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Decoding Car Tyres

5 min read
Do you know the type of tyre tread that works best for your car and driving needs? Would you be able to tell when it is time to change your car tyres? If you’re unsure, then read on.

Have you been shopping around to replace your car’s tyres and are confused by terms such as “All-weather”, “Touring” or “Performance”? These tyre types get their classification from the tread design on them. Tread design is a key aspect of a tyre, and each tread pattern is designed for different driving styles and road conditions.

The three common tread patterns are symmetrical, directional and asymmetrical.

Symmetrical tyres are the most common type of tread pattern. They are suitable for most passenger cars and are not meant for high-performance use. Generally found on all-weather tyre types, the tread pattern of these tyres repeat on both halves of the tyre. The tyres are particularly quiet and provide good roadholding and a smooth drive on dry road conditions. The lower rolling resistance helps reduce fuel consumption and also extends the lifespan of the tyres. They are also cost-efficient and provide car owners the most flexibility for tyre rotation without affecting day-to-day performance.

Asymmetrical tyres have different tread patterns on each half of the tyre, and are most often found on touring-class tyres. Each pattern side serves a different purpose. The inner side usually helps with water displacement and provides good aquaplaning protection; the outer side gives you good grip, especially in cornering and on dry surfaces, providing the best of both worlds. This combination is especially popular for use on performance-based consumer vehicles. Tyre rotation may be a little tricky, only allowing for vertical rotations. This means the front tyre should be rotated with the same side as the rear tyre. Switching sides from, say, the front left to rear right will render the benefits of the tread useless.DIRECTIONAL TREAD PATTERN TYRES
If you are looking for great performance in rainy conditions, directional tread pattern tyres do the job. Popular on performance-class tyres, these have lateral grooves that meet in the middle, resembling arrowheads. This pattern formation displaces water very effectively, and offers very good aquaplaning protection. They also have very good road holding capability, making them ideal for ultra-high performance vehicles, though they can be pretty noisy. When it comes to tyre rotation, they have the same issues as asymmetrical treads, only doing vertical rotation and not crisscross rotation.

Avoid mixing tread patterns, brands or sizes on your car. Keep to one type, brand and size to achieve optimal performance for that tyre’s characteristics. If you need to replace your tyres, it is a good idea to replace all four tyres at the same time. This will eliminate any difference in grip between the new and old tyres.

Not sure if your current tyres need changing? Check the tread depth to make sure they are not too worn out. The Land Transport Authority requires all vehicles here to have a minimum tread depth of 1.6mm. An easy way is to look for the tread wear indicator bars, which are embedded at the 1.6mm mark on the tyres. When the tread is flushed with these bars, it’s time for new tyres.  But it’s important to note that tyres that are near or on the legal limit can be more susceptible to aquaplaning, owing to the fact there is less tread depth to allow for water dispersion. For example, a tyre with 1.6mm of tread will not perform as well as one with 3mm when confronted with a road that may have 2mm of water on its surface.

Look out for cuts, tears or blisters on your tyres. These could be the result of driving on roads in poor conditions, such as those that have lots of potholes or debris. Scuffing your tyres on the curbside or under-inflated tyres can also damage the sidewall of the tyres. Even if they look minor, over time, the internal tyre structure could be compromised and cause a blowout, posing a danger.

As a rule of thumb, if you experience any vibrations or hear unusual sounds coming from the tyres, it is best to have them inspected immediately. These symptoms could signify anything — from damage to the tyres or rims, to misaligned wheels. Don’t delay; get those checked out as soon as possible, and replace them where necessary.


Whichever type of tyres you have chosen to invest in, they are still vulnerable to punctures, so it would be wise if you also purchased this nifty product and stored it in the boot of your car — just in case. Available at all three AAShop outlets , the TireCare Revival Kit is

  • compact and light — weighs and takes up much less space than a spare tyre
  • easy to apply — fixes punctured tyres in less than 10 minutes
  • permanent — fixes punctures up to 10mm

TireCare is an advanced anti-puncture solution, designed to rapidly seal punctures permanently within seconds. It uses nano-fiber technology to seal the puncture permanently. Formulated to be eco-friendly and lab-tested (SGS-certified) to be free of substance of very high concerns (SVHC), TireCare is harmless to rims, tyres and TPMS. It also has a long shelf life of five years.

Here’s a how-to video.

Price: $168 for Members; $188 for Non-members