Choosing the right tyres for your car can sometimes be a bit of an effort, particulary if you are looking to buy at an affordable price. And with tyre prices varying so much, where does one go for the best VFM? We’ll aim to help you a little in this article.
Tyres are vitally important for (obviously) the mobility of a vehicle, but also for the safety of those within it. Tyres with no grip, under or over inflated tyres or tyres that are the wrong size for the rim to which they are fitted can cause the vehicle to drive erratically, and at worse have dire consequences at speed.
We should first of all advise that you should always seek to buy the recommended tyres for your vehicle in terms of both size and sometimes manufacturer in order to ensure that your vehicle is operating in the way that the thousands of hours of road and factory testing findings dictate. For example, some high performance cars invest a significant budget in developing a particularly unique tyre for a specific vehicle. The tyre grip, performance and handling are all strenuously tested in every concievable circumstance before making it to market. So, by overriding that research and development by opting for your own choice of tyre, or worse still a mis-match of tyres, can mean you are making a comprimise, that whilst not always necessarily dangerous, may impact on performance or even fuel economy.
It’s also worth always checking on the age of your tyres even if you haven’t accrued much wear on them yet. Older tyres can crack and perish if not in use and if not stored correctly. You can tell the age of most tyres by looking at the outer sidewall of the rubber. There should be a 4 digit number; the first 2 digits relate to a number of weeks and the 2nd 2 digits relate to a year. so, ‘1416’ for example, means the 14th week of the 16th year – roughly April 2016. Tyres that are older than 3 or 4 years should be more closely inspected.
Choosing the right tyre size isn’t always the priority for some owners. There has been a trend over recent years of running ‘stretched tyres’ that show more of (a presumably) expensive rim. This is not only dangerous (and often looks stupid too) but it could see you in trouble with the law, and even your insurance company if you are involved with an accident.
In terms of the other numbers on the side of the tyres, the most important is the tyre size. This is formed of 3 sets of digits separated by ‘/’. The first number is the width, in mm, of the width of the tyre. The 2nd figure is the ‘percentage’ of that width which makes up the firewall sides, and the 3rd figure is the rim size in inches. So, a tyre size of 195/50/15 means a tyre of 195mm width, a firewall size of 97.5mm and a hole in then middle of 15 inches.
You need to decide where to buy your tyres next. Your choices will be main dealer Vs tyre depot Vs online. If your car runs manufacturer recommended specific tyres, then a main dealer is often your best and cheapest option for that choice of tyre though some ‘indys’ (independents) can sometimes also source these. Tyre depots are useful for the more common tyres and often have a choice of tyre manufacturer to choose from too. If you can wait a day or two, they can normally source a specific tyre quickly also, plus they can dispose of your old tyre, balance the tyre and fit to your car while you wait. The 3rd option, online, can often be the cheapest. You select your tyres online and agree a local tyre fitter. This could often be one of your local tyre depots. You will pay upfront and the tyres will be dropped at an agreed date to the tyre depot and you’ll make an appointment to have them fitted. Since you’ll have prepaid they’ll rarely be a need for any additional costs unless any problems are found.