FAQ about EU's new tyre label 

  

Ask about tyre labels from here. All questions we receive is treated with care and some of them are published for all to read. The text remains unedited except for the removal of names and contact information. 

General 

What is the purpose of the new EU tyre label?
The purpose of the new EU tyre label is to increase the safety of individual mobility and the transport industry, and to boost economic and ecological efficiency. For this reason, the use of tyres that are more fuel-efficient, safer, and quieter is encouraged. The purpose of the tyre label is to help the consumer make the right choice when purchasing tyres. 

How does the consumer benefit from the new tyre label?
The EU tyre label makes it easier to select new tyres in the European Union. The label guides consumers towards acquiring tyres that are of higher quality and, therefore, safer. The new label provides consumers, transport entrepreneurs, and tyre retailers with essential, standardised information on the tyre's safety (wet grip) and environmental effects (rolling resistance and external rolling noise). In addition to the three classes of characteristics, there are a number of factors related to safety, performance, and the environment that tyre developers take into account. When choosing tyres, the consumer must ensure that he/she is buying tyres that suit their driving conditions.

Where can I find more information about the new label?
Information is available from a number of different sources, such as the websites of tyre manufacturers and the European Commission http://ec.europa.eu/energy/efficiency/tyres/labelling_en.htm or from your tyre retailer. The actual classification values are available in the following locations:  the sticker attached to the tread of the tyre, a brochure located next to a tyre displayed in a store, the tyre manufacturer's price lists and websites, written tenders from the tyre retailer, and your receipt for a tyre purchase. 

When is the new label coming into use?
The EU tyre label will be required starting in November 2012. The new tyre labels apply to tyres for passenger cars, 4x4s, vans, trucks, and buses that are manufactured after 1 July 2012 and that are approved for road use. The labels do not apply to studded tyres, retreaded tyres, spare tyres, racing tyres, or tyres for vintage automobiles.

When can consumers see the new label information in concrete terms?
The new classification labels and values will be visible on the tyre manufacturers’ websites and presentation materials in July to August 2012. In tyre shops, similar information will be visible to the consumers starting in November 2012. If the tyres are on display for consumers, they must either have the classification label from the manufacturer attached to the tread, or the classification information must be available in printed form in their immediate vicinity. 

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Tyre characteristics 

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What do the characteristics tell the consumers?
Rolling resistance affects the vehicle’s fuel consumption and, therefore, it has a direct effect on the environment. Wet grip is an important feature in terms of safety, and it also provides information regarding the tyre’s braking power on wet surfaces. The tyre’s external rolling noise also affects the environment.

How much can the driver’s own activities affect the three characteristics listed on the EU tyre label?
The driver’s driving style and ensuring the correct tyre pressure are by far two of the most important factors related to safety and economically efficient motoring. By using the wrong driving methods and incorrect tyre pressure, a driver can easily lose any benefits that were achieved by selecting tyres with good wet grip or fuel efficiency characteristics. If the air pressure is low, the tyre wears out much quicker and its rolling resistance is increased; this also increases fuel consumption and carbon dioxide emissions. A responsible motorist is always aware of the characteristics and condition of his/her tyres. Only by knowing the vehicle and the tyres can a driver adjust his/her speed and safety distance to match the weather.

Why is it important to achieve certain classifications?
The EU tyre label will affect the tyre choices of consumers in the future. Good values will especially affect the purchase decisions for summer tyres. When discussing winter tyres, the classification can also be misleading. For example, the new tyre labels do not take into account the real winter conditions that are typical in the Nordic countries. In demanding and varying winter conditions, the most important safety characteristics for tyres are ice grip and snow grip. The wet grip rating for a tyre does not indicate how suitable the tyre is for the Nordic winter.

Rolling resistance affects the energy efficiency and thereby the carbon dioxide emissions of the tyre. What does rolling resistance mean? 
Rolling resistance means the energy consumed by the transformation during the road contact of the tyre. The structure of the tyre and material choices can be used to affect the transformation and the energy required by it. For example, tyre temperature, tyre pressure, wheel load, tyre wear, and air resistance due to driving speed are some of the factors increasing energy consumption. A water cushion of 0.5 millimetres can also increase rolling resistance by 50%. Rolling resistance amounts to approx. 20 per cent of the vehicle’s fuel consumption. The lower the rolling resistance is, the lower the fuel consumption. By choosing tyres wisely and driving calmly, a consumer can effectively reduce the carbon dioxide emissions caused by his/her motoring. By using highly efficient class B tyres, a passenger car uses approx. 0.1 litres less fuel per 100 km than a class C tyre. 

What does a tyre’s wet grip mean and how can it be assessed?
Wet grip refers to a tyre’s ability to grip on wet surfaces. In practice, the concept of wet grip also involves shorter braking distance on wet surfaces, better handling, or more stable steering in wet weather. According to the new tyre label directive, the wet grip of a passenger car tyre can be tested in two ways. Both methods compare the tyre to a reference tyre or standard comparison tyre. The first test consists of braking on a wet surface. The second possible test is a so-called skip trailer test (friction value test) measuring the friction between the tyre and surface.

What are the effects of wet grip?
For summer tyres, wet grip is essential in terms of safety. It indicates the car's handling on wet roads. The new EU tyre label indicates the tyre's braking distance on wet asphalt from a speed of 80 km/h. For example, the difference between class A and class F in terms of stopping distance can be over 18 metres (four car lengths or the length of a full-size coach). The difference between adjacent categories is about one car length (3 to 6 m).

What is the significance of external rolling noise?
The difference between tyres that have received one or three sound waves in EU’s tyre labelling system is enormous. A tyre that received three sound waves can generate over six decibels more noise than a tyre that only received one wave. This means a noise level that is approximately four times higher. Tyre noise is always connected to a certain driving platform, since the road surface has a large effect on the noise generated by the vehicle. As an absolute value, the decibel reading is not very indicative of the noise level – in spring, for example, the asphalt is rough, and all tyres are noisy. 

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Testing and reliability 

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How are the characteristics in the tyre labels – fuel efficiency, wet grip, and external rolling noise – defined and tested?
The new tyre classifications are defined using carefully specified tests. Each tyre manufacturer is responsible for assessing and classifying its tyres. The self-assessment uses carefully defined test methods approved by the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNEC). Wet grip and external rolling noise are tested as outdoor tests under real conditions. Rolling resistance, indicative of the tyre’s fuel efficiency, is tested indoors using a test rig.

What should I do if I suspect that my tyre does not meet the requirements of the indicated category?
National authorities are responsible for supervising and enforcing the requirements. In Finland, for example, the supervisory body is the Finnish Transport Safety Agency, TraFi. The issue is of utmost importance in terms of the success and significance of the new tyre label. Only supervision can ensure that consumers, transport entrepreneurs, and tyre resellers are not misled. The goal is for no one to buy poor-quality tyres with many poor characteristics.

Do the tyre labels provide all the necessary information to simplify the choice of tyre?
The three criteria of the EU tyre label are a good starting point, and they are important in terms of the safety and eco-friendliness of the tyres. However, there are many other factors that you need to take into account when evaluating the performance of a tyre. These characteristics include tyre handling on wet and dry surfaces, grip on ice, the tyre’s aquaplaning properties, and wear durability. When Nokian Tyres develops a new tyre, it uses over 300 standardised tests.

Will tyres that achieve the best A rating in terms of both fuel efficiency and wet grip be introduced to the market immediately?
Yes, even though the new classification is challenging. A tyre will always be a compromise in terms of properties. Some tyre properties are nearly exact opposites; by improving one characteristic, you weaken the other. This is true for ice grip and wet grip in winter tyres, for example. 

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EU tyre label and winter tyres 

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How do the new tyre labels take into account winter tyres?
The tyre labels do not apply to studded tyres, but they do apply to studless winter tyres. For winter tyres, the tyre label should not be the only selection criterion; you should consult independent comparison tests or ask a tyre retail expert for assistance. The studless winter tyres, or friction tyres, for the Nordic countries are built for the Nordic road conditions, which are at times very slippery, and the ice and snow. Friction tyres built for Central European conditions heavily emphasise fast driving, at the expense of grip on ice.

Should I choose my winter tyre based only on wet grip? 
No. Wet grip is far from the most important safety aspect, especially in Nordic winter tyres. A winter tyre with good wet grip has poor grip on ice, and it is very often designed especially for the milder winter conditions in Central Europe. For winter tyres, the tyre label provides no added value for consumers who encounter actual winter conditions. Instead, it may be misleading and endanger traffic safety. Buying the correct tyres for the correct conditions is essential for safety.   

Where should a consumer look for reliable, versatile information to support their tyre choice?
The consumer should talk to professional sales representatives in tyre shops, read the marketing material and websites of the tyre manufacturers, and study the independent tyre tests of major motoring magazines that test dozens of different characteristics. When choosing tyres, the consumer must ensure that he/she is buying tyres that suit their driving conditions. 

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Information package concerning the EU tyre labels

The aim is to improve road safety, eco-friendliness, and economic efficiency by promoting the use of fuel-efficient and safe tyres that cause as little noise as possible.

Download information package