How to choose a car tyre – all you need to know
It doesn’t matter what car it is, tyres are a sure-fire way to improve it. Here’s all you need to know about how to choose a car tyre.
What’s so special about tyres?
What can a new tyre offer you?
- Grip and handling
- Ride (smoothness, refinement)
- Fuel efficiency
- Tyre life
What’s what – tyre terms you have to know
The first step to new tyres – knowing your specifications
- Tyre size – diameter and width of the tyre
- Load rating – how much the tyre can carry
- Speed rating – how fast it can go
You don’t need to run the same sort of tyre as what’s on your car now, within limits. You can choose a tyre that’s narrower, taller, wider or shorter. You can also choose a different profile, which is the relative size of the rim to the tyre. Best to use an image to make the point:
- tyre itself
- tyre placard
- owner’s manual
The tyre itself is the best place…provided the tyres on the car are of the same specification and type as the ones you want, and are road-legal. It is possible that you bought a secondhand car with different-sized tyres to normal.
Both the owner’s manual and the tyre placard are likely to list at least two specifications of tyres, as it is very common for different trim levels of the same car to run slightly different specification tyres. You then need to ensure you pick the right one for your car – no point buying tyres for 17-inch diameter rims if your car has 16-inch diameter rims.
Method 2: look at the tyre placard
But what is this? It says 205/55/R16 91V. That is not the same as what the tyre itself says. The answer is simple; my car is the poverty-pack GT, and I run luxury wheels and tyres from the top-spec GTS so I can pretend I’m rich. For some reason the GT86 placard doesn’t list both specs of tyre which is unusual. Normally the placard has all types of tyres listed, like this from a BMW 220i:
Method 3: look in the owner’s manual
Choosing a tyre
|Tyre||Description||Dealer prices – fitted and balanced, each||Average (each)||Four & wheel alignment|
|NanoEnergy3||long life, low rolling resistance for good fuel economy||$165||$195||$165||$165||$194||$173||$760|
|Proxes 4||entry level performance tyre||$170||$205||–||$179||–||$185||$809|
|Proxes C1S||comfortable ride, good grip levels. An example of an expensive tyre that is a good all-rounder.||$180||$209||–||$185||$230||$191||$835|
|Proxes T1 Sport||great grip and handling, but starts to compromise tyre life||$185||$219||–||$190||$201||$198||$862|
|Proxes R1R||the grippiest tyre, but compromises everything else; is expensive and shortest life, not quiet or comfortable||$220||$259||–||$230||$247||$236||$1,015|
Allow around $70 for a four-wheel alignment on a roadcar.
How many tyres should I buy?
How often should I check my tyre pressures?
What tyre pressure should I run?
What’s a wheel alignment and do I need one?
What’s a wheel balance?
Is it worth filling my tyres with nitrogen ?
How do I know when to replace my tyres?
How does changing tyres affect my car?
What about the rims?