The truth about tyre labelling - can you really trust them?

Tyre makers grade their own products, so what's stopping them from cheating?

You might be surprised to learn that while tyre grading labels are now mandatory in the EU, there’s no independent body to verify them. Instead, it’s down to the tyre manufacturers themselves to grade their own products, so does this leave the door open for made-up ratings?

‘It wouldn’t be possible for premium brands to just make ratings up – they all test each other’s tyres so someone would notice,’ says Jonathan Benson, a tyre expert who runs

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‘But that’s not to say they don’t know how to get the best out of the label criteria. Water depth, surface temperature and co-efficient of grip can all be modified within allowed parameters, which the companies with the biggest budgets will be taking advantage of.’

The real issue with tyre labels is that they only reveal a small part of a tyre’s performance. ‘Someone might look at a budget tyre and see that it’s only one grade away from a premium in wet performance,’ says Benson. ‘They might then think it’s a bargain. But that tyre will likely be worse in several other areas. The next generation of the label needs to at least include wear. Wet grip and wear are contrasting qualities; it’s difficult to score well in both criteria.'

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So what can we do to ensure that we buy the right set of tyres? Benson explains: ‘Keep looking at magazine tests and independent tyre reviews. Unlike the labels, they’re testing all round performance and not just a very narrow window of it.’ You can find the results to the 2015 evo Tyre Test here.


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