Tips and advice to buy the right tyres - Different types of tyres
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Different types of tyres

Buy the right tyres Connor

In the car tyre family, several categories can be taken into consideration. The main category covers whether or not a tyre is suitable for the weather conditions: summer or winter. A second category takes into account the conditions of use: road, racing or off-road. Finally, certain tyres have distinctive features that are important to know: Runflat, asymmetric tread pattern…

Types of tyres There are different categories of tyres, so find out more about them before deciding - Copyright © : iStockphoto.com/rezulteo.com

Choose the right type of tyre for your needs:

1- The choice of tyres depending on weather conditions

Summer tyre

Winter tyre

Nordic tyre

  >> Studded, studdable tyre

All season tyre

2- The choice of tyres depending on usage conditions

The touring tyre and its driving conditions

   >> Symmetric, asymmetric and directional tyre

   >> Green tyre

High performance tyre and its driving conditions

4x4 tyre and its driving conditions

The light commercial vehicle/van/camping-car tyre and driving conditions 


3- Tyre options

Reinforced tyre

Runflat tyre

 

1- The choice of tyre depending on weather conditions


> Summer tyre


This is the reference tyre. It is designed to perform at ambient temperatures greater than 7°C. Below this temperature, the rubber hardens and loses its flexibility and grip.

However, the summer tyre delivers easy performance on both dry and wet surfaces:

For dry surfaces

On dry surfaces, the more rigid the tyre tread, the more accurate the drive. Indeed, this is why racing tyres are smooth (“slick” tyres). This rigidity depends on several factors:

  • Tyre profile. A flat profile with square shoulders keeps the tyre firmly in contact with the road, particularly when cornering.
  • Grooving rate. The fewer the grooves, and the more rubber in contact with the road, the better the grip.
  • Solid tread blocks. Wider tread blocks reduce the mobility of the tread in its thickness.
  • Self-locking sipes. Sipes, used to clear water, reduce the rigidity of the tread (bristle effect). To overcome this inconvenience, some tyre manufacturers offer complex siping.

For wet surfaces

Conversely, a heavily siped tread design will be more effective on wet roads. Indeed, sipes help dry the road and allow the tread to stay in firm contact with the surface. How a tyre handles on wet roads depends on the characteristics of its tread:

  • Grooving rate. The higher the grooving rate, the better the tyre's ability to absorb water (an average sized tyre evacuates approximately 15 litres of water per second).
  • The shape and direction of the tread. Symmetric, directional or asymmetric, it must push water to the sides as quickly as possible.
  • Siping. Edges and sipes in the tread help dry the road by acting as a sort of windscreen wiper.

 

Winter tyre

 

It is still widely believed that winter tyres are only needed when it snows, hence the misuse of the term “snow tyres”. In fact, the winter tyre is a tyre optimised for temperatures below 7°C.

Indeed, unlike summer tyres, the rubber of winter tyres remains flexible at low temperatures and its tread design, with more grooves and sipes, improves traction and braking when temperatures drop.

  • Composition. The winter tyre contains silica and rubber that conserve the elasticity of the rubber at low temperatures and therefore ensures good grip.
  • Grooving. A winter tyre has deep grooves that quickly evacuate water or snow.
  • Siping. The siping on a winter tyre may be up to five times greater than that on a summer tyre. Indeed, sipes act as studs and improve the force of traction. Braking distances are reduced, as are the risks of skidding and aquaplaning.

     
         
> Nordic tyre
 

Nordic tyres are designed to brave temperatures of less than –10°C and snow-covered and icy roads during several months of the year.

 

           >> Studded, studdable tyre 

A studded tyre is a winter or Nordic tyre fitted with metal studs to provide better grip on snow-covered or icy surfaces. They are not approved for use in all regions of Europe. The studdable tyre is a tyre in which it is possible to insert or remove studs depending on road conditions.

 >> The winter tyre guide

 

> All season tyre

 

Also known as a four season or an all weather tyre, the all season tyre is a compromise between a winter tyre and a summer tyre. Although it does not achieve the same performance level as specialised tyres, it is designed to offer average handling in all weather conditions, preferably in regions where winters are mild.

Summer tyres, winter tyres and all season tyres exist for all vehicle segments (passenger cars, 4x4, sports cars and vans) and in accordance with their uses (town, road, off-road...).

The choice of tyre is not just limited to seasons; it also depends on your vehicle, the use made of tyres and specific features that improve the tyre’s performance, regardless of driving conditions.

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2- The choice of tyres depending on usage conditions

 

Touring tyre

 

What is an asymmetric tyre?

Launched at the end of the 1960’s by Michelin (XAS), it is a tyre with an asymmetric tread based on the principle that the tyre does not operate in the same way on the inner side as on the outer side. By differentiating the treatment for the different areas of the tyre, performance can be significantly improved in terms of road holding and grip. Most major brands feature this advance in their product ranges.

 

 

Driving conditions for a touring tyre:
  

=> Sports vehicles: This category covers sports cars, from the compact GTI to the luxury super car.

Sports Vehicle Tyres must be able to withstand the strong forces exerted by a powerful motor and sporty driving, i.e. provide:

  • Exceptional grip at high speed when driving in a straight line and when cornering;
  • Impeccable handling on wet roads, particularly when braking;
  • Driving accuracy, mainly through the stiffness of the tread at high speed.

=> Road vehicles: This category covers road vehicles, from the compact saloon to MPVs including family saloons and estate cars.

Road vehicle tyres must be suitable for road and motorway driving conditions, i.e. provide:

  • Good road holding at high speed when driving in a straight line and when cornering;
  • Impeccable handling on wet roads, particularly when braking;
  • Good ride comfort through the absorption of vibrations and a low rolling noise;
  • Low rolling resistance to help control fuel consumption and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

=> Town vehicles: This category covers city and compact cars.

Town vehicle tyres must be suitable for urban traffic conditions, i.e. provide:

  • Good resistance to wear: to maintain performance after thousands of braking and start-up operations and good resistance to impacts when mounting kerbs;
  • Low rolling resistance: to help control fuel consumption and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

 

> High performance tyres
 

High-performance tyres are designed for powerful vehicles, luxury saloons or sports coupes. As their name indicates, they offer outstanding performance in terms of road holding, grip and cornering stability. All this, on both dry and wet surfaces.

A high-performance tyre has a speed rating of V, W, Y or Z, corresponding to maximum speeds of between 150 and over 185 mph.

Some manufacturers develop tailor made tyres for luxury models developed by car manufacturers. For example, this is the case of Michelin, who fit the Porsche Carrera GT and the Mercedes-Benz SLR McLaren.

 

> 4x4 tyre
 

There are three types of tyres in this category. Multipurpose tyres, designed for urban environments, roads and small tracks, genuine off-road tyres, which can be used to drive over steep and rugged terrain and cross obstacles, and SUV tyres mainly designed for town driving.

=> On/off road: This category covers 4x4 vehicles at ease on both roads and tracks.

4x4 On/Off Road tyres must be versatile, i.e. provide:

  • Satisfactory road handling, and in particular, good performances on wet roads;
  • Sufficient traction on soft ground and gravel;
  • A reinforced structure to support the substantial weight of this type of vehicle.

 

=> All-terrain: This category covers 4x4 vehicles capable of overcoming the most formidable obstacles.

4x4 All-terrain tyres must transmit power from the engine whatever the terrain and be able to withstand extreme conditions, i.e. provide:

  • Reliable and outstanding traction in mud and scree or even on the steepest slopes;
  • A reinforced structure to support the substantial weight of this type of vehicle and the high risk of punctures.

=> SUV: This category covers SUV’s and other four wheel drive vehicles mainly designed for road use.

4x4 SUV tyres must be suitable for powerful engines and the high weights associated with this type of vehicle, i.e. provide:

  • Good road holding at high speed when driving in a straight line and when cornering;
  • Impeccable handling on wet roads, particularly when braking;
  • A reinforced structure to support the substantial weight of this type of vehicle.

 

Tyres have a specific M+S (Mud and Snow) marking meaning that the tyre can be used in snow and on muddy roads.

>> How to read tyre markings?

 

 

> The van/small trucks/camping-car tyre


This category covers light commercial vehicles up to small trucks, including camping-cars.

Light commercial vehicle/van tyres must meet safety, comfort and longevity criteria, i.e. provide:

  • Satisfactory road handling, and in particular, good performances on wet roads;
  • A certain robustness, to deal with impacts and substantial loads;
  • Driving comfort, both in terms of sonority and vibrations.

Some Light commercial vehicle/van tyres can be recognised by the letter C marked on the sidewall.

 

>> To find the right tyre for your vehiclevisit our online directory

 

Markings or tyre options proposed by tyre manufacturers may be available for types of seasonal tyres and types of vehicle and use dependent tyres.

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3- Options for tyres

 

> Reinforced tyre
 

The tyre is strengthened and has a higher load index to withstand more weight. It is suitable for family cars, large saloons, SUVs or small vans. This type of tyre can be identified by a marking on its sidewall which differs depending on the tyre manufacturer: XL, RF, Extra Load or Reinforced.

 

Runflat tyre 
 

The runflat is a self-supporting tyre that can be used when it is flat . Its sidewalls have been strengthened to support the tyre if it loses pressure. Most major brands feature this option in their product ranges: This type of tyre can be identified by a marking on its sidewall which differs depending on the tyre manufacturer: EMT (Dunlop/Goodyear), SSR (Continental), Run on Flat (Pirelli), RFT (Bridgestone), ZP (Zero Pressure for Michelin)...

In the event of a puncture, it limits the risks of you losing control of your vehicle, especially if the tyre comes off the rim. With this system you can continue to drive up to 50 miles at a maximum speed of 50 mph.

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rezulteo’s advice

You should always fit the same type of tyre to your car.


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