We show you how we put tyres through their paces.
Choosing the right tyres
Every few years your car needs new tyres. At the dealership you’ll see a confusing wall of round black things, from a wide range of manufacturers and price points, and categories such as budget, comfort or performance.
But brand names, price and tread patterns aren’t reliable guides to predicting a tyre’s performance. The tyres are what connects your car to the road, and while most do that well enough in everyday driving on a dry road, in an emergency situation or less-than-ideal conditions the difference between the best and the worst of them is dramatic. So you’ll want to make sure you get a good one.
Our test results aim to give you this essential information. Here we look at 18 models of size 215/60R16, suitable for at least some versions of popular current and older-model family cars such as the Ford Falcon (test car), Honda Accord and Odyssey, Mazda MPV and Toyota Aurion.
According to the Australian Vehicle Standard, the date of manufacture is required and is normally a three or four digit code on the tyre sidewall (it can be on either side of the tyre). Check this before you purchase your 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 post-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 number 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 number of 0209 stands for the second week in 2009.
Although there is no recommended time period in the standard regarding the age of tyres, we often see retailers recommending five to six years for the replacement period of tyres. Tyre ageing will depend on the many variables of how it is used.
Other things to consider when purchasing a tyre are the signs of age such as micro splits in the tyre tread and sidewall that are visual up close, the result of oxidation of the tyre.
How to read a tyre
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, P 215/60 R16 V and H:
- P Passenger tyre.
- 215 The section width (in mm), which is the distance between the tyre's exterior sidewalls when the tyre is fitted to the recommended rim, inflated to the recommended pressure, and not under load.
- 60 The percentage, which describes 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 60%.
- R Radial, which is the most common construction method for passenger car tyres.
- 16 Diameter (in inches) of the rim the tyre should be fitted to.
- 95 Load rating index ,which tells you the maximum weight one tyre can carry — in this case it means 690kg. Other examples: 80 (450kg), 84 (500kg), 86 (530kg), 88 (560kg), 92 (630 kg) and 94 (670 kg).
- V Speed rating index, which tells you the maximum speed the tyre can travel at (in this case 240 km/h). Other examples: S (180km/h), T (190km/h), H (210 km/h) and W (270km/h).
BF Goodrich Sport T/A (A)
Bridgestone Turanza ER30 (A)
Continental Conti Comfort Contact CC5
Dunlop SP Sport 300E
Goodride Radial SP06
Goodyear Eagle NCT5
GT Radial Champiro 228
Kelly Charger GT
Kumho Solus KH17
Maxxis MA-P1 VIP
Michelin Energy-XM2 Green X
Nexen Classe Premiere CP661
Ovation Eco Vision VI-682
Pirelli P7 (A)
Sime Tyres Astar 100
Toyo Teo Plus Eco
Yokohama A.drive (A)
How we test
Our cornering tests are carried out with the car’s traction control disabled. CHOICE does not recommend disabling traction control as it aids the car’s handling and safety in both these extreme circumstances.
Cornering: Our testers, Peter Horvath and Michael Hohl, assess how well the tyres keep the car in a set lane at speeds of 80km/h and 85km/h in dry conditions, and of 70kmh, 75km/h and 80km/h in wet conditions, using a right-hand corner with about a 55m radius. The driver doesn’t know which brand of tyre has been fitted, and the tyres are tested in random order. The testers repeat the cornering on a different day and in different random order.
Braking: Using a GPS system, our testers measure the distance it takes to come to a complete standstill in emergency braking tests from driving speeds of 50km/h and 80km/h in both dry and wet conditions.
Rolling noise: Our testers also carry out rolling noise measurements at the driver’s left ear at 50km/h and 80km/h, on a road with coarse surface. At each speed there is only 3dB difference between the models – so small you’re unlikely to notice it. However, while we measure noise at the very end of our harsh performance testing, the tyres are still relatively new and bigger differences may develop with increased wear.
We’d like to thank Morgan Park Raceway
in Warwick, Qld, for ensuring a smooth test, and Ford Australia
for providing the Falcon XT test car.