Write up - 2011 - Blandford Tyres

On the 16th November, the Group was pleased to welcome Mike Webb from Blandford Tyres, who was also accompanied by his Regional Area Manager.  Mike brought along with him a selection of different tyres, to show the members how tyres differ.  This practical demonstration helped to show the difference between budget rubber and tyres with values of up to four times the cost.  A quick summary: cheaper tyres tend to be made in China and while they offer reasonably good tread patterns for general use, they are a little behind the latest offerings on the market for performance tyres.


Cheaper tyres also tend to be constructed from a more basic rubber compound which is much heavier and harder.  The hardness of the rubber means that the tyres wear slower.  While you might be mistaken for thinking this is a good thing but it also means that generally the tyres are less grippy, and thus might fail to provide adequate grip at speed on some more demanding road surfaces.


Mike explained what the various numbers and letters on the side of a tyre meant.  He then went on to tell us that much more information is also available on the tyre wall, such as date of manufacture, and some information which is required by law in America, but not required in the UK.  An example of the lettering on the tyres which we would need to know, when ordering a replacement tyre, would be:  215 65 R 15 H

215 - width of the tyre in millimetres

65 - ratio of the sidewall height to the tyre width (%)

R - tyre of radial construction (otherwise crossply)

15 - rim diameter of the tyre in inches

H - speed rating of the tyre



As you can see, there is a variety of different measurements units used when specifying a tyre!


Mike then went on to talk about winter tyres, which in some parts of the world are a legal requirement to fit over the winter months.  Winter tyres are constructed with two major differences to that of summer tyres.  Initially they use a different rubber compound which includes a great percentage of natural rubber and silica so as not to harden as much as synthetic rubber in temperatures below about 12 degrees C, thus providing better traction at lower temperatures.  Winter tyres also provide more small-tread areas, which, once again, helps to improve traction in snow and in wet conditions enabling water to escape from under the tyre more easily, helping to reduce aquaplaning.


I am sure that all of our members know that the minimum legal tread depth of tyres in the UK is 1.6mm across a minimum of 3/4 of the tread width of the tyre.


Discussions then moved on to talking about checking tyre pressures and how this should best be done.  Easy you might think, just pop to the local garage which has a free air pump, and use their gauge.  However this comes with a couple of problems - there is no knowing quite how accurate the pressure gauges of ‘abused’ garage equipment might be.  The more major problem can be that by driving to the garage, the tyres have warmed up, and thus the pressure will be different to that when cold.  It should be noted that car manufactures always specify “cold” temperatures.  While tyre pressure gauges may not be super accurate, if all four wheels (or 3 for those of you with 3-wheelers) are checked with the same gauge, then the handling of the car should not be adversely affected.  Don’t forget the spare tyre too!


The most informative evening finished with a table full of goodies from Blandford Tyres - from metal valve covers, to ice scrapers and tyre depth gauges - no excuse not to be safe, and well prepared!

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