Tyre Tales 4: Not all tyres are created equal
When it comes to changing your tyres, you can’t have everything, good grip, long-lasting and cheap – not all tyres are created equal.
We’ve just given away $500 worth of tyres to one lucky winner. All you had to do was write in with your tyre experiences, and our team has picked the one we felt had the best lesson for others. But we’ve published most of the entries because there’s something in there for everyone.
TYRES. THEY’RE probably the most important part of your new car and that’s no exaggeration. But, that doesn’t mean you have to stick with the brand of tyres that your manufacturer recommends. However, if you do choose to change the tyres on your car, there are a few things you should consider as the stories below reveal.
Just purchased a new Toyota Yaris Ascent fitted with Japanese Bridgestone Ecopia EP25 tyres 175/65 R15 84H . The tyre noise is very annoying and quite loud and on some roads it sounds like a jet tacking off. So now i am looking to change the tyres with a different make, hoping to reduce the road noise to a bearable limit. The Ecopia (ECO) name is deceiving making it sound like an environmentally friendly green tyre? But the Toyota and Bridgestone forgot about the noise emitted from these tyres, noise is also part of our environment. The EU is bringing in strict noise limits on tyres.
I purchased a Skoda Octavia 90TSI in May 2013, and noticed a problem when driving the car at speeds between 80 to 100 km/h on coursed chipped country roads. The problem was intrusive tyre noise that was entering the cabin. The tyres originally fitted to my new car were 205/55/16 with Bridgestone ER300 tyres. I took my car back to the Skoda Dealership to mention this tyre noise problem, and to see if they could work out a possible solution. The manager was very helpful in this regard, and decided to change over my 16” tyres to 15” wheels, hoping to reduce some tyre noise due to the 16” higher profile. While the 15” wheels/tyres did provide a bit more ride comfort, the road noise was still a problem, as these tyres were of the same brand & tyre tread pattern. I changed the Bridgestone tyres on my car to Continental ComfortContact5 tyres, and these tyres were definitely quieter, but there was still some tyre noise entering the cabin. I am presently researching Low noise tyres that might be available in the near future to replace my present ones.
PRACTICAL MOTORING SAYS: In project management they say choose any two of on time, on budget or to specifications. Tyres a bit like that too. Despite the claims, you won’t find a tyre that does it all. You have to choose one of these four:
- Economy and life – low rolling resistance so it saves money, long-life tyre that doesn’t wear quickly;
- Different types of grip – good dry weather grip is quite different to good wet-weather or dirt-road grip;
- Noise – the quieter the tyre, the less engineering effort can be put into other capabilities; and
- Cost – the lower you go here, the less capable the tyre…
…and decide which is most important to you. For example, you simply can’t buy a very grippy tyre that’s cheap. Nor can you buy an economical tyre that grips as well as a sports-oriented tyre.
It’s safe to say that unless you buy a top-end car the aftermarket can supply you with better tyres than the originals…so long as you’re clear on what ‘better’ means to you, as above. However, it is hard to choose tyres as there’s little objective testing, and you can’t very well run them for a while and bring them back. The best way is careful research online using manufacturer websites to see what they reckon are the relative strengths of the tyres, and remember you get what you pay for.
“Green” tyres are interesting. There are tyres designed for low rolling resistance which means less fuel used, but true overall environmental friendliness means low impact of manufacture too. Remember that the correct pressures (see Tyre Tales 1, 2 and 3) does a lot for rolling resistance and therefore fuel efficiency, not to mention the life of the tyre and handling. You find these tyres on cars that are marketed for low fuel consumption, notably the hyrbid petrol/electric roadcars.
If your tyres are too noisy then adding more soundproofing to your car may be an idea. Get a can of bitumen paint and go crazy under the wheelarches, and consider soundproofing material (Purple Pig has some) around the other side of the wheelarches and transmission tunnel, even under the bonnet.
When travelling off road make sure you upgrade your tyres to suit the terrain. Whilst I never had a puncture amazingly with my Goodyear wrangler tyres on my Discovery 3, they did suffer from a year of offloading, and rock crawling. They have to be the most impressive OEM tyre on a 4wd. They weren’t babied at all and maintained traction beyond all expectations.
PRACTICAL MOTORING SAYS: If you’re going to be travelling offroad then definitely yes, you certainly do need to change your tyres. The stock ones simply don’t cut it, although that’s somewhat dependent on the vehicle – utes have stronger tyres than say European prestige 4WDs.
The tyres to get are LTs – light truck construction tyres which are much stronger than the P (passenger) construction tyres your 4WD probably has on as standard. You may choose to go for a more open tread pattern such an all-terrain which will give you better grip on dirt roads and offroad, with minimal extra noise or loss of grip on bitumen, but it’s the base construction that’s most important.
Got a question on tyres? Ask us… and stay tuned for more competitions, all you’ll need to do is write a little story and you could be in with a chance!