Since November 2012 most new tyres now carry a label giving motorists information about the tyre’s fuel efficiency, wet grip and noise performance.  The same information is generally available on manufacturers and specialist tyre centre’s websites.

This label initiative is the result of the European regulation (1222/2009) aimed at reducing EU motorist’s fuel consumption by helping them to make more informed choices and encouraging the purchase of fuel efficient tyres.

Tyres and fuel consumption

Car tyres are responsible for around 20% of fuel consumption and can affect fuel costs in two ways:

  • Tyre pressure – reduced tyre pressure increases rolling resistance and therefore fuel consumption so you should check pressures regularly;
  • Materials and construction – tyre manufacturers can choose materials and manufacturing techniques to reduce rolling resistance to the recommended pressure.

Ask your NTDA tyre centre specialist

Not all information you, as a motorist, may need is on the label and you should bear in mind that while the information is important it doesn’t tell you much about a tyre’s overall performance. For example, the label doesn’t include information on characteristics such as:

  • Tyre longevity;
  • Dry road braking and handling;
  • Aquaplaning and wet road handling;
  • Comfort factors and ride quality.

You should ask your NTDA tyre centre specialist for further advice if such considerations are important to you.

What you will find on the label:

  • Fuel efficiency (rolling resistance)

Using the same design as that used for the now familiar energy labels on domestic white goods, the label will show the fuel efficiency on a sliding scale from A (best) to G (worst). The difference between the best and worst fuel consumption can be as high as 7.5% for cars. As well as introducing labelling requirements, EU regulations introduced mandatory reductions in maximum permitted rolling resistance in two stages: November 2012 and November 2016.

  • Wet grip

Reducing rolling resistance too far can actually adversely affect stopping distance on wet roads.  To ensure that safety standards are maintained, at the same time as achieving environmental improvements through reduced fuel consumption, the EU has also introduced minimum levels of wet grip performance. The new label will show wet grip performance measured under strictly controlled conditions and rated from A (best) to G (worst). The difference in stopping distance between each grade will be one or two car lengths when braking from 50mph.  Overall the difference in braking distance between best and worst (A to G) will be circa 30%.

  • Noise

Tyres also affect the environment because of the noise they generate when in contact with the road surface. To reduce such noise pollution from road transport, tyre manufacturers must comply with regulations setting increasingly stringent maximum limits for the noise that tyres generate external to the car. The lower part of the label shows exterior noise level, measured in decibels (dB).

  • A single ‘sound wave’ shows that the tyre’s noise level is 3dB better than the future European limit;
  • Two black ‘sound waves’ shows that the tyre meets the future European limit;
  • Three black ‘sound waves’ shows that the tyre only meets the current European limit for noise.

Currently, the regulations only apply to passenger car tyres, light commercial vans and trucks.

They don’t apply to:

  • Retreads;
  • Professional racing or off road tyres;
  • Studded tyres are excluded if the studs are fitted, but they do apply if the studs are not in place;
  • Run flats/Temporary tyres/space savers;
  • Tyres intended only for cars first registered before 1 October 1990;
  • Those with a speed rating less than 80 km/h (50mph);
  • Tyres with a rim diameter of less than 254mm or more than 635mm;