6 Tips When Buying Performance Tyres
If you like spirited driving or fancy taking your car to the track, chances are you might be pondering of moving to better tyres. After all, no matter how fast the car might be, if the tyres aren’t good, you can’t really put the power to the tarmac.
However, buying a set of new tyres isn’t as easy as it seems and here’s a small guide that might help when you go for some rubber-shopping.
Understand The Need
First you need to analyse whether you actually need to move away from the stock tyres. Many high end carmakers fit their vehicles with tyres that are good enough for even track driving. For example, Porsche India offered the 991 911 GTS with Pirelli tyres measuring 245/30 at the front and 305/30 on the rear (as wide as the Ferrari 458 Speciale). Hence, in that case there’s no need to switch to a different brand or wider tyres.
That said, if you move lower down the hierarchy towards the likes of the BMW 5-Series, the Audi A4, the Mercedes C-Class and all the way to the Volkswagen Polo GT twins and Fiat Punto Abarth, your tyres could be a let-down during pedal-to-the-metal driving. Stock tyres are typically meant to improve the fuel economy and the ride comfort and be as economically viable as possible. Therefore, you might as well divulge into the market for new boots.
Research, Research and Research
First learn to read what different letterings on the tyres mean as it tells you pivotal information like the speed rating and the width of the tyre. Unlike Europe, India hasn’t made it compulsory for the tyre makers to label the rolling resistance, wet braking distance and external noise ratings, so you may not find that information. Even if you do, the labelling can’t tell you how good a tyre can corner or performs on twisty roads. Hence, to know all that, the internet is your best friend. Check out some forums and reach out to people who have actually used the tyres that you are planning to buy.
That said, we can help out a few of you guys out there. If you own a hatchback like the Volkswagen Polo or Maruti Swift, Yokohama S Drive is a fairly decent option. For cars like the BMW 3-Series and 5-Series, Mercedes C-Class, Volkswagen Jetta and Audi A4, Pirelli P-Zero and Michelin Pilot Sport shouldn’t disappoint you.
If you are keeping the rim-size the same and increasing the width of the tyre by a relatively small margin (say 185/60 to 205/55), you can expect some reduction in the fuel economy and maybe a harsher ride.
However, once you have decided to buy bigger rims along with wider tyres with a smaller sidewall (that is, “upsize”), things can get really complicated. Why? Because upsizing doesn’t necessarily improve the handling. It puts more pressure on the suspension (since the sidewall has been reduced), can increase the unsprung mass (even if your wheels are lighter, wider tyres will be heavier) and will change the camber and toe-in. So you will have to at least rework your suspension as well.
Also just remember one thing: wider tyres doesn’t mean better handling. It has to do more with the quality of tyre rather than its size.
Ready to Dig Deep into Your Pockets
Good performance tyres are expensive. Period. I have tried out the so-called ‘budget performance tyres’ and it has mostly been a hit-and-miss experience.
Even if the tyres don’t wear out, they can be still be rendered futile and lose their quality after 4-5 years from their date of manufacturing, which can be found on the sidewall. The date is usually the last four digits (given in an oval) after the ‘DOT’ prefix (note: the first two digits will tell you the week and the last two will tell you the year of manufacturing). Hence, when you are buying the new set, make sure all the four tyres aren’t older than about six to twelve months. Also, don’t forget to get the wheel alignment and balancing done after fitting new tyres.
Go easy on your new tyres for about the first 500 kilomtres.
Tips for Buying Performance Tyers
– Only look at aftermarket options if the stock tyres don’t fulfil your requirements
– Talk to people and look up on car forums to decide which tyres are the best for your car
– Don’t forget to check the manufacturing date of the tyres