bridge the gap between summer and winter tyres, offering improved performance in cold conditions without compromising on performance in summer. They are made from an intermediate rubber compound that offers grip on dry roads but doesn’t harden as much as summer tyres do in cold weather. All-season tyres are suitable for the majority of cars in the UK, including hatchbacks, family cars, SUVs and most vans, and are a good choice for drivers who want to avoid the hassle and cost of changing between summer and winter tyres throughout the year.
However, there are a few factors you’ll need to consider before deciding whether all-weather tyres are right for your car. Firstly, you’ll need to identify any laws or regulations in your country that stipulate what tyres you’re able to drive. For example, in Germany, it’s mandatory to use winter tyres on ice-covered roads. You’ll also need to take into account the severity of the weather you regularly drive in, as well as your mileage. If you live in a region where the temperature isn’t too low and you don’t cover huge distances regularly, it may be better value to use all-season tyres.
All-weather tyres are designed for use in countries with moderate weather all year round, and are therefore ideally suited to the changeable conditions in the UK. Some of the best all-round tyres currently on the market are:
● Michelin CrossClimate+ – The CrossClimate utilises a grip-maximising compound that allows the tyre to conform to the surface of the road regardless of temperature. The rigid and bevel-edged block ensures improved braking performance, while the unique tread pattern helps to keep the vehicle mobile when driving on snow.
● Nokian Weatherproof – Made in Finland, it’s no surprise that the Nokian does its best work on snow. The Weatherproof ensures traction and a grippy tread at low temperatures, performing well on snow and in deep water. The tyre offers top results on braking, traction, snow circle, straight aqua and curved aqua regardless of the weather.
● Continental AllSeasonContact – This tyre offers impressive grip on snowy winter roads, along with superior braking performance on both dry and damp summer roads. Its rolling resistance performance also offers reduced fuel consumption, along with durable sipes and strong front grip.
● Tristar Ecopower 4S – The Tristar offers controlled grip and responsive braking in both dry and wet conditions, with the grooves working to expel water from beneath the crown of the tyre to reduce the risk of aquaplaning or skidding, while the deep sipes ensure good traction control.
● Falken Euro All Season AS200 – This medium-class tyre is designed for everyday driving all year round, equipped with an asymmetrical tread to ensure a balanced performance on any type of surface. The wide grooves quickly drain water and maintain good contact with the road to ensure a safe drive regardless of weather.
Most leading premium tyre makers now offer a range of all-season tyres to meet the rising demand for diverse and durable tyres all year round. However, it’s not just important to make sure that you’re buying from a reputable brand, but also to make sure that you’re getting a good deal.
Traditionally, tyres are usually bought from a franchised tyre-fitting chain or independent dealer. One option is to buy your tyres from your vehicle’s main dealer, as it’s likely they will have the right size and recommended brand for your car. Regulated tyre fitters are a convenient option as they’ll be able to advise you on suitable tyres for your vehicle and change them while you wait, which is ideal in an emergency. You may also be able to haggle on the price.
You might be tempted to save money by purchasing used or part-worn tyres. In order for part-worn tyres to be safe to sell, they must show all the original markings for their type and design, including speed ratings and load indexes, and be inspected internally if they’re to be sold on the rim. While it’s legal for garages in the UK to sell part-worn or second-hand car tyres as long as they’re safe and properly marked, it’s always better to buy tyres brand new.
If you want to find out more about the best tyres for your car, or you’re ready to kickstart your search for a new lease vehicle, contact our experienced team on 0113 387 4241 to discuss your requirements.