It's time to get a grip on safety with good tyres
It's hard to get excited about tyres; for many drivers, they are simply a necessary evil, one more expense after another. But the tyres you choose can have a huge impact on your safety and are in many ways the most important part of the car.
According to research by tyre company Bridgestone drivers may rate performance and safety as their main priorities when buying tyres but when it comes to putting their hands in their pockets price is the key consideration.
But are premium tyres really worth the extra over budget ones? It has to be a measure of Bridgestone's confidence that yours truly was given the chance to find out at their proving ground in Rome, Italy.
The measured tests were simple. We tested both premium and budget tyres on a pair of 2.0 litre Volkswagen Golfs, one of the most popular mid-sized cars. One Golf was fitted with premium Bridgestone Turanza T2001 tyres priced around €88 each and the other with Hifly HF 201 tyres. Hifly is the most popular budget tyre on sale in Europe and is one of 80 Chinese tyre brands currently on sale in Europe. The tyres tested retail for around €55 each.
On a relatively dry circuit the difference between both was minimal but once on a wet track the grip on roundabouts and corners, through high-speed braking was completely compromised on the budget tyres. The most revealing test was one recreating an emergency stop, the Bridgestone tyres stopped five metres earlier than the Chinese import; not only was the distance significant but at the point that the premium tyre had stopped the car completely the car fitted with the cheaper imports was still travelling at 30Km/h.
The choice to opt for the more expensive tyre is all the more compelling when you can visualise the consequences. A five metre shorter stopping distance could make a big dent in the front of your car, in fact Bridgestone reckon a similar impact at 30km would cause in the region of about €4,000 worth of damage to a Volkswagen Golf and something far worse at a pedestrian crossing.
The next time you go to replace your tyres, buy the very best you can afford and remember the level of grip you have on the road is determined only by the quality of your tyres.
Five Tyre Care Tips:
1. Set a date - Mark a date on the calendar which is the day you check your tyre pressure once each month. All you need is a pressure gauge and if you don't have one, most service stations do.
You will find the correct pressure for your car in the owners handbook or on the inside of the driver's door frame. 2. Checks - Look for wear on your tyres as the tread directly affects how it grips the road, so it's important to check your tyres regularly for uneven wear and foreign objects wedged in the tread.
3. Know when to say goodbye - If the tread wear limit is below 1.6mm or the tread wear indicator bars are showing you MUST replace the tyre.
4. What to swap - The purpose of regularly rotating tyres is to achieve more even wear on each tyre. Check the car's handbook first for specific advice about your car but if there is no information in the manual, then the tyres should be rotated every 12,000 km.
5. What to buy - You should buy tyres that are recommended by your car's manufacturer for the particular model you drive.