Understanding the tyre testing process and why it should matter to you
Here’s a scenario many drivers will be familar with. You’ve sent your car in for a service, or its annual MOT, and – halfway through the day – you get a call from your local garage. While undertaking their tests they’ve discovered that your tyres need replacing, and it’s going to cost you…how much?!!!
We’ve all been there, right? So it’s only to be expected that in situations like this the first thing most of us would do is get online quick to search for better replacement tyre prices and options. The next experience is true for most, that unavoidable feeling of feeling bewildered by the never ending choices, the often unfathomable technical jargon, EU tyre labelling, price comparison websites and so much more. Sometimes it can be a struggle deciding which tyres to buy.
It needn’t be this way. One sure fire way of cutting through the noise is to speak with your local tyre professionals at Protyre. Another – and its one we’d encourage you to do before you speak with us – is to read product reviews and independent tyre test reports. They’re not only (mostly) impartial and extremely thorough, they’re also – most importantly of all – able to help you make an informed choice.
Independent tyre tests – the hows and whys
With so many different types of tyres for so many different uses and vehicles available to buy, it makes sense to understand a little about the tests, right? It’s important to know what the testers do with the tyres, what they’re looking for, and how they decide which tyres are the best. Understanding these basic points will set you up nicely to make an informed tyre purchasing decision.
Each tyre tested is pushed to its limits at dedicated testing facilities under conditions that most drivers will hope they never have to experience. This is an extremely thorough and rigorous process, and means that the tyre testing goes beyond even the conditions used for EU tyre labelling, which only provides information on wet braking, fuel efficiency and external noise performance.
With independent tyre testing, essential characteristics such as wet handling and cornering, straight and curved aquaplaning, dry braking and handling, cabin noise, and price are also scrutinised and ranked. These practical, real world driver concerns play an important role in determining the true qualities of a tyre.
Points are awarded for each category of testing, and the subsequent results tallied up. At the end of the day, the tyre with the highest overall score is the deemed the winner. For example, when leading car magazine, Auto Express, rated the ContiSportContact 5
as its best overall summer tyre in 2016, it was because (along with strong results in other categories) it achieved top scores for dry handling, dry braking, wet handling and wet braking – a broad spectrum of performance across all the essential driver safety criteria, and exactly what you need to be aware of before buying tyres.
It should come as no surpise to learn that the ContiSportContact 5 is a very popular tyre choice with tyre buyers and is the recipient of many tyre awards.
So who exactly does these independent tyre tests?
The vast majority of independent tyre testing is done by trusted motoring authorities, like car magazines Auto Express, evo, and What Car?, as well as renowned consumer watchdog organisation, Which?, with their consistently honest and impartial opinions highly prized by UK drivers.
As well as this, there is also a growing number of motoring bloggers – usually enthusiasts – who also do their own independent tyre tests, and are followed online for their – mostly – impartial opinions and driver advice. While these reviewers may not have the same credibility as the established brand names, their following is growing. And since they’re online their audience is only going to grow bigger.
Do premium tyres perform better than cheaper tyres in independent tests?
The simple answer is an unequivocal yes: premium tyres test much better. Premium tyre brands are the driving force behind tyre development, investing huge sums of money – typically hundreds of millions each year – into tyre research and development (R&D).
As a result, premium tyre manufacturers – such as Continental – move tyre technology forward at an ever more astonishing rate, as their designers and engineers refine and optimise their offering, through the invention of new tyre compounds and tread patterns.
A great example of this research and development is how Continental are developing a new rubber compound derived from dandelions (yes, you read that correctly) which has the potential to not only create better, safer tyres but also reduce the industries dependence on traditional rubber trees, thus making a positive impact on the environment.
It’s irrefutable: tyre tests results reveal conclusively that premium tyres outperform cheaper tyres, and this superiority is also clear when you compare how they perform in off the test track and in the real world:
- Premium tyres are much, much safer, providing measurably better surface grip (especially in wet weather conditions);
- Premium tyres last much, much longer, thanks to their superior tyre compounds which results (by comparison) in slower tyre wear;
- Premium tyres reduce your fuel consumption, thanks to the tyre quality and construction that positively improve fuel efficiency;
- Premium tyres are noticably quieter;
- And – for all these reasons – premium tyres work out costing you less over time.
Premium tyres also enhance your driving experience. As Scott Armstrong, senior test driver at Continental puts it, “Tyres determine 50% of a car's feeling and its characteristics when you drive it. It's a rigorous process getting that right.”
Next steps to understanding the tyre testing process
While premium tyre manufacturers like Continental recommend that you find out who’s winning the tyre awards, read tyre reviews and tyre test reports before buying, the tyre professionals at your local Protyre garage also offer expert, impartial advice, helping you find the right tyres that are suited to your vehicle and driving needs.
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