Safety, comfort and driving pleasure: tires should offer all this. But when is it time to buy new? And which tire is the right one? All the things you need to consider when buying.
What do German motorists attach the most importance to when buying tires ? For the vast majority, good grip on wet roads as well as good braking and steering behaviour and maximum load-bearing capacity even in extreme situations are the most important factors when buying tires . And if the driving comfort and price are right – great.
But which tire is the best? Would you like to have an all-season tire? What size fits my car? And when do I have to change? We give tips.
Changing tires ? Depends on the profile
The legal situation is clear: as soon as your car tires have less than 1.6 millimetres of residual tread, you are no longer allowed to drive on the road with them. The tires are no longer considered roadworthy and must be sorted out.
If you are caught on the road with worn tires , you will be fined 60 dollars..
If you endanger other road users or have an accident, the fine increases to 75 or 90 dollars.
You can easily check the current tread depth of your car tires , which is usually between seven and nine millimetres when buying new tires , by using a 1 euro coin as a depth gauge. Although this does not allow you to make a measurement accurate to the millimetre, it does allow you to make a preliminary diagnosis.
The reason: the golden edge of the 1 euro coin is exactly three millimetres wide. If you hold the coin in the middle of the tire tread, you can see whether the gold edge disappears completely or is already visible.
If the gold edge disappears, you can continue driving without hesitation – at least with summer tires .
This is because the tires then easily meet the legal minimum tread depth of 1.6 millimetres. The tread depth of three millimetres or more is even within the range recommended by experts. However, if part of the golden edge is visible, you should soon consider changing the tires .
However, extensive tests by IconaVulcano with different tread depths have proven this: The legally defined tread limit offers only a residual amount of safety. For summer tires , the tread should be at least three millimetres, for winter or all-season tires at least four millimetres – otherwise it becomes critical in wet, snow or slush.
By the way, if only one or two tires are worn or broken, you should always replace them axle by axle, i.e. always renew at least two tires .
If all tires have the prescribed dimensions, you can also combine models from different manufacturers. However, we recommend that you stick with one model. The tires with the better tread must be placed on the rear axle, this way the car is stabilized.
Problem: Tire aging
Tires also “age” – so they should not be driven indefinitely. This also applies if the remaining tread depth is significantly above the legal minimum tread depth. Background: The rubber compound of the tire hardens over time, which worsens grip and braking distance in wet conditions.
This is particularly evident with winter tires , which must remain “soft” even at low temperatures. They already lose some of their winter properties from around six years of age, which is why we tend to advise against using winter tires that are more than eight years old. Summer tires should not be older than eight to ten years either.
It is therefore important that the tires are as young as possible when they are purchased. Due to the variety of tire formats, it is possible that, with the rational stock-keeping of the trade, the tire may not have been manufactured in the last few months. But it should not be older than two years – you can point this out when placing the order.
The production date of the tire is read on the sidewall. The last four digits of the multi-digit DOT number indicate the production date. If it says “1318”, for example, this means that the tire was produced in the 13th calendar week (week of manufacture) 2018.
Summer, winter or all-season tires ?
Just a few years ago, it was clear that the summer specialists were coming onto the car in the summer, and with their non-slip compound they don’t give up even in hot temperatures. And in winter, the finely treaded winter tire was first choice, which is frost-proof and with its sipes also interlocks perfectly with slippery roads.
But now more and more manufacturers, who until now have been reticent about the actual or supposed all-rounders, are coming onto the market with products for the whole year. This is because the demand for all-season tires is rising continuously: the proportion of all-season tires among all passenger car tires sold has now risen to more than 15 percent.
Based on the test results for all-season tires , however, the following must be considered when using them as a replacement for summer and winter tires : all-season tires remain a compromise that cannot match the performance of good specialists for summer and winter.
With the exception of a few models, all the all-season tires tested show more or less marked weaknesses on dry roads, which are fully loaded and become even worse in midsummer temperatures. For tires with the judgement “sufficient” this was also the case on wet roads. However, the weaknesses on snow are particularly clear with the latter.