Ultimate Car Tyres Guide

Ellie Dyer-Brown, 2 months ago

5 min read

  • Advice
  • tips
  • Tyres
  • howto
Row of car tyres in a garage.

WhoCanFixMyCar discusses all things tyres, including maintenance tips and brand reviews.

When I passed my driving test, I drove my first car, a little Suzuki Swift, for months without ever thinking about its tyres - until one went flat. I didn’t know how to change a tyre or even that there was a spare under a panel in the car's boot. This is the relationship many of us have with car tyres; we don’t pay attention to them until there’s a problem. 

It isn’t always possible to avoid a puncture, but choosing the correct set of tyres and looking after them is crucial, something I learnt the hard way.

This ultimate car tyres guide is designed to help you succeed where I failed, equipping you with essential information about buying new tyres - including what to look for - and keeping them in good shape for as long as possible.


Tyre basics 

Tyres for every season

Buying guides

Tyre brands reviewed

Tyre maintenance

Replacing and repairing car tyres

Buy your next set of tyres

Tyre Basics

All the essential information about tyres in one place.

Tyre pressure

The air in your tyres allows them to do their job. At the right pressure, it keeps them firm but flexible, capable of coping with the bumps and strains of everyday road use. Driving with the incorrect tyre pressure can have a more significant impact than you might think. It can increase fuel consumption, cost you more money, and affect your car’s handling, steering and braking.

Take a look at our ultimate guide to tyre pressure for information about what your tyre pressure should be, instructions on how to check it and more.

Man checking car tyre pressure.

Many modern cars have tyre pressure monitoring systems (TPMS), which keep track of the pressure for you, but you shouldn’t rely on this alone. If you’ve got questions about how tyre pressure monitoring systems work and how to reset them, this is the guide for you.

Tyre tread

The minimum legal tread depth of tyres is 1.6mm. Some manufacturers recommend replacing your tyres even earlier, at 3mm, because stopping distances start to decrease after this point, putting your safety at risk. 

In wet weather, it takes your car an extra eight metres to stop at 50mph when the tread depth is 1.6mm, compared to 3mm.

Read our ultimate guide to car tyre tread to find out how to check it, how long it lasts and more.

Man's hand pointing at car tyre tread.

What tyres does my car need?

There are many things to consider when buying a new set of tyres. Will you go for winter, summer or all-season tyres? Do you want them to be particularly quiet or good at covering long distances?

There are three things you can do to work out what tyres you need:

This guide to choosing tyres contains more information about how to find the most suitable tyres for different purposes and how to read tyre labels so you can buy them confidently.

Tyres for every season

Winter tyres can handle the most challenging weather conditions, powering through snow and ice, but they have limitations. When the temperature is too high, they lose their effectiveness. 

Find the best winter tyres in this guide.

Similarly, summer tyres are designed to adapt to dry and wet roads, functioning best in warmer conditions. When winter hits, they struggle to cope. 

All-season tyres offer a compromise, taking the best elements of summer and winter tyres and rolling them into one. That said, they also have their drawbacks. 

Find the best all-season tyres in this guide.

The following guides offer advice on the pros and cons of each type of seasonal tyre:

Buying guides

Nobody has time to do a proper cost-benefit analysis when buying tyres. Still, understanding the differences between budget, mid-range and premium tyres will make it much easier to research brands and decide which to choose.

Budget car tyres are designed, first and foremost, to be affordable. They don’t offer the same performance levels as mid-range tyres and often aren’t as durable, meaning you may have to replace them more often.

Mid-range tyres provide, as their name suggests, a middle ground. They are slightly more expensive than budget tyres, offering more durability and better fuel economy, though they are usually outperformed by premium rivals in tyre tests.

Premium tyres come with a premium price tag. However, you get cutting-edge performance, impressive fuel economy and outstanding durability for that extra money. 

Check out these buying guides for more information:

Tyre brands reviewed

Different tyre brands focus on different things. For example, Continental is about cutting-edge performance, while Uniroyal creates tyres to handle wet weather

A sign listing different tyre brands with their logos.

These review guides will help you get to grips with the pros and cons of each brand, including their best tyres.

Premium tyre brands

Premium tyres are more expensive, but they are also rigorously tested to ensure they meet a high standard, performing well across key areas, including wet grip and cabin noise.

Mid-range tyre brands

Mid-range tyres are popular among drivers, who appreciate the middle ground they offer in performance and price.

Budget tyre brands

Budget tyres are considerably cheaper than premium and mid-range tyres and are often manufactured by less well-known brands. They get you from A to B safely, but they don't perform as well as more expensive rivals.

Tyre maintenance

Proper tyre maintenance brings three main benefits, two of which result in you saving money:

  • It increases your vehicle's safety.

  • It extends the lifespan of your tyres.

  • It improves fuel efficiency.

How to care for your tyres

Follow the steps below to make sure your tyres stay in good condition for as long as possible.

1. Check your tread depth.

As mentioned above, the tread depth must be at least 1.6mm, ideally even more. Keeping an eye on this will prevent you from accidentally driving on tyres that aren’t road-legal and will also provide a good idea of whether your tyres are wearing evenly. It doesn’t take long to check your tread depth - you can do it with a 20-pence coin.

Read this guide for more information on tyre treads.

2. Check for damage.

Inspecting your tyres is an important but often overlooked part of car ownership. Just because they aren’t flat doesn’t mean they’re in good working order. As mentioned earlier, watch for bulges, cracks and other types of structural damage, which could indicate you need a new tyre.

3. Make sure your wheels are correctly aligned.

Incorrectly aligned wheels will often have a knock-on effect on your tyres, resulting in uneven wear. Over time, this can weaken your tyres, making them prone to further damage.

Learn more about the benefits of wheel alignment and what it involves here.

4. Don’t overload your vehicle.

If your car carries too much weight, it can put extra strain on the tyres, making them wear down more quickly due to the excessive heat caused by friction. 

Nowadays, many tyres have a tyre load index marked on them, showing how much weight they can bear. 

5. Carry a spare tyre.

If the worst happens and you get a flat tyre, having a spare in the boot (and knowing how to change a tyre) could save you from waiting potentially hours for your breakdown provider to arrive.

This guide is all about spare tyres and how to use them safely.

Replacing and repairing car tyres

What to do if you get a flat tyre

What to do when you get a flat tyre depends on two things: first, whether you have a spare, and second, whether you feel comfortable changing a tyre.

If the answer is no to one or both of the above statements, the best thing to do is call your breakdown company. Try to ensure you’re parked in a safe place, and switch your hazard lights on to warn other motorists that you’ve encountered a problem.

Or, if your tyre has gone flat at home, you could book a mobile tyre puncture repair. Find out how much it costs to repair a tyre puncture here.

How to change a car tyre

Being able to change a tyre is a valuable skill. It should take around 30 minutes, and you must have all the correct tools before you start, including:

  • Jack

  • Locking wheel nut key

  • Wheel brace

If you’d like to learn how to do it, read this beginner’s guide to changing a tyre, which walks you through the process step-by-step.

Changing tyre

What to do if you get a slow puncture

A slow puncture is a tiny hole in your tyre that allows air to leak out slowly (the clue is in the name). When my car had a slow puncture, I spent ages squinting at the tyre, trying to work out if it looked slightly flat or whether I was imagining it, topping it up every so often but not regularly enough to warrant concern. Until, after a few weeks of not using the car, it went completely flat. I had my answer.

If you suspect you have a slow puncture, there is an easy trick for working out where the puncture is located

Find out what to do if you have a slow puncture.

Use a puncture repair kit

One option is to use a puncture repair kit, which includes tyre sealant

A flat tyre on a Ford car.

It’s possible to purchase pre-puncture and post-puncture tyre sealants, and some tyres already come with run-flat technology, which works similarly, sealing up small amounts of damage to keep you driving longer.

Here are our recommendations for the best car tyre sealants.

Buy run flat tyres

If you're worried about getting a puncture, you could take a pre-emptive measure by buying a set of run flat tyres, which allow you to keep driving at a slower speed after sustaining a puncture.

This guide discusses everything you need to know about run flat tyre tecnology.

Buy your next set of tyres

If you’re ready to take the leap and buy your next set of tyres, WhoCanFixMyCar provides hundreds of options at your fingertips and a network of mechanics ready to help you get back on the road.