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What's Your Life Worth?
Member Name: kenjohn
Date: 12/07/06, updated on 27/12/06 (10269 review reads)
Advantages: Good grip in both wet and dry conditions.
~ ~ The tyres, along with the brakes, are two areas of car maintenance that nobody should ever try to save money on by purchasing inferior or cheaper components. My late father drummed this into me when I was only a wee fella.
ďThe tyres keep you on the road son, and the brakes stop you!Ē
Itís a lesson Iíve never forgotten, even if itís one that has cost me a fair bit of extra dosh down through the years, as I only use tyres and brakes from tried and tested manufacturers. Currently, my favoured tyres are Pirellis, although this often comes down to personal choice, and there are many other good manufacturers.
~ ~ So why do I prefer Pirelli tyres to many of their competitors?
I donít know if any of you remember a recent controversy in the USA back in 2000 where there was over 200 fatalities caused when the Firestone tyres on Ford Explorer SUVís failed during cornering, causing the drivers to crash and in many cases turn over the vehicle? On investigation this was found to have been caused by the tread on the tyre separating from the tyre body, which subsequently caused a catastrophic loss of control. I have to be a wee bit careful here, as many cases are still in litigation, with both Firestone and Ford frantically trying to shift responsibility onto each other in order to minimise the damages theyíll have to pay out. But one thing that is beyond dispute is that the accidents were all caused by tyre tread separation.
One almost sure way to prevent tyre tread separation is to use nylon ďcapsĒ or bands when making the tyre. These nylon bands are fitted over the steel belts which make up the thread on the tyre. They shrink when the tyre heats up in use, and tighten the grip that the steel belts have with the main body of the tyre. Theyíre in common use in Europe, but in the USA tend only to be used on high performance tyres.
~ ~ Pirelli were the first tyre manufacturers to use nylon belts, first introducing them on racing tyres as far back as the 1950ís. They now use them almost as a matter of course, and they are certainly on the two different sizes of Pirelli tyres that I currently use on my BMW 525, the Pirelli P4000 and the Pirelli P6000.
Itís a simple enough matter to check whether your own car tyres have these nylon bands fitted. If you read the bumph on the side of your tyre, itíll tell you somewhere how many steel belts and nylon bands are fitted. (You might have to look carefully, as itís usually fairly small print.)
This is one of the main reasons I purchase Pirelli tyres. Add to this the fact that theyíve been in the business of making top quality tyres around the world since 1872, have an outstanding safety record, and make tyres that are both safe and which last for ages.
~ ~ I currently have two different sizes of Pirelli tyres on my BMW, the P6000 and the P4000. They are slightly different in size, (5mm) the P4000ís measuring 225/65/15, and the P4000ís slightly smaller at 225/60/15. I inherited the P4000ís from my old Jaguar XJ6 which I sold back in January, 2006, when I ďtransplantedĒ my expensive Pirellis onto my BMW. Since then, two of the tyres have become worn, so I recently replaced them with the correct size of tyre for the car, the P6000ís. Itís OK to have slightly different sizes of tyre on your car by the way, so long as you donít mix different sizes of tyre on the same axle.
The two P4000ís clocked up around 29,000 miles when fitted to my Jaguar, and since then Iíve added a further 10,000 miles on my BMW. Thereís still plenty of tread left on the tyres, and I would estimate that I probably wont have to consider changing them for at least another 30,000 miles or so. Thatís good mileage from a car tyre in anybodyís language! If the P6000ís wear half as well then Iíll be more than happy.
~ ~ Pirelli claim that their ďPĒ series tyres (including the new P7 tyres) give excellent grip in wet conditions, and grip like leeches when accelerating, cornering and braking. I have no cause to argue with that statement. In all the time Iíve used them Iíve never at any time felt unsafe, Iíve never lost the car on a corner, and Iíve never even came even close to aquaplaning. (This is where the car ďskatesĒ over the surface of the water in wet conditions. Itís deadly dangerous!) Given the often wet weather we invariably suffer here in Ireland, it was important to me that I have tyres that performed well in wet conditions, and Pirelli are those tyres. Theyíre especially good when braking hard in the rain, and you can clamp down on the brakes in the knowledge that itís highly unlikely youíll go into a skid.
I have also been known to drive fairly quickly on occasion, (speed cameras not withstanding!) and these Pirelli tyres are speed rated for use up to speeds in excess of 145 mph! Not that I ever go THAT fast mind you (heh, heh) but itís comforting to know that the tyre isnít going to blow out on you at high speed, something that happened to me years ago on a motorway in Scotland and which frightened me half to death. (Luckily I didnít crash!)
Road noise is another factor. With some tyres itís very intrusive, and can become tiresome especially on a long journey. As Iím a taxi driver (among other things) I tend to spend countless hours in my car, and with the Pirelli tyres I never even notice any annoying road noise.
~ ~ Of course, thereís a price to pay for all of this. Pirelli tyres are not the cheapest on the market; in fact, theyíd probably rate as one of the most expensive. I paid Ä179 each for my two P4000ís, and Ä120 each for the P6000ís at my local (small) tyre fitter. (Free balancing) You might manage to get them a wee bit cheaper if you shop around at either the large tyre fitting shops or on the Web. But whatever price you pay you can rest assured that youíre driving around on tyres that one day just might be responsible for saving your life. And itís very hard to put a price on that! So think on the next time youíre considering buying that ďbargainĒ tyre from some unknown and unheard of manufacturer!
~ ~ Highly recommended.
© KenJ July 2006
Summary: Good grip in both wet and dry conditions. Excellent safety record.