Car tyres are crucial to your vehicle's safety and performance on the road. It's essential to replace old and worn tyres regularly, so if your car's rubber has seen better days it may well be time to buy two or even four new tyres.
There are many different tyre sizes, types and brands to choose from, with prices ranging from $70 to over $500. Our guide will tell you what you need to consider when buying new tyres and how to choose the best tyres for your vehicle.
Compare some of the best tyres
Why should I consider new tyres?
The right tyres ensure that your car accelerates, turns and stops safely, is cheaper to run and offers a smooth ride. But when should you change your car tyres? This is a common question many drivers don't know the answer to. While there's no such thing as a standard lifespan for tyres, factors like high-speed driving, harsh acceleration and braking, hot climates and driving on abrasive road surfaces can all cause your tyres to wear down quicker.
The legal minimum tyre tread depth in Australia is 1.5mm. New tyres come with around 8mm of tread depth, and some manufacturers recommend getting new tyres when the depth reaches 3mm.
Take a close look at the tread on your tyres. There should be tread wear indicators moulded into the tread – when the tyres are worn down so far that these bars are flush with the adjacent tread, it's time to get new tyres. Make sure you check the entire surface of the tyre so you don't miss any uneven wear.
It's also worth pointing out that some experts recommend changing tyres that have been fitted for more than five years. While there's no legal requirement for you to do so, rubber can deteriorate over time so it's worth considering the age of your tyres when deciding whether it's time to have them replaced.
Why shouldn't I consider new tyres?
If you're unsure about whether or not it's time to buy new tyres, check the following two things:
- The tread wear indicators on your tyres. If they're still hidden in the tread grooves rather than flush with the surface of the tread, you have more than the minimum legal amount of required tread.
- Your car owner's manual. Check the manual to see if your car manufacturer specifies a minimum tread depth at which you should replace your tyres. If you have more tread than the lower limit listed, you can probably wait a little while before getting new rubber – and why not get maximum value for money from the set you already have?
That said, be aware that worn tyre tread can make a sizable difference to stopping distance. According to the NRMA, when travelling at 80km/h in the wet:
- Cars with 3mm tread depth will take 9.5 metres longer to stop than a car on new tyres
- Cars with 1.5mm tread depth will take 18.6 metres longer to stop than a car on new tyres
This could quite literally mean the difference between life and death, so don't put off shopping for new tyres if yours are starting to look worn. Finally, if in doubt, don't hesitate to ask a professional for advice. Visit a reputable tyre shop and let their expert eyes give your car's rubber a closer inspection.
What types are available?
You're spoiled for choice when buying new tyres, with options available from a range of well-known brands including:
- Bob Jane
In this code:
- P stands for passenger tyre.
- 205 is the section width (measured in mm) of the tyre when properly inflated. The section width is the distance between the exterior sidewalls.
- 65 is a percentage that denotes the tyre's aspect ratio, which is the comparison between the section height and section width.
- R is for radial, the most common tyre construction method.
- 15 is the diameter (in inches) of the rim the tyre must be fitted to.
- 92 is the load rating index, which is used to denote how much weight one tyre is rated to carry. In this case, an index of 92 means the tyre can carry up to 630kg.
- H is an index that specifies the maximum speed at which a tyre can travel. In this case, H is 210 km/h.
Check your car's owner's manual or tyre placard for the manufacturer's recommended tyre size, speed and load. When carmakers launch a new model, they work closely with big-name tyre companies to find the best handling, braking, comfort, efficiency and wear rate, so the tyres your carmaker nominates are typically the best choice.
How to compare tyres
While it can be tempting to save money and fit budget tyres, spending a little extra for quality tyres usually means improved performance and safety. Pricier tyres will also generally last longer than their cheaper counterparts, which can help to offset some of the additional cost. While car tyres start at around $70, most sit somewhere in the $100-$350 price bracket.
Once you know what size and type of tyre your car manufacturer recommends, you can start weighing up the pros and cons of the available options. Make sure you consider the following factors when comparing tyres:
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