EU Retreads Tire Labels

Martin Schwoerer
by Martin Schwoerer
eu retreads tire labels

The other day, I told my mechanic I needed winter tires, and asked for a recommendation. “I’ll get you some Dunlops, they’re not bad, and cheaper than the Uniroyals you had last time.” When I asked him about rolling resistance and about tire wear, he looked at me like I was stupid, and repeated: “They’re pretty good tires”. So I looked at some car sites in the Internet, gave up after about five minutes, and ordered the Dunlops. Does buying tires have to be a “trust the guy in the greasy overall” event? The EU Commission (the executive branch of the European Union) says no, and intends to introduce new rules for labelling tires. The tire industry agrees that yes, change is probably necessary, with some qualifications, under certain conditions…

But back to the proposed rules. Tires would be stamped with a “A” to “G” label (isn’t “F” bad enough?), for their performance in three categories: rolling resistance, braking performance, and noise. That means that consumers can decide by themselves which tires fit their own criteria. Any objections from the green side? I spoke with Nina Renshaw of the European Federation for Transport and Environment, a lobbying group. She said, “this initiative is a great first building-block. It is complementary to planned standards which will improve tire noise and CO2 performance, but of course it doesn’t replace standards.”

It’s good to see that green activists think the consumer is a part of the solution. And the industry? Continental, a major European producer of tires, has filed a kind-of protest against the new rules. Their complaint: since the labels are based on self-certification, who will oversee the process, and who will prevent cheap imports from lying about how good their tires are? Yes, we live in strange world. A company from an industry that frequently says it wants less government intervention and less stringent standards is asking for… a tire-labelling police. One more (not quite related) wish: why can’t the DOT drop its obscure date-of-production labelling system? How many consumers know that the code “2599” means a tire was made in the 25th week of 1999? Why not something simple, such as “June-1999”?

Join the conversation
2 of 12 comments
  • Subifreak Subifreak on Nov 28, 2008

    I agree to go to & one should better educate themself before walking in blind to your local mechanic or dealership. There is a vast selection of different winter tires to choose from (is ice traction more important to you or deep snow traction?) One problem I have with winter rubber is that there are no rules for putting on a UTQG rating on the sidewall....I'd perfer to have a winter tire with a longer treadlife personally. Having said that, Michelin has a new winter tire out called the X-Ice Xi2 that is suppose to have 75% longer wear life compared to the Bridgestone Blizzak of the most popular choices for consumers. More info on the tirerack website & Fewer folks do better winter tires than the Finn's though - Nokian's. I disagree to ever putting only 2 winter tires on your vehicle however front or will screw up the handling characteristics of your vehicle especially during an emergency maneuver.

  • TireGuy TireGuy on Nov 28, 2008

    Having been about 10 years in the industry: it is well known that the tire dealer will recommend to you the tire brand on which he makes the most profit. You cannot rely on his recommendations fully. This is why tire manufacturers spend money on advertising: that you go to the dealer with a set mind. In any case, the tests from Stiftung Warentest or ADAC are the most reliable. And I would prefer them over some kind of labelling, since the different categories you mention have different weight in choosing a tire. Allowing self certification in my view would be stupid. Same as letting banks pay for the rating of rating agencies. We have seen the results. Finally: mixing summer and wintertires is a deadly idea. You will have different traction on front and rear and, unless you have ESP, may just start skidding once you brake. And as a very final point: Continental simply is the best winter tyre manufacturer of them all - proven continuously over many years.

  • CoastieLenn They absolutely should.
  • Arthur Dailey Thanks for the clarification.@JeffS has nicely summarized most of my original comment.I greatly dislike the 'touring' light treatment. It seems like we all do. This generation of Mark is too short to pull off the continental hump and fake engine vents. With them the proportions look odd.As Corey so nicely put it 'disco was dead and so was its car'. Successive generations generally reject the vehicles that their parents drove (or drove them around in). And as the children of Boomers grew, the Boomers gave up their PLC's and rather than turning to station wagons to transport their growing brood turned to the newly available minivan.And the generation behind them, rather than aspiring to a PLC, instead leased 'German driving machines'.
  • SCE to AUX "Toyota has dropped a pic of the next Tacoma on Instagram."This is why the splashy auto show reveals are dead.
  • Sckid213 I feel like the Camry in Japan is what oddballs like the Kia K9 and Hyundai Eqqus felt here. Obviously those were higher-end vehicles than Camry, but they felt like they were in the wrong dimension here in the U.S.
  • FreedMike The Falcon was fast and temperamental. Is Ford sure this is what it wants to advertise?