A Guide to Car Tyres

It would be fair to say that most motorists take car tyres for granted most of the time. Yes, motorists check their tyre pressures regularly, but above and beyond that it is only when they need to be replaced because of wear and tear, or damage, receive their full attention. Even then, it may simply be a question of conveying information from a tyre sidewall to a tyre fitter, or fitters, without necessarily understanding what that information means.


Car Tyre Considerations

The make and model of a tyre is usually written on the sidewall, so it is easy to determine whether you want, say, Goodyear Hydragrip, or Michelin Primary HP (High Performance) tyres, but the actual specification of the tyres may remain a mystery.

The make and model of a tyre

The make and model of a tyre

After all, the only visible difference between one tyre and another is the pattern of the tread and this alone cannot tell you anything about the performance or longevity of a tyre, or its effect on fuel consumption.

Safety is paramount, so you need to choose tyres that are not only the correct size, but also load capacity and speed ratings that correspond to your car and the type of motoring that you want to do.

Best Tyres (All-Season, Summer, Performance)

Types of TyresThe Make & ModelBrandRating

Best all-season tyres

Michelin Premier A/SMichelin★ ★ ★ ★ ★

All-season run-flat tyres

Bridgestone DriveGuardBridgestone★ ★ ★ ★ ★

Best summer tyres

Michelin Pilot Super SportMichelin★ ★ ★ ★ ★

Best discount tyres

General AltiMax RT43General★ ★ ★ ★ ★

Best performance tyres

Bridgestone Potenza RE-11Bridgestone★ ★ ★ ★ ★

Types of Tires

  • All-season tyres: experts say it’s more accurate to call these three-season tyres. Though the best can keep you on the road for the occasional snowstorm, and most have pretty good traction on the ice, if you live in a region with heavy snowfall consider switching to a winter tire for optimum traction for the cold months.
  • Run-Flat tyres: allow you to continue to drive up to 50 miles after the air is out of your tire, thus reducing the need for a spare tire.
  • Summer tyres: don’t need to bulk up on extra traction for icy roads. The best summer tyres will deliver good traction on both wet and dry pavement. They should also muffle distracting road noise.
  • Performance tyres: they could be your first choice if you want to tap its full potential. They are designed to provide maximum speed and handling on dry roads and closed tracks.

Load Capacity and Tyre Speed Ratings

To illustrate these points, let us consider another popular high performance tyre, the Uniroyal Rainsport, with a specification of 245⁄45R18 96W.

Tyre Speed Rating

Tyre Speed Rating

The 245⁄45 tells us that the tyre is 245mm wide and that its profile is 45%. The R stands for radial, as opposed to cross–ply and the 18 tells us that its inner rim has a diameter of 18″. The load capacity rating (96) and speed rating (W) are a little more difficult to decipher, since their values need to be looked up in tables. A load capacity rating of 96 means that this tyre is capable of carrying a payload of 710kg, while a speed rating of W means that it is safe for driving at up to 168 mph.

Correct Tyres for Towing Trailer Tents

Whilst it is often true that you get what you pay for when buying car tyres, it is not always the case and even the best tyres while not perform optimally if underinflated.

If you are intending to tow, say, a trailer tent, which tent you choose will also have a bearing on the tyres that you choose for the towing vehicle.

Trailer tents are typically designed to be towed by an average–sized vehicle, but, even so, an additional weight of several hundred kilograms does place extra stress on tyres. As a word of caution, trailer tent wheels are generally 8″ or 10″ in diameter and therefore incompatible with standard car tyres.

According to tirerack.com, special trailer service tyres are often available in multiple load ranges. ST-metric sized special trailer service tyres will be branded with their load range (load range D or LRD) on their sidewalls and list their appropriate load range letter in their descriptions as ST205/75R15 LRD.

ST-Metric Trailer Service Tyres

Load RangePly RatingMarkingsMaximum Load Pressure
B4B35 psi (240 kPa)
C6C50 psi (350 kPa)
D8D65 psi (450 kPa)
E10E80 psi (550 kPa)

More about car tyres

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