Hit the road with the right tyres

There are a few things you should never skimp on and one of them must be tyres.

The three very basic requirements are they must give you a good ride, cut down on mileage and, most importantly, be safe, not just for you but for other road users.

So how do you pick the best tyres?

First up, a quick check of the tyre tread. Anything under 1.5mm is considered unroadworthy in Australia, but you shouldn’t wait until then to sort your tyres out.

Anything less than 1.5mm will reduce your grip on the road and increase your risk of sliding on wet or icy roads.

It’s probably a better idea to replace them at 3mm. For how to check your tyres, visit AAMI’s guide here.   

So, you think you need new tyres, what’s next?

First, check if you need four new tyres. You may be able to rotate them and only replace two.

If your car is a front-wheel drive, you may only need to replace the rear tyres, and the reverse for rear-wheel drive.

Size matters

Next is choosing the right size. The simple way is to consult the owner’s manual, tyre placard or the tyre itself for more details.

What’s a tyre placard, you ask? Well, it’s that sticker somewhere on your car that provides information on recommended tyre size and correct inflation pressure for normal road use.

Car manufacturers realised that people often lose their manuals, so cleverly put these stickers on the car to make it easier for you. They are most often located on the door or glovebox.

However, you can change your car’s performance by changing the tyre size. For example, by buying a tyre with the next lowest profile you can improve the handling.

This is a personal preference, and you are probably best to consult with a professional tyre fitter who can guide you on your choice for the outcome you want. For example, improving ride quality or traction if you are planning on towing heavy loads.

Driving force

The next step is to analyse how you drive and find a tyre to match. Do you live in a high-rainfall area or regularly travel on icy roads? Will you be towing often? Do you do a lot of long-distance driving?

Think about it. Someone living out the back of Humpty Doo is going to need very different tyres to someone in Sydney’s eastern suburbs.

So some research to find a tyre to fit your driving style.

Spend it up

No-one likes to hear it, but tyres are one of the few things you should spend as much as you can afford.

And it’s not just about the brand. Higher priced tyres can be more fuel efficient and offer more grip.

Automotive engineer Graeme Gambold told Royal Auto that tyres age and deteriorate at different rates. 

“A tyre with great chemistry will retain 80 per cent of its initial brand new performance at 80 per cent of its tread depth life, whereas some other tyres will fall off more quickly,” he says.

To get the best return on your investment, Tyrepower recommends:

  • Calculate the total price for your tyre purchase and divide that by the kilometres of service. This will give you the cost per kilometre. You’ll quickly see that the better tyres are better value after all.
  • When comparing tyres within one brand, use the uniform tyre quality grading ratings (tread wear) to calculate value. Divide the tread wear rating by the price – the highest number should be your pick if you want the best value by wear. This system won’t help you compare between brands, however, because there is no standardisation for tread wear ratings.
  • If you do want to compare between brands, reviewing traction and temperature ratings are the best way to make your choice, as these measurements are standardised.

Speed it up

Buy tyres with the appropriate speed rating for your vehicle. The speed rating is the maximum speed at which a tyre can carry its maximum load. Once again, this will be on the placard, owner’s manual or the tyre itself.

When replacing tyres, the new tyres should have a speed rating equal to or greater than that of the original tyres. You can choose tyres with a higher speed rating if you want to improve your vehicle’s cornering response.

Ask the professionals

People who work in tyre shops will almost always know more than you. These people love their tyres. If you are worried you are being pressured into paying too much, shop around for another quote. And always keep an eye out for bargains. It’s a good idea to pick tyres out before you need them and then sit back and wait until there is a sale.

Do you shop around for tyres or just buy standard replacements? Why not share your tactics in the comments section below?

Also read: How to set up your phone to avoid distraction while driving

Jan Fisher
Jan Fisherhttp://www.yourlifechoices.com.au/author/JanFisher
Accomplished journalist, feature writer and sub-editor with impressive knowledge of the retirement landscape, including retirement income, issues that affect Australians planning and living in retirement, and answering YLC members' Age Pension and Centrelink questions. She has also developed a passion for travel and lifestyle writing and is fast becoming a supermarket savings 'guru'.


  1. For many older drivers, they have reduced their driving due to the costs of running the car and neither the need nor inclination to drive beyond essential travel, this can bring about the attitude that as they only drive less than 500 kilometres a year, there is no need to go for optimum tyres and el cheapo will be good enough.
    Unfortunately the fates do not play by this rule book and a situation where great grip for braking or obstacle avoidance can arise in a suburban street on the way to the local supermarket on the only rainy day in the month.
    Remember back in the ’70’s when Holden crowed about their “RTS” (Radial Tuned Suspension)? The spring and damper rates (and seat foams) are tuned in harmony with the hysteresis of that of a specific tyre, usually the OEM brand fitted when the car left the factory.
    The physical age of the tyres need to be considered as in the scenario of low annual kilometres, both the sidewalls and the treads do age and become hard and less “grippy” with age. Some people do replace their tyres before they have reached the wear indicator and a relatively new tyre may have the equivalent of a couple of years use for our low kilometre traveler. It may be worth chatting to your local tyre company about this, though I can see a reluctance in some cases as they have no certainty about the integrity of the sidewall on a second hand tyre.
    Due to an unfortunate encounter with an obstacle in the road one day, I have a mismatched tyre on one corner, this tyre has a different tread pattern to the other three. This particular tyre actually has a “howl” at exactly 48kmh that could convince a person that that corner wheel bearings are failing.. Some brands are very quiet whilst others can be unpleasantly noisy.
    Don’t skimp on what is a very important link in the safety chain of your personal transport.

- Our Partners -


- Advertisment -
- Advertisment -