Tyres – Part two

Gareth is back with his ongoing look at the challenges and opportunities represented by tyres. This month; tread

Published:  13 January, 2020

Did you manage to fit that Hayabusa motorbike engine in your smart car then? What speed did you manage to get to on your nan’s private airfield? If you haven’t got a clue what I’m dribbling on about then you obviously didn’t get your last copy of Aftermarket. Darn shame as you missed a corker.
Last time, I touched on tyres, tyre sizes, load index and speed ratings. In this issue I thought it would be only right to include tread patterns and correct fitment of said tyres. After reading this you should be able to make an educated guess about what tyre is best suited to you or indeed what is necessary for your customer’s needs and what tyres are needed in certain situations and – no, I don’t just mean if it snows then go and buy a set of winter tyres. However, I will keep it plain and simple with a hint of humour, just like myself.

There are four main tread patterns that I’d like to explain to you. The first is the symmetrical kind. These have no sidewall markings regarding fitment and this, as you may have guessed is the same pattern all over, nothing fancy here! This one is a plain and simple get you to work and back type of tyre. It will hold the road, just as you’d expect, it will dissipate water as expected too, an all-rounder for the better months shall we say. These can be fitted on the wheel anyway you please. The second is an asymmetric pattern. Half the tread blocks for road holding and the rest are for getting rid of all that unwanted water, so this is a remarkable tread pattern engineered for the wet weather but still has very good grip for those hot summers driving through the twisties. The sidewall markings on these tyres are ‘inner’ and ‘outer' or ‘inside’ and ‘outside’. They are designed to be fitted only one way.
The third in the list is a rotational tyre. This is clearly visible by the sidewall markings that have an arrow stating a certain way the tyre must be fitted. Please be careful and remember it is a MOT failure if a tyre Is not fitted in accordance with the sidewall instructions. This type of tyre will also have a tread pattern that looks almost like a continuous arrow pointing in one direction. This tyre is exceptionally good at dissipating water, as you drive through the wet roads water is drained away from the centre of the tread and ejected outwards to prevent aquaplaning.

“But what about the fourth one?“ I hear you cry. Well, this one is a winter tread pattern, recognisable by the unique three peaks’ symbol. These tyres will more than likely always be rotational with sidewall markings displayed with an arrow. They are characterised by the little wiggly lines in the tread. The real name for these is sipes, and these are designed in such a way that they increase the tyres surface area on the road and this in turn creates more traction.
Winter tyres are engineered with more natural rubber within their compound. They actually stay more supple for longer in lower temperatures. This helps with traction in ice or snowy conditions. However, a winter tyre will only outperform a summer tyre in temperatures of 7°C or lower. Now, there are no laws in our country to say we need to fit winter tyres in the colder months, yet. That said, I can see it on the cards in the future to prevent more accidents. Also, a few customers have seemed to feel a little uneasy when it comes to their insurance and winter tyres. If you’re unsure, just check with your insurance company, you will find that more and more insurance companies find them to be a valuable asset to your car in the colder months and will probably welcome such a safety conscious driver into their realm.


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