Will new labelling system increase our woeful tyre knowledge?

A SHOCKING number of motorists are in the dark when it comes to tyre safety, according to a new report.

A poll of 2,000 motorists commissioned by tyre manufacturer Goodyear revealed that over half of those surveyed didn't know that the legal limit for tyre tread depth is 1.6mm; 70 per cent said they didn't check the pressure of their tyres at least once a month and 13 per cent thought that stopping distances DECREASED in wet weather.

The results are revealed as new Europe-wide tyre labelling legislation comes into effect today. Similar to the labels used on white goods, the label will grade tyres based on three performance criteria.

Each tyre now comes with a fridge-freezer-style EU-branded label outlining the three variables – the first of which is energy efficiency, represented by the icon of a petrol pump.

Rated from A to G (with D not used), this relates to the tyre's 'rolling resistance' – the level of friction that the car then has to work against. Low rolling resistance equals lower fuel consumption for the car, and a higher rating on the chart.

Next is braking distance on wet roads – represented by a rain cloud.

Once again, 'A' marks the best rating, with Michelin estimating that the highest performing tyres could cut your car's stopping distance by as much as 16 metres.

Finally, tyre noise – symbolised by a speaker and a decibel rating. Three waves emanating from tyre represent the noise level on a scale of one to four – the less, the quieter – while decibel figures can be compared to other tyres for complete accuracy.

While these new indicators certainly make the process of buying tyres just that bit quicker, the tyre manufacturer Continental is urging caution if anyone is thinking of choosing their next set of rubber using only the new-style ratings.

"The EU label only shows three of more than 14 important tyre performance criteria," said the firm, speaking to the SMMT.

"Tyre tests from magazines will continue to be the most comprehensive source of information for motorists because they provide complete and independent reports covering nearly all criteria for the most popular tyre sizes."

Eddy Geerdink, marketing director for Goodyear, agreed, saying: "Three criteria don't tell you how a tyre will perform on every level. There are many other factors to consider, from braking on dry roads and high-speed stability to aquaplaning and how many miles the tyre will do."
  • Picture courtesy of Continental Tyres
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