Tires play a major role in the safe operation of your vehicle. It’s therefore imperative that you constantly monitor the condition of your treads to ensure that recommended grip levels are maintained at all times. Also, when tire shopping always fit tires as specified on the owner’s handbook. I can easily sum up that your overall safety is determined by your driver skills and the health of your tire. Allow me to expound.
Not everyone has the driving skill set of Sebastian Vettel or Dani Sordo. the overall safety of the vehicle entirely depends on your inherent ability to control your car on varied surfaces. To put you in perspective, assume you are driving a tiny run-around vehicle like a Mazda Demio, fitted with standard tires. It would be futile to fit Pirelli P Zero high-performance tires, as the Demio doesn’t require high levels of grip. The same case applies to fitting cheap Chinese treads on an ear-splitting Subaru WRX STi sports car.
The key factors one should consider when purchasing a tire is how it performs during wet and dry braking, handling abilities and tread life. Price should be at the bottom of your list, as your life is more valuable than the cheapest tire you can find.
As a general rule always use the recommend tires as stipulated in the owner’s handbook. During an emergency, use of original tread may be the difference between life and death.
It’s important to choose tires that are suited for local conditions, as our levels of humidity, temperatures, and quality of our road surface differ greatly from Europe or Japan.
In as much as we all love how low-profile tires, sanity must prevail as our pothole-ridden roads have no mercy for the weaker sidewalls. High profile tires with stronger sidewalls are recommended, as the tire is designed to absorb the bumps and ruts without essentially damaging the radial.
Deep treads and grooves increase the tire contact surface area and in turn, aids in mitigation of aqua planning. My Mombasa road incident was brought about by shallow tread depth and subsequently, when I braked on the slippery surface, the grooves were unable to channel away the water from the contact surface.
Better mileage is achieved through low rolling resistance, which is realized by good tread design, casing shape, materials, and construction. Competent tire manufacturers work closely with vehicles to achieve the best balance between safety and fuel economy. My top pick includes Michelin, Bridgestone, Pirelli, Good Year and Continental in that order.
In summary, be careful not to change the tire size without expert advice. Your vehicle manual stipulates what tire best suits your model.
As we experience the rains, remember to stay safe and alert on the road. But more importantly, choose your rubbers carefully.