posted 4 years ago

Tyre Fuel Efficiency Markings Fail To Paint Clear Picture

Tyre Labelled Highly Fuel Efficient Might Not Meet Expectations

The fuel economy marking on a tyre label does not “reveal the full story”, Emissions Analytics has claimed. The purpose of a rating is to emphasise that a car's fuel consumption and carbon emissions are influenced by its tyres. A highly efficient tyre is marked “A” whereas a less impressive compound is “G”. There are various steps in between. The buyer can, therefore, pay extra for efficient tyres to minimise the car's impact on the environment and save fuel. Alternatively, he/she could reduce up front expenditure via a less impressive compound. But life is not that simple. Emissions Analytics has claimed that – in certain circumstances – a tyre with a modest efficiency rating performs in line with a higher rated compound. This conclusion is based on tests that evaluated “B” and “F” tyres at various speeds, in consistent temperatures and with the same car/driver. The results suggested the more efficient compound was, in fact, the stronger performer from fifty-five miles per-hour. At seventy miles per-hour it was substantial more efficient. However,  there was little to choose between them at slower speeds. This suggests that a motorist that tends to use urban roads might not benefit from the a more efficient compound. However, it is important to note that there are countless tyres with varying characteristics - so such results cannot be viewed in isolation. 

Tyre Labelling System Explained

The tyre labelling system came into force on November 1st 2012. The labels look remarkably similar to those found on domestic appliances such as washing machines, tumble dryers and fridge-freezers, etc. This ensures that the format – which is standard throughout Europe – is familiar and simple to interpret. The vast majority of tyres must have a label by law, but there are exceptions. These include certain racing, professional off road, vintage, re-tread, motorbike and studded compounds. Furthermore, a label reveals more than a fuel efficiency rating. Wet braking performance, for example, is categorised from “A” to “G. TyreSafe has claimed that a car with four category “A” tyres travelling at fifty miles stops eighteen metres shorter than if fitted with “G” - so that is something to consider. A label also reveals the tyre's exterior noise rating, e.g. seventy-two decibels. Whether that is high or low is clarified by a series of waves. One black wave suggests the tyre is fairly quiet, two is mid-spec, and three comparatively loud.


For me its 1/ Grip. 2/ Noise. The rest is merely interesting. I do however like the labels. I research my tyres online and all this data is to hand to compare across the alternatives. Of course its not definitive, but its better than nothing. Vernon... You should get out of London and travel a few motorways and A roads. Plenty of cars there moving at above 18mph.

It amuses me that people watch the F1 racing and are quite happy to discuss the tyre strategy of their favourite team, watch as slick tyres throw their favourite driver into a hedge in a minor shower and tut disapprovingly when a tyre disintegrates because it was run for a lap too long. They then pop into Kwik Fit and ask for the cheapest...

Frankly a tyre's fuel efficiency rating doesnt matter to me at all, all that matters is its cornering and braking performance and you'll tend to find that the better performing tyres are some of the least fuel efficient. These labels are such a waste of time.

@Vernon Taylor A tyre uses 6 gallons of oil to manufacture? That alone would weigh 42 lbs! Where on earth did you get that figure?

The average speed of a car in Greater London when it is actually moving is 18mph. The average speed in most urban environments will be something like that speed and the majority of the life of most cars in years and not miles will be spent at a low average speed. What need is there then of advanced aerodynamics and other sophistications because they aren't going to reduce a car's carbon footprint by much, if at all, over the entire life of the vehicle from the cradle to the grave. New cars have the wheels aligned dynamically and the wheel/tyre assemblies optimised. The aftermarket cannot do these things and so a high level of skill and experience is needed to ensure the toe setting is right for that car and not just that model of car but it is often relatively unskilled labour that performs such adjustments. A small maladjustment can cost a lot of fuel and shorten the life of the tyres; an ordinary new 165-13 tyre uses six gallons of oil to manufacture. Few people check the pressures regularly either and that also costs money and safety. Most people most of the time would lose nothing by ignoring energy labels on tyres and instead insisting on OE fitment would be sufficient to ensure good overall safety, performance and economy along with the judicious use of the right foot. At the very least insisting on a set of four identical tyres will give the car a fighting chance of stopping in a straight line. A matching set of tyres is soon lost if left to the discretion of the tyre suppliers and they are a big part of the problem as they prefer to only sell what they stock and make discouraging noises and charge premium prices for those tyres not usually stocked and because fashion and profitability influences the stock, that tends to change as often as the latest Paris collections.

Surely this means nothing in real terms people go for the cheapest option but then will spend on good brakes but the tyres are the only thing between a car and the road

I totally agree with André and Richard, far, far more important that it grips and stops in wet and dry. Also, what is the point of the labels, it's not like washing machines in Currys where all the goods are displayed in front of you? Tyres are not displayed in front of you. People are either discerning and tell the fitter what tyre they want or they go for the cheapest. I've certainly never seen one of the labels. I'd ignore them anyway as I either buy what's already fitted as OE or research the tyre tests to make a choice.

I'm with Andre on this one. The ability to go round corners and stop when I want to is far more important than a minuscule saving in fuel costs. No point in congratulating yourself on the savings you've made in your fuel bills when extracting what's left of your car out from a ditch or the underside of a heavy goods vehicle because it wouldn't go round a corner or stop in time.

doe these labels have to be fitted to `part used` tyres which a lot of people are buying ?

These labels are a minefield. Have seen tyres with high fuel efficiency ratings AND high wet weather grip and vice-versa. And what about the noise too? For my car the cheapest premium tyre is low noise, high wet grip and also low rolling resistance!

The article says we are going to get all this information about our tyres, but where is it being put. Not much good if they are stick on labels I can see them moving from tyre to tyre from here? if they are embossed into the rubber will they be in colour like the pretty picture and of course there will have to be half a dozen of them to cover all the information?

Grip, in my opinion, is far more important than fuel economy. What does the rating mean in real terms, anyway? Useless.

All very well, but surely, like me, most people buy tyres out of necessity and on price alone. Whilst I appreciate the need to protect the environment, I would sooner pay £60 a tyre than £150 for a higher efficiency one. I can't believe the fuel saving over the life of a tyre is £90?