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Can noisy cheap tyres cost you money?

Noisy tyres

One of the criteria people often look for in a new car tyre is the level of road noise which can be expected.  Fortunately for those looking for tyres online from companies such as Avatyre, the European standard rating “pictograms” give a pretty good idea what to expect from your new tyre’s performance levels in terms of its wet-weather stopping distances, fuel economy and external noise levels. 

The representation of how quiet or otherwise you can expect your new tyre to be is shown in two ways.  Firstly it’s shown in terms of its measured performance given in decibels (dB).  72dB is considered to be a reasonable figure and will be the benchmark for the new European standard level for tyre road noise.  Secondly, it’s shown pictorially in terms of one, two or three “sound waves”.  Three waves shows that the tyre meets the present noise limit regulations, but falls short of the new requirements.  Two waves shows compliance with the new requirements while a single wave shows that the tyre beats the new standard by at least three dB.

So how does a noisy tyre end up costing you money?  Well, I can tell you a true story (I know it’s true because it happened to me!) of how a noisy cheap tyre can be more than just an uncomfortable nuisance on a longer journey.

An expensive lesson

A few years ago, I put my trusty Ford Mondeo up for sale on a well-known car selling website.  It was in pretty good nick with moderate mileage for the year and, after doing a little internet research, I was reasonably confident of making around £2,500 for it.  I’d recently had it MOT’d and it had needed a couple of new tyres on the front wheels.  As I was intending selling it, I hadn’t been too fussy about which tyres were fitted, opting for the cheapest budget tyre the garage had in stock.

By the time I was ready to advertise the car for sale, I noticed a slight whining noise from the front wheels.  I suspected a worn bearing and asked the garage to look at it again.  The mechanic could hear the noise but the bearings showed no sign of wear, nor was any other fault which could have explained the noise readily apparent.

The first prospective purchaser turned up, liked the car and took it for a test drive.  He commented on the excessive road noise, prevaricated for a while and said “I’ll get back to you” – well, you know what that means!

It was the same story with the next few punters who either walked away or offered way below the asking price.  I tried reducing the price by a few hundred quid but still no luck.  In desperation, I consulted the garage again.  The mechanic still couldn’t find a problem and asked his boss to take a look.  As a last resort, they swapped the front and back wheels over to see if that made a difference.  The problem was revealed immediately and a new (different) tyre cured the problem instantly.  The result was that I was out of pocket for a replacement tyre and, having lost the chance of an early sale, ended up compromising by around £400 on the car’s value.  All in all, an unsuitable (and very noisy) purchase which I’d chosen simply because it was a cheap tyre, ended up costing me around £500.

The moral of the story is that it really does pay to look carefully at your tyre’s performance rating.  Choosing your new car tyres online carefully really can end up saving you money.