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What size tyres do I need?

9th September 2021

Need to buy new tyres for your car and unsure where to start? We’re here to help. With the right sized tyres, you can improve your car’s handling on the road and have a smoother overall driving experience.

If you were to fit an incorrect tyre with the wrong speed rating, tyres that are designed for different seasons, and different tyres on the same axle, you’d be at risk of comprising the safety and performance of your vehicle. Luckily, we’ve put this guide together to give you everything you need to know about what to look out for when shopping for new tyres.

How do I know when my car needs new tyres?

Whether you’re a new driver or don’t know much about tyres, there are some easy ways to check if you’re due a tyre upgrade.

  • Damage - the first thing to look for is signs of visible damage such as cracks, cuts, lumps or tearing. While tyres can sometimes be repaired, it’s better to be safe than sorry and have them replaced completely.
  • Tyre tread - you also want to check your tyre tread depth, which helps improve the vehicle’s handling on the road – which then, in turn, improves the safety of the driver and passengers alike. While the legal minimum tyre tread is 1.6mm, it’s recommended you replace your tyres at 3mm. You can find out more about checking your tyre tread depth in our helpful guide.
  • Age - do you know how long you've had your tyres? As a general rule, tyres should be replaced once they reach their tenth birthday, from the date they were manufactured. Another way to tell when it's time to replace your tyres is to look at their mileage – as tyres typically last between 30,000 – 60,000 miles, so it’s important to consider when your tyres were last replaced. Your manufacturer will have recommendations for how many miles they can travel before they need changing.

What size tyres does my car need?

Many manufacturers like Continental make it easy to find your tyre size. All the important information will be embossed at the top of your tyre sidewall in a series of raised letters and numbers.

In the example above, each section breaks down as follows:

  • 225 – Width of tyre in millimetres
  • 50 – Height of the tyre sidewall as a percentage of the width (also known as the aspect ratio)
  • R17 – The diameter of the tyre’s inner rim in inches
  • 98H – Maximum speed for the tyre when at full load

The designation R, which comes before the rim diameter marking, means that this is a radial tyre. Other types of tyre designations are B for Bias-ply and D for Diagonal Construction. Nowadays, radial tyres are the most common type on the road and they have a variety of advantages. These include reduced fuel consumption due to less rolling resistance, less vibration and an extended tyre lifespan due to less heat being generated by the tyre.

What does the EU tyre label mean? 

If you want to find out about the quality of the tyres you are buying, look at their EU tyre label. Since 2012, all tyres in the UK have been required to have a tyre label attached detailing the tyre’s performance in three key areas:

  1. Fuel efficiency and rolling resistance
  2. Braking distances and wet grip
  3. External noise levels

These labels are easy to follow and use a visual grading system to rank tyres from A to G, while noise levels are indicated by the number of decibels and the letters A, B or C.

In May 2021, a new EU label was introduced to help drivers make more informed decisions when buying new tyres. One of the key changes was the addition of QR codes that you can scan to find more information about the tyre. The new label also features two pictograms for different types of winter tyre.

Tyres produced before May 2021 will still have the old EU label and as long as they’re deemed road safe, you can still drive on these.

Other factors to consider when buying new tyres

Whether you bought your car brand new or second hand, its advised that the tyres you have on your vehicle are produced by the same tyre manufacturer. This is because each manufacturer makes their products differently, so the road grip that one tyre has could be completely different to the next – causing safety to be comprised as each tyre is working differently, which then reduces handling.

If you bought your car brand new, you can buy the same tyres by looking at the manufacturer 'OE' – Original Equipment – Codes. These are designed to identify your tyre (e.g. AO for Audi) and bring out the best performance and safety characteristics of the car.

For more information on tyre size and what to look out for, get in touch with our friendly team of experts. Browse our wide range of tyres to buy online to find the right tyre for your vehicle.