I know tyres are not that interesting to some but as the only part of the vehicle that comes into contact with the road surface, they are pretty important for your safety. So, I have had a go at jotting down some factors to think about when buying new tyres. I hope this helps…
What tyre is best for you?
If you have been happy with the performance of the current tyres on your car you may wish to have the same brand fitted again. We recommend that you have the same tyres on each axle at least i.e. both fronts and both rears. Ideally you should have the same 4 tyres all round but this is not essential. So as well as noting down the tyre size on your vehicle (displayed in numbers on the side wall of each tyre e.g. 205/55/16), make a note of the brand so you can ask for the tyres to be matched to the existing tyres.
Budget, mid-range, premium tyres
If you’re not happy with the tyres on the car, you will need to decide whether you would like budget, mid-range or premium tyres. A budget tyre is normally the cheapest, premium the most expensive and mid-range is somewhere in between. Quality also varies with the premium usually being the best and the budget the least performing tyre. The stand out benefit of a premium tyre is often the increased number of miles you should get out of it so if you are not doing lots of miles, a mid-range may well be a sensible, good value choice.
Some vehicles should be fitted with runflat tyres, which are designed after being punctured, to enable you to drive slowly home or to a tyre garage to be replaced. Once standard tyres are punctured and are flat you may well not be able to drive on them but have your spare fitted. Runflats are typically more expensive than standard tyres and are typically required for BMWs, Minis some Mercedes and some VW Passats etc. On the side wall of your tyre along with the tyre brand, there will be a sign saying ‘ROF’ (Run on Flat) or ‘RFT’ (Run Flat) but if you are unsure if your tyres are runflats, just give the details of your vehicle and the garage will confirm if you need them.
These tyres are designed specifically for winter and when the temperatures are 7 degrees C and lower, they perform better than standard tyres especially in the snow; providing better grip and reducing stopping distances. If you travel a lot on rural lanes that are icy, or aren’t gritted, or need to increase your chance of getting to work if there is snow, then winter tyres may be suitable for you. If you are driving during winter months in Europe you may need to have winter tyres by law, so before travelling check to see if you need them for not only your destination country but also the countries you may be driving through. The AA website lists the winter tyre requirements for different countries.
If you change to winters you will need to change all four tyres and have them fitted in the autumn when it starts to get colder and change back to standard tyres in the Spring when the temperatures improve again. This means you need somewhere to store them during the summer months, ideally in a dry place and out of sunlight. A set of winters are likely to last you more than one winter depending upon your mileage, so whilst having an additional upfront cost to buy winters, if your standard tyres still have suitable tread on them and are in good condition, their life is prolonged by using the winters for about half the year.
All Season Tyres
These tyres generally provide better grip in the wet and snow at colder temperatures and may be suitable for European driving where winter tyre regulations exist. The benefit of these tyres is that you use them all year round, so you don’t have to change to standard summers in the warmer months.
Part Worn Tyres
If you are considering buying part worn tyres, think carefully because they may be cheap but they could be dangerous and usually are a false economy. Check out TyreSafe’s website about the dangers of part worn tyres: www.partworn-tyres.co.uk. They have been used before you buy them and whilst the supplier is legally obliged to test these tyres before selling them, short of X-raying the tyre, there is no way of knowing if the structural integrity of the tyre has already been compromised. Our recommendation is that you don’t fit them but understand you may have a small budget, so a budget new tyre is preferable in terms of safety and will not be that much more expensive than a part-worn.
Tyre Labelling System
Tyre labels can help you decide which tyres would suit your requirements as it categorises tyres for fuel efficiency (an A rating is the best), how good they are in the wet (an A rating performs the best) and how noisy they are (the lower the decibels, the quieter they are). Is grip in the wet more important to you than fuel efficiency or do you want to make sure your tyres are not that noisy? Like me you may want both fuel efficiency and good wet grip and there are tyres that offer both these, though if your vehicle is particularly high performance, you are less likely to get excellent fuel economy.
Obviously price is important when buying new tyres; it should be competitive i.e. similar to what you would pay wherever you choose to buy from. There are a few other factors associated with price that are important to check…
- Are the tyres recently manufactured / new? If the price seems too good to be true check that the tyres are actually new. Ask the supplier what the ‘dot code’ is on the tyres, which tells you when the tyres were made e.g. 0212 (meaning the tyre was manufactured in week 2 of 2012). It is recommended by leading tyre manufacturers that tyres up to 3 years old can be sold as new. Any older than this, the rubber in the tyre may have started to degrade and therefore will not perform as well as a truly new tyre. Any cracking on a tyre will get worse over time and the tyre will need to be changed so it may be a false economy.
- Is everything included in the price you are quoted? We include all standard activities in the price we quote i.e. we include VAT, tyre disposal cost (which we do in an environmentally certified way), a new valve (not a TPMS valve – this will be charged separately) and wheel balancing. So when comparing prices between suppliers do check you are comparing like for like quotes and that you won’t be charged more than you are quoted.
- Ordering online - you may get cheaper deals online but you may need to wait in for your delivery and you may not be given an actual time slot or worse they may not manage to deliver the tyres when they say they will. Tyres if bought from outside the UK can take several days to arrive. You also need to check how legitimate the company is before ordering online and paying before receipt of goods. Check out their reviews online. If you need to take your tyres to be fitted, charges vary for having tyres fitted that you have not purchased from that company, and some companies may not be prepared to do this job for you. Online websites often provide a registration finder, into which you type your vehicle reg and then the site will provide ONLY the standard size tyre for that vehicle. Your vehicle may have different size tyres fitted depending upon it’s specification for example an Audi S Line or BMW M model. If you are unsure what size tyre you need, look on the side wall of the tyre that you are replacing.
As most of us are pretty busy, it’s important to establish if the tyres are in stock or when they can be stocked and can you make an appointment to have the work done when it suits you. We are happy to book appointment slots and in most cases we fit you in pretty close to your slot. If you go to a supplier that does not book slots, you may well be waiting for a long time.
How much time should your job take once work is started? Usually 10 minutes per tyre though this can increase depending on the type and size of tyres.
Trust and Safety
Can you trust the company you are dealing with? Are they telling you the truth about what you need. You may just need a puncture repair but could be told you need new tyres. Some companies incentivise tyre fitters on sales not customer service so if you are unsure get a second opinion or ask the fitter to show you why the tyre needs replacing.
Are the tyre fitters trained and experienced and follow the correct procedures? When having tyres changed suppliers should remove and re-fit locking wheel bolts by hand and check the correct torque setting on each bolt. This ensures the bolts are tightened by the correct amount, not over tightened which can cause a problem the next time the tyre needs to be removed, and not under tightened which is a safety issue.
Damage – when having tyres fitted there is a risk of damage for example to the alloy wheels or the TPMS valves if your vehicle has these. These valves can be as expensive to replace if damaged. The fitter should use adhesive weights as part of wheel balancing as opposed to hammer on weights which can damage the paintwork on the alloy which can then start to corrode. Check they do wheel balancing in this way.
It’s worth before going to a company you have not dealt with before, checking their online reviews, you should be able to find reviews if you search for the company via google.
I know there is a lot of info here but hopefully some parts are of use. We’re happy to help with tyre advice over the phone, in person or using our social media accounts and there is a variety of safety info on our website. You can follow us on Facebook (BespokeWheelsLimited) and Twitter (@BespokeWheels). We also always offer free tyre checks so do call in if you are near us in Warwick.
01926 88 77 22
Bespoke Wheels Ltd
Unit 2, Block B, Harriott Drive, Heathcote Industrial Estate, Warwick, CV34 6TJ