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Does your car have the wrong tyres?
WHEN was the last time you wore your Manolos to go jogging? Chances are, never (unless the loss of some bet was involved). By the same token, it's just as easy to have the wrong tyres fitted to your car.
The problem is, unlike shoes, which come in all shapes, materials and patterns, tyres are pretty much all round and black. But that doesn't mean they aren't as different from one another as, say, tennis shoes are to hiking boots. And as cars themselves have widened in variety, tyre manufacturers have had to keep pace.
Sport Utility Vehicles (SUVs) have become the industry's fastest-growing segment, for example, and now account for more than one-in-three new cars sold in Singapore.
While these cars typically don't have much true mud-slinging ability (which makes off-road tyres the wrong choice for them), they do have characteristics that have led tyre companies to launch specific tyres for them.
Existing SUV-specific tyres include Bridgestone's Alenza and Italian brand Pirelli's Scorpion series.
Yokohama has recently launched the BluEarth RV-02. The Japanese tyre brand makes even more of a distinction here, saying the new tyre is designed specifically for Compact Utility Vehicles (CUVs) and Multi-Purpose Vehicles (MPVs). An especially popular subset of SUVs, CUVs (or crossovers, as they're also known) are smaller, less expensive, and more car-like.
Tyre companies point out that because of their space-maximising designs, SUVs and MPVs tend to be noisier and heavier than sedans or hatchbacks. They usually sit higher above the road, too, and that can put additional strain on a tyre's sidewalls (the part with all the numbers and markings on it) during cornering.
Yokohama says the RV-02 tyre uses various technologies that suit those characteristics. Its tread is designed to minimise noise, for starters.
The tyre's underlying structure (only a third or so of a tyre's weight is actually from the soft rubbery stuff on the outside) is built to withstand the forces that crossovers and MPVs are subjected to. The tyre even wobbles less than a sedan's tyre would, which helps it to last longer. One driver says that road noise was "a lot less" in his Honda HR-V once he made the switch to SUV-specific tyres. Creative director Teah Sze Yoong, 32, says he went through two sets of tyres for his Honda before trying out Yokohama's RV-02 on a friend's recommendation.
Apart from the quieter ride, the new tyres brought other benefits. "I was also impressed by the steering response and cornering stability," says Mr Teah. As anyone who has hit the running track knows, having the right footwear can make all the difference.