/ Motoring

Bridgestone: new tyre labels must be enforced

EU tyre labels

With the introduction of new EU tyre labels, you’ll soon have an easy-to-use guide for choosing a car tyre. Andy Dingley of tyre company Bridgestone thinks work still needs to be done for them to be successful.

Tyres tend to be at the bottom of most of our shopping lists, and are only thought of when we get a flat tyre or are about to put the car through its MOT. Yet, they’re the only contact point between your car and the road. Getting the right tyres for your car and how you use them is vital.

The changes to tyre labelling  that we’ll also be making at Bridgestone, are designed to show three key areas of a tyre’s performance: wet grip, exterior noise emission and a tyre’s fuel efficiency. The labels are split into seven colour-coded categories from A to G (best to worst). This means you should be able to spot the best all-round performance in areas that matter most to you.

By presenting the technical aspects of a tyre in this accessible, universal format (similar to the labelling on white goods introduced in the 1990s) you can expect to have a more authoritative and informed approach to choosing from the myriad of tyres on sale. With only three areas to judge a tyre’s all-round performance, the need for strict regulation is all the more important.

How will the new tyre labels be enforced?

There’s been a significant investment of time and money by manufacturers to ensure that tyre labelling becomes part of the production process. However, with the regulations coming into effect this week, it’s still unclear what measures are going to be put in place to ensure they’re properly enforced.

As a tyre manufacturer, we think that these changes must be supported by a body with a clear method of enforcing legislation and issuing penalties in the case of manufacturers that fall short of EU requirements. Otherwise, the success of the changes made so far may hit an obstacle before they’re put into force.

There’s also potential for a lax attitude towards adhering to the new standards. The new labels could be used to make tyres appear of a higher standard than they actually are. That would damage the push for product clarity which lies behind the introduction of tyre labelling. The knock-on result is that the benefits of the changes won’t reach the people they’re intended for – you, the consumer.

To prevent this, we think there needs to be clarity over what system will be put in place to monitor compliance. This will require a comprehensive regulatory system that covers all aspects of the industry supply chain, from production within the factory, to correctly displaying labels in garages. Oh, and there will also need to be an eye on online retailers to ensure the system doesn’t suffer the corner-cutting we’ve seen plague energy efficiency labels on electronics.

Only when we know how these areas will be regulated can we be sure that the new tyre labels will be successful.

Are you glad to see new tyre labels that rate grip and fuel efficiency? Do you want to see them properly enforced?

Which? Conversation provides guest spots to external contributors. This is from Andy Dingley, Communication Manager at tyre company Bridgestone. All opinions expressed here are Andy’s own, not necessarily those of Which?.

Comments
Member

I welcome having this information but I am not sure how it is intended for customers to see the tyre labels. Like many people, I ring a couple of tyre fitters to check availability and prices of suitable tyres, so the only information I have readily available is that provided by Which?

The tyre performance needs to be available on a website and provided for inspection at garages and tyre fitters.

I try and avoid Bridgestone car tyres because of poor life, though I appreciate that this is not the only factor that is important. When I was a motorcyclist in the 70s, other brands of tyres would last upt to three times as long as the Bridgestone originals. I was even warned about this by a Honda salesman who sold me a new motorcycle.

Member

Any information that can be offered is welcome of course, but I also wonder how the information will be presented to the customer.
I can’t imagine your average everyday tyre fitter talking me through the facts and figures (no offence intended to any tyre fitters that may be reading!).

Due to my heavy annual mileage, I also avoid certain brands of tyre that don’t have a long life. I don’t really understand why all tyres can’t have a decent life span these days, personally I feel pretty short changed if I don’t get a decent mileage out of a set of tyres.

I’ve not used Bridgestone myself, but a set of Pirelli’s on the front gave me less than 10k, which was appauling for the cost of the tyre, whereas Michelin’s are my preferred ones now, returning a good 20k plus on a front set.

Member

Apologies for being slightly off-topic but it would be good for everyone to be given a leaflet about tyre care when they buy new tyres. I may be old fashioned but I still check my tyre pressures weekly and inspect the tread for nails, etc.

The regulations on tyre wear require understanding and some judgement. It would be easier to have coloured tread wear indicators, so if any yellow (for example) was exposed, the driver would know that it is time to get a tyre replaced. The fact that others could see this too would provide an incentive to take action.

Member
Member

Thanks, Patrick. It’s worth noting that some manufacturers provide a note of tyre pressures on the car (e.g. on the back of the fuel cap, on a door jamb or behind a sun visor) so that there is no need to dig out the manual and work out which pressures are correct for your car, which will depend on the tyres fitted.

The article has a link to useful information about tyre pumps and gauges, some of which are much better than others.

Member

I’ve just looked on the Bridgestone website and apart from a separate section on the new EU tyre labels http://tyrelabel.bridgestone.eu/ , I couldn’t see the specific information when looking at specific tyres.

I must admit I only had a brief look but again, nothing for the tyres I was looking for in http://www.bridgestone.co.uk/English/Global/FILES/BridgestoneDatabook.pdf

Shouldn’t all tyre manufacturers have this information on their websites by now? They must have known this was coming.

And who is responsible to grading the tyres? Do they have a website with a very long list of grades for each tyre?

What’s to stop two different tyre outlets selling the same tyre but with different ratings?

Are the tyres graded before going on sale or after ? And who do we the consumer complain to if we think an outlet is trying to pull a fast one.

These and loads of other questions will appear in next weeks exciting episode …

Member
Rocky says:
2 November 2012

I was looking for new tyres last week and noticed that a number of websites are now showing the new ratings. I certainly used these in my hunt. I noticed there are a number of tyres being offered with low ratings – not all cheap- I wonder if this will change as people get used to the new labelling.

I think we have been poorly served by the tyre industry in the past as I saw one manufacturer admitting to testing tyres in various ways historically – but how much of the information was passed to the consumer? – I would say none in any meaningful way.

I was looking for Michelin Latitude tyres as they had reasonable rating and good life (30,000+).
I found they were not instock locally but a national internet dealer had plenty. (who then sent them to one of the stores I had previously checked ! )

Member

I have been using blackcircles.com and mytyre.co.uk for several years. Great information on tyres and users reviews to help you make the decision, then approved garages near you to get the cheapest price. I think the changes are a very good idea making the selection process easier and quicker. leaflet and yellow tread wears are likely to make products more expensive? Why should we pay more for those that cannot be bothered to check?

Member
Phil says:
3 November 2012

Buying tyres has always been a trade off between a hard compound which wears well or a softer one which gives superior grip.

It seems the tests are done in a laboratory on rigs, two questions: are the tyres “run in” prior to the tests or tested as new? Presumably there is some sort of temperature control otherwise tyres tested in the winter would give very different results from those tested in the summer but are winter tyres tested at the same temperature as summer tyres or at one more suitable? Comparing the ratings of winter and summer tryes suggests this is not the case.

Member

What about all the drivers who use badly worn tyres? Then there are those who replace their tyres with either the cheapest (new) tyres they can get or remoulds. They are the ones who do not realise the importance of good tyres for safety.

Member

Kev does not think much of my suggestion of yellow tyre wear indicators to alert the driver and everyone else to the need for replacement tyres.

A couple of weeks ago I pointed out that a friend’s car looked as if the rear tyres were under-inflated. I checked the tyre pressures and one was 10 and the other 9 psi, rather lower than the correct pressure of 28 psi. This person has has a high intellect and recently retired from a highly paid job in the medical profession, so is no fool in other respects.

Those who buy the cheapest new tyres or remoulds seem the least of the problem.

Member

I’m interested whether you’ll take note of these new tyre labels, or whether price is your sole consideration?

Member
NukeThemAll says:
26 November 2012

As a Which? reader I note the ‘best buys’ and then phone around: one of our local tyre retailers is particularly cheap (lower than the internet sellers) so if he’s got any particularly good prices for tyres that still rate highly in the Which? tests, I might go for those, especially if they get a good noise rating (I **hate** excessive road noise in cars!).

But I don’t get too hung up about ultimate wet/dry grip, because: I drive with care and not ‘on the limit’; the differences between ‘good’ tyres don’t appear to be nearly as big as the differences that would arise from tyres of differing tread depth especially near the legal limit; I replace my tyres at ~2.5-3 mm anyway; I regularly check the tyre pressures.

So, yes, I’ll take note of the labels, but not be a slave to them.

Incidentally, the noise rating: is that for external noise generated by the tyre (ie into the environment) or noise transmitted to the car? – I would surmise that there would be a strong correlation but haven’t seen the test data.

Member

I would pay more attention to tyre labels if I could be sure that the information is reliable.

Can we trust the information provided by manufacturers? Is this any different from information provided about the energy ratings for domestic appliances?

Member
MrBill says:
22 April 2013

Just been round to local tyre supplier together with copy of the Which article on “Best Buy Tyres” to get quote for some new tyres. Firstly every tyre in stock had the new label but when the fitter checked he was surprised that some “Wet Grip” rating letters shown did not always support the findings in the Which tyres on test tables. One surprise was Sailun Atrezzo among “Tyres to Avoid” because of very poor wet surfaces performance was actually rated B for wet grip? A closer look revealed a small change in the tyre name/number showing ZXZS instead of SH402. Could this be the reason.
The explanation it seems was that tyre manufacturers are constantly improving their products and the introduction of tyre labelling has had positive effect. So are these tyres that much better now? Can we believe the label?
Could it be that there has been “improvements” in some tyre compounds brought about by the labelling requirement? Is this a credible argument? I guess it will be a while before we have confidence in what the label means.
Decision time then, cheapest tyre with B rating or 25% more for another B rating tyre a bit higher up the percentage table. Might try another quote before deciding though. Wonder if the tyres will last till the next Which tyre test.