New Car Tyre Purchase Guide

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Tyres are an extremely important part of keeping your car, not to mention you and your passengers safe on the road. Worn out, damaged or incorrectly inflated tyres may impact on the performance of your car by reducing fuel efficiency, increasing the risks of blowouts and making handling dangerous. Replacing worn out tyres is ultimately an investment in your safety, and just as you wouldn’t take the risk of driving without car insurance, you shouldn’t drive with unsafe tyres.

Safety and handling can be impacted by the state of your car tyres..

The grooves on your tyres - known as the tread - serve an important function. In wet weather, water is channelled along these grooves to ensure your tyres have good contact with the road surface. If the tread on your tyre is too shallow - even if it is only on one side of the tyre surface - the tyre must be replaced.

Common tyre checks

Correct tyre inflation will maximise both your fuel economy and the life of your tyre.

It is important to keep tyres at the recommended pressure. Underinflated tyres will 'bulge' where they contact the road. This can cause uneven wear, usually on the shoulder or outer edges of the tyre surface, as well as heat build-up and increased fuel use. Overinflated tyres exhibit uneven wear at the centre of the tyre surface. As well as being dangerous, uneven wear can mean you may have to replace your tyre sooner - a cost for both you and the environment.

The next step is to check the general condition of the tyre, including the treads and sidewalls. If you find any exposed wires or fabric, cracks, bubbling or uneven wear, have an experienced professional take a look at the tyre as soon as possible. Be sure to check the condition of your spare tyre as well.

Many tyres come with tyre tread indicator bars. These are generally at the bottom of the tyre tread at several locations around the tyre. When the tyre is worn so that any of these indicator bars are level with the surface of the tyre, the tyre must be replaced. You can also check the tyre tread depth using a tyre depth measurement gauge - you will need to check your state or territory laws for the minimum required tread depth.

If you are in any doubt, have a tyre specialist or a mechanic check your tyre.

What type of tyre do you need?

When you buy a new tyre you have many choices to make including brand, type and size. However, your choice may be narrowed by the vehicle you drive, particularly in relation to size. And if you are thinking of stepping outside of the recommendations of your vehicle manufacturer, you need to be sure your car will still meet roadworthiness requirements in your state or territory.

Radial tyres are common in the Australian market today. Another type of tyre is a cross-ply tyre. In addition to tyre construction type, there are also different categories of tyres, from off-road to performance-oriented. There may be differences in tread, handling, ride and anticipated life.

Choosing a set of tyres is about trading off these different specifications against price and your budget.

It's worth remembering when looking at the price of tyres that the cheapest may not necessarily be the best choice. For pure return on investment, cheaper tyres might not last as many kilometres as a more expensive product. And don’t be afraid to negotiate, shop around or ask for price matching when looking for new tyres.