Online tyre shoppers urged to make safety their first priority


29thMay09As online shopping continues to boom, motorists looking to online retailers for their next pair of tyres are putting their safety at risk by selecting tyres with a lower speed symbol than recommended for their car.

Traditionally, many motorists bought tyres at their local garage when they were due to be replaced, however, with instant price comparisons, loyalty point schemes and fitting offered at multiple tyre fitting centres around the country, buying tyres online is becoming an increasingly attractive option.

With safe vehicle handling largely dependent on using the right type of tyres for the car, TyreSafe is urging motorists to consider that selecting tyres of the recommended size, load index and speed symbol is essential to safe driving.

“When shopping for tyres, many motorists hold the misconception that their choice of speed symbol should be determined by how fast they drive,” comments Stuart Jackson, chairman, TyreSafe.

“The reality is that a tyre’s speed symbol is not just a measure of the tyre’s maximum speed capability, it also provides an indication of overall performance, even at lower speeds. While many motorists may be feeling the pinch in the current economic climate, we would encourage them not to compromise on road safety.”

“Driving on tyres with a lower speed symbol than recommended may seriously compromise vehicle handling, putting the driver and other road users at risk. It could also cause irreversible damage through exaggerated wear or sidewall cracking.”

A tyre’s speed symbol is denoted by a letter and appears immediately after the load index on the tyre sidewall. The speed symbol not only indicates the tyre’s maximum speed capability at its maximum load, it is also an indicator of the tyre’s overall performance capability. The load index corresponds to the maximum weight a tyre can support when inflated to the manufacturer’s recommended tyre pressure.

Tyres with a higher speed symbol are designed with a more resilient tread and sidewall structure in order to retain their rigidity when a car is accelerating, braking or cornering. They are better able to accommodate the power of the engine and its acceleration capacity, as well as the load of the vehicle and its braking system, than a lower speed rated alternative.

Leading online tyre retailers recommend that when searching for tyres online, motorists should first check the exact size, speed rating and load index recommended for their car by the manufacturer by consulting their vehicle handbook or contacting a tyre expert.

Most retailers offer advice and answers to frequently asked questions via their websites, and allow a cool-off period of at least seven days for exchanges or refunds.

For further information on tyre safety, please visit

TyreSafe is a not-for-profit organisation dedicated to raising awareness of the importance of the dangers of defective and worn tyres. TyreSafe has campaigned consistently to underline the importance of tyre safety for more than 15 years and was rewarded with the Prince Michael International Road Safety Award in 2001.

TyreSafe receives positive support from many major tyre manufacturers and retailers, and has been credited with reducing the number of defective tyres in the UK over the past decade from 18% to 12%.

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