Consumers can compare when buying tires

Hundreds of millions of passenger car tires are replaced with new ones in the EU every year. For the upcoming changing season, DEKRA’s tire experts recommend taking a look at the EU tire label, which provides important information about the tires, before making a purchase.

  • The only label which enables a meaningful comparison
  • Big differences between different models
  • Wet grip is an essential safety criterion

“The EU tire label is the only uniform and therefore comparable label for all tires. Consumers can use it to better assess each tire in terms of safety, environmental aspects and consumption based on the three criteria of wet grip, rolling noise, and rolling resistance,” explains Christian Koch, tire expert at DEKRA. Further pictograms provide information about suitability on snow and ice.

Differences of up to 30 percent
Similar to the EU energy efficiency labels familiar from electrical appliances, the tire label, which has been updated in 2021, classifies the performance of tires on a scale from A to E, for example. The EU expects the label for car and truck tires to reduce CO2 emissions by around 10 million tons.

With wet grip, the label sheds light on an important criterion for driving safety. “The difference between class A and E tires can be as much as 30 percent in this respect,” Koch explains. In the best tire rating (Class A), a passenger car achieves a braking distance that is up to 18 meters shorter than a vehicle with Class E tires in an emergency braking maneuver from 80 km/h. Where one car with Class A tires is already stationary, the other is still traveling at 50 km/h – with a correspondingly higher accident risk.

Up to 0.5 liters less fuel consumption
The fuel efficiency and rolling resistance category is all about the environment and consumption. With tires classified in class A for this criterion, a vehicle has a consumption advantage of up to 7.5 percent compared to class E tires. For a passenger car with an average consumption of 6.6 liters, this means a saving of up to 0.5 liters per 100 kilometers.

“However, this positive effect only occurs if the prescribed tire pressure is maintained,” Koch reminds us. “The inflation pressure must be adjusted to the manufacturer’s values when the tire is cold. An inflation pressure that is too low leads to high rolling resistance on all tires. If it is significantly lower, it is at the expense of mileage and structural durability. This can lead to the destruction of the tire.”

The EU tire label also creates more transparency in terms of external rolling noise. It indicates the noise value in decibels and differentiates here between the three classes A to C. The quietest tires (class A) are those with the lowest noise level. The quietest tires (Class A) are more than 3 decibels (dB) below the stricter 2016 EU limit, while Class B tires comply with it or are up to 3 decibels below it. Class C tires comply with the current noise limit. A sound level 10 decibels higher is perceived as about twice as loud.

Good sources of information
In addition to the brand, size, type designation and class of the tire, the EU label for winter tires also includes the “3 Peak Mountain Snowflake” symbol, which certifies that the tire has a minimum grip on snow and ice. A QR code at the top right of the label leads to the tire’s product data sheet, which is available online.

“The criteria listed by the EU tire label are important, but customers should be aware that they do not cover all tire performance characteristics. For example, aspects such as behavior on dry roads, driving stability, lateral guidance or durability are not taken into account,” explains DEKRA tire expert Koch. “In addition to the tire label, tests in trade journals or by automobile clubs are a good source of information. Here we recommend paying less attention to the overall result and more attention to the individual evaluation criteria, especially those which are relevant for driving safety.”