It’s still fun to drive the old cars. However, we know that technology has advanced so far that we have to drive slower in the old cars to be able to stop in time, and be safe around those corners.
It’s exactly the same with tyres, except that they don’t have to be 20 years old to have old technology. Although, cheap tyres might look similar to quality tyres on the outside, those tyres don’t necessarily have the latest generation technology. This is especially true with the huge influx of cheap tyres from Asia that Australia has experienced in recent years.
At Cooper Tires, we use three letters to remember what to look for.
Tread Technology, Carcass Construction, Compounds
This is the easiest for tyre buyers to see. By looking closely at the tread design you can see if it is a current, modern design or an older and not so cost-effective tyre.
A couple of key things to look for in the tread to help you.
Wide grooves running longitudinal (around the tyre).
This is important for two main reasons. Firstly, it helps water get out from under the tyre when it’s raining. This reduces the chance of aquaplaning, or slipping on a wet road. Secondly, it helps evacuate mud, stones and debris from the tyre, so you get better grip off-road.
Steps, V angled grooves, ribs on the bottom of tread groove.
All these features can be easily seen in the tread. These features help in protecting your tyre from damage, and improve grip on and off road.
Sipes or tiny cuts in the tread blocks.
Again, easy to see and one of the most important design elements of your tyre. These sipes squeeze water out from under your tyre on a light wet or greasy road. Sipes are the feature that contributes the most to better grip and safety on sealed roads. It is also important to check if the sipes go right through the tread block, or stop half way. The reason for this is that the latest technology has internalised the sipes so they have less edges to rip and tear when on dirt roads, keeping your tyre safer for longer and retaining the entire grip.
Also, the size of the sipe can indicate to you if the tyre has the latest compounds. Smaller or thinner sipes indicate better tread compounds and less damage to your tyre off-road. Conversely, larger or thicker sipes mean a standard compound, less value and more tread damage off-road.
This is tough for a non-tyre expert as you are unable to see it and usually the only way to know if your tyre is a new technology versus old is to ask a tyre expert. I however suggest that you always ask the salesman to show you proof of any claims they make. This is pretty easy, if it is true, it will be in the tyre manufacturer brochure or on their website.
Here are just a few points to ask about.
High tensile sidewall cords vs. standard tensile.
The reason this is good for us is that a high tensile cord is approximately 33% stronger than standard tensile, but it has the same weight. This means you have no trade-offs in comfort or ride, and less punctures and less sidewall damage as high tensile cords are much stronger.
Super tensile steel belts vs. high tensile.
A super tensile steel belt is approximately 15% stronger than even high tensile belts, for the same weight. This gives you less punctures with no trade-offs in comfort or ride and your vehicle will do an emergency lane change with more stability and safety.
Tread compound, the one question you need to ask is whether the tyre you are buying has coupled, or chemically infused SILICA. Silica, the magic ingredient is used in the tread compound of most ultra high-performance car tyres to maximise grip, both in wet and dry conditions. 4WD or SUV tyres can get the same amazing grip if they have high levels of silica, however different brands put different levels of silica into their tyres (because it is expensive) and many brands do not put in any Silica at all.
One last comment that might help you choose a better, safer and value for money tyre.
Always ask the salesman to show you proof of any claims they make, which is pretty easy as if it is true, it will be in the catalogue for that tyre manufacturer or on their website.
Terry Smith - Managing Director