Are you and your tyres ready for 2012?
The countdown to 2012 is well underway but who is actually ready for it?
No, we're not talking Olympics but an event that will still affect many people in the UK, particularly those with a keen interest in rubber.
From November 2012, a new law from the EU compels all new tyres sold to carry information that grades wet braking, rolling resistance and noise levels, using a picture system similar to that already used when buying electrical equipment such as fridges.
Tyre manufacturers will have to ensure the information is supplied with every new tyre that leaves the factory while retailers will also have to make sure the customer is shown the information before sale.
So, why is this such a big deal? Well, with the new grading system comes higher standards that could mean many tyres currently on sale and at the bottom end of the market, particularly those from China, will become illegal overnight. Upgrading tyres will inevitably cost the consumer money initially although in the long run, cash might be saved.
Companies such as Continental and Bridgestone and retailers are already raising awareness but many consumers are unaware of the impact that different tyres can have on fuel bills as well as the environment. With the new labelling system it is expected that the use of more fuel efficient rubber will increase considerably; that in itself will be a major contributory factor in reducing Co2 emissions while lowering fuel consumption and costs will always bring a smile to the face of motorists.
But what do those in the industry think of the proposals? Mike Welch, the founder of online tyre retailer, BlackCircles.com, believes the new regulation will be 'extremely beneficial' for customers and should have been introduced a long time ago.
"As well as giving the customer more information – and therefore making them much more confident in their purchases – I believe the new labels will be extremely important in helping the EU in its quest to drastically lower Co2 emissions and noise levels," Welch added.
"Once the customers are able to clearly see which tyres are the most eco-friendly, I feel that we'll see a steady increase in the standard and efficiency of tyres on the market. The tyres which do not grade well on important issues like wet grip, fuel efficiency and noise levels will be gradually phased out, thanks to a reduction in demand."
Daksh Gupta, chief executive of one of the country's biggest dealer networks, Marshall Motor Group, was also in favour.
'I think it will be good for consumers as it will give them a choice to make an educated decision on what they spend their money on as well as raise the awareness of why having high quality tyres is important," he said.
"As a result of this consumer awareness I am sure it will help dealer tyre sales who are often perceived to be more expensive than independent tyre sales outlets."
That's not a view shared by all though. One used car dealer from the north-west was naturally concerned about profits.
"Used car buyers already want the very best when they come into the showroom," he commented. "These tyre regulations will mean they'll simply demand rubber with these markings on used cars. This squeezes profit, so we have to either put used car prices up to compensate or swallow the cost. The latter is hard to do - especially in these current times."
Additional reporting by James Baggott