Tyres are like toilet paper

Posted on June 16th, 2008 in Driving Emotion,Opinion by Julian Edgar

I kinda think that – in some respects, at least – tyres are like toilet paper.

We’ve all heard of the person who raves about their tyres – no, not the grip but instead their longevity.

“I got 50,000 kilometres out of my last set of Duramax Ultradistance and this set still have plenty of tread depth after forty thousand kays,” they say.

When I hear that sort of comment, I always think two things:

1) Geez, you must be a wimp of a driver, never pushing hard around any corners; and

2) Your tyres must have rubber as hard as rock – and hell, that must make them grip really well

In fact, while I like to minimise my conspicuous consumption of resources, a tyre is a product that in a way I am happy to see used up.

Well, not ‘happy’ in the manner of: “Yee-ha, get rid of that rubber!” but happy more in the perspective of: “It’s a pity that it’s gone, but it was put to good use…”

And in that respect it’s a bit like toilet paper.

We’ve all attended an, er, convenience, that’s provided with hard and thin toilet paper. Government or skinflint company toilets, most often. They have the sort of toilet paper your fingers tend to go straight through.

Ummmm…. yep, wash those hands…

But, especially when teamed with a dispenser that allows you to draw only a sheet at a time, the usage of such toilet paper is remarkably frugal.

Which of course is the intent.

But it took me a long while to realise that. In fact I remember saying to my wife – who was on one of our not-infrequent economy drives – that I didn’t give a sh*t what toilet paper she bought.

And I didn’t – literally.

‘Til she bought it. Perhaps she sourced it especially from a government supplier- I dunno. But I soon learnt to hate its horrid, hard, thin (lack of) substance.

So I asked for the thick and smooth stuff again.  And, thankfully, got it.

No doubt the toilet paper consumption in our household has again risen to old heights. But, as with tyres, it’s a consumption that is worthy and serves a purpose.

So the next time you see some bastard boasting of the life he gets out of his tyres, look at him (it’s usually a ‘him’) and say to yourself: “I wouldn’t want to use the toilet paper in your house…”

Cos some things in this life are meant to be consumed…

14 Responses to 'Tyres are like toilet paper'

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  1. Wayne said,

    on June 16th, 2008 at 8:15 pm

    In my experience, getting a good mix of key features can have a great influence economy of any tyres. It really is a matter of keeping the tyre warm enough to do its job, but not too hot. Increasing the rolling diameter (within reason) and the width can help keep the temp down, then getting the right amount of negative camber to prevent scrubbing the outside edges off, and enough toe to stop the insides overheating, and you can get excetional lateral grip when you load it up, and great economy with the rest of your driving. Ultimately I totally agree that the whole point of tyres is to wear out. I owe a particularly dificult to believe escape to a set of tyres which i didnt get great km/$ economy out of, however due to the relative lack of safety equipment (no airbags, pretensioners), i can not put $ on the health saving. If ever one of my kids has a similar car, I would hapily spend lots on a good set of tyres for it!

  2. Aaronactive said,

    on June 16th, 2008 at 10:02 pm

    Haha well said. I agree..also will have to remember that toilet paper call.

  3. Martin said,

    on June 17th, 2008 at 12:40 am

    Julian – interesting comparison with toilet paper, but I have to agree.
    I always put good tyres on my cars, as I don’t want to compromise the safety and handling of the car, as the tyres are the only thing between you and the road. Tyre wear is of secondary importance to me too – I prefer something that’ll stick and provide good traction and roadholding.
    Quite a few years ago, just after finishing studying, I was driving a Datsun 1200. The car was probably worth about $1000, but I had $600 worth of tyres on it. My wife was driving it once, and had to brake hard when a bus pulled out in front of her. With the tyres that were on the car (the now dis-continued Yokohama A509s, I think they were), she managed to just stop and avoid hitting the bus. If the car had some cheap’n’nasty tyres on it, she would have certainly plowed straight into the bus!

  4. Ben said,

    on June 17th, 2008 at 1:10 am

    Really Julian?? I know you and Autospeed are changing direction but this is just silly!!

  5. QuakingInUSA said,

    on June 17th, 2008 at 5:03 am

    I think that beside the rubber composition, the second factor to tire wear is aggressive use (or over use). While economy of tire life might seem to be an unnecessary evil, I would question your need, except in an emergency, to be cornering that hard? Performance driving is obviously fun, but should it be done your everyday road, replete with the other Bozo’s, just waiting to bounce off your vehicle?

  6. Ben said,

    on June 17th, 2008 at 10:30 am

    In most places there is no other alternative, unless you like go-karts, or left hand corners on dirt (speedway). In Cairns the nearest racetrack is 400km away, and it’s only 400m long with no corners. The nearest circuit track is probably in the south-east corner. Not exactly an option for a weekend of racing.

  7. BG said,

    on June 17th, 2008 at 11:11 am

    But maybe the hard tyres can be more enjoyable because you can spend more time going sideways for a given mileage? Although I don’t know how to relate that to toilet paper

  8. Eddie said,

    on June 17th, 2008 at 11:18 am

    Geez now you are a dork or such if you want some mileage out of your tyres. Wish I had a job where I can afford new tyres every year and to hell with the price. As for cornering really hard and using your rubber, I guess this is the sort of reasoning that leads to scrapping people off the road once they have lost control.

  9. Vincent said,

    on June 17th, 2008 at 1:10 pm

    You get what you pay for.

    The tyres should be matched initially to the performance potential of the car; after that it’s your choice as to whether you want the performance aspect or the longevity. It depends a lot on your driving style, too.

    I prefer the performance aspect, simply because I feel you have more control in any given situation.

    Unlike Julian, however, I would tend to compare tyres to shoes – track shoes are great for running and give much better grip than my leather-soled pair, but also wear out faster. And like the tyres, they have to eventually be replaced.

  10. Bob said,

    on June 17th, 2008 at 5:32 pm

    I have often found that the most expensive tyres are often the WORST performers in the wet. Errrr… I don’t even want to relate that to toilet paper! and let’s not get started on retreads 😀

    “that I didn’t give a sh*t what toilet paper she bought”

    No pun intended right? 🙂

  11. Darren Roles said,

    on June 18th, 2008 at 12:48 pm

    Surely it has to be trade-off in performance given the type of driving being done?
    I’m going away from hi-po stuff and more towards higher end ‘OEM’ type tyres that give pretty good all round performance wet AND dry, low noise but they still get reasonable mileage.
    I purchased a car that had what looked like good tyres (ie: legal) and reasonable stated wear rates but from 2 different manufacturers; Kenda & Toyo. The back 2 tyres (Kenda’s) still have 50%+ tread on them and are soon for the bin…they are atrocious in the wet, I would nearly say flat out dangerous. Yet they are still legal? I’m contemplating if they’re even suitable for trailer use they are that bad.

  12. Howard said,

    on June 18th, 2008 at 6:35 pm

    Good tyres are like my favourite beer:
    “It’s a pity that it’s gone, but it was put to good use…”

  13. Graham said,

    on June 19th, 2008 at 11:29 pm

    I agree with Martin up the top there and have a very similar story.
    Same tyres, Yokohama A509 and then A520’s cost about $139 each on my little Daihatsu, but the grip, especially in the wet, was AWESOME.
    Including the odd trip to the Eastern Creek + lots of pizza deliveries, they were only good for 20,000Kms or 9months, but I’ve been friends ever since with the tyre shop!
    Worth every penny and highly recommended to ensure your tyres are good ones but even more importantly, know the limits of you and your car and drive well within them.

  14. John said,

    on July 5th, 2008 at 11:17 pm

    If you can’t afford good tyres…then you can’t afford to own a car.

    I buy brand tyres Yokohamas mainly on my family car I drive reasonably hard on them including some dirt. But I rotate and balance by the book…so I get good life out of them.

    Treating our car right works out better economically , than treating it badly.