EU Tyre Labels promote a safer, cleaner, quieter commute

posted on November 05, 2012

To the untrained eye tyres all look the same – black and round with a hole in the middle. When it comes to deciding which tyres are best for our cars, most of us are lost, perplexed, bewildered. We tell the mechanics to put on the same tyres the car came with, the cheapest tyres, or the tyres they recommend. But the new EU Tyre Label aims to give consumers more information so they can make informed decisions.

What will the new EU tyre labels tell us?

The new tyre labels became mandatory on November 1st, 2012 and will have a similar appearance to the new EU refrigerator labels. The tyre labels must be affixed to tyres in a showroom as well as any advertisements for tyres, including on the Internet and in catalogues. The tyre labels will include information and ratings on three different areas: energy efficiency, grip on wet roads, and pass-by noise.

Energy efficiency

According to the European Commission, tyres are responsible for 20-30% of a vehicle’s fuel consumption.[1] The EU hopes the new tyre labels will encourage energy saving; they predict the EU could save as much energy with these tyre labels as the whole country of Hungary uses in one year![2] A tyre’s energy efficiency will be rated on a scale from A to G, with A being the best. The difference between each letter grade is one litre of petrol per 1.000 kilometres. That means that C grade tyres will use one more litre of gas than B grade tyres for a trip of one thousand kilometres. D is currently not given a value in order to draw a greater distinction between the top three and the bottom three grades. A-C are considered “good” and E-G are considered “bad” tyres for energy efficiency.

Grip on wet roads

Each tyre will also be graded on how quickly it can come to a complete stop on a wet road. The same A to G scale will be used to grade the grip on wet roads. The difference between each letter grade here is about 3 to 6 meters of braking space. That means, F grade tyres will need about three to six more meters to stop than E grade tyres (based on a traveling speed of 80kph). As with the energy efficiency ratings, “D” is not given a value in order to separate the “good” from the “bad” tyres.

Pass-by noise

While many people believe loud engines cause the majority of traffic noise, a car’s tyres actually create more of a disturbance. Therefore, the new EU tyre labels will also grade noise. The new label will use sound waves to depict the level of noise caused by the tyres and include a decibel reading. Fewer waves mean less noise, which is good for the environment. There is no split between good and bad tyres here, but after narrowing down the tyre choice considering the energy and braking efficiency, the consumer should choose the quietest tyre.

What more do consumers need to know about their tyres?

The new labels will give consumers more information to help them save energy, practice safer driving, and reduce road noise. However, car producers caution that there are other factors that should be considered when buying tyres. Such factors include: resistance to aquaplaning, driving stability, handling and steering precision, durability, breaking performance, and capabilities in winter conditions.[3] Independent tyre tests conducted by consumer groups will still be the best place to gather information to compare tyres, but the new EU tyre labels are a step in the right direction. These labels will allow customers to be conscientious of the impact their choice of tyre has on the environment, their safety, and road noise. The EU tyre labels should prove to be a very useful beginning guide for consumers and allow a neutral evaluation of tyres at least when it comes to energy and braking efficiency or the level of noise. But these labels should not replace the knowledge of reputable mechanics.

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