It’s important that your tyres are in good condition and you replace any that are becoming too worn or that have been damaged. If you don’t, you could be risking your safety and the safety of others. In this guide, we’ll explain when it’s time to buy new tyres for your car, and how to go about it.
What tread should my existing tyres have?
Use a tread gauge to check your tread every couple of weeks. You can pick up a tread gauge for less than £5.
Legally, your tyres must have at least 1.6mm of tread across three-quarters of the tread width and around the entire circumference of the tyre, but it’s advisable to have them replaced before this point. Once the tread on your tyres dips to 2mm or 3mm, they won’t be gripping very well. New tyres typically have a tread of 8mm.
Where should I get new tyres from?
The easiest way to get new tyres is to go to a garage, but you can buy online. too. Some online tyre companies can arrange fitting at your home, if you don’t want to travel to a garage.
If you decide to go to a dealership, you should expect to pay more – so why not shop around first? You could save up to £100 if you’re replacing all four tyres.
What type of tyre do I need?
It’s important to choose a new tyre that’s the same size and type of tyre as your existing tyres. If you can, opt for a new tyre by the same brand, with the same tread pattern.
If you go to a garage, they will check for you, but if you’re going to buy your new tyre online or ring round different garages, you will need to know what size and type of tyre you need yourself. To find out, take a look at the sidewall of one of your existing tyres.
The first number will state the tyre’s width from sidewall to sidewall (in millimetres). Next there will be a number and the letter R. This is the aspect ratio (the ratio of the tyre’s cross-section to its width, as a percentage). The R stands for radial, which is the only construction of tyre used today. In the past there was cross-ply construction, too.
The third number is the wheel diameter (in inches). Then, there’s the load index, which gives you the tyre’s maximum carrying capacity (in kg). This should be matched with the speed rating that follows. This letter reveals the maximum speed for the tyre when it is correctly inflated and being used under load. The speed rating must match or exceed the maximum speed of your car.
You should always check your car’s manual to determine the load limits. Overloading your vehicle can be dangerous, causing tyre failure and blowouts.
Top tips when buying new tyres
- If you need to replace one or both of the front tyres, switch them. Move the existing back tyres to the front and have new back tyres fitted. It’s better to have the best tyres at the back.
- Dealerships are likely to have the type of tyre you need, but tend to be more expensive.
- If you buy from a tyre specialist, you may be able to haggle.