The painful and pricey task of buying car tyres should become easier with the launch of a new online comparison service.
Motokiki promises to simplify the process, allowing motorists to pick replacement tyres based on their efficiency and performance as well as price and the location of a fitter.
The website has been co-founded by Debra Williams, a former chief executive of Confused.com, the first of the UK’s online motor insurance comparison services.
To check your tyres, try the 20p test. Push the coin into the tread and if the outer rim disappears the tyre is legal. If it is still showing then it is time to buy a new one
Williams is applying the same ‘whole of market’ concept to tyre and fitter choice as Confused does for insurance and she says the aim is to improve the ‘highly stressful’ buying experience.
There are plenty of pitfalls to consider when replacing tyres. Many people are unaware that if they buy their cars on finance they must use approved tyre makes. The same rule can also apply for the period a motor is under a manufacturer’s warranty. Williams says: ‘You could get a hefty bill for not returning a car on a finance deal with the correct tyres.’
Motorists often buy new tyres based on price alone – ignoring other issues such as noise level, fuel efficiency and performance in wet weather.
Most people go to their nearest fitter to get tyres changed and never know whether it represents the best choice or price. Often a more expensive tyre saves money over the long term because it is more fuel efficient.
There are online tyre replacement services available already such as BlackCircles and Lovetyres. But they select from their own stock of tyres – and you need to tell them the size in advance.
Motokiki promises to simplify the process of buying car tyres, allowing motorists to pick replacement tyres based on their efficiency and performance as well as price and the location of a fitter
With Motokiki, owners tap in their car registration number which re- veals a picture of their motor with a list of permitted tyre sizes. By giving their postcode details, they get a list of the nearest fitters and those prepared to come to you.
The website also reminds buyers whether they might need to consider the issues of warranties or financing before making their choice. Key details about the tyres on sale via the website are provided, including fuel efficiency, wet grip performance and external noise levels.
The first two are graded from A to G (with A the best) and noise is shown by a three-wave icon (similar to the wi-fi symbol). A single bar is the quietest and three bars the noisiest, which meet the current legal maximum of permitted decibels.
Motokiki says tyres lose energy when they are moving, causing so-called ‘rolling resistance’ which can use up as much as 20 per cent of a car’s fuel. By switching from a G to an A grade tyre a motorway driver could save nearly £90 a year in fuel costs while an inner city motorist driving at lower speeds could save nearly £150. Keeping tyres properly inflated is also key to extending their life.
According to the RAC, car owners should get at least 20,000 miles out of their front tyres and double that from the rear. But it depends on the quality of tyre, condition of roads used and the driving style of the vehicle owner
Watch out for cowboy operators that sell bargain-priced used tyres. With the price of replacing four tyres often running into several hundred pounds, it can be tempting to fall back on these operators. But bargain basement fitters often store stock incorrectly or, worse, peddle tyres with dangerous bulges or chunks taken out of them.
Road safety group Tyre Safe regularly highlights the issue of part-worn tyres. A thousand people a year are killed in accidents resulting from defective or under inflated tyres. Tyre Safe also wants it to be made compulsory for retailers and fitters to point out the efficiency labels to customers – so they know what standard of tyre they are purchasing.
According to the RAC, car owners should get at least 20,000 miles out of their front tyres and double that from the rear. But it depends on the quality of tyre, condition of roads used and the driving style of the vehicle owner. Unnecessary weight can take its toll on tyres. By removing roof racks and emptying boots of heavy clutter tyres will last longer and save on fuel.
Motorists with tyres worn beyond the legal minimum can face a fine of £2,500 per tyre – plus three points on their licence. If all four fail that could mean a £10,000 fine and the risk of disqualification. Insurers may also reject any accident claim if tyres are found to be beyond the legal minimum. To check your tyres, try the 20p test. Push the coin into the tread and if the outer rim disappears the tyre is legal. If it is still showing then it is time to buy a new one.
Alternatively, use a credit card – employing the outer rim nearest the magnetic strip as the gauge. You can also purchase a special gadget for the job. An Analogue Tread Depth Gauge costs £5 at Halfords.