Vintage tyres: Information and resources
At some point, classic vehicle enthusiasts will need to replace the tyres on their pride and joy - and they may find it's not such a straightforward process. Over the years the standards, measurements and technology regarding tyres has changed, and some older types of tyre can be hard to get hold of. However, with a bit of knowledge you can get your wheels rolling again in no time.
Where can I buy classic car tyres?
Fortunately, there are quite a few dedicated suppliers of tyres for classic cars, including:
Vintage Tyres - Based at the National Motor Museum in Beaulieu, this firm supplies tyres for bikes and cars, and has a handy vehicle match function on its website.
ClassicTryres.com - A big supplier of classic tyres; this one lacks the vehicle matching function but does claim to offer the lowest prices.
Longstone Classic Tyres - A specialist supplier which offers an advice helpline for anybody unsure of the tyres they need.
The above should provide tyres for most classic cars, but if you're stuck, you might try the manufacturer or your local owners' club for advice.
What size tyres do I need?
As many older sizes don't have modern-day equivalents, this table from CarBibles.com should help to clear up which sizes are which.
My car has wire wheels. Can inner tubes be fit in tubeless tyres?
It's generally agreed that it's safe to fit tubes in tubeless tyres, as long as you use the correct size of tube. If you're concerned about damage, ask the manufacturer.
Can treaded racing tyres be used on a road car?
It's not a good idea to do this, as racing tyres generally aren't built to last for extended periods of use and are made of softer rubber. You should also ensure your tyres are road legal (tread depth of at least 1.6mm) above all else.
How can I convert tyre pressure from bar to psi?
If you own an American car, your owner's manual might talk about pressure in terms of psi, while your tyre gauge measures in bar. Multiplying bar pressure by 14.5 gives the pressure in psi, while for psi divide by the same figure to get bar. Alternatively, consult this table.
How often should I inspect my tyres?
You should check your tyre pressures at least once every month that your car is in use, and take the opportunity to look for defects and worn treads. Although vintage vehicle owners tend to drive less frequently and thus incur less wear and tear, it's still a good idea to make a full tyre inspection part of your regular check-up.
How should I deal with wheel imbalance?
Imbalance is a problem that cars with wire wheels are especially prone to. Most garages are equipped with wheel balancers to correct this, but not all of them will have the know-how to do it correctly for a vintage model - it's a good idea to seek advice from a specialist on your particular vehicle if you can. Proper wheel balancing can dramatically improve the handling of your vehicle and prevent problems with the suspension.
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