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EU tyre labelling regulations: How do they affect you?

EU Tyre Labelling

On November 1st 2012, the European Union (EU) introduced new regulations regarding the information that has to be displayed on any tyres sold. In any tyre shop across Europe, you will now notice labels which look similar to the energy performance certificates (EPC) displayed in public buildings.
 
These labels display three vital pieces of information about the tyres' quality: energy efficiency, grip and noise levels.
 

Energy efficiency

In the top left-hand corner, the labels rate a tyre's energy efficiency from level A to level G. Level A is the highest rank. Cars with these tyres will emit the least fuel on any given journey.
 
The differences can certainly prove to be costly over time. A car with category C tyres will use an extra litre of fuel to complete a 1000km journey compared to a car with category B tyres. A car with category E tyres will use two litres' more fuel, whilst a car with category F tyres will use three litres more.
 
This means that high-quality tyres can eventually end up paying for themselves, especially if you're a fleet manager buying new tyres for dozens of vehicles.
 

Grip

 
The labels make buyers aware about a tyre's grip on a wet surface. Again, this is rated from A (best grip) to G (worst grip). The strength of a tyre's grip on a wet road could literally be the difference between life and death if a car breaks unexpectedly in front of you.
 
If this ever happens whilst you're travelling at 50mph down a wet a road, you will probably wish you spent the extra money on tyres with category A grip tyres. Cars with category B grip tyres will require an additional three to six metres to come to a halt. Category C tyres need double that, category D tyres need triple and category F tyres need four times that amount.
 
That means the stopping difference between category A and category F tyres is 18 metres in these conditions. There are no official measurements for D & G tyres.
 

Noise levels

 
The labels also display the tyres' noise levels in decibels. This is important not only because noise pollution can be annoying - but also because the European Union is planning to introduce an extra tax on cars with noisier tyres.
 
Next to the decibels figure is an image of a tyre with black sound waves coming out of it. Tyres with three black waves are noisy enough to be subjected to these taxes when they are eventually introduced. Two black waves indicate that the tyre has a noise level equal to the limit or three decibels below the cut-off point. One black wave means they're more than three decibels below the limit.
 
What else should be considered?
 
Although these labels provide a simple no-nonsense guide to a tyre's efficiency, there are other factors which buyers should consider before investing in new wheels. These include its longevity, handling and grip on dry roads.
 
Nevertheless, it's difficult to argue that these labels aren't beneficial to almost everyone on the road.

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