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Between the car you drive and the road exists four contact patch that makes up to roughly the size of an A4 paper. Now think about this a little bit more.

Your car weighs more than a tonne, and the rubber holding it on the road is probably not even larger than the monitor you are staring at right now, and those rubber has to work when it’s 40 Celsius under the hot sun, or heavy rain, under intense braking, crazy sweeping corners, and somehow hold up for tens of thousands of kilometres.

Which is why I always consider tyres as one of the two most important components of the car (the other being the brake, but that is another topic for another day).

Michelin Primacy 3ST media launch event
MICHELIN Primacy 3 ST media launch event

If you haven’t noticed already, I am quite a bit of a motoring enthusiast, and was more than happy when I got myself into the MICHELIN Primacy 3 ST media launch event to learn a little more about MICHELIN’s latest offering and what sort of technologies are packed into these unassuming and often under appreciated components of the car.

Managing Director of Michelin Malaysia, Beltran Yturriaga showing us the goods
Managing Director of MICHELIN Malaysia, Beltran Yturriaga showing us the goods

First, a little background of the MICHELIN Primacy 3 ST tyres.

It is a result of 10 years of preliminary studies on tyres that travelled more than 1.3 million kilometres, followed by 18 months of design & development. This latest set of rubber is developed exclusively for the Asia Pacific region’s demanding roads (we don’t have the best roads, do we?) and weather conditions.

The result is a tyre that lasts 25% longer than it’s predecessor, the MICHELIN Primacy LC, 8% quieter than leading competitors, and brakes 1.6 meters shorter in wet condition than its predecessor (Based on TUV Rheinland (Thailand) wet braking test report).

I think these are all very important features you would want in a set of tyres. The Primacy LC was already a very highly rated tyre by reviewers, the 3 ST managed to improve basically every aspect of it. As explained by Beltran Yturriaga, that is the essence of MICHELIN Total Performance, no compromise.

the all new Michelin Primacy 3 ST, with myriad of different technologies
the all new MICHELIN Primacy 3 ST, with myriad of different technologies

To achieve these, there are a few pretty interesting technologies built into the new Primacy 3 ST. I find them pretty interesting, regardless if you’re a tech driven person:

  • EvenPeak Technology: by having greater variety in sizes and position of the thread blocks, noise generated from the tyre is spread out in greater frequency, making no peak sound and thus providing a more comfortable ride. The analogy is like playing a symphony instead of banging the same few keys on a piano.
  • CushionGuard Technology: with shock absorbing sidewalls and supple FlexMax compounds, keeping the ride smooth, steady, and comfortable.
  • FlexMax Technology: treads adapt to to irregularities of road surface as FlexMax chamfer prevents the tread block from distorting and losing contact pressure under the centre of tread blocks. Maximum rubber contact with the road.
  • StabiliGrip Technology: using self-locking bands within the small grooves of the tyre to minimize block deformation, improve handling and cut through water in wet condition.

Click to view the  video demonstration on all these technology.

PC with headphones, keeping the noise out as the Primacy 3 ST would
PC with headphones, keeping the noise out as the Primacy 3 ST would

The tyre also went through a 6-month testing period with a local fleet management company, and the response from the limo drivers thus far has been very favourable, with most says that cornering stability is improved, and the car is definitely much quieter and more comfortable than before.

So if you’re looking for a new set of rubber for your ride, I think this is one that should definitely in your short list. The new MICHELIN Primacy 3 ST is available in 16” to 19” sizes and priced from RM 480 MSRP, which is the same as its predecessor.

Do check out MICHELIN Malaysia facebook page too.

Tire DOT codeDrivers will keep their tire pressure in optimum parameters, and make sure that the threads are still good, but most often than not, we overlook the other factor that tells us how good the tire is at holding the car on the road, its freshness.

As tires are made of rubber compound, and rubber tends to get stiffen over time, fresher tire will always yield better grips. As a rule of thumb, never buy tires that are manufactured more than 6 years ago, sitting on the shelves all these while.

Fortunately, the tire manufacture date is stamped on every tire as part of the DOT code. Look out for the 4 digit code (if it is 3 digit, your tire is already way too old, manufactured before the year 2000) stamped on the sidewall of the tire. The first two digits denote the week of birth, and the last two digits describing the year of birth.

In the accompanying picture, then, 3902 means this particular tire was manufactured on the 39th week of 2002. Dividing 39 by 4 (4 weeks a month) gets us 9.x, so it was produced sometimes in September, 2002. Simple as that.

So, next time when you put in new tires, make sure they are still new. If your current set of tires still has good threads left but are already over 6 years since it was produced, consider replacing them.

More info can be found on wikipedia Tire Code

Read Tyre MarkingsMany drivers, while familiar with the size of engines and familiar with the need or regular services and oil change, are completely unaware of the importance of the patch of rubber that is between the car and the road, the tires.

Car tires come in various sizes and profile, to know what they are is to learn how to read the side markings. Together with the brand and product name, there is always a standard row of numbers and letters describing the size and profile of the tire, like in this picture: 205/65R15

  • 205 denotes width in of tire in millimeter, in this case, 205mm.
  • 65 denotes the aspect ratio, which is the height of the side wall of the tire. 65 basically means it is 65% of the width of tire, in this case, the wall of the tire is 133.25mm tall.
  • R means the tire is of Radial construction, true to pretty much all modern road cars. The other type is cross-ply construction, mostly only found in vintage cars.
  • 15 is the size of the wheel rim the tire fits, in inches.

Read Tyre MarkingsNotes:
Performance cars usually have a smaller aspect ratio as well as wider tires for better handling around the corners. To allow this and yet keep the overall circumference, bigger rims are needed.

On tire pressure:
Most sedan car tires work well at around 29-31 psi, or around 200 to 210 pascal. For optimal performance and fuel economy (low pressure = increase fuel consumption, high pressure = less grip), check your vehicle manual for optimal tire pressure. The information can also usually found at the body of the car where the driver door closes, or at the inside of the driver door itself.