If you’ve never had to change the tyres on your car before, then you might be forgiven for thinking that all tyres are pretty much the same and when you get a flat all you have to do is slap on a few new ones to get your car back on the road. Unfortunately, like almost everything else in life, it’s just not that simple.
Because I’m such a kindly old soul, I’m not one to leave you wallowing in your tyre ignorance, so I’ve put together a handy little guide to set you on the path to tyre enlightenment. There’s an almost dizzying number of different tyre types, treads and sizes out there, but I’ll take things easy on you and just get started with a few of the more common types that you’ll likely encounter.
So, let’s get to it, enlightenment waits for nobody.
Winter tyres are specially designed to handle the cold temperatures and changes of condition that come hand in hand with everybody’s favourite not-at-all-always-too-long-and-cold season. Through the use of scientific magic – otherwise known as adding more natural rubber to the tyre – these tyres can function much better at lower temperatures, meaning that they have better grip and control even on icy surfaces.
Some countries have made it a legal requirement to fit winter tyres during the colder months, so if you’re planning any winter trips abroad where it might get a little chilly make sure to check up on this first!
If you live in the UK like I do, then you probably already have summer tyres on your car all year round. These tyres use softer materials and they perform best when used in temperatures that are 7°C and above making them perfect for use anywhere that has less extreme weather conditions. In more temperate countries with smaller swings in temperature throughout the year, you can generally treat summer tyres as an all-rounder, but make sure that you switch to more appropriate tyres if the weather takes a particularly big downswing,
All Season Tyres
Despite the fact that you can use summer tyres throughout the year in most parts of the UK, there is no denying that they’re not particularly well suited to those odd periods of ice and snow that we get. If you’re looking for the ultimate no hassle tyres in a temperate country, then you’ll probably be best off going with some all-season tyres.
These tyres are specifically designed to work well in both summer and winter conditions, but they won’t outperform either in their given season. That’s not much of a problem though if you live somewhere like the UK, where you’re unlikely to experience extreme cold in the winter or extreme heat in the summer. All season tyres perform well in the rain too, so what more do you really want out of tyres in the UK?
Punctured tyres are an unfortunate part of life, but there are some options out there that can help you to reduce the annoyance and inconvenience that flats can cause – one of the best of these being runflat tyres. If the name didn’t clue you in enough, runflat tyres allow you to keep driving on a flat tyre for about 50 more miles. They are designed with reinforcements on the inside of the tyre that allow them to continue to support weight and create traction despite decreases in pressure – pretty nifty right?
The downside of a runflat tyre is that once it has been punctured the whole tyre has to be replaced, rather than simply repairing the point of puncture – so it’s worth thinking about the price of convenience before considering them. I’ll also warn you that it is advised against switching to runflat tyres from conventional tyres unless your car is specifically designed to use them, since they require monitoring with an onboard tyre pressure monitor.
In addition to the above tyres, there’s also a huge range of more specialist tyres that you might want to consider depending on your vehicle type and the conditions that you’ll be driving in. Before buying tyres I’d always recommend having a look into what your vehicle manufacturer recommends you use. You can follow this up by speaking with a professional and asking for recommendations to suit your exact needs.
So, now that you know a little bit more about the world of tyres you should be all set to go out and pick up some new ones when you need a change. If you’re already in the market for new tyres, then I recommend having a good old look around online for the best offers. You can usually find deals on new tyres from most mechanics and other tyre specialists, so that you know you’re getting the best quality alongside the best price.