Every car deserves a good set of tyres for comfort and safety. To enhance your driving experience, consider changing your tyres to suit your driving lifestyle and the type of vehicle you are driving.
Get the right match
If you are one who likes to feel every curve on the road, with the speed and handling of a Claire Jedrek or a Lewis Hamilton, look to high-performance or ultra-high performance tyres. For a quieter and more comfortable ride, one that your spouse and kids will appreciate, look for tyres listed as ‘low noise’, ‘comfort’ or ‘smooth ride’.
Choose tyres with minimum braking distance if you do a lot of city driving. These should have the ability to handle constant start/stop demands as well as rolling efficiency designed to reduce fuel usage.
For the restless spirit who enjoys taking off on road trips up north, consider a set of tyres with good high-speed braking performance, comfort in terms of reduced vibration and noise levels, as well as responsiveness for safety at higher speeds. If you have a 4WD or off-road vehicle and are planning to drive on rough terrain, all-terrain tyres are your best bet. But if you anticipate specific challenges, such as muddy or sandy tracks, do consult a tyre specialist to be better prepared.
For high-performance sports cars, make sure your tyres have extremely high levels of grip in both wet and dry conditions. Do regular checks as the compound and tread patterns on such tyres don’t tend to last as long as normal road tyres.
Know your tyres
Now that you have an idea of what type of tyres can enhance your kind of ride, it is time to go shopping. With so many brands of tyres available in the market, it is easy to get overwhelmed. But if you know some basic information, you don’t have to just rely on the salesperson for advice and recommendations. When in doubt, always refer to your car’s handbook and use the manufacturer’s specifications as your guide.
1. Figures at a glance
Most of what you need to know about your tyre is written on it. Look at your tyre and you will notice a string of numbers and letters that resembles a code. For example: 205/55 R16 91V.
2. Size matters
If your car is currently riding on 17-inch wheels, you can reduce to 16-inch ones for better ride comfort; if you’re looking for more composed handling, you can move up to 18-inch wheels. The limit is about an inch up or down from your car’s original wheels and tyres.
3. Don’t buy more than you need
Beware of the trend towards ‘plus sizing’ tyres, which involves mounting overly large wheels and tyres on a vehicle in a bid to enhance the look and stand out from the crowd. It could decrease manoeuvrability and increase braking distances, thus compromising overall safety.
4. Comfort versus speed
Generally, tyres with a lower speed rating (S, T or H ratings on the sidewall) are optimised for comfort rather than speed. Complex tyre tread designs may deliver better traction, but the trade-off is more road noise. High-performance tyres, on the other hand, may provide more grip but are less comfortable and tend to wear out faster.
5. Do your homework
Tyres are reviewed and rated just like cars. Reviews typically cover things such as fuel economy, handling and durability. Some also delve into performance on different terrain and in various weather conditions. The information can help further fine-tune your search, ask the right questions and get the right tyres for you.
Check your tyres
After you’ve purchased and fitted your new tyres, do regular checks and maintenance to ensure you always enjoy optimal performance from your tyres.
- Check the tyre tread channels regularly as they are essential for a good grip.
- Check the tyres’ pressure and inspect them regularly for any sign of uneven wear or damage. Keep them properly inflated for better fuel economy and ensure the brakes on your car are in good working order.
- Check that your car has its wheels correctly aligned. A bad wheel alignment will wear out the tyre tread unevenly. Watch for things like steering vibrations or having the car track to one side.
Finally, frequent washing and removal of dirt and debris from the tyres also help keep them safe from punctures or damage.