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It’s easy to avoid the traps when buying new tyres by learning what to look out for.
This step by step giude will de-mystify the tyre buying process for you.
Most people simply don’t know what to look for when buying tyres, and the most obvious is to make sure it’s not ‘New Old Stock”
Date Stamping
All tyres suffer degradation over time, even if they are not being used.
So clearly when you buy a new tyre you want it to be fresh.
If it’s been languishing in the warehouse for a couple of years- and that’s quite possible, then you don’t want it.
But how do you know?

It’s quite easy really, because every tyre sold in Australia has to be stamped with its date of manufacture on the side wall
All you have to do is locate the stamp, decipher the coding- that’s easy, and be assured you’re getting a new tyre.
In fact the trickiest task is to find the date code, as it’s printed on just one side of the tyre wall.
But once you’ve located it you’ll easily work out exactly which month and year the tyre was produced.

Whilst there are a series of ‘DOT’ numbers on both sides of the tyre wall you are looking for the date numbers at the end of the series.
In the example shown you can clearly see the numbers “1209′, and this is your key.
The first two numbers show the week of the year, and the second two numbers show the year itself.
So in this particular case the tyre was made on the twelfth week of 2009.
If the imprint said something like ‘2406’ it would denote that the tyre was made on the 24th week of 2006, so you would not want it fitted to your car as it is already three years old before it’s fitted.
Tyre Sizes Explained
When you need to buy a new tyre you have to give the dealer a long list of numbers and letters that probably mean nothing to you.
So let’s have a look at exactly what they mean.
In this example you can see a long list of numbers and letters. When we explain exactly what each one means you’ll see how really confusing it can be, even though some are simple.

P at the beginning is obvious as it simply means the tyre is for a passenger car.

The next series of numbers show the width of the tyre in millimetres, in this case 205mm.Again that’s pretty simple.

Now we get a bit more complicated with the ‘Aspect Ratio’.
This really means the height of the tyre wall. The lower the number the ‘thinner’ the tyre looks from the side.
The thinner it is at the side means that there is less ‘warping’ of the sidewall under load, which should give better handling characteristics. However, as there is less’ give’ it may result in a harsher ride.
Very low aspect ratio tyres can also cause problems on bad roads and will puncture more easliy.

The “R” simply says that it is a radial tyre, which is by far the most likely in passenger vehicles.

Then we come to an oddity- the rim diameter, which says ’16’ in this example.
So here’s the oddity- it’s in inches! That means that the rim diameter in 16 inches,( which, in fact is 40.64cm, but you won’t see it on the tyre).

Next we see a load rating. You must be sure you have the correct load rated tyre for your vehicle as it is, in fact, a legal requirement.
A placard, usually affixed to the inside of the driver’s door jamb will display the load rating for your vehicle. The higher number will allow a heavier carrying capacity.
Well, we’re almost there with just one letter to read, and that’s the speed rating.
This letter could range form ‘M’ to “Z’ with Z depicting the highest speed rating, and here, again, it’s a legal requirement to fit an appropriately rated tyre so again your supplier will help you decide what;s best for your vehicle.
When a Bargain is not a Bargain
From time to time we see ads on internet auction sites for really cheap tyres, they may be just that, but be careful.
Manufacturers produce tyres to different specs for different markets.
In the extremes of Northern Europe, for example, the tyre compound is softer than for the tropics.
So called ‘Grey Imports’  have been known to enter Australia nd be sold at very attractive prices. But if the compound is too soft, then they won’t last long in the heat of Australia.
So out advice is- don’t be tempted, by all means look for the best deal by shopping around but make sure you buy from a reputable dealer to ensure you get thre right tyre at the right price.