There are several kinds of tyres for vehicles, and they usually depend on what you’re going to use your vehicle for. The vehicle’s use determines the tread pattern on the tyre – the tread is primarily designed to expel water from under the tyre, to improve traction. Secondary is the requirement of grip.
Passenger: Passenger tyres are designed to provide maximum mileage, safety, traction and performance. It’s a tall order, but important as (by their very nature) passenger tyres transport people, a vehicle’s most precious cargo. A passenger tyre must be all-weather, provide excellent grip and cornering and wear uniformly.
4X4: 4X4 is not the same as off-road, although many off-road vehicles are indeed 4X4s. A 4X4 vehicle is designed so that the outside wheels in a turning circle spin faster than the inside wheels. On a surface with little traction, the wheel that’s gripping least will receive the most power. 4X4 tyres usually have firmer sidewalls (for increased protection from punctures) and a wider tread pattern to make it easier to clean the mud.
Runflat: With its odd-sounding name, a runflat tyre is actually just that – designed to run when the tyre is flat. Providing you keep to a minimum speed and only travel a short distance after the tyre blows, you’ll arrive safely at a location where you can repair the puncture. They reduce the need for a spare tyre in the boot – thereby also reducing the space and weight needed for a spare. Beware, though: every bump and lump on the road will be felt to plan to replace it soon!
Mud: If you plan on off-roading, then mud tyres are essential. They are specifically designed to maximise traction in loose, muddy or snow-covered terrain. By using a chunky tread and firm side walls, they’re ideal for off-road use but will increase fuel consumption and wear in normal road conditions.
Low Profile: Low profile tyres offer better grip, traction and handling, as well as improved braking power, over regular tyres. Plus, they are usually used to enhance the looks of a vehicle. The downside is they generate more noise and, due to the decreased amount of rubber making contact with the road, are more susceptible to aquaplaning. They also happen to be more expensive.
Pneumatic: A pneumatic tyre is the standard tyre used on most motor vehicles. It’s simply a rubber tyre filled with pressurised air. They pretty much resemble a balloon.
Retreads: If you drive any large vehicle, you’ll know how expensive – and large – the tyres are. By using retreads (or, remoulds) you can minimise the costs involved when replacing tyres; basically, the old, worn tread (the rubber belt) is removed and replaced. This is not only cheaper, but better for the environment. In many cases, manufacturers of truck tyres create the tyre to be retreaded. Retreads are as safe as new tyres, and last almost as long as new tyres.
Truck: The next time you see a truck in traffic, take a moment to count the tyres – some can sport well over 20. That’s a lot of rubber, and a lot of expense (see ‘retreads’). Truck tyres are required to support heavy loads across long distances and in all kinds of weather. They are usually designed to be retreaded.
Winter: Tyres used in winter typically are made of softer materials so that as you drive, they heat up and traction improves. They may also have larger and more pronounced tread patterns to maximise traction. Winter tyres may be noisier and should not be used on roads not suffering the effects of winter (snow, ice etc).
Whatever your tyre needs you’ll be sure to find the right tyre for you at Bridgestone (www.bridgestone.com.au), one of Australia’s largest tyre manufacturers.