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.

theinsider@independent.co.uk

The Insider is written by Which?, the independent consumer champion. For more information go to www.which.co.uk/tyres 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; request a free guide on NISAs from Hargreaves Lansdown

PROMOTED VIDEO
Voices
Ukip leader Nigel Farage arrives at the Rochester by-election count
voicesIs it any wonder that Thornberry, Miliband, and Cameron have no idea about ordinary everyday life?
Sport
sportComment: Win or lose Hamilton represents the best of Britain
Life and Style
tech
Sport
Arsene Wenger reacts during Arsenal's 2-1 defeat to Swansea
footballMan United and Arsenal meet on Saturday with both clubs this time languishing outside the top four
News
i100BBC political editor Nick Robinson had a lot of explaining to do
Life and Style
Nappies could have advice on them to encourage mothers and fathers to talk to their babies more often
newsTalking to babies can improve their language and vocabulary skills
Sport
Tony Bellew holds two inflatable plastic sheep at the weigh-in for his rematch with Nathan Cleverly
boxingGrudge match takes place on Saturday night
Arts and Entertainment
Mark Ronson at PS1
arts + ents
Finacial products from our partners
Property search
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

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

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Money & Business

    Reach Volunteering: Trustee – PR& Marketing, Social Care, Commercial skills

    Voluntary Only - Expenses Reimbursed: Reach Volunteering: Age Concern Slough a...

    Reach Volunteering: Charity Treasurer

    Voluntary Only - Expenses Reimbursed: Reach Volunteering: Crossroads Care is s...

    SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant - Soho

    £20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE £35,000: SThree: We consistently strive to be ...

    Ampersand Consulting LLP: Markit EDM (CADIS) Developer

    £50000 - £90000 per annum + benefits: Ampersand Consulting LLP: Markit EDM (CA...

    Day In a Page

    US immigration: President Obama ready to press ahead with long-promised plan to overhaul 'broken system' - but will it get past a Republican-controlled Congress?

    Immigration: Obama's final frontier

    The President is ready to press ahead with the long-promised plan to overhaul America's 'broken system' - but will it get past a Republican-controlled Congress?
    Bill Cosby rape allegations explained: Why are these allegations coming out now? Why didn’t these women come forward earlier? And why has nobody taken legal action?

    Bill Cosby rape allegations explained

    Why are these allegations coming out now? Why has nobody taken legal action? And what happens next for the man once thought of as 'America's Dad'
    Four years of excruciating seizures caused by the 1cm tapeworm found burrowing through a man's brain

    You know that headache you’ve got?

    Four years of excruciating seizures caused by the 1cm tapeworm found burrowing through a man's brain
    Travelling to work by scooter is faster than walking and less sweaty than cycling, so why aren’t we all doing it?

    Scoot commute

    Travelling to work by scooter is faster than walking and less sweaty than cycling, so why aren’t we all doing it?
    Paul Robeson: The story of how an American icon was driven to death to be told in film

    The Paul Robeson story

    How an American icon was driven to death to be told in film
    10 best satellite navigation systems

    Never get lost again: 10 best satellite navigation systems

    Keep your vehicle going in the right direction with a clever device
    Paul Scholes column: England must learn to keep possession and dictate games before they are exposed by the likes of Germany and Brazil

    Paul Scholes column

    England must learn to keep possession and dictate games before they are exposed by the likes of Germany and Brazil
    Michael Dawson: I’ll thank Spurs after we win says defender as he prepares to return with Hull

    Michael Dawson: I’ll thank Spurs after we win

    Hull defender faces his struggling former club on Sunday ready to show what they are missing. But he says he will always be grateful to Tottenham
    Frank Warren column: Dr Wu has big plans for the professionals yet he should stick to the amateur game

    Frank Warren column

    Dr Wu has big plans for the professionals yet he should stick to the amateur game
    Synagogue attack: Fear unites both sides of Jerusalem as minister warns restoring quiet could take 'months'

    Terror unites Jerusalem after synagogue attack

    Rising violence and increased police patrols have left residents of all faiths looking over their shoulders
    Medecins sans Frontieres: The Ebola crisis has them in the headlines, but their work goes far beyond West Africa

    'How do you carry on? You have to...'

    The Ebola crisis has Medecins sans Frontieres in the headlines, but their work goes far beyond West Africa
    Isis extends its deadly reach with suicide bombing in Kurdish capital

    Isis extends its deadly reach with suicide bombing in Kurdish capital

    Residents in what was Iraq’s safest city fear an increase in jihadist attacks, reports Patrick Cockburn
    Underwater photography competition winners 2014 - in pictures

    'Mysterious and inviting' shot of diver wins photography competition

    Stunning image of cenote in Mexico takes top prize
    Sir John Major: Negative West End portrayals of politicians put people off voting

    Sir John Major hits out at theatres

    Negative West End portrayals of politicians put people off voting
    Kicking Barbie's butt: How the growth of 3D printing enabled me to make an army of custom-made figurines

    Kicking Barbie's butt

    How the growth of 3D printing enabled toy-designer to make an army of custom-made figurines