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Reading a tire
How to read the sidewall of your tire?
There are several markings on a tire, but each one refers to something very specific. To better understand, see the illustration below.
Markings pertaining to size:
For example: « P185/75R14 »
P: Passenger car tire
185: Tire width measured in millimetres (from sidewall to sidewall)
75: Aspect ratio - ratio of the height of the tire's cross-section to its width (%)
R: Construction - radial
14: Wheel diameter (in inches)
What does the “DOT” marking mean?
DOT stands for Department Of Transportation. It means that the tire complies with all applicable Transport Canada safety standards and is authorised to be used on the road. The serial number is unique and includes the manufacturing date and the manufacturer code.
What does UTQG mean?
Some dealers and consumer magazines mention UTQG grades. These initials stand for "Uniform Tire Quality Grading", a standardized quality system developed by the American Department of Transportation (DOT). This system has been created to inform consumers on the performance level of passenger car tires in terms of tread wear, traction and resistance to heat.
A UQTG grade looks like this: 150 A B
The number 150 indicates the tread wear grade, the first letter (A) specifies the traction grade while the second letter (B) refers to the temperature rating.
Each tire manufacturer assigns its own grades to its tires. That is why the UQTG grade is only valid to compare tires of the same brand. It cannot be used for comparisons between different tire manufacturers. The UQTG grade is only a comparison tool for tire selection and should not be used as the only reference.
Understanding tread wear?
The tread wear grade is a comparative rating based on a tire wear test conducted in controlled conditions on a road designed with government standards. For example, a tire graded 150 would wear out one and a half times (1.5) slower than a tire graded 100. However, the life expectancy of your tires depends upon the conditions of their use; there may be a significant difference between the actual wear of your tires and the UTQG rating. This could vary depending on your driving style, tire maintenance and type of roadway you drive on.
What are the traction grades?
Traction grades, from the highest to the lowest, are AA, A, B and C. They indicate the ability of a tire to stop a car driving on a wet surface. This test is conducted under controlled conditions on a government asphalt and concrete test track
WARNING: The traction grade is measured when breaking in a straight line; it does not provide any information on cornering grip.
A, B, C temparature grades
Temperature grades are A (the highest), B and C. They designate the resistance of a tire to heat build-up. This test is conducted in controlled conditions, on a specified indoor laboratory test wheel. Sustained high temperature can cause the materials of a tire to degenerate and reduce its life expectancy. Excessive temperatures can even lead to sudden tire failure. The grade C corresponds to the minimum performance required by the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety (standard No. 109). GradesA and B indicate higher levels of performance on the laboratory test wheel than the minimum required by law.
WARNING: The temperature grade is established for a tire that is properly inflated and loaded. Excessive speed, under-inflation or excessive loading, either separately or in combination, can cause heat build-up and possible tire failure.
How to choose the right tire?
The right tire size for your vehicle is the size of the original tires. This information can easily be found in your owner's manual or on a label that is usually affixed on the door pillar on the driver's side. This label also specifies the recommended tire inflation pressures.
If you change tires on a car or mini-van, it is recommended not to exceed ± 3% of the required diameter. For pick-up trucks and sports utility vehicles (SUV), a tire diameter up to 15% larger is generally taken into consideration in the vehicle design. Most tire sizes are can be calculated. At first sight, a 3% reduction or increase in tire diameter may seem restrictive. But, in most cases, this leeway allows a change in diameter of ± 3/4 inch. In other words, changes in size are possible and may provide advantages, but it is wiser to have these performed by your Mécanipneu representative.
Speed rating chart indicate the speed to which a tire will provide high performance.
The speed rating also stands the level of tires ride comfort, tread wear and cornering grip ability. Generally, higher is the speed rating, better are the grip and stopping power, but the tread life is shorter.
195/65R15 91H- The load index (91) is the numerical value assigned to the tire size, used to compare relative load capacity of the tire
The higher the tire’s load index number, the greater its load carrying capacity.
You can install tires with a load index equal to or greater than the Original Equipment but you can’t install tires with a lower load index.
The importance of proper tire inflation
Having the right air pressure your tires will allow you to avoid many problems while providing greater safety, better performance and longer lifespan
We recommend that you always check the air pressure in the morning or three hours after the vehicle has been stopped, when the tires are “cold”. Air pressure can be checked with a pressure gauge on a monthly basis. All tires including the spare must be checked. You should also take this opportunity to tighten the valve caps to avoid any leaks and to protect the valves from dust and dirt. Closely examine the tires for damages or excessive tread wear. Should you notice anything unusual, call your Mécanipneu representative immediately.
For the recommended tire pressure, refer to the tire information sheet which can usually be found on the side of the driver’s door, the door jamb, the glove compartment or the fuel flap.
Underinflated tires increase tread wear as well as fuel consumption. When a tire is not inflated sufficiently, the rubber bends and deforms, which could cause it to burst.
On its website, Transports Canada refers to a recent study which states that approximately 70% of vehicles in Canada have at least one tire that is over inflated or under inflated by at least 10%. In fact, the study reveals that 23% of vehicles at least one tire that was underinflated by 20%, which represents a real safety issue. A tire that is underinflated by 56 kPa (8 lb/in2) can decrease its lifespan by 15,000 km and increase gas consumption by 4%.
An overinflated tire is also a problem as only the center of the tread touches the ground. This means that the tire does not grip the road as well, causing greater wear on tires and suspension components as well as steering and braking problems.
The importance of regular rotation
Rotating simply means that each tire must be moved to a different position on your vehicle.
To ensure even wear on your tires, we recommend that you get your tires rotated regularly (every 10,000 – 12,000 km or as indicated in your vehicle’s maintenance manual). You will therefore be optimizing the tread’s lifespan.
Use your owner’s manual for the recommended rotation pattern. It is always simpler and faster to ask your representative to rotate your tires. At Mécanipneu, this service is completely free! Start using it today!
Tire purchasing guide
The best time to change your tires
When a tire wears out, even though its traction and performance on a dry surface improve, its performance under rain or snow is reduced. When there is only 2/32 inch of remaining tread depth, risks of aquaplaning at high speed considerably increase and traction on heavy snow is practically null.
If rain and wet roads are factors of concern, you should replace your tires when the tread depth lowers down to approximately 4/32 inch. Since water cannot be compressed, you need sufficient tread depth so it can escape through tread grooves. If water does not escape quickly enough, a water film forms between the tires and the roadway, causing hydroplaning and thus leading to loss of control.
If snowy roads are factors of concern, you should replace your tires when the tread depth lowers down to approximately 6/32 inch. Your tires need more tread depth during winter since snow is first compressed into tread grooves before being released by the driving force. If the tread depth is too low, the quantity of snow that could be stored into the grooves at each revolution will be so minimal that traction will be reduced. Since tread depth helps the tire adhere to snow, winter tires have deeper grooves that standard all-season or summer tires. Some winter tires have tread wear indicator bars moulded into the tread, indicating approximately 6/32 inch of depth.
How to choose your tires
The vehicle owner's manual or label affixed on the driver's door pillar specifies thetype and sizeof tires that are suited for your vehicle. Moreover, theclimateandroad conditionsof the area you live in, as well as your driving style, should influence your choice.
There now are different tire segments on the market:
- Entry-level tires
- Passenger-car tires meant for comfort
- Passenger-car tires with longer wear
- for performance on wet surfaces
- specifically for use on snow or ice
What you should know before buying new tires
Your vehicle’s year, make and model
This information gives the dealer an idea of the type of tire likely to best perform and give your vehicle the best traction.
The brand, model, size and type of your current tires
This information is found on the tire sidewall. Always refer to your owner's manual as well as your dealer before purchasing new tires. If your vehicle was not equipped with brand new tires, check all four tires to make sure they are identical. The previous owner might not have known as much as you in terms of tires.
Are you satisfied with your current tires?
Do you like the sound, road performance and look your tires give your vehicle? What would you change? Make a list of positive and negative points. This exercise will help your dealer find the best tire for you.
What do you expect from your tires when you’re driving?
Do you first and foremost aim for comfort, or do you want a tire designed to exploit the potential of your sports car? Maybe you’re looking for both, though it may turn out to be difficult. A tire designed for road comfort will not have as much traction as a high-performance tire. Likewise, a high-performance tire will not offer the same comfort as a tire designed specifically for comfort.
What weather conditions do you drive in during the year?
Are the roads you drive on mostly dry or generally wet? Do you ever drive in the snow? Do you live in a mountainous area? Are the roads often ice-covered?
What types of roads are you driving on?
Do you usually drive in town or on highways? Do you frequently drive on gravel or dirt roads? The answers to these questions can direct your dealer toward the tire with the best quality/price ratio which best corresponds to your needs.
How do you want your car to look?
Several "cosmetic" options are available to you: black tires, tires with white sidewalls, raised or contour white lettering.
What type of warranty do you want?
Several manufacturers offer a limited warranty protecting you against labour and manufacturing defects. Many tire dealers also offer warranties against road hazards for minimal additional fees. This warranty covers your tires in case of cuts or punctures caused by a blunt object. Your Mécanipneu representative can explain the details and restrictions of the warranty offered on different tires.
To ensure maximum performance and safety,the tire on each of the four wheels should be of the same size, make and model.. If you must absolutely combine different tires, some rules apply:
- Do not mix tires of different sizes.
- Avoid mixing radial tires with conventional tires (bias ply), especially on the same axle. Instead, install the two radials on the rear axle and the two non-radials on the front axle.
- Avoid combining tires with different purposes, such as all-terrain and all-season tires.
Switching from one tire brand or type to another
All new vehicles are sold with tires specified by the manufacturer. Dealers call these tires "Original Equipment" (OE). Even though these tires have been installed on your vehicle by the manufacturer, it does not mean they are the only tires suited for your needs. If you are the owner of an imported car, it can be difficult to obtain the same exact OE tires.
The vast majority of dealers have equivalency tables, facilitating the selection of the appropriate replacement tire. Of course, your representative will be happy to help you with your research.
Do not mix different types of tires
If you are replacing only one tire, make sure it is the same size and construction (radial or diagonal) as the other tire on the axle. Manufacturers use different materials and construction methods, so mixing several brands can lead to uneven wear as well as handling issues.
How to recognize a winter tire?
This marking, along with the letters M&S, is found on the sidewall of a winter tire. This means that the tire meets the grip requirements of the RAC* and the ARM** in extreme winter conditions.
For further information on the rules and regulations concerning the use of tires specifically designed for winter driving, visit theTransport Québec website.
*Rubber Association of Canada
**Association of rubber manufacturers
Why put silica in the composition of a tire?
- The integration of silica in some rubber provides the flexibility needed on ice in cold weather.
- Silica helps improve stability both on dry and wet surfaces which increases performance and traction.
Information on Michelin
- Michelin employs over 3,500 employees in Canada, making it the largest employer in the Canadian tire industry.
- - Around the world, Michelin annually invests over $664 million in research and development, which is the largest investment in the entire tire industry.