Tyres are the most important part of your car, but picking the right ones can be a bit of a mystery.
A new European tyre labelling regulation came into effect in November 2012 to demystify the process, but the labels themselves are still something of a mass of hieroglyphics and getting the right tyres for your Volkswagen can be a challenge.
The new labels consist of three parts: fuel efficiency; wet braking; and road noise. The first two components are graded using the now-familiar system of A to G grades that you'll have seen on fridges, central heating boilers and even houses, where A represents the most efficient products and G the least.
Tyres might not seem like they have much to do with fuel efficiency, but the resistance they offer - 'rolling resistance' - to the road is responsible for about a fifth of all the fuel use of your car. Tyres that provide less resistance in the direction of travel require less fuel and are rated more highly than those that offer more resistance. A low rolling resistance grade A tyre will use around 2% less fuel than a grade B tyre - which may not seem like much, but over the course of the tyre's lifetime it would be enough to pay for two new tyres!
In terms of fuel efficiency, A and B grade tyres are both pretty economical, and the difference becomes more stark when comparing to an inefficient G grade tyre. Class G tyres can cost you 7.5% of your fuel economy, equating to an extra tank of fuel every 14 tanks just to push your tyres around! Over the course of the tyres' life, a car wearing tyres rated at G for efficiency will need up to 5 full tanks more fuel than one equipped with A rated tyres.
Wet braking is a more obvious function of your tyres. Again, the A-to-G rating system is used, but this time it measures differences in stopping distance. There's around 3 metres difference in the wet braking performance from 50mph of each grade of tyre, so if your Volkswagen is equipped with four G rated tyres will take 18 metres further to stop than one with four A rated tyres. This is roughly the equivalent of an entire articulated lorry...
Road noise is something you may not have considered as a function of your tyres, but at constant speeds over 50mph your car's tyres are typically noisier than its engine! There are legal limits for road noise from tyres and these are noted using the three waves on the tyre label. If all three waves are filled, the tyre meets current noise levels but will not meet noise levels that will come into force in 2016. At two waves, the tyres meet the new legislation, while tyres showing one wave are 3dB lower than this new limit - equivalent to half the noise at 50mph!
Inchcape Volkswagen has large selection of tyres available from major brands like Pirelli, Goodyear, Dunlop, Michelin, Bridgestone and Continental, and for help with tyres for your Volkswagen please visit https://www.inchcape-volkswagen.co.uk/our-services/service-and-repair/book-tyres/