Car Care: Staying street legal
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New tyres and WOF rules: What you need to know
There are a number of regulations passenger vehicles must comply with concerning tyres to meet and pass a warrant of fitness (WOF) inspection.
For example, tyres on a passenger car first registered or reregistered in New Zealand from October 1, 2002 (other than a vehicle incapable of exceeding 30km/h or over 30 years old) must share the same carcass type. Carcass type refers to the construction makeup such as steel ply, fabric radial ply, bias/cross ply or runflat tyres.
Other reasons for a WOF rejection centre on mixing tread pattern types such as asymmetrical, directional and winter tyres if fitted.
For the majority of passenger cars and their owners, it’s all fairly straightforward come replacement time. Stick with the same size and type of tyre that’s already fitted, and road-legal, and you’re good to go.
There is no law that states you must use the exact same brand of tyre if not replacing all four tyres, so a little bit of mix and matching is acceptable.
Which means you could fit one new tyre which is a different brand from the others already fitted, provided it meets the carcass and tread pattern regulations. In fact, you could have four tyres fitted from four different manufacturers if you wanted.
At times owners don’t really get a lot of choice in what tyre brands are fitted to their vehicles. For example, the local tyre store may not stock, or be agents for, the original or aftermarket brand of tyre being replaced, or the replacement brand of tyre may be not available at short notice.
I was involved with a case recently where a vehicle which was sold brand new in NZ suffered from unrepairable tyre damage a couple of months after sale.
Fairly straightforward for the owner, you would think: just pop into the dealership that sold the vehicle and ask them to arrange to find an identical new tyre.
In reality, that was far from the case. The owner was initially told the brand of tyre fitted to their vehicle was not available in NZ and they had to be content with having a different brand of tyre fitted in its place. And in case you’re wondering, the spare was the spacesaver skinny wheel/tyre combination, so no easy solution there.
Certainly not an ideal situation when a car is only a few months old.
Tyres are like vehicles themselves. They share many commonalities while at the same time having their own individual characteristics, which in the eyes of the manufacturer provide a point of difference and edge over their competitors.
Better performance in various conditions along with braking advantages are often heralded by manufacturers as being superior, in addition to noise and wear factors.
If a mismatch of tyre brands is fitted to the front of any vehicle, it may also create an unhealthy drift to one side of the road. An easy solution would be to put the odd one out on the rear, but what happens when the tyres are eventually rotated?
A near-new car especially should track dead straight — plus, I’m sure, the manufacturer would want the original equipment retained while a vehicle is still under warranty at least.
If you can’t match tyres exactly, the next best option is to fit two tyres of the same brand and keep them on the same
axle (front or rear).
If it’s a near-new car, then maybe some form of communication back to the NZ distributor representing that particular brand is in order.
In the case of the above vehicle, a big thumbs-up to Toyota NZ who, once it was made aware of this situation, quickly had it sorted out at minimal inconvenience and cost to the owner.