The Insider: Get a grip of the basics for maximum performance

There's a daunting number of tyres on the market. Before you start looking, you'll need some basic information about the right type for your car. You can only fit the size and specification of tyre recommended by the manufacturer for the wheels on the model you drive.

Never fit tyres that are a different size or speed rating from those specified by the car manufacturer, and don't use a mixture of tyre types without first checking your car's handbook, or asking a reputable dealer.

Which? carries out a series of rigorous tests to find the best on the road. "We assess how well tyres cling on when our test drivers try changing lanes and going through 's' bends at more than 90mph", says Which? car editor Richard Headland. "We test to see how quickly they allow you to stop – both in the dry and in severe wet conditions, on tarmac and on concrete.

"We also check how easily the tyres slip when accelerating in standing water 7mm deep. And we ask our testers to see how fast they can go round a circular track, covered with standing water, before the car skids off."

With so many types on sale, Which? can't test all of them, but selects ones that are typical for a wide range of cars and among the biggest-selling sizes in the UK market – the 205/55 R16 W is fitted to medium cars, large cars and mid-sized MPVs; and the 185/60 R14 H is popular on superminis and older, medium-sized cars.

In the former category, the Continental PremiumContact 2 (£82) is a Which? Best Buy. This tyre offers first-rate handling on dry roads, good wet and dry braking and good resistance to aquaplaning in bends and on straight roads. It's around average for noise, so motorway cruising at speed shouldn't be too much of a strain.

The Uniroyal RainSport 2 is exceptional value at £67. The tyre has good all-round grip, handles well in wet and dry conditions, and resists aquaplaning well on the straight and in bends.

In the latter category, the Continental PremiumContact 2 (£58) is a Best Buy which gives excellent handling on dry roads, good wet and dry braking, and decent wet grip in bends and on straight roads. It's slightly noisier than some tyres, but the tyre noise isn't intrusive.

An exceptionally good value tyre is the Kumho Solus KH17 at £43. It scored well on wet and dry braking, dry handling and wet grip in a straight line. Buying a set of these instead of premium tyres like the Michelin Energy Saver could save you as much as £72

Where to buy

Considering the range of prices for tyres, it's well worth contacting several retailers to compare costs. Independent retailers generally sell tyres at lower prices than the bigger chains. If the tyre you choose isn't available at your local independent retailer, you may have to go to a national or online supplier, which generally offer a wider range.

Shopping around might save you money. If one retailer offers you a better deal, but is further away, try asking a nearer one to match the offer.

What to look out for...

How can I tell how old my car tyres are?

The week and year of manufacture is always marked on the sidewall. Tyre makers specify strict storage conditions for tyres, as they can deteriorate if these aren't met.

When do I need to replace my car tyres?

Change them when the tread is below about 2mm, when you notice damage, or when you suffer a flat that cannot be repaired. By law, car tyres must have a tread depth of at least 1.6mm across three-quarters of the tread width.

Should I fit new car tyres on the rear axle?

Yes, this is the best advice. The ideal is for all tyres to be replaced at once, but front and rear tyres wear at different rates, so it is rarely practical. Whenever you make any changes, fit the new or least-worn tyres on the rear axle.

My car's tyre size isn't one Which? has tested. What should I do?

If you can't find your size among the popular sizes Which? has tested, look for the closest match. If Which? has named a Best Buy in a size very close to yours, it's reasonable to expect the same brand/model performance will be similar.

The Insider is written by Which?, the independent consumer champion. For more information go to or pick up a copy of Which? Car, on sale at Sainsbury's for £3.99. To get three issues of Which? magazine for a special price of £3, call 01992 822800 and quote INADVICE.

Independent Partners; Do you need financial advice on your investments, pension or insurance? Book a free consultation with an independent Financial Adviser at

A daily miscellany of general election facts, figures, trivia and traditions
voicesThere's still time for someone to do something to make us care
Life and Style
Arts and Entertainment
Michael Corleone, played by Al Pacino, goes back to his family's Sicilian roots in the first 'Godfather' film
Kim Kardashian speaks on the Today show about her step-father's transition
Wenger and Mourinho square-up to each other earlier this season
sportAll the action from today's Premier League, including Everton vs Man Utd and Chelsea vs Arsenal
Tepper had a stunningly successful career as a songwriter
Arts and Entertainment
Len Blavatnik
Finacial products from our partners
Property search
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Money & Business

    Ashdown Group: Treasury Assistant - Accounts Assistant - London, Old Street

    £24000 - £26000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: A highly successful, glo...

    Ashdown Group: Business Analyst - Financial Services - City, London

    £50000 - £55000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Business Analyst - Financial Service...

    SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

    £18000 - £23000 per annum + OTE £45K: SThree: At SThree, we like to be differe...

    SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

    £20000 - £25000 per annum + competitive: SThree: Did you know? SThree is the o...

    Day In a Page

    General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

    Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

    The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
    Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

    Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

    Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
    Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

    Marginal Streets project documents voters

    Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
    Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

    The real-life kingdom of Westeros

    Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
    How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

    How to survive a Twitter mauling

    Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
    Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

    At dawn, the young remember the young

    A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
    Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

    Follow the money as never before

    Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
    Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

    Samuel West interview

    The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
    General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

    Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

    Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
    Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

    Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

    The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence
    Public relations as 'art'? Surely not

    Confessions of a former PR man

    The 'art' of public relations is being celebrated by the V&A museum, triggering some happy memories for DJ Taylor
    Bill Granger recipes: Our chef succumbs to his sugar cravings with super-luxurious sweet treats

    Bill Granger's luxurious sweet treats

    Our chef loves to stop for 30 minutes to catch up on the day's gossip, while nibbling on something sweet
    London Marathon 2015: Paula Radcliffe and the mother of all goodbyes

    The mother of all goodbyes

    Paula Radcliffe's farewell to the London Marathon will be a family affair
    Everton vs Manchester United: Steven Naismith demands 'better' if Toffees are to upset the odds against United

    Steven Naismith: 'We know we must do better'

    The Everton forward explains the reasons behind club's decline this season
    Arsenal vs Chelsea: Praise to Arsene Wenger for having the courage of his convictions

    Michael Calvin's Last Word

    Praise to Wenger for having the courage of his convictions