RAC Cars News


Understanding Tyre Labels

By raccars Published

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Every car owner will, at some point, have to buy new tyres. The choice is bewildering but rather than making a decision solely on budget, there are other factors to consider. These can be easily understood by examining the European Tyre Label, which is mandatory with the sale of tyres for cars, vans and trucks, since November 2012. The labelling applies to all road legal tyres, so special racing tyres are excluded from the legislation, as are spares, re-treads and vintage compound tyres used on classic cars.

The labels are similar to those used on white goods, such as washing machines, and help motorists to understand the different tyre properties. The label measures three different areas of tyre performance, grading them upon their response.

Fuel Efficiency

Fuel efficiency is graded by measuring rolling resistance. Low rolling resistance means the tyres spin more easily and, therefore, requires less energy than a tyre with higher rolling resistance. As the engine is what provides the energy to spin the tyres, low rolling resistance tyres use less fuel.

An A to G rating is applied, A being the most efficient and G the least, with each letter given a colour ranging from green to red. Each grade is supposed to represent a difference of 2.5% to 4.5% in fuel use. The difference between an A rated tyre and a G rated version is said to be about half a litre of fuel per 100km of driving. Low rolling resistance tyres tend to be a bit more expensive but fuel savings over time should compensate for the extra outlay and should reduce CO2 emissions.

Wet Grip

Tyres are also measured on their ability to hold the road in the wet. The rating given relates to the distance needed by a tyre to stop from 50mph on a wet road surface. The same scale of A to G with its representative colours is used. Each scale variation represents between 3-6 metres of stopping distance, or 1-2 car lengths.

External Road Noise

The road noise measurement is expressed by decibels. The description is clarified by three symbols in the shape of a sound wave in black or white. The quietest tyres are awarded one sound wave, going up to three sound waves for the noisiest tyres. Both external and internal road noise levels can be improved by quieter tyres, but again you may have to pay a little extra.

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