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Tyres  /  Tyre NewsHelp and Advice  / A Somewhat Useful Guide to Buying Tyres

A Somewhat Useful Guide to Buying Tyres

A Somewhat Useful Guide to Buying Tyres

How often do you think about car tyres? For most people, it isn’t a topic that often enters their thoughts. That is until their current tyres go flat, and they have to buy a new set.

Picture the scene: you’ve just dragged yourself out of bed, you’ve had your shower, put on your clothes, and are now picking up the post – bills, bills and more bills.

With a sigh you place them on the kitchen table for later - right now you’re more concerned with buttering your toast and making some coffee.

Breakfast is done and you’re now leaving the house, ready for the daily commute to work. As you walk through the garden your mind returns to the bills, you try to push them from your mind. “I’ll deal with them later” you tell yourself.

Just as you reach the car you notice something amiss - you can’t quite put your finger on it - but something seems odd. You walk around the vehicle to investigate and that’s when you notice it. A flat tyre.

Flat tyre

With your alarmingly low bank balance figure suddenly blasted into your mind’s eye, you kick the tyre in question and curse. Buying a replacement car tyre is going to be a pain in the keister, isn’t it?

When should I change my tyres?

The above scenario is of course just one example of when it is time to buy new tyres. There are other key times such as:

  1. When Your Tyres Reach Their Legal Tyre Tread Limit

The current legal limit for car tread depth in the UK is 1.6mm (across 75% of the tyre). Not only will a tyre become unsafe to use at 1.6mm, but there are also legal and financial implications.

Driving on illegal tyres can lead to a fine of up to £2,500 and the chance of three penalty points on your driving license.

Find out how a 20p can help test your tread depth.

  1. Your Tyres Are Damaged

Tyre damage can happen when they suffer impact with solid objects, sharp items, or road defects – such as potholes.

You should aim to give your tyres a visual inspection on a regular basis to check for any potential tyre damage.

Find out how to carry our tyre maintenance.

  1. Your Tyres Show Signs of Abnormal Wear

When a tyre does not wear in a uniformed way across the tread, this can lead to performance issues and safety concerns.

The most common signs that a tyre is wearing abnormally is for patches of lower tread to appear in either the central area of the tyre or around the tyre’s edges.

Find out how to spot abnormal wear.

Choosing the Right Tyres: What to Consider

So, you need new tyres, but, are not sure where to start. What type? What brand? What model? There are many questions to answer.

To help you come to a decision, there are four key factors to consider when making your choice:

  1. The weather and climate of where you live

The UK may be famous for our wistfully melancholic grey skies, but it’s not always like that. Despite our small stature, we also have vastly varying vivacious conditions from one part of the country to the other.

rain on windscreen

If, for example, you live in a part of the country which experiences a lot of rainfall – I’m looking at you West Coast – paying particular attention to tyres which have a good tyre label score on ‘wet grip’ could be a good place to start. Find out more about tyre labelling.

Similarly, the seasons play a big part. Once upon a time, it would be that you would buy summer tyres in the summer months and winter tyres in the winter months. Then one day, All Season tyres came to town.

This is not to say that summer tyres or winter tyres are not needed, just that there is now an option of tyre which can deliver a good all-round performance throughout the year. Another consideration to consider considering.

  1. The type of vehicle you own

Like breeds of dogs, there is a car type for all scenarios – we’ve got big ones, small ones, some as big as your head. Maybe that’s coconuts.

We’ll start again… cars, vans, 4x4s, SUVs and campervans require specific tyres – built to meet the unique requirements of that vehicle type.

Manufacturers on both sides of the coin ( vehicle and tyre) have spent many years working together to ensure that tyres fitted to vehicles work the way they are supposed to for that vehicle type.

For this reason, it is important to make sure you have the right type for your vehicle.

  1. Your driving style

Are you a F1 driver or a Sunday leisure lord? Do you stick to the speed limit or like to always keep it a nice and easy 5mph under? Uptown mouse or country mouse?

No matter your driving preference, it takes all sorts to make this world go round - each tyre on Blackcircles.com comes with an overview and key features that they tyre has been constructed for.

This gives you the chance to determine which tyres suit your style.

  1. Your budget

As Jerry Maguire once said ‘show me the money!

Now, whether Jerry Maguire was a real historical figure, or not, is up to the scholars to debate. But one thing that he got spot on, is that money matters. Especially in tyres - as it does in all things.

Believe me, I once flew across the Atlantic to the U.S.A in search of somewhere where money doesn’t matter. The U.S.A is the land of the free after all. But, I’m afraid to report back that money matters just as much there.

All of that is to say, when buying new tyres, your budget has a lot of say in the tyres. We understand that money is a major factor in choosing a tyre and the temptation may be to go with as cheap a tyre as possible.

However, tyres are the only contact your vehicle has with the road. So rather than thinking: How cheap I can get tyres? Consider: How much can I afford?

How to find your tyre size

One of the first things you’ll need in your quest for a new tyre, is to understand what tyre size you require.

When looking at the side of your tyres (also called the sidewall – imaginatively) you will see a variety of different markings.

Such as the tyre’s manufacturer, model name and, amongst other things, the size.

The size of the tyre is represented by a series of numbers and letters. They all generally follow the same format, with a common size being 205/55 R16 91V:

Tyre size guide

How to read tyre size

 At first glance, this may not mean much. However, it is broken into separate sections – allowing you to perform a tyre search online to find similar-sized tyres.

In the above example, each section breaks down as follows:

205 – Width of the tyre in millimetres

55 – Height of the tyre sidewall as a percentage of the width. In this case 55%. Also known as the aspect ratio.

R16 – The diameter of the tyre’s inner rim in inches

91 – Load Rating of the Tyre.

V – Speed Rating. Indicates the maximum speed for the tyre when at full load.

It is worth noting, having gone through how to find the tyre size of your car, you can also use our vehicle registration lookup tool.

This checks the data held by the DVLA to find out what tyre size is appropriate for your vehicle.

When using this tool, we recommend that you double-check the size provided against what you currently have fitted to your vehicle as multiple sizes may be recommended - depending on the age and model of your vehicle.

Reading Tyre Symbols

Like the ancient Egyptians before them, tyre manufacturers like to use icons to adorn their tyres.

I’m not saying the ancient Egyptians invented the pneumatic tyre. For starters I’ve not studied Egyptology enough to make the claim either way – unless you count watching all of ‘The Mummy’ film franchise.

These tyre markings can seem undecipherable if you are not sure of the lingo, but they do in fact impart some very useful information for potential tyre owners. They can help you to make the right decision by detailing exactly what that tyre is for.

Useful Tyre Symbols:

Runflat - Depending on the manufacturer, different symbols are used to denote whether or not a tyre is a run flat tyre. These are:

Winter use – A tyre with the Three Peak Mountain Snow Flake marking (3PMSF) has achieved the accolade after passing rigorous tests to prove it is suitable for driving in winter weather. It confirms the winter suitability of a tyre.

Mud & Snow - another symbol which can indicate the suitability of the tyre for driving in cold weather is M+S. This stands for Mud & Snow. However, unlike the 3PMSF symbol, this marking does not require passing a certified test and is entirely up to the manufacturer.

DOT code – a tyre, like us all, has a finite lifespan. And a tyre, like us all again, has a point at which it starts to decline irrevocably. The dot code on the side of a tyre tells you the tyre’s age. It is made up of 4 numbers and these can be deciphered thusly - The first two digits tell you the week number and the last two indicate the year the tyre was manufactured. So, for a dot code that read 1119, this would translate to the 11th week in the year 2019.

Tyre Reviews

With over 225,000 tyre reviews on Blackcircles.com, there is a vast ocean of feedback from real motorists who have shared just what they think of their tyres.

By being able to read genuine tyre reviews based on your vehicle and driving needs – it can give you a much better understanding of what to expect from a tyre.

You need not take a product description at its word, instead glean some insightful information from your peers.

Buying Tyres Online: Making Things Simple

At Blackcircles.com you can easily choose the size and make of the tyres you want and then purchase them securely from the comfort of your home.

Blackcircles.com has been at the forefront of the online tyre retail sector for almost two decades and has spent a lot of time honing a specially designed search results page – showing customers all the tyres available for their vehicle.

Order your tyres online today.

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