Tyre essentials for first time drivers

Tyres are something that the majority of new drivers give very little thought to. However, they are essential to your safety as they are the only part of the car that is in contact with the road. If your tyres are not in good shape, your car won’t grip and handle as well and will take longer to stop - especially in the wet.

Here at Protyre, years of experience tell us that understanding a bit about tyres will help you keep them in good condition and make the right choices when they need to be replaced.

Understanding tyres

You can tell a lot about a tyre from the information that is printed on its sidewalls. In particular, this tells you the size of the tyre which is important should you need to replace it. The size of a tyre is expressed in three numbers - something like 205/55 R16 - but what does this mean?
The first part, 205 in our example, is the tyre's tread width in millimetres. The second number, 55 here, is the depth of the sidewall of the tyre as a percentage of the width. The third number, 16, is the diameter of the wheel. Just to keep things complicated, this is in inches. The letter R means that it’s a radial tyre, this refers to the way in which the steel belts that reinforce the rubber are laid out. Modern tyres are almost always radials.
When changing tyres, you will usually stick to the same size as you had before. If you are buying new wheels, such as alloys to improve your car’s appearance, then you need to be careful to keep the total diameter the same. If you have a larger diameter wheel you will need a smaller sidewall depth - a lower profile tyre - to maintain the same diameter.

Tread carefully

The tread of the tyre - the slots and grooves you can see on the surface - is what enables it to grip the road surface and also clears water away in the rain. To be legal, a tyre needs a minimum depth of 1.6mm across three-quarters of its width. Tyres have a tread wear indicator built in that will show as a solid bar across the tread when they tyre is reaching its limit. The position of these is marked with TWI on the sidewall.
Most cars are fitted as standard with tyres that work well across a range of weather and road conditions. In winter some people switch to dedicated winter tyres that provide better grip in ice and snow.

Did you know?

Protyre offer free tyre checks at all garages within our UK network. Click the button below to book online, or, alternatively give your local Protyre garage a call and book your vehicle in over the phone.

Free Tyre Check
If you are unsure about the condition of your tyres, you can always come to Protyre where our qualified fitters will be happy to check them for free and offer advice. If you need to replace one or more tyres, we offer leading brands including Pirelli, Falken and Sumitomo, so there’s something to suit all pockets and driving requirements.
Why not give us a call or use the search function on our website to find the right choice of tyre for your car.

About the author

Dean Richardson

Dean is a Regional Director for Protyre who is also responsible for the running of our Protech Academy. The ...

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