With such a wide array of tyre brands, sizes, and types on the market that when it comes to replacing worn tyres, choosing the most suitable ones can seem like a chore. If your current tyres are satisfactory, then a straight replacement should suffice and your choice is straightforward. But if you’re shopping for something different, it’s probably because you’re not totally satisfied, want better performance, or just want something more suitable for your needs.
The tyres you choose determine the quality of your ride, and as your vehicle’s most important safety component, you’ve got to get it right. Remember that besides the vehicle itself, you should also take your own unique driving habits into account.
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Most vehicle manufacturers work closely with tyre brands to tailor a tyre that is best suited to a particular make and model of vehicle. Therefore, while vehicle manufacturers will recommend Original Equipment Manufacturer fitment, the choice to switch is yours. If you’ve decided on OE fitment, then you can check your manual to find the OE details.
While a variety of tyre sizes will fit any one vehicle and you have the option to change your tyre size, it must be within a specific range or you will run into serious problems. Fitting tyres that are too small for your car will put you in danger.
If you’re on a tight budget then it’s likely you’ll want to fit smaller, less expensive tyres, but make sure to keep to the recommended safety guidelines when doing so.
However, be aware that fitting smaller tyres doesn’t always mean you’ll pay less. In fact, not only could the smaller sized tyres cost more, you'll also need to fork out more cash to buy a set of smaller rims to fit the smaller tyres.
Car and light truck tyres are indicated in series of numbers and letters. To maintain similar performance and safety of your car with respect to the tyres, it’s best to replace them with the same or similar tyres.
Your car’s original tyres were matched to the maximum speed of the tyre – the rating indicating the speed they can safely go for a length of time. Generally, a higher rating means more control and handling at higher speeds, but remember that these ratings do not account for real-life factors such as tyre inflation, wheel alignment, vehicle load, or tyre tread and condition.
Unless you’re hitting the racetrack with your car regularly, it’s unlikely you’ll need to change to high-performance tyres with a higher speed rating.
A tyre's load index indicates the maximum weight a tyre can support when properly inflated. The higher a tyre’s load index number, the larger the weight it can carry. Inversely, the smaller the load index number, the lower is its weight carrying capacity.
It's important to choose tyres with at least the same load index as your car's original equipment specifications and no lower.
- Fitting tyres with a higher load index number means your car will be able to carry more weight than originally.
- Fitting tyres with a lower load index than the car manufacturer's specifications could cause them to wear out prematurely or damage them if the load exceeds their carrying capacity. Worse still, you also run the risk of tyre blowout.
Note: Bear in mind that tyres of the same size can have different load indexes.
Also read: What do all the numbers on your tyres mean?
Some tyres come with a pro-rated mileage warranty, which is another way to roughly gauge and compare the expected longevity of different tyres under normal conditions. Sports cars, for example, would have a lower mileage estimate than a passenger car.
EU tyre labelling highlights the performance of a tyre, specifically relating to fuel efficiency (measured on rolling resistance), wet grip, and external noise. As a tyre’s rolling resistance is accountable for 20% of fuel consumption, it might be worth purchasing a higher-rated, more cost-effective tyre like Bridgestone Ecopia tyres.
Also read: Rolling Resistance Explained
Some cars are factory-fitted with run-flat tyres, but you can replace run-flats with conventional tyres should you prefer. However, choices in run-flat tyres are more limited and they generally are more expensive to buy.
Also read: A Comprehensive Guide to Run-Flat Tyres
Do we have to switch between summer and winter tyres in South Africa?
Fortunately, South African motorists don’t need to switch between summer and winter tyres when the temperatures change – our winters are moderate with hardly any chance of ice and snow on our roads – so we’re generally safe with summer or all-season tyres.
Buy in pairs
A car’s tyres are fitted in pairs on the same axle, one in front and one at the back. Always replace both tyres with an identical set to maintain balance and stability. For safety’s sake, you want to avoid any differences between tread, size, brand, pattern, and ratings.
Budget vs. brand
One of the reasons why branded tyres cost more is because of the many years of research, time spent, knowledge gained, technology used and a host of other factors invested in developing and designing a tyre to satisfactory standard. The final product is also superior in many ways such as the use of top quality materials, tread pattern, and overall lifespan.
Your driving style and needs
Now that you understand the main factors around choosing tyres for your vehicle, you might want to consider your performance needs, driving conditions, and personal driving habits.
Perhaps you’re looking for a tyre that will last you longer, or one that gives you a smoother, quieter ride. Or maybe you’re looking for tyres with good grip on both wet and dry surfaces. Where do you drive mostly? Do you often carry heavy loads in your vehicle? Think about these questions before consulting with your tyre experts for advice and also take advantage of our monthly tyre specials.
Choosing a replacement set of tyres needn’t be a chore. Arm yourself with some basic knowledge, ask the right questions, and you’re bound to make the right choice. Happy driving!
Brought to you by Supa Quick passenger, SUV, and 4x4 tyres. Our range includes Bridgestone, Firestone, Dayton, Pirelli, Mickey Thompson, and Cooper Tires. Visit us at one of our fitment centres nationwide.
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