New tyre labelling laws were launched on Thursday November 1 and dealer service departments and other tyre retailers will have to make sure they are up to speed with the new legal requirements.
The tyre industry has been labelling each of the 35 million tyres sold annually in the UK to explain fuel efficiency, safety and external noise levels, in compliance with European Union directives since July.
From November 1, 2012 it is a legal requirement for franchised dealers to display the new label on all replacement tyres they offer. Service advisers must also be able to explain the label information to customers.
Fuel efficiency (rolling resistance) and safety (wet grip) will be categorised using a seven-grade ranking scale, with a coloured band similar to the new car CO2 labels. According to the Tyre Industry Federation, a top-ranked A-grade tyre could out-perform the lowest-ranked G-grade tyre by 30 per cent for safety and 7.5 per cent for fuel efficiency. This translates to a vehicle stopping three to four car lengths shorter from 50mph and an average fuel cost saving of around £100.
The information could potentially help dealers when they have to explain the costs involved in choosing or fitting more expensive tyres.
Educating drivers about tyre labelling should also give dealers a chance to remind customers about maintaining correct tyre pressures and regularly checking tread depth. These are services they could be provided through seasonal vehicle health checks. The message for the customer is that there is limited benefit in specifying a premium tyre with a good labelling rating, if the vehicle is subsequently driven on under-inflated tyres.
Paul Everitt, chief executive of Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders commented: "Before this label, customers only had price and brand to distinguish between more than 300 different types of tyres; now motorists have a set of comparable factors to make buying decisions easier."
The tyre label will apply to car and sports utility vehicle (SUV) tyres, van tyres and truck tyres but not to re-treaded tyres, off-road tyres, spare tyres or vintage car tyres.