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What is 'Original Equipment' and are they the best tyres for your car?


Given any consideration to your tyres lately? Silly question! We’re probably all guilty of taking our car tyres for granted, seldom bothering to think about them, right? You’re not alone.The simple truth is that tyres are very easily overlooked - that is until they require replacing. And when that happens the alarm bells start ringing, since most people have little or no idea of which tyres they should buy, or why.

It’s hardly surprising really. A few minutes online searching for car tyres can be very off-putting, with a seemingly endless choice of tyres on view. Then there’s the different price points, and all too often unthathomable jargon to contend with. It can be bewildering, so should you go about buying the best car tyres?

In most cases there’s a very simple answer. If you purchased your car new, buy the same tyres that they came with. In this article, Protyre introduce you to “Original Equipment” and why it can help you make the right tyre purchase choice.

What is “Original Equipment”?

We promise that this is the only bit of jargon you’ll read in this article. It’s actually very easy to explain. Original Equipment –  also known as “OE” – are the tyres selected by a car manufacturer for a specific vehicle, fitted to the vehicle at the factory before being rolled out to the showroom.

OE tyres have to meet incredibly strict performance and safety criteria that are set by the car maker. All of the world’s premium tyre manufacturers compete for OE status. As a result, this competition to be selected drives tyre innovation and driver safety, which is great news for all of us.

The leading provider of Original Equipment is undoubtedly Continental. They provide their premium tyres to all the major car manufacturers, with one out of every three new cars built and sold in Europe fitted with them. It’s hardly surprising really, given their wealth of tyre manufacturing experience, pedigree, and the enormous sums of money they invest every year in developing tyre technology. It’s a tyre brand that’s trusted by both car makers and car buyers around the world.

Why is Original Equipment right for you?

Following a highly detailed, painstaking process that can take anything up to four years, tyre makers like Continental produce exactly the right tyre for a car manufacturer’s particular model. The tyre development process usually considers roughly one hundred different attributes which are ultimately determined by the key characteristics of the specific car.

Each tyre development is unique to each maker’s vehicle model. Why? Well there’s a world of difference between – for instance – a Skoda Fabia and a Porsche Cayenne, right? Both are great vehicles, but each has a distinctly different set of characteristics and attributes. For instance, one requires tyres to enhance fuel efficiency and comfort, while the other needs tyres that can deliver super-quick acceleration. Can you guess which is which?!

Joking aside, while OE tyres are all developed with safety first and foremost in mind, they’re also developed to bring out the miriad of characteristics found amongst the wide variety of different vehicles currently on the market. As you can imagine, there’s a world of difference between the characteristics of a city-car, an executive car, a 4x4 and a high-performance car, right? Each has its own needs and merits.

Perhaps the most important thing to remember is this: the tyres on a brand new car aren’t there by some random accident…

Replacing your tyres with Original Equipment

For these reasons, when it comes to replacing your tyres we recommend doing so with those that your car came with in the first place. You’ll have peace of mind knowing:

  • They’ll continue to bring out the best characteristics in your car

  • They’re the safest option available to you

  • They’re designed for your car, so simply can’t go wrong with OE

How can you tell if your tyres are Original Equipment?

Alongside the brand name (e.g. Continental) and the product name (e.g. “SportContact 6”), there is more information that’s provided in code. Some of this tells you which car make and model your tyre has been developed for. Here’s a selection of the major car manufacturers – your vehicle maker will probably be amongst them:

Example of an OE tyre for Audi – manufacturer code “AO”


OE Key


A0, A01

Audi quattro

RO1, RO2, RO3



BMW / Mercedes


BMW / Mercedes Runflat




Land Rover






Mercedes-Benz Runflat



NO, N1, N2



If you see one of these codes on your tyre you know it’s Original Equipment and approved by the vehicle maker. “What are the best tyres?” As far as car manufacturer’s are concerned, OE are the best.

Speak with Protyre for experienced, expert tyre advice

At Protyre we know from experience that buying OE tyres is a very sensible choice. Ultimately though, deciding which tyre is best will depend on the type of car you have and how much you drive, as well as where and how you drive your vehicle. It makes sense to get expert tyre advice if you’re unsure.

Protyre professionals are trained to do this, so head down to your local garage for impartial advice. Find your local Protyre by clicking the button below:

Find my Protyre

About the author

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By Adam White
Adam looks to create engaging and informative content across the website that provides consumers with expert advice on MOTs, servicing, vehicle maintenance and tyre care. As a motorsport enthusiast, Adam enjoys documenting the Protyre Motorsport team’s involvement in major motorsport events across the UK.
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