TYRES 101

There’s a lot more to a tyre than just rubber on a rim. Get a better understanding of the main parts of a tyre and the role each one plays.

The typical radial tyre consists of six main parts.

  • TREAD: The tread provides traction and cornering grip for the tyre and is designed to resist wear, abrasion and heat.
  • SIDEWALL: The sidewall protects the side of the tyre from impacts with curbs and the road. This is where the important details about the tyre can be found, such as tyre width and speed rating.
  • CROWN PLIES (OR BELTS): Crown plies provide the rigid base for the tread.
  • CARCASS PLY: The carcass ply is the layer above the inner liner and consists of thin textile fiber cords (or cables) bonded into the rubber. These cables are largely responsible for determining the strength of the tyre.
  • INNER LINER: The days of tubed tyres are over. Today’s modern tyres utilize synthetic rubber instead – specifically butyl rubber* – which is virtually impenetrable to water and air. However, over time, there will be slight air loss, so check your pressure every month.
  • BEADS: The beads clamp firmly against the tyre’s rim to ensure an airtight fit and keep the tyre properly seated on the rim.

A through Z. Find out what ratings offer longer mileage, better grip and a smoother ride.

The most common tyre speed ratings, speeds and vehicle usage are as follows:

THE ORIGIN OF SPEED RATINGS

We can thank Germany’s famous Autobahn for tyre speed ratings. Tyre speed ratings range from A (the lowest) to Y (the highest). But the chart is not completely in alphabetical order. For example, H is between U and V, with the common perception that H stood for “high performance” at one time. As manufacturers continue to add speed to their vehicles, tyre speed ratings evolve to match the speeds. For example, Z was the highest rated speed at 240 kph + until W & Y were used to match the higher speeds of exotic sports cars.

SPEED RATINGS REFER TO MORE THAN JUST SPEED

Contrary to the name, speed ratings aren’t just about speed. They’re also about ride comfort, wear and cornering ability. Typically, the higher the speed rating, the better the grip and stopping power, but the lower the tread life. You can always increase the speed rating of the tyres on your vehicle for improved performance, but can never decrease it without reducing the vehicle top speed to that of the lower speed rating selected.

MIXING SPEED RATINGS

We certainly don’t recommend it, but if tyres of different speed ratings are mounted on a vehicle, the lower speed-rated tyres should be placed on the front axle regardless of which axle is driven. This is to prevent a potential oversteer condition. Vehicle handling may be affected, and the vehicle’s speed capacity is now limited to the lowest speed-rated tyre. For best performance, it is recommended that the same size and type of tyre be used on all four wheel positions.

LOAD INDEX

235/55R17 99H- The load index (99) is the tyre size’s assigned numerical value used to compare relative load carrying capabilities. The higher the tyre’s load index number, the greater its load carrying capacity.

97 = 730 kg (1,609 pounds)
98 = 750 kg (1,653 pounds)
99 = 775 kg (1,709 pounds)

A tyre with a higher load index than that of the Original Equipment tyre indicates an increase in load capacity. A tyre with a load index equal to that of the Original Equipment tyre indicates an equivalent load capacity. A tyre with a lower load index than the Original Equipment tyre indicates the tyre does not equal the load capacity of the original and should not be considered for installation on the vehicle.

Typically, the load indexes of the tyres used on passenger cars and light trucks range from 70 to 130.

To find out what tyres are right for your car.

Your correct tyre size and tyre pressure can be found in your vehicle’s owner’s manual in the glove compartment or on the OEM sticker on your driver’s side door.

TYRE SIZE

OEM stands of Original Equipment Manufacturer. Quite simply, these are the tyre specs that originally came with your vehicle, according to the manufacturer (Honda, Ford, etc). It includes the tyre size, rim size, the aspect ratio, etc.

The numbers and letters on the side of your tyre have very specific meanings.

A tyre’s sidewall is pretty much what it sounds like – the outer and inner “walls” on the sides of a tyre. Every sidewall has its own unique information that is divided into four main sections:

1. TYRE SPECS

This describes the fundamental characteristic of your tyre. Size, construction, speed rating and more.

TYRE TYPE: This designates the type of vehicle the tyre fits. P is for passenger metric. Other letters are LT (light truck), T (temporary spare) and ST (special trailers). If your tyre has no letter, this signifies a Euro “metric” size.

2. DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION SAFETY CODE

This assures that your tyre complies with all Department of Transportation (DOT) safety standards. After the DOT insignia is your tyres indetification number, which begins with the tyres manufacturer and plant code where the tyre was manufactured (two numbers or letters). The ninth and tenth characters tell you the week the tyre was manufactured. The final number(s) signifies the year the tyre was manufactured.

DOT: Department of Transportation Safety Code

3. UTQG CODE

The Uniform Tyre Quality Grading (UTQG) was established by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) to test tyres following government-prescribed test methods and then grade each tyre on three main components:

  • Treadwear: This is the wear rate of the tyre, comparable only to other tyres within a tyre manufacturer’s line. The baseline grade is 100. Therefore a tyre with 200 would theoretically last twice as long on the government’s course compared to a tyre with 100.
  • Traction: Traction grades are AA, A, B and C (with AA being the highest grade). They represent the tyre’s ability to stop straight on wet pavement as measured on a specified government track. Any tyre rated under C is considered unacceptable for road travel.
  • Temperature: The temperature grades, from highest to lowest, are A, B and C. These represent the tyre’s ability to dissipate heat under controlled indoor test conditions. Any tyre rated below C is considered unacceptable.

4. ICONS

Some tyres have unique benefits, as showcased with specific icons. For example, a Mountain Snowflake symbol tells you that the tyre meets or exceeds industry-established snow traction performance requirements.

MAINTENANCE

Discover the importance of air pressure and how to measure it.

Believe it or not, tyres can actually lose up to 1psi (pounds per square inch) every month. So be on the safe side and check all tyres, including your spare, once a month (or before a long trip). It’s no biggie. Here’s how you do it:

  1. Purchase a trusted pressure gauge.
  2. Check your tyres “cold” – before you’ve driven or at least three hours after you’ve driven.
  3. Insert pressure gauge into the valve stem on your tyre. (The gauge will “pop” out and show a measured number. When you hear a “pssst” sound, that’s air escaping the tyre. The escaping air shouldn’t affect pressure substantially, unless you hold down the air pressure gauge too long.)
  4. Compare the measured psi to the psi found on the sticker inside the driver’s door of your vehicle or in owner’s manual. DO NOT compare to the psi on your tyre’s sidewall.
  5. If your psi is above the number, let air out until it matches. If below, add air (or have a Advantage Tyres dealer help you) until it reaches the proper number.

NITROGEN VERSUS COMPRESSED AIR

It’s pretty common knowledge that most tyres are filled with compressed air. But some tyre dealers have started putting nitrogen in their customers’ tyres. (Nitrogen is simply dry air with the oxygen removed. Air contains nearly 79% nitrogen already. Note: Welcome to science class.) Because nitrogen replaces oxygen, less air can escape your tyres, and your air pressure stays higher for longer. Also, know that nitrogen and compressed air CAN be mixed, if needed.

Unfortunately, there are other possible sources of leaks (tyre/rim interface, valve, valve/rim interface and the wheel), which prevent the guarantee of pressure maintenance for individuals using air or nitrogen inflation.

There’s a right way and a wrong way to wash your tyres.

Nothing makes a car look sweeter than a shiny set of tyres. But don’t put your investment at risk by using just any cleaner. Make sure to only use non-petroleum based products to clean the tyres. A number of wheel cleaners may contain harsh acids, alkalis and/or detergents that can damage wheels and paint. However, there are products out there that are safe for all brands of tyres as well as environmentally responsible.

You’ve heard about rotation. Find out all the exciting and not so exciting details…

The truth is, the whole rotating-your-tyres thing is no gimmick. It really does help extend the life of your tyres and improve performance. So if you’re into safety and saving money, regular tyre rotation is a must. The type of rotation depends on which vehicle axle is driven and the tread pattern. Some key rotation patterns are listed below:

  • Front Wheel Drive
  • Rear Wheel Drive
  • 4-Wheel Drive
  • Uni-Directional (Tread Faces One Way)

Regular rotation is important for vehicles with dual rear wheels as well. Below are the two most common rotation patterns for 6-wheeled vehicles. However, check your owner’s manual to see if there is a recommended rotation scheme.

  • Standard Dually Rotation
  • Alternate Dually Rotation

During rotation, each tyre and wheel is removed from your vehicle and moved to a different position to ensure that all tyres wear evenly and last longer. Tyres should be rotated every six months or 10,000 to 12,000 kilometers.

What is tyre balancing and why do you need it?

Tyre balancing is pretty much what it sounds like. It compensates for the weight of the tyre and wheel assembly after the tyre is mounted. A wheel is out of balance when one area is heavier or lighter than the rest. That causes bouncing or wobbling, which can decrease treadwear, increase vibration and cause stress on your vehicle. The cure? Correction weights are added to counterbalance the tyres.

WHEN TO BALANCE

  • A tyre is replaced
  • A balance weight is moved or removed
  • You purchase new tyres

HOW WHEELS ARE BALANCED

Balancing a wheel is a pretty cool process. Your mechanic uses a high-tech balancing machine to determine where the heavy spots are. Weights are then attached to the exterior or interior of the wheel to counteract centrifugal forces acting on the heavy areas when the wheel is turning. This will eliminate vertical bouncing and side-to-side wobble.

Find out what alignment is and why it’s so important to your safety.

If you’re talking about alignment, you’re talking about the adjustment of a vehicle’s front and rear suspension parts. And it needs to be correct. If the alignment is off, the vehicle isn’t safe to drive.

WHEN TO CHECK ALIGNMENT

Yes, those never-ending potholes and bumpy railroad crossings are seriously annoying. But they, along with more severe circumstances like a car accident, can knock your vehicle out of alignment. So, be sure to have your alignment checked if:

  • You’ve hit something substantial
  • You see a wear pattern developing on the shoulders (outer edges) of the tyres
  • You notice a difference in your vehicle’s handling

Follow the steps HERE

CARE

Repairing a damaged tyre is certainly less expensive and less hassle than buying a brand new one.

If your tyre becomes damaged, it may need to be repaired if it meets the following criteria:

  1. The tyre has not been driven on when flat
  2. The damage is only on the tread section of your tyre (sidewall damage ruins a tyre immediately) and/or
  3. The puncture is less than 6mm (¼”)

PATCH, YES. PLUG, NO.

If you decide to go the repair route, make sure you do it right. The proper way to have a tyre repaired is to patch the tyre from the inside and fill the puncture hole. Do not have your tyre plugged. Plug repairs don’t involve taking the tyre off the wheel for a proper inspection. A plug is simply inserted into the punctured area, making it unreliable. Insist on a full inspection and have your dealer patch and fill the repair on the inside of the tyre.

If you’re working multiple sets of tyres, you need to make sure you store them properly.

Proper storage ensures the appearance and performance are maintained. And before you store them, be sure to inspect each one for damage or uneven wear.

HOW TO STORE YOUR TYRES

  • Store your tyres indoors in a clean, cool and dark location away from direct sunlight, sources of heat and ozone such as hot pipes or electric generators.
  • Be sure the surfaces on which tyres are stored are clean and free from grease, gasoline or other substances that could deteriorate the rubber.
  • If storing outdoors raise tyres off the ground and use waterproof covering with holes to prevent moisture build-up.
  • If tyres are on vehicle, store on blocks to remove load from the tyres. Maintain placard inflation pressure.
  • If your tyres have whitewall or raised white lettering, store them with the whitewall or raised white lettering facing each other. Otherwise, black rubber could stain them. (The results are not pretty.)

DRIVING TIPS

When you take turns in both wet and dry conditions (but especially wet), you can easily lose control by oversteering or understeering.

Wet weather doesn’t get the same attention as snow and ice, but it should. Wet roads present similar dangers – like less grip and longer stopping distance.

There’s a trick to driving in wet conditions. You ready? Here it is. SLOW DOWN. Seriously, if more drivers would heed this advice in the rain, accidents would dramatically decrease. Wet weather doesn’t get the same attention as snow and ice, but it should. Wet roads present similar dangers—like less grip and longer stopping distance.

WET DRIVING TIPS

  • Make sure your tyres offer the proper amount of tread.
  • Own tyres that offer maximum grip in wet weather.
  • Drive with two hands. Always.
  • Slow down before turning, and maintain a consistent speed throughout the turn.
  • While turning, don’t make any sudden steering wheel movements.
  • Only brake in a straight line before the turn, and do so gradually. Do not brake during the turn.
  • Increase your following distance from other cars significantly.
  • If hydroplaning, do not accelerate or brake suddenly. Keep your foot lightly on the gas and steer the car forwards until your tyres regain traction.

Just follow this simple checklist and you’ll know your tyres are fully prepped for your road trip.

Luggage is packed. Gas tank’s full. GPS is set. Sunglasses and seatbelt are on. You’re ready to roll, right? Wrong. You still need to check your tyres. After all, they’re the only thing keeping you on the open road. Just follow this simple checklist and you’ll know your tyres are fully prepped for your road trip:

ROAD TRIP CHECKLIST

  • Make sure your vehicle is up to date on all inspections
  • Check your tyres’ air pressure and compare to the sticker in your door jamb.
  • Check your tyres’ tread both visually and with the coin test.

Some tyres grip better. Some last longer. But did you know some tyres are actually designed to give you better fuel mileage?

The most important fuel mileage features in a tyre are:

PROPER AIR PRESSURE

Under-inflated tyres are one of the biggest causes of excess fuel usage in the world. The American Automobile Agency has stated that operating a vehicle with under-inflated tyres can result in a 25% reduction in fuel economy. Ouch.

TYRE CONSTRUCTION

The lower the rolling resistance, the less effort from your engine and the better the fuel mileage. This is why passenger tyres offer better fuel mileage and longer tread life than SUV/Light Truck tyres and winter tyres, whose heavier tread patterns are designed with maximum traction in mind.

Off-road driving can be fun, especially when it’s intentional. But, it’s an entirely different kind of driving altogether.

Off-road driving can be fun, especially when it’s intentional. But, it’s a different kind of driving. We recommend you understand the basic techniques, so you don’t get stuck in a precarious situation.

SAND, SNOW AND MUD

  1. Deflate your tyres a bit to increase your tyre footprint for better traction.
  2. Use steady momentum all the way through.
  3. In sand and snow, if your wheels start to spin, ease off the gas a little to let the tyres slow down and regain traction. In mud, maintain some wheel spin to help clear mud from the drive tyres.

ROCKS, LOGS AND DITCHES

  1. Approach obstacles at an angle, so that only one tyre engages, leaving the other three tyres on solid ground for traction.
  2. To protect the fragile components on the underside of your vehicle, it’s best to drive over an obstacle by placing one tyre on it, then gently driving over it.

Hills

  1. Approach the hill straight on, so the weight is distributed equally, providing equal traction to all four tyres.
  2. Use as high a gear as the vehicle will handle comfortably on the hill. If the gear is too low, you will spin the tyres. If it’s too high, you won’t have enough power.
  3. Always prepare for a failed climb and have an escape plan.

BUYING GUIDE

How worn is too worn? There are several ways to check for wear without even getting your hands dirty.

IF YOUR TYRE IS WORN

How worn is too worn? There are several ways to check for wear without even getting your hands dirty: You can either look for visible, excessive wear, you can perform the Coin Test to check proper tread depth, or you can check if the tread is worn down to the wear bar indicators (typically located in the circumferential grooves of the tread).

IF YOUR TYRE IS DAMAGED

If you find any tyre damage, you may be able to determine the damage results by clicking here, but don’t chance it. Be sure to ask an Advantage Tyre retailer to inspect your tyre. There could be some unseen damage on the inside.

Tyre upgrading, or plus-sizing, is a practice where performance-minded drivers upgrade their original equipment wheels with wider, bigger wheels.

Some tyres are created with a unique tread for specific weather conditions, while others are built to handle year-round conditions.

Some excel in winter, some in rain and some off-road. There are positives and negatives for each tyre, so be sure you understand them.

SUMMER

These tyres are the most popular choice for our temperate environment. They are primarily designed for high-performance vehicles and provide optimized dry and wet performance levels. Summer tyres are designed for year round usage but care should be taken during the winter season if temperatures are approaching freezing consistently as their performance would be less than optimal.

WINTER

These tyres are specifically designed to offer optimal levels of traction on ice, snow, and slush in addition to wet and dry road surfaces in severe cold weather conditions. Severe cold weather conditions are defined to occur when ambient temperatures are consistently below freezing and/or there is substantial winter precipitation. Winter tyres are not intended for year round usage. All winter tyres exhibit the Mountain Snowflake marking indicating suitability for winter application.

ALL-TERRAIN

These are off-road tyres designed to give you superior grip in mud, dirt and rocks. They can be driven on the road, but offer a louder ride noise than most other tyres, along with less treadwear due to their unique tread design.

High performance sports cars need high performance tyres. Learn more about one of our favourite subjects.

If your car is high-performance, doesn’t it make sense to have tyres that are just as high-performance? The main benefits of performance tyres are higher speed* capability, improved handling and maximum dry road grip. (The negative is lower tread life.) But you need to know that all performance tyres aren’t the same, which is why many high performance car owners own multiple sets of tyres. (They often switch to all-season or winter tyres in the fall and winter for improved winter grip.)

PASSENGER CAR / MINIVAN TYRES

Some tyre manufacturers call tyres rated S or T “performance” tyres, but they’re performance in look only. Not feel or grip. Although they offer solid handling and comfort, they aren’t designed to enhance handling, which is what most performance drivers want.

PERFORMANCE TOURING TYRES

Tyres rated H and V are typically considered “performance touring.” Some manufacturers state that their performance touring tyres can be used in all seasons, so be sure to ask your local Advantage Tyre dealer for more information.

ULTRA-HIGH PERFORMANCE SPORT TYRES

Tyres rated W, Y and Z, with an aspect ratio of less than 55. Typically designed for larger wheels (16” and above), these tyres are made to enhance the handling of the vehicle.

* Exceeding the legal speed limit is neither recommended nor endorsed.

Say you need two new tyres. Where do they go on your car? Find out…

There may come a time when you replace two new tyres instead of four. If you decide to go that route, be sure that your new tyres are the same size and tyre type as your current tyres, and that your dealer always installs the new tyres on the rear axle of your vehicle (as shown in the image below).

WHY PUT NEW TYRES ON THE REAR AXLE?

  • New tyres will provide better wet grip than your half-worn tyres.
  • When new tyres are installed on the rear, it helps reduce the potential for your vehicle to fishtail and loss of vehicle stability in wet conditions.

Walk into your next Advantage Tyres armed with the knowledge you need to make a smart purchase.

When it’s time to buy tyres make sure you do a little homework before you go. (All of which is found within Tyres 101.) We’ve even put together five easy questions to take to your local dealer.

QUESTIONS TO ASK YOUR DEALERS

  • Are my current tyres the best tyres for my vehicle?
  • What are the best tyres that match my driving habits and my price?
  • Can you give me a pricing tier of my tyre type with three choices.
  • Is the tyre manufacturer highly reputable.

SAFETY TIPS

You’ve probably seen it – the tyre pressure warning light (see accompanying image) – a computerised measurement that alerts you when the pressure of one (or more) of your tyres falls below 25% of the manufacturer’s recommended psi (pounds per square inch). Some cars alert you if your tyre’s pressure is too high, but the majority of vehicles focus on the more common problem: underinflation.

IF YOUR LIGHT COMES ON

First things first, check all four tyres for nails, tears or any damage that might cause it to lose pressure. Next, use a tyre pressure gauge on the tyre (or tyres) that your system indicated had low pressure. Compare the tyre’s psi with the manufacturer’s recommended psi, which can be found in your owner’s manual or on the sticker inside of your driver’s side door jam. If pressure is low, add air until it reaches the proper pressure. If your light continues to stay on, take your vehicle to an authorized tyre dealer immediately.

With today’s tyre technology—such as Runflat, SSR, SSS, Zero Pressure—you may never have to deal with a blowout, but if you do, we can help guide you through it. Different brands have different technologies for driving vehicles with a flat tyre. Make sure to check either your vehicle handbook or the tyre sidewall for more information on how far and fast you can drive on a tyre that has low pressure technology.

Let’s face it, not every trip goes as perfectly as planned. And as much as we hope you never need emergency care on the side of the road, there’s a chance you will at some point. So, make sure you have proper roadside assistance before you need it. There are lots of programs available, and every program has its own pros and cons, but often include towing, flat-tyre changing, lost-key replacement, help with vehicles that are stuck and delivery of fuel (if you’re stuck on empty). All coverages are unique, so be sure to pick one that matches your specific needs. And above all else, read the fine print before you join!

NEW/USED CAR PROGRAMS

A lot of Vehicle Manufacturers provide roadside assistance programs for free with new or certified pre-owned vehicles. But as we all know, free doesn’t last forever, so know your program’s expiration date.

INSURANCE COMPANIES

Several insurance companies now offer road side assistance solutions. Call your vehicle’s insurance company to find out more.