Tyres. We all know cars need them, and that there have to be four, one at each corner. And most of us also know that we should test the tread depth and tyre pressures regularly and inflate them if required.
Is there really anything else to add? Well, yes there is. From November 2012 new EU legislation is being brought in which means that all new tyres (with a few exceptions, such as racing or vintage tyres) sold in the EU must carry a special label giving information about their various qualities.
Now the phrase 'new EU legislation' is guaranteed to make most people, myself included, sigh and think to themselves 'oh no, what pointless piece of time-consuming bureaucracy do I have to deal with now?'.
But I certainly don't think that on this occasion. This is a really positive step forward in helping motorists make the best choices for themselves and their cars.
It's a bit like how we all used to think that one fridge or freezer was pretty much the same as another and that all that really mattered was whether or not it would fit into the designated space in the kitchen and if there was enough room for all the fridge magnets and children's artwork that would get plastered all over it. Then new guidelines came in which meant that fridges and other white goods would get energy efficiency ratings so that you could take that into consideration when buying and get the fridge that would be best for your electric bill and the planet as well.
Tyre labelling is a similar setup, but is even more tailored to the consumer in that rather than there being just one criteria (energy efficiency), there are three. The ratings are A-G, with A being the highest performing and G the lowest.
Wet grip - this relates to the tyre's ability to stop a vehicle quickly on wet roads
Fuel efficiency - this is important to help both save on fuel and reduce Co2 emissions
Noise - this is the external noise produced by the tyre. It's not a criteria that would affect the driver themselves but is a factor in road noise experienced by people living near motorways.
When it comes to choosing your tyres, it's not just a case of thinking 'oh, I'll go for a top-of-the-range A' as the tyres have different qualities which make them suitable for different types of driving. For example, if a tyre is rated A for wet grip it's likely to have a lower rating for another quality. By talking to your HiQ garage mechanic about your car and the sort of driving you do you'll be able to work out what tyres are right for you.
Really, it's all about savvy shopping. With money tight for most of us, we're getting more into comparing energy and phone deals, going for healthy but good-value groceries and and grabbing fashion bargains. But to get a good deal you have to understand the product and how it fits in with your life and family - and Tyre Labelling will help you do just that!