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What do tyre efficiency ratings mean?

Similar to household appliances, tyres also have efficiency ratings which are shown on compulsory tyre labels, as outlined by the EU. These ratings help buyers to make a more informed decision before they purchase a tyre.

In this article, we’ll answer the most commonly asked questions about tyre efficiency ratings and tyre labels, to help you choose wisely the next time you need a fresh set.

When did the tyre labels start being used?

Tyre labels were made compulsory in November 2012 for every tyre sold within the EU. The format for these tyre labels is standardised, so that every brand shows the same type of information in the same format. This is to help motorists easily decide between tyres before making a purchase.

The very first labels had three sections, each with its own rating: wet grip, noise emission and rolling resistance/fuel efficiency. Since May 2021, the information has expanded to also include icons that inform a user whether the tyre is suitable for icy or snowy conditions. There was also the inclusion of a QR to allow easy access to the EU product database. Other minor changes were also made, such as inclusion of tyre identifiers.

Are the rules for tyre labelling different in the UK following Brexit?

If this labelling system was introduced under EU legislation, have there been any changes to tyre labelling since Brexit? Although the labelling system was introduced under EU legislation, there are currently no plans to make any changes following Brexit. The UK is still intending to conform to the updated tyre labelling system outlined in May 2021.

What are the tyre labels explaining?

What do each of the sections mean, as of the updated 2021 label? Let’s take a look at each of them:

  • Rolling resistance/fuel efficiency: Found in the top left of the label, this section refers to the amount of energy it takes to ‘roll’ a tyre. In fact, tyres actually account for around 20% of a car’s fuel consumption, so the lower the rolling resistance, the greater the fuel efficiency. The rating of A refers to the best fuel efficiency, while G is the worst.
  • Noise emission: At the bottom of the label is the noise emission rating, which describes how much external noise a tyre generates when in motion. This is measured in decibels and is displayed on the label, along with a lettered rating of A, B or C, with A referring to the quietest tyre.
  • Wet grip: A higher wet grip rating means a tyre has a shorter braking distance on wet roads along with better aquaplaning resistance – and both are important tyre qualities for enhanced safety. The ratings are measured A – E, with A being the best and E meaning the worst. A higher wet grip rating means that the car will stop more quickly in wet conditions.
  • Snow/ice icon: The snow and ice grip icons inform the user if a tyre is suitable to be used in these conditions.
  • QR code: If a buyer requires further information about the tyre, they can simply scan the label’s QR code, which directs them to the EU’s tyre product database.

Is it worth paying for higher efficiency tyres?

High fuel efficiency means that your car will give you more miles from less fuel – saving you money in the long run. This will also reduce your CO2 output, making for a more eco-friendly driving experience. Often, tyres with higher efficiency ratings will cost a little more, so is it actually worth it? The answer will differ on a case-by-case basis depending on your annual mileage and fuel price. Check out this handy calculator to get a better sense of whether it’s worth paying for a higher rating.

If you want help selecting and fitting a new set of tyres, the experienced team at Tyres Northampton can help. We offer friendly advice and an expert tyre fitting service, allowing you to choose from a wide range of brands with different prices, qualities and efficiency ratings – including Continental, Hankook, Yokohama, Pirelli, Goodyear, Avon and many more. Simply get in touch to find out more.

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