Choosing the right type for your car is important to get the intended performance from your car. Read on to know more.
Gone are the days where one could choose between a set of Bias or Radial tyres. In today’s world, the sheer variety of tyres you can buy depending on what their specialist applications are is long and varied. One can easily walk into a dealership today and replace your manufacturer provided tyres for a set of high performance ones that can completely change the way your car looks or performs on the road.
Basically the tyres are divided into Standard and Premium categories. Premium category is further divided into Sporty and Touring category. In the premium category, some special construction types are available i.e. High Speed Tyres and Run Flat tyres. In the Touring category, Eco-Friendly tyres are available. For SUV and MUV, a different classification is available. Depending on percentage of On/Off usage, categories available are A/T (All Terrain), H/T (Highway terrain), and H/L or H/P (Highway Luxury/ Highway Performance)
Here is a list of tyres you can buy to get the best out of your car.
Standard tyres: Also known as Stock Tyres or General Usage tyres, these are usually the OE fitted tyres you get with the car. Same specification tyres are also available in aftermarket. These are the tyres to go for if you are satisfied with your current tyre performance and your expectations from tyres are not very demanding. Since these are tested and approved by OE manufacturers, most of the performance parameters are optimized for general usage. These tyres generally do not tax your pockets as much as premium tyres!
Touring tyres: Comfort is the main emphasis of these tyres. Comfort not only stands for driving comfort (Less vibrations), but also lower noise levels. Such premium tyres are usually preferred by people using premium cars mainly for going to office or travelling with the family. The tread patterns of Touring tyres are less aggressive than Sporty tyres and have certain design features on tread which create lesser noise. Top category within Touring tyres may have asymmetric patterns and may be even asymmetric construction varying between “Outer” and “Inner” Sides.
Sporty tyres: Also known as Performance Tyres, these are designed for improving the grip and handling of a vehicle are called performance tyres. Made of softer tread compound rubber, they are designed to give maximum grip at high speeds especially during dry and wet weather conditions. Most sports cars come fitted standard with these superior performance tyres to improve their handling and cornering ability. These tyres are also available in the aftermarket for drivers who want better handling and performance from their vehicles. In fact, for people who use their vehicle in tarmac based motorsport applications, a sporty tyre is the cheapest and most preferred way to cut down on lap times. These tyres usually come with aggressive tread patterns than standard and touring tyres, which make them a bit noisy at high speeds.
High Speed tyres : High speed tyres are available in Touring and Sporty patterns Their construction is more durable that can resist high temperatures due to high-speed rolling resistance and deal with strong G forces under hard cornering. Manufacturers often use their findings from motorsport applications to make these high performance tyres for road use. One can often find these high performance tyres fitted on sports cars, supercars and coupes that are capable of higher speeds than a standard family sedan.
One must remember though that although the technology exists for tyres to achieve speeds well above 300kmph, fitting such tyres in your average hatchback is pointless. Due to price constraints in new cars, one will often find manufacturers providing tyres that are capable of handling speeds slightly higher than what that particular car can achieve.
Here is a chart denoting tyre speed ratings commonly available in India:
|Speed Symbol||Max speed (Kmph)||Category|
|Q||160||Available in MUV tyres|
|S||180||Available in standard tyres|
|H||210||Speeds of H & above are considered high speeds|
|W||270||Available in Premium category tyres and premium/ luxury imported cars|
Eco-friendly Tyres : It’s not just automobiles that have kept pace with the times and increased environmental pressures to become environment friendly. The tyres they ride on, too, have become more ecofriendly. Essentially, ecofriendly tyres help reduce fuel consumption by offering the lowest rolling resistance possible. Low rolling resistance, as the name suggests, is achieved by reducing friction losses in the compounding.
Currently the Eco-friendly tyres use silica to a tyre compound which allows tyre makers to make low-rolling resistance tyres with adequate grip. Tyre manufacturers have also looked at optimising design, contour, compound and tread pattern, and took a completely new approach to all four components of the tyre to achieve both fuel efficiency and optimum grip.
In India, fuel expense per year is several times that of expense on tyres. Therefore savings through Eco-friendly tyres are much higher than the premium paid for these tyres.
Run Flat tyres: Run flat tyres are available in premium category (Both in Touring and Sporty types) They are designed to minimise loss of handling of a vehicle after a tyre puncture has occurred. It allows the car to be driven on the punctured tyre so that the driver does not have to change the tyre. However, after a puncture has occurred it can be driven only for a short distance (Typically about 80 kms) and under a limited speed (usually 80 km/h).
Run flat tyres have reinforced sidewalls and additional lateral strengthening to ensure that the tyre maintains its shape and form without air pressure in it to bear the weight of the vehicle. Loss of air pressure in a tyre also increases friction and heats up the tyre, therefore, heat resistant rubber is used to construct a run flat tyre to reduce heat build-up in case of a puncture. On normal tyres, the air pressure inside the tyre keeps the tyre bead in place on wheel rim flange. The beads of Run flat tyres are designed to keep the tyre them in place on the wheel rim flange even while there is no air pressure inside the tyre.
Although run flat tyres with their added stiffness can usually end up improving a car’s dynamic properties, they work best in countries with better road conditions. In India where highways are riddled with potholes with razor edges, a simple puncture can end up costing thousands of rupees as a run flat tyre has limited repairability (Maximum 2 punctures allowed with minimum distance between them as 40 cm after thorough inspection for inside damage).
SUV/ MUV Tyres
All-terrain tyres: All-terrain (A/T) tyres are usually found on utility vehicles that frequently drive on varying surfaces such as tarmac, dirt roads, sand, mud, rivers, rocky terrain, etc. Like off-road tyres, A/T tyres have chunky lugs on the tyre tread, however, the lugs are tighter than that of off-road tyres. The chunky lugs on the tyre tread make it easier for the tyres to find traction on loose surfaces while smaller gaps between the lugs on the tyre tread reduce rolling noise on tarmac giving the user a tradeoff between a varying degree of surfaces. All-terrain tyres are usually made up of harder rubber making them more durable than standard road tyres in comparison. The sidewalls of these tyres are also usually reinforced to withstand impact from sharp rocks and other obstacles that can be encountered on off road trails.
Highway-terrain tyres: Highway-terrain (H/T) tyres are usually found OE fitted in Indian make MUV & SUV. These are supposed to run mainly On Road and sometimes off road. Their tread blocks have less chunky lugs than A/T tyres. The sidewalls of H/T tyres are also usually reinforced to withstand impact from sharp rocks and other obstacles that can be encountered on off road trails.
Highway Luxury/ Highway Performance tyres: Highway-Luxury (H/L) or highway-Performance (H/P) tyres are usually found OE fitted in Imported or CKD/SKD premium SUV. These are supposed to run mostly On Road and rarely off road. Their tread blocks may be quite similar to those of Car tyre patterns. Such tyres may not be very effective in gripping loose surfaces like sand or mud. However they provide much better performance in On Road and offer highly comfortable ride at higher speeds. The rubber compound used on the tread is also usually that of car tyres which provides excellent grip braking power in On road application.
It should be kept in mind that all four wheels of a vehicle should be equipped with one type of tyre, be it A/T tyres, Sporty tyres, Touring tyres or standard tyres. Different types of tyres on different wheels will provide varying levels of traction, which is dangerous in case of high speed driving, especially on slippery or undulated surfaces like those found in most roads in the country. Similarly, all tyres should also be of the same brand, same size and have exactly the same tread pattern so as to give the car balance in terms of its dynamic properties. One should also remember that using high performance tyres on a car that is not capable of reaching the levels of performance the tyres are meant for is a waste of money and will give no performance gains to the owners.