To reduce the impact tyres have on the environment and to promote road safety, a new EU regulation came into force on 1 November 2012 that was designed to make it easier for motorists to compare different tyres. From this date, all new tyres for cars, vans, 4x4 and most trucks have to display a standard format label that indicates three key aspects of a tyre; fuel efficiency, wet grip performance and external rolling noise. Similar in style to energy labels for white goods, these labels provide comparable information about a tyre regardless of the brand or tread pattern. By using clear pictograms, the label allows motorists to make informed choices when buying tyres, ranked on a scale from A (best) to E/F/G (worst). Certain types of tyre, such as; temporary use tyres, off-road tyres, racing tyres, vintage car tyres and retread tyres are excluded from this regulation.
Brexit and the New EU 2021 Labelling Regulations
In May 2021 new tyre labelling regulations came into power in the European Union. The new labels reflect the good work done by tyre manufacturers and have removed the F and G ratings for fuel efficiency and wet grip. The new labels also incorporate markings for snow grip performance and ice grip performance.
As part of the Northern Ireland Protocol following Brexit, the new EU label applies to the whole island of Ireland. As such it is quite likely that the new EU label will start to appear on tyres purchased in England, Scotland and Wales. It is expected that the UK Government will launch its own tyre labelling regulations in 2022 and until such time a mixture of labels will be present in the market.
Tyre Labels in More Detail
Tyres are responsible for between 20% and 30% of a vehicle’s fuel consumption. As a tyre rolls, it uses energy and so a tyre that has a lower rolling resistance will use less energy and this has a direct impact on fuel efficiency and CO2 emissions.
Wet Grip Performance
Wet grip performance is one of the most important safety characteristics of a tyre. Tyres with good wet grip have shorter braking distances on wet roads. Two types of test are used to measure a tyre's grip when braking from 50mph in wet conditions. Results are combined and ranked on the tyre label. Each grade equates to a difference in braking distance of approximately 3 meters. Therefore fitting tyres ranked A can outperform lower-ranked tyres when braking in the wet by up to 15 meters, which clearly could help avert a road traffic accident.
External Rolling Noise
The inclusion of external rolling noise as a key aspect of a tyre’s performance is to encourage motorists to buy low noise tyres and thereby reduce noise pollution. A microphone measures the rolling noise of a car travelling at 50mph with the engine turned off and the results, in decibels, are given for each tyre.
Tyres showing the Three Peak Mountain Snowflake symbol are designed to perform in severe snow conditions and have been tested in accordance with UNECE Regulation No 117.
Tyres showing the Ice Stalagmite symbol are specially designed for road surfaces covered with ice and compact snow and should only be used in very severe climate conditions (e.g. cold temperatures). Using ice grip tyres in less severe climate conditions (e.g. wet conditions or warmer temperatures) could result in sub-optimal performance, in particular for wet grip, handling and wear.
Impact of your Driving Style
Fuel savings and tyre performance depend heavily on how you drive your vehicle. In particular:
- Eco-driving can significantly reduce fuel consumption;
- Tyre pressures need to be regularly checked to optimise fuel efficiency and wet grip;
- Stopping distances must always be respected.
More details: Regulation (EU) 2020/740
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