In the throes of the choice of summer tires car owner is less frequent than when buying another pair of sneakers. As a rule, it happens once in 3-5 years. Naturally, depending on the intensity of car use, this period may change in one direction or another, but there is another factor. It will be a question of quality of tyres and, accordingly, correctness of their choice.
But first, let’s see what the legislation tells us about this topic. So, if we’re talking about passenger summer tyres, then the “Technical Regulations on Wheeled Vehicle Safety” (TPTC) prohibits the use of tyres with a residual tread height of less than 1.6 mm. For tyres designed for winter conditions, the norm is stricter: 4 mm.
It is not difficult to check it: you can use a regular ruler or caliper, or you can use special wear markings, which are found on almost every modern tire. They are usually marked on the sidewall with the TWI index or directly applied to the tread elements as a percentage of residual depth. That is to say, if you see the number 40, you don’t have to think about replacing it due to wear.
If there’s 20 percent left, it’s time to take care of changing the tires. There are other indicators of tread wear, but in any case, the law requires tire manufacturers to establish a sufficient number of legible marks. If in doubt about your own measuring skills, it is better to entrust this to tyre specialists.
It is fair to say that it is not necessary to bring tyres to the maximum possible level of tread production. It is easier to puncture such a tyre or to damage it if it is hit than a new one or if it is slightly worn. Moreover, the greater the wear, the greater the chance of losing control, especially on wet roads.
But even with minimal wear, the tyres should be free of punctures, bloating, cuts and tread peeling. These tyres are also recycled. No foreign inclusions such as nails, screws, etc. are allowed.
There is one more important point. Some manufacturers believe that the maximum service life of the tyres should not exceed five years, although a number of them are also for 10 years from the date of release. However, when they talk about 5 years, most likely, it is the warranty life of the tire.
Nevertheless, the age of tyres should be taken into account. The fact is that the rubber compound, from which they are made, is a multi-component substance, subject to drying. Unfortunately, this is not a school rubber eraser, which can be revived by soaking in kerosene or gasoline. A dry tire does not hold the road well, wears out more quickly, and the resulting micro-cracks on impact can lead to deformation or rupture.
So which tyres should you choose if you are satisfied that the old ones are worn out? First of all, tyres that are suitable for your car in terms of size, load and speed indexes. There are likely to be several options, and all of them are indicated on the sticker of the central pillar of the doorway on the driver’s side of the car, as well as in the manual of the car. In general, the TPVC stipulates that vehicles must be equipped with tyres according to the vehicle manufacturers’ operating documentation. And it is better not to deviate from these recommendations.
The size of the tires is tied to the rims you have, and with a 16-inch diameter, 17-inch tires cannot be supplied. Another rule of thumb is that the smaller the rim diameter, the higher the profile of the bus you are using.
OFTEN CAR OWNERS TRY TO PUT TYRES WITH A LOWER PROFILE AND A WIDER WIDTH ON THE CAR. YES, THIS OPTION SOMETIMES LOOKS BETTER, BUT IT REQUIRES A LARGER DIAMETER WHEEL AND HAS CERTAIN FEATURES. THE RESULTING WHEEL WILL ALWAYS BE HEAVIER AND WILL CAUSE ADDITIONAL LOAD ON THE CHASSIS AND SUSPENSION. THERE IS A RISK THAT THE TIRE WILL HIT THE SUSPENSION AND BODY COMPONENTS IN CORNERS.
In addition, when the car is used on bad roads, there will be an inevitable reduction in comfort. So it is better to stop on tires with a higher profile when driving on different surfaces.
The tyre market is huge and offers models for every taste and wallet. These are European, Korean, American, Chinese and even American brands. Which of them is preferable – it’s up to the buyer, of course. But there is a nuance.
Every self-respecting brand produces tires both for the domestic market and for export to different countries and regions. The lines of the same Japanese or Finnish manufacturers for themselves or for Russia can be quite different. But that does not mean that they are worse or better.
The fact is that the “right producers” have a rubber compound composition that adapts to the climatic conditions of a particular region. And sometimes even to quality of asphalt. So, to aspire to buy the tires made conditionally for Spain or the USA, unless it is a question of models for “superpremiums” (and that not always), there is no sense. Each line is made for a specific market.
By the way, most of the leading brands have built their factories in Russia, but this is no reason to say that the quality of products is different from imported. The standards at such plants are the same all over the world, so the quality control is identical. What can be alarming is the degree of localization of production or the use of local materials and components for tire manufacturing.
Generally, these are not rubbers, but materials for tyre carcasses. The same textile cord or edge ring wire may be locally manufactured. But they exactly meet all brand standards, so you don’t have to worry about it.
By the way, in 2018, the Michelin X-Ice North 4 DOT 22 WC 0K1X 0218 in the joint test of winter studded and non- studded tyres (12 studded and 11 non- studded, 205/55R16), carried out by the famous Finnish company Test World Oy, took the first place.
On the other hand, some tire manufacturers have several price ranges, from budget to premium. The difference is not only in the price, but also in the loads that these tyres can withstand, road resistance, frame materials and rubber compound composition, as well as in the mileage to wear. This is a question of mileage, not the time of use that we have already mentioned. Yes, as a rule, an expensive tire requires less weight to balance, i.e. better dynamically adjusted.
Another thing that is often overlooked is the tread design of the tyre itself. It is, by the way, a product of intellectual property of the company, protected by law and included in the cost of the tire. Of course, the drawing affects the traction properties in different conditions, but it is worth considering that the simpler may be much more effective.
It all depends on what roads you drive on. Buying a high-speed tire with symbolic grunt trailers, knowing that every weekend before winter you will go to your summer cottage is probably not worth it.
It also makes little sense to choose premium segment tires for an inexpensive car with engine power up to 100 hp. There is no special benefit here, if the owner for five years will roll 50-60 thousand kilometers. After all, the service life is approximately the same.
But if the annual mileage is bigger, one can think of a higher price range: such tires will pass more kilometers with certain characteristics. In this case, the costs can also be paid off.
For example, the tire gets the highest scores for smooth running, low noise, reduced fuel consumption. At the same time, it does not perform well in speed manoeuvring. But the total sum of points allows it to take the lead.
At the same time, a model with good braking or wet handling characteristics can be at the end of the list because of the same noisiness or increased fuel consumption. If 100 g/100km or a pair of extra decibels are crucial – choose this criterion. But such a decision will make you pay more. In general, it’s best to choose the priority properties of the tire and to build on them when buying.
Once you’ve decided on these details, you can move on to the nuances. The tyre’s tread pattern can be asymmetrical or directional. In the former case, the tyre is always fitted with the side marked Outside. The fact is that the inward-facing side of the tread not only differs from the outer side of the tread, but is also softer as the inner side of the tread is subjected to loads other than the outer side, especially in corners.
The second important thing is the Rotation mark and the arrow that indicates the direction in which the tyre is turning. These models have proven their worth on wet surfaces, but wear out more quickly. They also cause problems when repositioning these tyres. It is not possible to change the side of the tyre without overstressing it. There are also very rare cases where the tread is non-directional and yet symmetrical. But there are hardly any such treads now.