Three things you must check before buying your next set of new tyres
Labels are key to what a tyre can - and can't - do, as our Road Safety Authority expert outlines
When buying a washing machine or fridge, do you look at the energy rating label before buying?
Do you do the same when buying a tyre to check its performance?
According to a recent study conducted for the RSA by research company Behaviour & Attitudes, seven out of 10 motorists choose a tyre without checking its label.
Most people wouldn't choose a new home appliance without checking its quality and energy rating, so why should a tyre be any different? Especially when the information on the label will give you money-saving advice, such as its ability to cut fuel consumption and safety advice about its performance in wet weather.
A tyre is the only contact a car has with the road, but most motorists have never used a performance label to help them choose one.
That's not surprising when over half the people surveyed said they weren't even aware most tyres have performance labels. It's also not helped by the fact respondents felt the retailer didn't explain the information on the label.
With so many brands on the market, choosing a new tyre can be a daunting experience and typically the decision to purchase will come down to the cost.
But that's why EU law requires all new tyres to have performance labels to help you choose a good-quality one that's safe and minimises fuel consumption.
Tyre retailers are also legally obliged to show or inform you about the information on the label before the sale takes place. They must also state the label values on the customer bill.
The label is a great way to make informed choices when buying. It shows three measurements:
* Wet grip braking performance,
* Fuel efficiency,
* Level of external noise it produces.
For wet grip and fuel efficiency, it provides a colour-coded rating from A to G, with A the highest and G the lowest. It's recommended you choose as close to A as possible because that's going to give you a tyre that will perform best in wet weather and save you money on fuel.
From a road safety view, wet grip is one of the most important measurements of a tyre's performance as it improves your car's ability to stop on wet roads. As we say: Brakes stop the wheels, tyres stop the car.
Research has shown that a tyre with a wet grip rating of F will need an extra 18 metres to stop in wet conditions when compared to an A rated one. That's roughly the length of four cars.
A tyre with a higher fuel efficiency rating will save you money. According to the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland, a car fitted with four tyres rated A for fuel efficiency will use approximately 7.5pc less than a car with G rated tyres.
Tyre labels also provide a grade for exterior noise, expressed in decibels, as this is an environmental concern.
A tyre's noise level will be shown on the label as one of three sound categories. One black wave indicates the best noise level performance and three indicate the noisiest.
Tyre labelling laws only apply to new tyres being sold for cars, vans, trailers and trucks. They do not cover second-hand or part-worn tyres. That's why we recommended you don't buy them. You don't know their history and they may not have been quality checked.
Make sure you ask the retailer to show and explain the performance label values of a tyre. There are plenty of new tyres being sold that are poor quality. These may save you money, but ultimately that's the value you're placing on your family's life.
It doesn't matter how expensive or advanced your car is. If you fit poor-quality tyres, then your vehicle's safety and handling will be affected.