How to buy good tyres?

Buying new tyres is an investment in safety
There are often dozens of different tyre models available on the market for each car – their number can be overwhelming. However, choosing good tyres is an important decision that has a real impact on our road safety. After all, tyres are the only point of contact between the car and the road – they determine the length of braking distance and grip of the car. What do the symbols and labels on tyres mean? Can tyres affect fuel consumption? What to consider when buying tyres?

Good tyres are an investment in our safety – as they are the only element of contact between the car and the road, the vehicles performance depends on their quality. This is particularly important in unpredictable critical situations. The properties and quality of tyres affect both the comfort of driving and the effectiveness in avoiding accidents during difficult road conditions.

– Tyres are a very important part of car's equipment when it comes to safety. They are a technically advanced product that must meet requirements that often oppose themselves when in comes to their production – such as adhesion, strength or aquaplaning resistance. They have many parameters that we can compare and focus on those that are most important to us – it is worth to read results of tyre tests done by independent journalists and to talk with experienced car workshop staff. It does not matter, however, whether at the time of purchase the tyres are several days or several years old – they are not a food product, they do not have a specified shelf life. Tyres manufactured even a few years ago, but stored in the right conditions, retain all their properties – they are brand new. Physico-chemical changes occur mainly during use and are caused by warming up during driving and by pressure, deformations and other factors that do not occur in the tyre storage process – says Piotr Sarnecki, general director of the Polish Tyre Industry Association (PTIA).

Rule no. 1 – do not but used tyres!

Even premium tyres will be of no use if you buy them used, with an unknown history. Their previous owner could have driven with low tyre pressure, which then led to excessive overloads, overheating and damage to the inner layers of the tyres’ sidewalls. These significant – but unknown to us – defects can lead to rupture of the rubber while driving! When we look at tyres, we are only able to assess their tread depth and determine if there are any cracks and bulges on the side of the tyre - this does not mean, however, that the set of tyres is suitable for further safe operation. The savings associated with buying used tyres are only apparent – such tyres pose a threat on the road, and they may cost us our health or life. Even new budget class tyres will be a much better choice than a second-hand set.

Read the labels

For a couple of years now European drivers have been able to – thanks to appropriate labels which most often appear in the form of a sticker on the tread – familiarise themselves with the basic three tyre parameters prior to making a purchase and to compare the products during shopping. We must remember that three different classes of tyres differ greatly when it comes to their performance in braking on wet roads, fuel efficiency and external rolling noise levels. Did you know that the difference between an A and G rating can mean a reduction in fuel consumption of up to 7.5%? Class A tyre model has the shortest braking distance – at a speed of 80 km/h your braking distance will be even 18 m shorter than with the lowest G class tyres. That’s up to four lengths of a passenger car[1].

Choose the right parameters – basing on your requirements and the type of car you own

The size of the tyre is not just a matter of aesthetics. Each car manufacturer determines the appropriate size for the given car model and the type of engine and approves vehicles for use on the road on such tyres. The information on the proper size of tyres for a given car can be found in the instruction manual of the vehicle. Certification of Tyre Services given by PTIA. If that’s not a subject you want to get a PhD in, talk to specialists from a reputable car workshops – preferably those which have the Certification of Tyre Services of the Polish Tyre Industry Association.

Manufacturers place a string of numbers and characters on each tyre that describe their individual properties, for example 215/55R16 91T, where:

Check the markings on tyres

The symbols on the tyres will help you make a conscious decision when buying a set of tyres. The most important of these are:



[1] Measured in accordance with Regulation (EC) No 1222/2009 of the European Parliament

Source: Polish Tyre Industry Association