When you work in the motoring industry and especially when you are a motoring journalist you get constantly bombarded by technology and upgrades. It could be a spec list for a brand new range rover, or it could be the latest Demon Tweeks catalog it doesn’t really matter. The up shot is; there is an almost unlimited range of things you can spend money on to make your car better. I drive a Subaru Impreza and the money people spend on modifications in the owners club is mind boggling. What a great deal of people fail to count when they are thinking about spending money on their car is the humble tyre. People in the performance world understand the value of rubber but that is not a common position, and it should be.
With no exaggeration at all, the tyres on your car are the most important safety system you have. No matter how nice or how fast your car is, a poor quality or worn out set of tyres renders the car largely unsafe. For most road users this fact is not something they have even considered and they really should.
To understand how important good tyres are you first need to appreciate the wonder of the contact patch. This is the amount of tyre that actually touches the road surface at any one time. For most cars this contact patch is about the size of a post card per wheel. So the only thing keeping most cars on the road is a piece of rubber that adds up to about the size of an A4 sheet of paper. Now consider the forces involved in taking a corner at 60 mph… now do that in the wet! Scary isn’t it? It gets worse, just take a moment to think of the last time you braked hard at 70 mph, hopefully have never had too but you will have had to brake hard at some point. The forces involved are immense and very uncomfortable, and the only thing holding it all together is our friend the contact patch.
It is critical to choose good tyres, and it is critical to change them when they wear out. People running on bald tyres are a danger to themselves and others and most don’t even know it. Buying tyres to many people is a pain, it should be a pleasure. It should be like buying new shoes, something to be looked forward too…well OK maybe that’s just me but it should be done whether people like it or not.
My father was a mechanic for nearly 60 years and his advice was simple, when buying tyres go for one or two levels above the cheapest. No need to buy to super expensive ones for normal road use but try and find a few extra pounds to get yourself a mid range tyre. Websites like www.point-s.co.uk are perfect for tyre shopping. You get a chance to read reviews, check prices and then order them to your local fitter. You don’t need to go into a garage and just buy whatever they tell you too. These kind of sites let you take control, and get a good deal.
Be safe, treat the humble tyre with the respect it deserves and you can enjoy driving in all sorts of conditions. Good tyres also help on those corners too if you like to have a spirited drive every now and again!