How to choose tyres for your vehicle.
When purchasing a new car, the factory equipped tyres are chosen by your manufacturer for a few reasons. Generally, the OEM tyres have a focus on cost, comfort and having low road noise.
When it comes time to replace your tyres when they wear out, it’s entirely up to you what tyres you fit onto your vehicle. You may choose to go with the OEM specified tyre or upgrade to another pattern depending on your driving habits.
What size tyres do you need?
Before you choose a pattern, it’s important to know what size tyres you will need. Standard tyre sizing can be found on the tyre placard, a small sticker usually affixed to the drivers’ door jamb. This information typically includes front and rear sizing, and recommended air pressures for loaded and unloaded vehicles.
The tyre placard assumes you’re using the OEM tyre and the vehicle is not modified in any substantial way, but generally you’ll get a great idea of where to start when it comes to tyre pressures on aftermarket tyre choices.
What type of driving will you do?
When a manufacturer picks what will become the OE tyre for a vehicle, there is usually market research, surveys and consumer trend studies performed that ensure the chosen tyre will handle the majority of use case scenarios.
What if you’re an outlier and you use your vehicle for tasks atypical to other drivers? That’s where you can choose another tyre that may complement your use better.
If you primarily stick to well maintained sealed roads, your tyre choice may look different to a driver who does a lot of rural driving on gravel and poorly maintained roads.
What are your driving priorities?
There is no such thing as the perfect tyre for all vehicles and conditions, try as tyre manufacturers might. However, talking to the staff at your local Donnellan’s about your expectations can help us pick the right tyre for you.
Some of the tyre characteristics below are somewhat related, for example, an ultra-high-performance mud terrain tyre is extremely unlikely to be either budget-friendly or quiet on the road. While a durable and quiet tyre is unlikely to have characteristics such as extreme on-road performance suitable for sports vehicles.
Sometimes, the fact of the matter is that premium tyres often cost a lot of money. In Australia, you’re unlikely to find a tyre wholly unsuitable for our roads, because tyres sold for road use must meet Australian standards.
Choosing a premium tyre may net you a tyre that has more of the characteristics you desire, while a cheaper tyre may get the job done in one or two categories but make more compromises in other areas. For example, a budget offering might be durable and quiet but have poor wet-weather performance.
Tyres designed for on-road use are optimised for use on sealed roads. Tyres offering good tarmac performance often feature shorter braking distances even in wet weather, while certain performance tyres can even take this to the extreme, offering minimal tread patterns and sacrificing cold and wet weather performance to provide the absolute pinnacle of traction and handling characteristics.
If you spend a lot of time off-road or driving in rural regions, you might consider a tyre engineered towards rougher conditions.
Off-road tyres are designed with thicker, heavier-duty tread patterns, while premium tyres in this segment offer more load capacity and thicker sidewalls featuring exotic materials such as kevlar to help avoid sidewall tearing.
The more aggressive a tyre leans towards performance either on or off-road, generally the noisier they can be.
Performance street tyres are made of softer compounds that grip the road surface and stiffer sidewalls that transmit more vibrations and noise to the car. Low noise tyres are generally marketed towards SUVs and premium passenger vehicles.
Aggressive off-road tyres typically feature larger tread blocks and voids that can cause droning at higher speeds on sealed roads.
We all want our tyres to last as long as possible, which is understandable given how much they can cost. Making durable tyres isn’t hard, but it’s about managing compromises. A theoretical, ultra-durable tyre lasting 200,000kms would have to be made of super hard rubber with very deep tread patterns. This tyre would be loud, heavy and extremely unsafe in wet conditions.
As we demand more performance and safety from tyres, durability needs to take a back seat to features like aquaplaning resistance and emergency braking performance. Recent advancements in tyre compounds and tread design have improved things significantly in this area though.
Tyres have a surprising effect on your fuel economy. Mileage may be up to 8% better simply based on what tyres you have on your vehicle.
There are many tyres advertised as ‘eco-friendly’ that are also quiet and good in wet road conditions, while you might find there aren’t many Mud Terrain tyres being advertised as eco-friendly.
Regardless of what tyres you choose, it is illegal in Australia to fit a tyre with a lesser load value than what is specified on your tyre placard.
Manufacturers perform lots of testing to find out how much load is being placed on each tyre on your vehicle and using a tyre that can not meet this basic requirement can potentially cause safety issues, inadequate braking performance, tyre blowouts or worse.
We will ensure that your tyres are a legal fitment so you can avoid potential issues with insurance.
RFT - Run-flat tyres
Run Flat Tyres are a great innovation and work well for vehicles that stay relatively close to cities or towns. Most RFTs are designed to be driven on for no more than 80 kilometres at a maximum speed of 80kph. Understandably those restrictions might not mesh well with a small minority of these vehicle owners.
RFTs often come with a downside of excessive road noise. RFTs have excessively stiff sidewalls designed to handle vehicle loads.
While it’s not mandatory to replace your factory run-flat tyres with run-flat tyres, be mindful that your vehicle may not come with an appropriate spare tyre option.
Contact us for expert advice.
Donnellans the Tyremen are your local tyre, wheel and mechanical experts. We have 5 locations across south-east Melbourne and our staff are specialists in choosing the right tyre for you and your needs.
Our stores offer wheel alignment and tyre balancing services to help protect your new investments while our workshops are able to take on any vehicle maintenance and servicing requirements.