1 November 2012

Tyre labelling: what does it mean?

As from November 1st 2012 all tyres on sale in the EU must carry a label showing three performance parameters: rolling resistance, grip and noise levels. The best performance is an "A" rating.

tyreRolling resistance measures the friction between the tyre and the road surface, and relates to the distance a tyre will cover for a given amount of fuel. The greater the rolling resistance the more fuel will be used to propel the tyre forward. So the lower rolling resistance the better. It has been suggested that over the life of a tyre the saving in fuel could well amount to a couple of tank-fulls, which with the current and ever-rising cost of fuel would go some way towards paying for a better quality tyre.

Inevitably there is a trade off between grip and rolling resistance, especially amongst lower cost tyres. In order to achieve good grip and low rolling resistance new compounds using chemicals and silicons are utilised.

These compounds and the research needed to develop them is costly, and this is reflected in the higher price for better performing tyres. But when you consider that at 50 mph in the wet a low-cost tyre can take as much as an additional 7 metres to stop compared with a premium tyre, the extra cost makes sense. 7 metres, the length of a large room, could be the difference between no impact and a life-threatening event.

The third parameter on the new tyre labels is a measure of the noise generated by the tyre. Tyre noise is a significant component of the overall noise level produced by a car. Less noise means a more comfortable ride for those inside the car, and less noise pollution for the environment.

There has been some criticism that the one parameter missing from the new labelling scheme is durability; how long your tyre will last. But in spite of this omission the new labels provide consumers with more information than ever before to help them decide on what is now an expensive purchasing decision.

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