Load ratings, speed ratings, sidewall aspect ratios; finding the right tyres for your car can be a real minefield if you don’t know what you’re looking for. Even once you know your size there can be so many options available but which one should you choose?
Let’s start off by finding out what size you need. The easiest way to do this is to simply look at what’s fitted to your car already. Tyre’s will always have the size written on the side of the tyre somewhere, usually in bold writing alongside the manufacturer. Be sure to check both the front and rear tyres, some vehicles may have a different tyre size on the front axle and rear axle.
The tyre size is usually split into four sections; width, profile, rim size and load & speed ratings.
The width (205 in the example above) defines how wide the tyre is in millimetres. The profile defines the height of the sidewall as a percentage of the width, in the above example the profile is 55% of the width (113mm). The rim size, often shown with an ‘R’ before a number, is the diameter of the rim to which the tyre will be fitted.
Load and speed ratings are a little more confusing:
The load rating is shown as a number but rather than the number reflecting the measurement, it is instead part of an index. In the above example the load rating is 91, this is a load index rating of 615kg, the rating defines the load capacity for each tyre – so four tyres with a 91 load rating would be suitable for a vehicle load of under 2460kg.
Speed ratings are displayed as a letter between F and Y in the alphabet, again this is part of an index and correlates to a a maximum rated speed for the tyre. The above example shows a V speed rating, this means the maximum speed this tyre is capable of withstanding safely is 149mph – though, obviously, it’s never safe to do these speeds.
Also check some of the finer text on the sidewall of the tyre for anything such as ‘Run Flat’ or ‘XL/Reinforced’ – these are specifications that are often selected by vehicle manufacturers from factory and could impact your insurance or warranty should you select a non-run flat tyre for example, you can learn more about these here.
When selecting new tyres, it’s important to be aware that you should never fit tyres with a lower load or speed rating that what has been fitted by the vehicle manufacturer. It is however ok to fit tyres with a higher load or speed rating, though tyres with higher load rating may impact vehicle handling slightly. It’s worth checking your vehicle owner’s manual or contacting the manufacturer if you’re ever unsure.
Ok, so now that you (hopefully) understand how to read your tyre size correctly, you can start your search for some new tyres.
First, head over to www.blackcircles.com – here you will see the option to search for tyres using your vehicle registration number or by entering your tyre size manually. If you opt to search using your registration, make sure you have followed the steps above to check your tyre size is correct before progressing.
Once you have hit ‘search’ you can then refine your search further, this is where you should enter your speed & load ratings, select whether you’re looking for winter tyres, run flat tyres or reinforced tyres. You can also decide whether you would like to have your tyres fitted by one of our partner fitting stations, or simply have them delivered for you to arrange your own fitting.
Below the search bar, you will see all the tyres we have available in your size. These are grouped by price range, with a full list of available tyres listed by brand below. The four key factors that you should consider when making a selection are:
The weather and climate of where you live – If, for example, you live in a part of the country which experiences a lot of rainfall, looking at the tyre label score for ‘wet grip’ would be a good place to start.
The type of vehicle you own – Cars, vans, 4x4s and camper vans require specific tyres –built to meet the unique requirements of each vehicle type.
For this reason it is important to make sure you have the right type for your vehicle.
Your driving style – Each tyre on Blackcircles.com comes with an overview of what conditions the tyre has been constructed for. Evaluating these characteristics will help find a tyre that suits your style.
Your budget – We understand that money is a major factor in choosing a tyre and the temptation may be to go with as cheap a tyre as possible. However, tyres are the only contact your vehicle has with the road. So rather than think how cheap can I get tyres, consider how much can I afford.
As you look at the tyre options available, you will see the tyre labelling to the right of each tyre. This labelling system is used to provide a score on the performance of each tyre in three areas; Rolling Resistance, Wet Grip and External Noise. You can learn more about what each of these mean here.