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.
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.
All the essential information about tyres in one place.
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.
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.
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.
What tyres does my car need?
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
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.
The following guides offer advice on the pros and cons of each type of seasonal tyre:
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
Locking wheel nut key
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.
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.
Use a puncture repair kit
One option is to use a puncture repair kit, which includes tyre sealant.
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.
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.
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.