Tips and advice to buy the right tyres - Driving comfort: a selection criteria when buying tyres

Driving comfort: something to consider when buying tyres

Buy the right tyres Published the 10/04/2014 by James

Amongst the most important criteria that contribute to the quality of a tyre and its value, driving comfort is a factor that should not be overlooked. This criterion, which appears on tyre labels, has a considerable impact on everyday driving.

Driving comfort when travelling by car Driving with tyres that generate less rolling noise offers a good driving environment - Copyright © : iStockphoto.com/rezulteo.com

Safety should not overshadow comfort

Obviously, when choosing new tyres, priority is given to its performances: dry grip, wet grip, resistance to aquaplaning, road holding and wear resistance are all decisive criteria when buying a tyre. Over and above the importance of these criteria in terms of safety, many other criteria such as price or the consumption generated by the tyre must also be considered. Don’t forget to take driving comfort into account, however!

 

Rolling noise

Rolling noise is more noticeable when driving an electric vehicle whose engine runs quietly: simply driving your car along a road results in your tyres generating rolling noise. When tyres come into contact with the road, they inevitably generate noise, and the intensity is directly proportional to the speed. The faster you drive, the louder the noise inside the car, and as such, noise levels can quickly become an issue if the tyre has not been developed to combat the effects of rolling noise.

 

The influence of the tyre structure on noise

In theory, tyre grooves contribute to the generation of noise. Ideally, we should all drive with slick (grooveless) tyres featuring a low rolling resistance rubber, which would deliver the best possible grip on very good road surfaces. However, slick tyres are obviously banned for a very simple reason: it is impossible to drive safely on wet roads with slick tyres. Engineered for a multi-purpose use, a tyre must be skilfully designed to achieve an acceptable level of rolling noise  despite its grooves, and ensure a comfortable level of noise for passengers in the vehicle, but also for passers-by and those living in urban areas. An important point since by measuring the noise generated by the tyre on the basis of the current measurement standard (at 80 km/h with the engine switched off and two microphones placed at 7.5 metres from the vehicle), measured noise levels are generally similar to the noise of a passing train or a vacuum cleaner that is switched on. For the tyre manufacturer, care must be taken to improve this point without compromising the tyre’s performance.

 

Absorption of road irregularities

In addition to tyre-generated noise, driving comfort is also conditioned by the tyre’s ability to absorb road irregularities. Here, the results obtained depend on a large number of factors: the efficiency of the tyre’s casing to absorb road irregularities and induced vibrations, as well as the quality of the road surface itself with the vehicle's suspension and shock absorbers too. There is no secret: driving along a smooth road in a large saloon car with good sound proofing will be more comfortable than driving along a bumpy road in a small city car.

 

The label holds the clue 

Noise performance on the labelCopyright © : rezulteo
To check whether a tyre offers a comfortable ride, reading the label provides a good indication since rolling noise is one of the three mandatory criteria displayed. The pictogram indicates the exact rolling noise value in decibels, and the level is given by small sound waves beside the number: one black sound wave indicates that the tyre produces a low level of noise, whereas three black sound waves indicate a much noisier tyre.