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Understanding the EU Tyre Label

In an effort to make comparing and buying tyres easier and to improve safety and energy efficiency, the EU introduced its tyre labelling regulations in 2012.

Every retailer selling tyres in the European Union must ensure that the buyer has seen the tyre’s label prior to purchase. The label must give information on the fuel efficiency, wet grip and external noise of the tyre.

But what does that mean?

Fuel Efficiency / Rolling Resistance

Fuel Efficiency A

Rolling Resistance is the force acting opposite to that of the direction of travel when the tyre is rolling. In essence, it’s a measure of how much the tyre wants to stay still! Tyres contribute up to 20% of the overall fuel consumption for a car so it’s important that your new tyres have a low Rolling Resistance grade.

Within the EU regulation, Rolling Resistance is expressed in grades ranging from A (best) to G (worst).

The difference between a C and a B graded tyre means a reduction in Rolling Resistance, or increase in fuel consumption, of between 2.5% - 4.5% for a car.

For a typical petrol saloon car, with an annual mileage of around 12,000 miles, that could amount to a saving of 45.5 litres of fuel and 108Kg of CO2.

Wet Grip

Wet Grip Performance A

Grip in the wet is one of the most important safety characteristics of a tyre. Excellent grip in wet conditions results in shorter braking and fewer accidents.

Wet Grip is expressed in grades ranging from A (highest performance) to G (lowest performance). For cars, the difference between each class means a difference in stopping distance of about 2.6m (8.5 feet) when braking on wet surfaces at 50MPH. That’s about half the length of a saloon car.

Braking Distance

External Noise

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Concerns about pollution, including noise pollution are increasing. The tyre industry is trying to combat this by giving consumers the ability to compare tyres by the amount of noise they create.

The tyre label’s External Rolling Noise section shows the noise measured in decibels (dB). 70dB is about the noise level of a vacuum cleaner. Also, the label shows a bar rating (or sound waves) which mean:

1 Sound Wave – at least 3dB below the limits of EC Reg 661/2009
2 Sound Waves – meets EC Ref 661/2009 limits
3 Sound Waves – meets EC Dir. 2001/43 limits (the old limits)

Other Things to Consider

Tyre buyers should be aware that fuel savings and road safety depends very much on your driving behaviour. Also, it's important that tyres are properly maintained and that tyre pressures are checked regularly not just to maintain safety but also to get the best environmental performance.

Rolling Resistance, Wet Grip and External Noise are all important performance indicators, but the overall value of a tyre should be measured against a full list of factors including handling in the dry and wet, high speed stability, dry braking, wear/mileage etc.

We would always recommend reading tyre test reviews and talking to your local tyre dealer prior to deciding on the right tyres for your vehicle.

Sources

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