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Car tyres 195/65R15 review and compare

Safety is paramount when purchasing a new set of tyres.
 
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01 .Introduction

Car tyres

Test results for 15 car tyres (195/65R15) priced from $99 to $179

This size is currently used on a number of popular small cars such as the Ford Focus (our test car), Honda Civic, Kia Cerato, Mazda 3, Toyota Corolla, and the Volkswagen Golf.

We checked them for:

  • Braking performance in dry and wet conditions.
  • Cornering performance in dry and wet conditions.
  • Noise.

Main findings:

  • Only one model performed just as well in the wet as it did in the dry.
  • Just 5 km/h can make a difference between holding a corner and going out of control.

Models tested

  • BFGoodrich Sport T/A (A)
  • Bridgestone Turanza AR10 (A)
  • Dunlop SP Sport 300E
  • Federal Formoza FD1 (A)
  • Firestone Firehawk TZ100 (A)
  • Goodyear Assurance Armorgrip (A)
  • GT Radial Champiro 228
  • Hankook Enfren H430 (A)
  • Kumho Solus KH15 (A)
  • Marshal Matrac MH11 (A)
  • Maxxis MA-P1
  • Michelin Energy XM1+ (A)
  • Pirelli P7 (A)
  • Toyo TEO Plus
  • Yokohama A.drive (A)

(A) Discontinued.

Thank you

We’d like to thank Morgan Park Raceway in Warwick, Qld, for ensuring a smooth test, and Ford for generously loaning us the test vehicle, a Ford Focus LX.

 
 

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Each tyre has standard markings that allow you to pick the right type for your car. It’s a confusing mix of letters and numbers, and of measurements in mm and inches. Here’s what it all means, using the code for the tested size, P195/65R15 91V:

  • P — stands for passenger tyre.
  • 195 — this is the section width (in mm) when the tyre is fitted to the recommended rim, and inflated to the recommended pressure, and not under load. The section width is the distance between the tyre's exterior sidewalls.
  • 65 — this is a percentage describing the tyre’s profile or aspect ratio. It’s the ratio between the tyre’s section height (distance from the wheel bead seat to the top of the tyre) and its section width — in this case 65%.
  • R — stands for radial, which is the most common construction method for passenger car tyres.
  • 15 — this refers to the diameter (in inches) of the rim the tyre should be fitted to.
  • 91 — this is the load rating index and tells you the maximum weight one tyre can carry (in this case it means 615 kg). Other examples: 84 (500 kg), 86 (530 kg), 89 (580 kg), 93 (650 kg), 95 (690 kg).
  • V — this is the speed rating index and tells you the maximum speed the tyre can travel at (in this case 240 km/h). Other examples: S (180 km/h), T (190 km/h), H (210 km/h), W (270 km/h).

How old is my tyre?

All tyres are stamped with the date of manufacture. You'll see this in two varieties: 3 digits for pre-2000, and 4 digits for after 2000. 

Pre-2000: the first 2 digits stand for the week in the year and the last digit stands for the year. So a 3 digit of 078 stands for the seventh week in 1998.

After-2000: the first two digits stand for the week in the year and the last two digits stand for the year. So a 4 digit of 0209 stands for the second week in 2009.

Tread wear rating

Tyre models that are marketed in the US have to have a tread wear rating as part of the Uniform Tyre Quality Grading System (UTQG) operated by the US government National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. If the same tyre is available here you can use the information too. It's printed on the tyre sidewall.

Under the system, a tyre’s tread wear is measured under controlled conditions involving an 11,500 km drive on a specified test course, and compared to a ‘standard’ tyre with a rating of 100. A rating of 200 indicates that the tested tyre should last twice as long as the standard model. So the higher the number, the longer you can expect a tyre to last.

However, the rating is comparative only. Real-life wear of a tyre depends on a number of aspects, such as the road surface, tyre pressure, wheel alignment and driving style.

Also part of the UTQG, and printed on the tyre sidewall next to the tread wear rating, are:

  • A traction rating that grades the tyre’s wet braking traction (AA, A, B or C, with AA being best).
  • A temperature rating, which indicates a tyre’s ability to dissipate heat (A, B, C, with A being best).

Special tyre designs

  • Some tyres are one-directional, which means they’re designed to be fitted to the car so their tread pattern faces a particular way (usually marked with an arrow on the sidewall). Fitting them on the wrong side may affect the car’s handling and reduce the tyre’s life. These are usually premium tyres. If you use these and don’t have a conventional tyre as a spare, be aware that a one-directional spare only fits one side of the car. If you have to use it on the wrong side, drive carefully and replace the damaged tyre as quickly as you can.
  • Don’t confuse one-directional tyres with asymmetric models designed to be fitted to the rim so that a particular side (marked on the tyre’s sidewall) faces outwards. With these, the spare can replace any of the other tyres.
  • Some car models have an emergency space-saver (narrower) spare instead of a full-size one. If you have to use it, follow the instructions in your user manual. There’s likely to be a speed limitation, and you’re only supposed to drive on it for a short distance to get you home or to the nearest tyre fitter. If you use it over longer distances or at higher speeds, you may damage your car.

The right tyre pressure

  • Tyre pressure is measured in kilopascals (kPa) or pounds per square inch (psi).
  • Keep your tyres inflated to the pressure recommended by the car manufacturer — usually shown on a sticker inside the driver’s door frame, in the glovebox or on the petrol tank flap.
  • The car manufacturer’s recommendations refer to the pressure when the tyre’s cold, not after you’ve been driving for some time — so do your check at the petrol station down the road, not halfway through your journey.
  • When driving with a heavy load such as a trailer, inflate your tyres to a higher pressure — check the sticker.
  • Driving with under-inflated tyres uses more petrol, adversely affects the car’s handling and may lead to tyre damage.
  • Check the pressure regularly — make it a habit each time you fill up with petrol.
  • And don’t forget to check the spare’s air pressure when you do the other tyres. There’s nothing worse…

Tyre maintenance tips

  • When you check the pressure, also do a visual check for objects embedded in the tread, such as stones or glass.
  • Check for uneven wear, which could indicate a problem with the car’s steering or suspension.
  • Run your hands over the tread and sidewalls to identify any bubbles, cuts or cracks.
  • Keep an eye on the tyres’ tread wear indicators, which show the minimum legal tread of 1.6 mm. The indicators are small bars spaced across the grooves of the tyre’s tread pattern. Replace your tyres when the tread level reaches the indicators — at the latest.
  • Rotate the tyres regularly — for example, at every service.
  • When putting on new tyres, have them balanced and a wheel alignment done.

How inflation affects tread-to-road contact

Tyre footprints 

                 Overinflation                                          Underinflation                                      Proper inflation


Both overinflation and underinflation reduce tread contact with the road. Proper inflation assures maximum contact.

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