A quick guide to Original Equipment

Kwik Fit | Tuesday 2nd September 2014 4:00pm

tyres on rack

All new vehicles roll off of the production line on a brand new set of tyres. But since vehicle manufacturers do not produce their own tyres, they team up with the world’s leading tyre manufacturers and select tyres that are perfectly suited to the vehicle they are being fitted to. Such tyres are known as Original Equipment (OE) and it can take years to develop a tyre to meet the exacting requirements of the vehicle manufacturer.

What is Original Equipment?

Original Equipment refers to any vehicle component that is selected by the vehicle manufacturer to be fitted to the vehicle as standard. The term is not only used in reference to tyres; manufacturers of batteries, exhausts and other components can also be selected as original equipment by the vehicle manufacturer. As you can imagine, it is one of the highest accolades for a tyre to be selected as an Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) – recommendations for a tyre product don’t come any bigger than this. After all, if the world’s top car manufacturers place their trust in a particular tyre, it means you can too when the time comes to replace those tyres. That’s why tyre producers work closely with car manufacturers, from initial scope and hypothesis, to extensive product testing to ensure the tyre is ideally suited to the vehicle it is being fitted to.

Rigorous Tests

Vehicle manufacturers put tyres through a series of stringent tests to ensure that they conform to the highest possible quality standards. Every element of the tyre’s capabilities is evaluated including handling, braking, comfort, fuel consumption, safety and noise levels to name but a few. Tyres are also tested in a number of different weather conditions and surfaces. To put this into perspective the EU Tyre Label, which can be found on all new tyres and is an influential factor for many customers when deciding to buy a particular tyre, only tests three criteria (fuel efficiency, wet grip and external rolling noise). Vehicle manufacturers on the other hand carry out over 100 different tests to find the best tyres. In total it can take up to three years to develop a new tyre for use as Original Equipment.

No Ordinary Tyres

In some cases, particularly when designing high performance vehicles and sports cars, manufacturers have particularly demanding requirements and so OEMs design and optimise tyres specifically for that vehicle model. Using these tyres ensures the vehicle drives and performs exactly as the manufacturer intended which is why manufacturers recommend that only OE approved tyres are used when it comes to replacing worn tyres. They may look like regular tyres but there is one key difference that will help you to tell if an OE tyre has been specifically designed for your vehicle…

Sidewall Markings

Many of the world’s top car manufacturers including BMW, Mercedes, and Audi have designated marks that are used on the tyre sidewall to indicate that the tyre meets the manufacturer’s standards and has been given OE status. The same letters and symbols are used by all tyre manufacturers to show that the tyre has been specifically designed for that vehicle.

Manufacturer: Audi
Marking: R01 or A0
Manufacturer: BMW
Marking: Star
Manufacturer: Mercedes
Marking: M0
Manufacturer: Jaguar
Marking: J
Manufacturer: Porsche
Marking: N0, N1 or N2

Original Equipment and Continental

Continental tyres are one of the leading choices for car manufacturers having been selected as an original equipment manufacturer for over 500 different vehicle models. Today in Europe, nearly a third of all cars that roll off the production line are fitted with Continental tyres.

Continental takes on board the vehicle manufacturer’s wishes from an early stage in tyre development, constantly striving to harmonise customer requirements with development advances. But there is one element that always remains the same – safety – it’s at the heart of every tyre designed by Continental, and thanks to innovative research and several decades of experience, every Continental tyre combines maximum safety with the manufacturer’s individual requirements.

View the range of Continental tyres available at Kwik Fit. Many of the Continental tyres we stock have been selected by vehicle manufacturers as original equipment such as the ContiEcoContact 5 selected by Volkswagen for the new Golf MKVII and the ContiSportContact 5 selected by Maserati for its Ghibli and Quattroporte sports cars.

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