Unless your car comes from the age of iron rims or inflates its tyres from a nitrogen cylinder then you will be among the vast majority riding on treaded rubber hoops filled with good old fresh air.
The tyres of today have made vast advances, especially since radial ply construction became popular during the 1950s. However, car makers will generally fit a tyre to new vehicles that suits the driving styles of typical buyers and minimises cost. It may not suit a driver’s particular needs so a vast after-market of suppliers now exists.
Many of the older-style vehicles insured through Enthusiast now have tyres that are very different in design and size from the original equipment.
Vintage models and other very old vehicles need tyres that must be sourced from specialist manufacturers through a small number of suppliers. These tyres can be considerably more expensive than mainstream rubber, however modern production techniques ensure longer life and better performance than was available 100 years ago.
What type of tyre your vehicle uses can affect whether some insurers will cover you at all and whether a claim might be declined or reduced if failure of an unsuitable tyre contributes to a crash.
Insurers will normally not cover tyres for accidental damage, even if the damage is caused by a road hazard, such as a large pothole. You may be able to claim your loss against the Authority responsible for that road but such action can often cost more in time and money than it’s worth.
The first step when considering a vehicle with tyres that differ from standard is to check the tyre ‘placard’. This is usually affixed inside one of the doors but may be in the spare wheel well or elsewhere. It will show the size, speed and load ratings of tyres fitted to the vehicle at the time of manufacture.
Then consult your local vehicle registration authority’s web-site, looking for the section in the Vehicle Inspection guidelines relating to Rims and Tyres. Some State authorities allow tyres to be a certain percentage wider or narrower than standard while others specify the allowable differences in millimetres or inches.
Despite most countries in the world adopting the metric system, the tyre industry uses a combination of metric and Imperial measurements. So, when you head to the tyre shop for a set of 245/55/17s, consider you are buying a tyre 245 millimetres wide with a height/width ratio of 55 percent and it will be fitted to a rim that is 17 inches in diameter.
Once you are satisfied that the wheels and tyres fitted are permissible, your troubles might still not be over. Some insurers will still not cover a car or commercial vehicle with legal rims and rubber because they differ from standard. What to do?
For a start, come to Enthusiast Insurance first. Enthusiast specialises in cover for all kinds of modified vehicles and all modifications permitted by registration authorities are acceptable under the Enthusiast Drive Less – Pay Less’ policy. Pay a visit to www.enthusiast.com.au and click on Quick Quote.