What is a good noise rating for tyres? Tyre noise ratings chart explained

By Julia Freeman

At first glance, a tyre's numbering and labelling system look fairly impenetrable, but once explained it starts to make sense. On the tyre itself, you will typically see something along the lines of 225 / 50 R17 Y. In this case, the 225 is the width of the tyre in millimetres, the 50 means the tyre wall is 50% of the width of the tyre, R simply stands for radial, the type of construction, 17 means the inner rim is 17 inches and the Y is the speed rating of the tyre, in a range of N to Z.

So that's the basics of the tyre. In addition to that, you will probably have noticed when you see new tyres, they have a labelling system going from green at the top, through orange and down to red at the bottom with a letter placed somewhere along this depending on the tyre itself. Since 2012, these labels have been mandatory on all tyres for road use, with the exception of tyres for vintage cars. There are 3 ratings on the label. One shows a tyre with a rain cloud, which is the tyre's wet grip rating, another shows a petrol pump next to a tyre, which shows the fuel efficiency of the tyre and finally, underneath those is a tyre with a speaker next to it, with typically something like 69db next to it. This is the external noise range of the tyre, in decibels.

Revised Labels

Since 2021, the EU has revised the labelling system for tyres and a QR code has been added so that the consumer can access detailed information about the tyre. In addition to this, there are new snow and ice icons which represent the tyre's ability in the snow and its braking characteristics, and an A, B or C rating for noise has been added, together with the existing decibel number. The speaker icon has three sound bars coming from it. If one is coloured black, it means the tyre has a poor rating, and two black bars mean the tyre conforms to EU noise level, while all three in black mean that it exceeds current standards.

This is to encourage motorists to choose a tyre that has less impact in terms of noise pollution, especially in urban environments. A rolling tyre emits something in the range of 67 to 77 decibels. While this doesn't seem like a huge range, in reality, there is quite a difference in sound levels between the upper and lower ends of that range. The impact of tyre noise is not, of course, only external to the car. It will impact drivers and passengers too.

For somebody who spends a lot of time in the car, extra noise can add to stress levels and increase fatigue on long journeys. Here at Protyre, our tyre professionals can recommend a tyre with a good noise rating suitable for your particular car. It is not widely understood that most road noise is not coming from the engine, which on a modern car is relatively quiet, well insulated and soundproofed, it is coming from the tyres. The tyres are also one of the main determining factors in the car's fuel consumption too, so it is always worth consulting us at Protyre to get the optimum tyre for your needs.

What makes a tyre quieter?

The main difference is in the rubber used. Many manufacturers have invested in research and development to produce rubber that absorbs noise. It is the friction between the road and the tyre that causes the noise. Generally speaking, a harder compound tyre will cause less friction than a softer one, making it quieter. There is now an extensive range of noise-reducing tyres available across such brands as Bridgestone, Pirelli, Sumitomo and Falken. Pirelli, in particular, has a range of A-rated noise-reduction tyres that were developed originally with Audi and since then, a more comprehensive range has been rolled out to suit many marques. In our experience, noise-reduction tyres are proving to have other benefits too. There is increased grip, longevity, better fuel efficiency and a smoother ride through the suspension, so it is a win-win situation all around.

A better environment for all.

A 2009 WHO (World Health Organisation) study linked increased noise from road traffic and airports to a higher risk of a number of cardiovascular diseases. This adds to the focus on the tyre noise rating chart and anything we can do to lessen the impact of our car usage is a step in the right direction. Here at Protyre, we are committed to sustainable, responsible motoring. Our years of experience and teams of qualified fitters are just a few clicks away, so why not book your free online tyre check today.

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About the author

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By Julia Freeman
Julia is Head of Retail Marketing for Protyre and loves engaging with customers and the business as a whole to make sure Protyre is more than just a local garage.
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