A Guide to Buying a Tyre Online

Top Tips

What You Need to Know

  1. It’s very important to buy tyres suited to your car. Check the owner’s manual or the markings on the side of your existing tyres to find out the specification of the tyres you’ll need.
  2. Rotating your tyres every 5,000 miles will help them wear at an even rate. This will mean you can replace all four together. This is best for your car’s performance and can be cheaper.
  3. If you only replace two tyres at a time always put the newest tyres on the back axle. Never replace a single tyre.
  4. Though you do not need to replace your tyres with the exact same type your car was fitted with in the factory, you should not mix different tyres on the same axel.
  5. You should replace your tyres once they are down to about 2mm of tread depth. 1.6mm is the legal minimum.
  6. Buying a used or ‘part worn’ tyre can save you money, but you should be very careful to ensure they meet the legal safety requirements
  7. Make sure that extras such as delivery and fitting are included when comparing prices.

Buying a tyre online as opposed to from a tyre specialist or a dealership can be a great way to save money and gives you a wide variety of choice when buying a tyre. However, there are a few things it’s important to consider before you start looking to replace your old tyres. Our comprehensive guide is here to ensure you get a good deal;

Finding the Right Tyre

For your own safety it is vital that you only use tyres suitable for your vehicle. Having unsuitable tyres reduces the handling of your car and can even invalidate your car insurance.

If you are unsure, the easiest way to find out which tyres can be used on your car is to consult the manufacturer’s handbook that came with the car. This will tell you the size and specification of tyre you need.

Another easy way to find these details is to look at your existing tyres. Along the side of your tyre you will see a series of numbers and letters in a format such as this; 205/50 R17 W.

The first two numbers apply to the tyre’s width and side wall profile, the first letter indicates whether the tyre is ‘radial’ or cross ply, the following number is the diameter of the rim in inches and the final letter denotes the tyre’s speed rating.

It’s not important to know what all of these measurements mean particularly, but when buying a tyre online, you will normally be asked to provide them so you can see a range of tyres appropriate for your car.

Any tyres that fit these specifications are fine to use on your car. Many people believe they should buy tyres of the same brand that came fitted with it when they were buying a car. However, this is not the case and you can find tyres more suited to your driving for less money. For instance, if you only do the occasional school run, you could get a more durable tyre, with less performance at a cheaper price.

Replacing Old Tyres

It is important to check your tyres regularly and not allow them to run down completely before replacing them. By law, tyres must have a tread depth of at least 1.6mm. However, they should ideally be replaced as soon as the tread is worn down to 2mm.

If your tyre has any cuts and bulges or, gets punctured and cannot be repaired, it needs to be replaced.

Failure to replace tyres has been cited by the Vehicle and Operator Services Agency as accounting for around 20% of MOT failures.

It is best for your car’s performance if you replace all your tyres at once. This makes it less likely your car will pull to one side in corners or when breaking. As tyres wear at different rates it is advisable to rotate your tyres (swap them between the front and back axles) every 5,000 miles or so. This will allow you to maintain optimum performance and take advantage of the offers that occasionally come with buying four tyres at once.

However, if you’re not buying a full set of tyres, buy at least two and attach them to the rear axle, regardless or whether your car is front or rear wheel drive. This reduces the chances of your car spinning out if you suddenly swerve.

Never buy a single tyre or mix different tyres on the same axle. This will have a severe effect on handling. This is only acceptable when fitting the spare provided by the manufacturer.

Part Worn Tyres

Second hand tyres provide a cheaper alternative to buying new replacements. However, always be sure you are buying a safe product.

Under the Motor Vehicle Tyres (Safety) Regulations 1994, a part worn tyre must not have any lumps or tears, no unrepaired penetration damage or exposed cord and, as with any other tyre you’ll want at least 2mm of tread (1.6mm being the legal limit.) All part worn tyres should be branded as such, featuring the words ‘part worn’ on them.

Only buy part worn tyres from a reputable, professional source, bear in mind the risk involved and make your own thorough checks.

Other Buying Tips

You may want a friendly service and to speak to someone about what tyre is best for your car. You don't want too cheap or too expensive so you need a service you can trust, with over 225 locations in the UK The road safety organisation National Tyres and Autocare is place you can go, not only for tyres but for MOT testing and arrange of other vehicle services.

Many online sellers include the price of fitting, balancing, standard valves and VAT in the prices they use to advertise their tyres, however, some do not. When buying a tyre online don’t get taken in by a price that looks attractive but doesn’t include these extras.

Normally, when you buy a tyre online and pay for fitting you can select a garage near you, where you’ll go to and pick up the tyres and have them fitted. Ensure the site your buying from can arrange this to take place in a conveniently placed garage.

Some sites offer mobile fitting. This means they can deliver your tyres to wherever your car is likely to be at the time. So, you can ask for the tyres to be brought to your home, your work, in some cases even a multi-story car park, and fitted there and then. This can be an ideal solution if the tyres you want are not available locally.

Further Reading

  • The road safety organisation Tyre Safe has plenty of useful information for motorists that are planning to buy tyres online.
  • Car safety advice is available through the AA.
  • You can also learn more about buying motoring products for your vehicle by visiting the UK Net Guide dedicated page.

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