Car tyres are boring, right? Well, perhaps. I always thought so until someone pointed out, soon after I started driving, that the only thing keeping my car between the white lines on the motorway at 70mph were four postcard sized pieces of rubber (the contact patches the tyres make with the road).
Car tyres must work in very cold to hot temperatures, at high speeds, as well as wet and icy conditions. The tyre must grip well, yet wear slowly enough to ensure thousands of miles of life. They must also be damage resistant so that the various sharp objects they encounter do not cause the tyre to deflate.
Anyone going to buy new tyres will see that there's a vast difference in price from the budget to the premium products. Knowing what I know about what tyres have to do, I always ensure that I buy a good tyre for my car. I also replace them before the legal limit (1.6mm) is reached, as at the legal minimum tread, the tyres will be barely adequate in wet conditions.
When my latest tyres needed replacing (just over 2mm tread left), I found that the existing make was no longer available, but that an improved tyre was on the market. I bought two new front tyres (Continental Premium Contact 2), from etyres.co.uk (highly recommended, by the way) and got them fitted at home for an all in price of £64.90 each.
I have now travelled eight thousand miles on my tyres, so have significant experience in their use.
This is a quiet tyre; road noise is well controlled and not intrusive at all. Set at the recommended pressure (tip: always check your tyre pressure after new ones have been fitted, the fitter may have made a mistake), the ride is very comfortable even on the rough Cheshire roads they're subjected to every day.
Road holding is very good. When cornering hard in the dry, the tyres give excellent grip, keeping the car in contact with the road. I've had to brake suddenly several times, the car stops quickly without sliding (and without the ABS on my car kicking in, indicating that the tyre has not lost traction).
In wet conditions, this tyre gives real confidence in its grip. I've driven through relatively deep water at motorway speeds, with no sign of aquaplaning evident at all. When driving off, the traction can be defeated, but is still quite high. At no time, driving in the wet, at appropriate speeds, have I been worried that the tyre will let me down.
I have even tested the tyre on ice (I hate driving in these conditions). My driveway is on a slope; the previous tyres would not grip well at all. These tyres give more grip than other tyres I've used, enabling me to get on my drive without 'fish tailing'.
With the tyre having good grip, I expected the wear to be high (reasoning that soft rubber = good grip = excessive wear), but I've been proven wrong. After 8000 miles, there's much more than half of the original tread left; I estimate a life of around 18,000 - 20,000 miles on the front of my car (it's a front wheel drive model, the tyres will last a lot longer on the back).
This is a mid to high priced tyre. Etyres.co.uk had budget tyres available from £49 for my car. I think that buying such cheap tyres is a false economy and possibly dangerous. It's important that those four postcard sized patches of rubber are as good as they can be. The Continental Premium Contact 2 is an excellent performer and can be highly recommended.
Shorter braking distances for luxury and medium-sized cars.