From November 2012 all tyres sold in the EU will legally have to carry a uniform tyre label like the one below.
The Tyre label will compare three key areas of a tyre:
The labels aim is to help you make a more informed decision when purchasing tyres, enabling easier than ever comparisons using a simple A-G rating system.
The Fuel efficiency element of the tyre label is probably the most important in it's overall impact on you and the environment.
Tyres rated with a G will be far less efficient and therefore more expensive to run than those rated A or similar. This will mean more regular stops at the pump for you, more money spent and a negative impact on the environment with higher Co2 emissions.
A cars tyre can affect its fuel efficiency by up to 20% and is measured by the tyres rolling resistance. Over the lifetime of a tyre an A rated tyre can save you £110 compared with that of a G rated. Almost enough to buy you a new set.
Choosing the right tyre then can yield significant savings over the life of your tyre.
A tyres performance in wet weather is one of the most crucial safety aspects of any new tyre; particularly in this country!
Like the fuel efficiency the tyre is rated from A to G with an A rated tyre giving rise to 30% shorter stopping distances verse a G rated tyre.
Wet performance can have serious safety implications, with a typical A rated tyre allowing for a stopping distance nearly 4 car lengths less than a G rated tyre when travelling at 50mph. That's over 18m shorter, a far safer stopping distance by any measure.
The difference in braking distance between each grade is approximately 3metres, so do consider this when comparing your tyres.
Unlike fuel efficiency and wet weather performance a tyres exterior noise emissions are graded by using decibels, and a three bar system much like that seen on mobile signals.
Three black waves is the poorest score and mean that the tyre currently conforms to legal limits but is 3 or more decibels above the future legal limit.
Two black waves indicates that the tyre has an average level of emissions and is equal to or up to 3 decibels below the future legal limit.
One black wave means that the tyre has lower than average levels of noise emissions that are 3 or more decibels below the future legal limit.
The new legal noise limits will be introduced between 2012 and 2016.
Whilst the tyre label is a huge step forward for consumers purchasing new tyres, it's important to remember that it doesn't show everything that you should consider when buying new tyres.
When Manufacturers are designing and testing their tyres they will usually test and score it on around 50 different categories, showing just what a range of characteristics there are too consider.
Below are some of the other key areas that should be factored in but are not included on the tyre label and include important areas including overall handling, performance and safety aspects.
With 25% of accidents happening on bends and a 70% of total accidents taking place in dry conditions its important to consider a tyres performance and handling features in dry weather and on winding roads.
You can use the reviews on our site or around the web to find this information out.
Some tyres can offer up to year of extra driving compared with their rivals, helping you to save money in the long run. It pays to look at more than just the budget tyres, and consider reviews surrounding a tyres useful life.
Traction grades measure a cars ability to stop in a straight line in wet conditions.
Generally speaking a tyre with higher traction levels will have a higher wet performance indicator, but this is not always the case and it can be worth checking, either on our site or on the manufacturers website what traction rating they received.
Whilst the tyre labeling has only been compulsory since November 2012, Manufacturers have been required to test their tyres and score them based on the three criteria below since June 2012.
Instead of the EU providing the testing facility, the manufacturers have a strict set of guidelines to test the tyres and then self certify. The EU randomly checks and monitors the manufacturers to ensure that the standards are being adheredtoo.
Below outlines the three different testing processes that the manufacturers have to put the tyres through for the Label:
The tyre is loaded on to a specially designed drum and then rotated with a preset load and pressure.
The engineers will then calculate the level of torque required to rotate the drum before the tyre was loaded on and after it was loaded on to the drum. By working out the difference in the torque required before and after it has been fitted they can work out the tyres rolling resistance.
The difference before the tyre was fitted and after it was fitted provides the test engineers with the Rolling Resistance Coefficient, and they can then use this to work out the required grading for the new tyres label.
The Resistance impacts heavily on the tyres fuel efficiency, and therefore it's overall running cost over its lifetime so it's important to consider this when purchasing your new tyres.
The engineers conduct two tests to work out the wet grip rating of the tyre and use the results to create the Wet Grip Index. This is then measured against a benchmark tyre to see the improvement and thus the tyres overall wet grip efficiency.
The First test involves wet braking and measures how the tyre performs braking on a wet surface, with the distance it takes for the car to slow from 50mph to 12mph recorded.
The second test is known as the skid trailer test which calculates the level of friction between the tyre and road surfaces. The test is conducted when the vehicle is travelling above 40mph and in temperatures between 2c and 20c for winter tyres and 3c and 35c for summer tyres.
This test aims to work out the external noise emissions of a tyre and the engineers measure this in decibels.
The test involves setting up a microphone by the side of a track, within required parameters which are: 7.5m away from the center of the track and 1.2m off the ground. The vehicle must then travel past the microphone at 50mph with the engine switched off for the test to be acceptable.
Since the introduction of the new tyre labeling system in November 2012, winter tyres have had a pretty hard time in the testing processes with their scores often doing little justice to their true capabilities and performance.
The problem for winter tyres is that the tests carried out for the EU tyre labeling on winter tyres are carried out under the same conditions as that of summer and all weather tyres.
This puts winter tyres at a distinct disadvantage because as you probably know, they?re designed to perform in temperatures under 7 degreees and so being tested at above that temperature leaves them at a bit of a loss.
Winter tyres are usually made up of far higher concentrations of natural rubber than their summer and all weather counter parts in order to ensure that in colder weather they maintain their flexibility in order to retain their grip unlike their summer counterparts that usually firm up leaving you with little traction.
Due to the nature of the way in which they are tested then they often score poorly in the traditional tyre labeling tests.
It's important that when searching through our vast range of winter tyres you don't, as the saying goes judge the tyre by it's cover (or label) entirely for the reasons above.
Look at the tyres tread patterns and the number and size of the sipes. (For example, Michelin's winter tyre contains nearly 1,500 sipes compared with around 200 on their normal summer tyres).
Check out reviews and scores on the manufacturers website, our own and auto magazines to see how it stacks up in more targeted testing. Have a look into the compound being used, the percentages and ratios of natural rubber and silica in the tyre. They will impact the elasticity and therefore the grip of the tyre.
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