Of the many maintenance items that you will have to take care of for your car, one of the biggest choices you will have to make are the tyres that your car rolls on. These four rubber donuts are the only points of contact between your car and the road, which is pretty crazy when you imagine what a monumental task that will be. To make matters even worse, there are all kinds of tyres on the market across a huge range of price points, and offering very different strengths.
In this article, we’re going to go over what we think you should look at when it comes to picking the right kind of tyre for your car. We’ll help you decipher and understand the various technical aspects and break it down so you know exactly what you need.
Load Index And Speed Rating
Before we even get into the actual design of the tyre, the first thing you need to know is a tyre’s load index and speed rating – two items that are especially critical as they are the maximum values you can safely run on these tyres. As an example, your average passenger car tyre probably won’t hold up to the punishment and weight of an SUV, which is why there are SUV specific tyres. Similarly, you would be at great risk if you exceeded the speed at which a tyre is safely rated for. You can find this information after the sizing information on the tyre, and check the chart above to decipher the figures.
The Tread Itself
When you spend a lot of time looking at tyres, you will notice one of the biggest and most obvious differences is the pattern in the tread. Tread pattern varies greatly depending on what a tyre is designed for – whether that’s comfort, or outright performance. The tread is a broader term that includes the design of the sipes (for water evacuation), grooves (channels in the middle of the tyre), and shoulders (the edges of the tyre).
These elements when engineered and designed properly can be extremely helpful when it comes to driving in the wet as it ensures proper contact between the tyre and the road. In the case of the Continental UC6, Aqua Drainage and Aqua Channels are an integral part of why they function so well in wet weather conditions – both for better performance and better safety on the road. These tyres even have small internal gutters in the tread to better channel water away from the centre of the tread.
On the other hand, the Continental MC6 optimizes its tread design with some clever tricks to improve overall feedback and performance without compromising comfort. The particular compound used has very strong adhesion to the road, but it is bolstered by stiff central ribs and stabilizer bars between the ribs which help to reduce deformation under lateral loads. If you’re confused, all you really need to know is that the MC6 gives you better and more consistent grip through its construction and design.
Sidewall Stiffness and Noise Levels
One of the more important contributors to comfort on the road is actually the sidewall stiffness of your tyres. While stiffer sidewalls give you better steering response for some hard-core performance driving, it can greatly impact the level of comfort you feel as they are the first point of contact to absorb small imperfections in the road. You will usually only be able to tell how soft or stiff a sidewall is after a tyre is already installed on your car – but a well-engineered comfort tyre is noticeably more plush than something designed purely for fuel efficiency or performance.
You would also be surprised by how a tyre can impact the amount of noise you hear in the cabin, as tyre roar can be a huge problem regardless of how well insulated your vehicle is. Even today, there are innovative new technologies and solutions being pushed to make these tyres quieter and quieter – the Continental CC6 goes so far as to include small shaped resonators in the tyre to help cancel out some of these annoying frequencies and reduce overall tyre roar.
What Lies Beneath
There’s a lot more to a tyre than what you see on the surface. Tyre construction has evolved a great deal over the last few decades, from fabric belt radial ply designs (the kind you see on classic cars) that had some horrendous deflection and strength, to steel-belted cross-ply designs that you see today which are far stronger and more durable. The belts lie underneath the tread and are generally hidden from view, but these belts are what keeps your tyre together and also impacts the speed and load ratings mentioned before. In the case of SUV tyres, there can even be extra reinforcement for better resilience and safety on the road.
A Life Well Lived
We advocate checking your tyres fairly regularly – at least once a month or so – to keep track of how it is wearing out and whether you have sufficient tread depth to safely drive on the road. That being said, the sign of a great tyre for general purpose use is having a long lifespan – and there really are some tyres that can achieve this through clever tyre compound engineering. Having a longer lifespan really gives you more bang for your buck, and may mean that paying a little more for something better engineered will save you more in the long run.
And there you have it. Assessing a tyre is a largely personal experience but we hope with this guide you will be able to better understand the ins and outs of a tyre, and why some tyres just feel better and more refined. Even things like tyre noise can play a big part in your overall driving experience, as us Malaysians spend an enormous amount of time on the road. With decades of experience in the tyre business as well as solid German engineering, Continental tyres deliver on both the performance and longevity fronts, without compromising comfort as a result.
If you act quickly, you can also take advantage of Continental’s Merdeka Value Treats campaign that runs from the 26th of June to Merdeka itself on the 31st of August. Up to RM 1,000,000 in e-cash vouchers are up for grabs with the purchase of Continental tyres – and of course, terms and conditions apply. To check out the how and why, click on the link right here. To find the closest Continental dealer to you and great promotions on tyres, click here.