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When it comes to rating tyres, there’s more than just EU labelling


Modern life – how quickly it changes. Technology – particularly when it comes to online and mobile communications – has shaped the direction of our lives to such an extent that we simply couldn’t exist without digital. It’s hard to recall what life was like before the internet changed everything.

And when it comes to gaining knowledge, where once we took the advice of friends, family, and those in authority, now we instinctively use search engines to help us find information, inspiration, answers, instructions, locations and… independent advice and reviews.

But with so many facts, opinions, and points of view on offer, it’s often the case that there’s simply too much information to consume and comprehend. Choosing who to trust can be difficult, especially when it comes to making purchasing decisions. With so many businesses online, information overload can become fatiguing.

When it comes to buying tyres, you’d be forgiven for feeling bewildered by all the choices, jargon, EU labelling, price comparison websites, and so much more. At Protyre we understand your frustration. So in our latest tyre advice article, our expert team help point you in the right direction, and explain what goes into independent tyre testing and which reviews to trust.

EU labelling – the be all and end all of tyre advice?

Let’s start with the EU tyre label. You may have seen this if you’ve ever sought to purchase tyres before. It’s best to think of them in the same way as the labels you see on food packaging and white goods. They offer a snapshot of the essential information the manufacturer and regulator believe is important for you to know. The intention is to help you make an informed choice through easy comparison.

The EU tyre label focuses on three factors:

1. Fuel efficiency

The way tyres are constructed – and the rubber compounds they are built from – directly  influences how much “rolling resistance” they are subject to. If the tyre has lower rolling resistance, the more fuel efficient it will be. However, what the label doesn’t explain is that if you have outstanding rolling resistance, that will impact the tyre’s wet braking score...

2. Wet grip

When it’s wet, and you need to brake, stopping distances increase. The treads – the grooves that run along the length of the tyre – are there to suck water from the road, so that it can grip the surface. The score on the EU label indicates how well the tyre performs when braking in the wet. Buying a tyre with a good wet grip score makes a lot of sense – particularly in the UK, where we experience a lot of rain. But if the tyre has excellent wet braking characteristics, it will also be noisier and less fuel efficient… Again, something the label does not make clear.

3. External rolling noise

As the category name suggests, this is a measure of how noisy the tyres are, measured in decibels. The more black “waves” you can see on the label, the noisier the tyre is. Having quieter tyres makes a lot of sense, particularly if you’re regularly driving long distances – such as up and down a motorway each day – but once again there are more trade-offs here too, since really quiet tyres typically aren’t the highest rated for braking.

So how does the EU tyre label rate?

While these EU labels are undoubtedly helpful, the information they provide is very limited. They don’t explain, for example, the balancing act that tyre manufacturers need to perform so that they can create the optimum, all-round performer. Crucially, the label only gives you a partial picture, with only a few essential tyre characteristics measured and rated.

There is, however, an alternative to the EU tyre label. Independent tyre testing includes many more attributes that should also be taken into consideration, before buying tyres for your car.

Independent tyre testing

So, who exactly does this independent tyre testing?

For starters, respected journalists from trusted automotive authorities, like Auto Express, evo, What Car? and Which? all conduct tyre tests. These impartial opinions are the ones to trust most. Specialist equipment, professional drivers and dedicated test tracks are employed to undertake these tests.

But in the digital age there are also a growing number of bloggers and enthusiasts who also do their own testing, who have an onlone presence to offer their – mostly – impartial opinions and advice. It’s always best to verify these opinions and make sure they’re not financially motivated, which can happen.

Independent tyre testing reveals so much more

How are these tests conducted?

The cars – and more specifically, the tyres they are fitted with – are pushed to the limit at specially constructed test tracks. They are put through situations that most drivers will hope to never have to experience. But it’s precisely these extreme situations that mimic real life accident scenarios, and where good tyre performance can mean the difference between having or avoiding an accident. It’s why it’s so important to look beyond the attributes used on EU tyre labelling.

Typically, independent tyre testing takes into consideration between 15-20 attributes, including wet handling and cornering, straight and curved aquaplaning, dry braking and handling, cabin noise, and price. Points are awarded for each category, and then the results are totted up. The tyre with the highest overall score is deemed the winner. It’s this aggregated score that’s so vital because – remember – manufacturing a good tyre is a balancing act, and it’s important to score well across the spectrum.

It’s this best overall balance of tyre characteristics that led to leading UK car magazine, Auto Express, rating Continental’s ContiPremiumContact™ 5 as its 2017 Ultimate Tyre Test winner. The tyre achieved the highest total points across the combined categories tested against, as well as top marks for dry handling, wet handling and wet braking.

Auto Express said, “To win our test, a tyre needs to be a strong all-rounder. As our results show, the Continental is just that. It had an agility and directness others could only dream of. For a comfort tyre it was pretty sporty next to rivals.”

The ContiPremiumContact™ 5 scored the most marks overall, and top marks in the vital dry handling, wet handling and wet braking categories.

Continental Tyres are committed to R&D

In fact Continental’s track record of developing and manufacturing world leading premium tyres is such that – over the last ten years – it can claim to achieve top ratings in four out of every five independent European tyre tests. This performance is no accident. It’s testimony both to the brand’s commitment to reducing road traffic accidents through improved tyre safety – part of its Vision Zero driver safety initiative – and to the millions it invests in research and development each year. Before any independent tester gets their hands on a Continental tyre, it’s been exhaustively tested already.

The Continental SportContact™ 6 scored a chart topping 95.2% as the evo Tyre Test Winner 2016

Take their AIBA (Automated Indoor Braking Analyser) facility, for example. It’s here in this purpose-built tyre testing and development centre that unmanned vehicles are accelerated to speeds of up to 75 mph on a variety of inter-changeable surfaces to replicate real-life driving conditions. Back out on the road, this investment in your driver safety translates into the best possible braking performance, whatever the weather throws your way.

Trust the experts – Talk to Protyre

Understanding tyres can be complicated, no doubt, so if you’re unsure about tyre testing reviews, or the EU tyre label, contact your local Protyre professionals today. They can provide impartial, expert advice about tyre safety, which tyres are best for your vehicle, expert fitting solutions, and much more.

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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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