Though many drivers don’t think twice about them until there is a problem, tires are one of the most important components of a vehicle. They separate you from the road, improve the safety of your vehicle and can have a major impact on your fuel efficiency and the driving capabilities that your vehicle can perform.
Since tires are such an important part of your vehicle, you want to make sure that you choose the best one for your needs. While there are a lot of brands to choose from, and a variety of different options, choosing the best tires can be a real challenge; particularly because there are so many brands and options available. How do you know what type of tires you actually need, and what type will best suit your needs?
To help you answer these questions, we have put together this handy buyer’s guide. In this guide, you will find a wealth of information, which will help to make the decision making process a bit easier for you. This guide explains the different types of tires, the factors that you should take into consideration when purchasing tires, the different features that tires offer, and the best tire brands. With this information, you will be prepared to make the best choice for your specific needs.
Types of Tires
If you are like the majority of motorists, you probably assume that all tires are pretty much the same; however, that is not the case at all. There are several different types of tires, and in order to determine what type of tires will best suit your needs, you really need to have a firm understanding of the difference between each type – and their advantages.
There are five main types of tires, which include:
- Summer tires
- Winter tires
- All season tires
- Performance tires
- Truck tires
Each type of tire is designed to offer different benefits, so it’s important to have a good understanding of these benefits.
Summer tires are designed to be used mostly in dry conditions, though they can also be used in conditions that are slightly wet. They are not recommended for use in cold temperatures, or on snow or ice. As their name suggests, summer tires are designed to provide the best traction in warm, dry weather. The treads on summer tires include orbital grooves and complex directional patterns, which optimizes their performance and handling when the weather is hot, humid and dry.
As the name indicates, winter tires are designed to be used in cold temperatures and on snow and ice. These types of tires are comprised of different types of rubber treads, which maximize traction in the colder, slicker conditions of the winter, which makes them better able to handle snow, sleet and ice, and generally colder temperatures. Winter tires are also designed to remain softer than other types of tire in very cold temperatures. This allows the tires to better handle hills, turns and braking than other types of tires.
All Season Tires
All season tires have the ability to handle various types of conditions and climates; however, they aren’t masters at handling any specific type of condition or climate. In other words, all season tires can be used in a variety of temperatures and conditions; but, they do not provide the same abilities as more specific tires, such as winter or summer tires. All season tires are designed to be used all year long, depending on what the climate and the conditions are of where you will be driving. These types of tires are designed to function across a wide range of conditions. While you don’t have to change your all season tires as frequently as you would if you were to use both summer and winter tires, you won’t get the same performance that these specialized types of tires offer.
There are two basic classes of all season tires: Touring and passenger. Touring tires create less noise and better handling, while passenger tires create a smoother ride and tend to last longer.
Performance tires were once only found on exotic sports cars; however, today, they are manufactured for use with all types of vehicles. As the name suggests, this type of tire enhances the performance of a vehicle. There are four main classes of performance tires, which include:
- Performance – These are intended for drivers who want to increase the low-speed traction and style of their vehicles.
- High performance – These tires are designed to increase the handling and stability of a vehicle at higher speeds
- Ultra high performance – These tires are meant for extreme performance; they are typically the fastest tires that can be found.
- Competition – This type of performance tire is meant to be used for specific racing events. They have a groove free design, which allows them increase the speed of a vehicle; however, they are not great for everyday use, as they don’t provide as much traction as other tires.
These tires are specifically designed to be used with trucks. There are different models of truck tires, which include:
- Utility – They have a staggered tread pattern, which provides greater traction in snow, mud and off road driving conditions. They also resist wear and tear better than most tires.
- All terrain – These tires feature multiple tread patters with a durable compound.
- Highway use – These truck tires are designed with enhanced compounds to provide a smoother ride.
- Performance – These truck tires are designed to withstand higher speeds while providing better braking and handling in all conditions.
- Off road – These truck tires have the most aggressive tread design and are meant to handle the most challenging off road conditions possible. They have enough power to power through snow, silt, much and more.
Factors to Consider When Choosing Tires for Your Vehicle
As with anything that you purchase, there are certain factors that should be taken into consideration before you decide what option you are going to choose. This is of particular importance when you are purchasing tires for your car. Because they have a huge impact on your safety, the performance of your vehicle and your vehicle’s fuel efficiency, you want to be 100 percent certain that you are making the right choice. With that in mind, we want to share with you the most important factors that should be taken into consideration before you decide what tires you should purchase for your vehicle.
Please keep on reading to find out more about the factors that we consider to be the most important when choosing tires for your car.
You want to make sure that the tires will deliver the performance that you expect them to. The best quality tires are ones that meet your expectations in your intended use. If they are advertised to perform well in snowy and icy conditions, then you should be able to hit the road in wintery weather conditions with confidence that the tires will be able to handle those conditions.
Another key factor to consider when purchasing tires is the weather that you will be driving in. As indicated above, tires are manufactured to provide optimal performance based on specific driving conditions. If you live in a climate that gets a great deal of snowfall, winter tires will be the best option for you. If you live in a climate that is primarily dry and hot, then a summer tire will be a better choice for you. If you live in a climate that has varied climates, all season tires may be the best pick for you; however, do keep in mind that if you are going to select all season tires, they generally won’t give you the traction that you will need in very cold or icy conditions, nor will they perform well in climates where temperatures are excessively hot and dry.
Size is another key factor that you are must take into consideration when purchasing tires for your car. Before you start shopping, make sure that you know the proper sized tires for your vehicle based on the manufacturer’s specifications. You can find this information in your vehicle’s owner’s manual or in the informational sticker that is located on the inside portion of the driver’s door. A reputable tire dealer will also be able to verify the size of the tire your vehicle needs based on its make and model.
Life of the Tire
You want your tires to last as long as possible, which is why you want to take the life expectancy into consideration when purchasing tires for your vehicle. Usually, the life expectancy is measured in miles, and this information is readily available with quality tires. Generally speaking, tires that offer a smoother ride and superior performance tend to have a shorter life expectancy; while tires that last longer may not offer as smooth of a ride, but will last longer.
All tires are given a letter rating. This rating indicates the speed that the tires can safely travel for an extended period of time. Depending on your specific driving needs, you should choose the tires that are best suited for your driving needs.
Every type of tires creates a certain amount of noise, and some make more noise than others. Typically, the design of the treads will directly impact the amount of noise the tires will make. If the amount of noise that the tires will make is a top priority for you, this is definitely something you are going to want to consider. Since it’s difficult to tell how much noise a tire will make until they are on your vehicle and you are driving, checking online reviews and asking a tire specialist will help you determine how much noise they will make.
Tires vary significantly in price, which is why price is an important factor to take into consideration when shopping; especially if budget is a concern for you. Generally speaking, the longer the life span of the tires, the more specific the performance, and they more features they offer, the more expensive the tires will be.
Features that Tires Boast
Believe it or not, tires offer can boast certain features, and these features are intended to enhance the performance and the life expectancy of the tires. As mentioned above, the more features the tires offer, the higher the price tag will be. To determine what type of features you want or need, it is important to understand the different types of features that tires offer. Do note that the majority of these features apply to winter tires.
If you are going to be driving in conditions that have a lot of snow and ice, look for winter tires that feature SIPE. This feature is comprised of a small slit on the tread block of the tire; their purpose is to ensure better grip and performance on wet surfaces and work in conjunction with the tread pattern.
Extreme Temperature Features
The best summer and winter tires are those that are designed to uphold their performance in extreme temperatures. Extreme heat and extreme cold can impact a tire’s pressure. Tires that are designed to uphold their pressure in extreme temperatures are the best pick if you are going to be driving in a climate that has extremely hot or extremely cold temperatures.
The best tires come equipped with a warranty. Should any troubles arise with your tires during the span of the warranty, a warranty will allow you to have them replaced or your money refunded. Do make sure that you check the details of the warranty to ensure you understand exactly what is covered.
Best Tire Brands
There are dozens of tire brands to choose from, which makes finding the best brand for your needs a challenge. To help you make the best choice, we have included the best brands in this buyer’s guide.
Michelin has been producing tires for generations. They are known as one of the top tire producers, as their tires are constructed of high quality materials and the most advanced designs.
Goodyear is another top tire manufacturer, as this company utilizes the most durable materials and the most cutting edge techniques when constructing their tires.
Another top contender is Hankook, a manufacturer who creates some of the highest quality tires on the market.
Continental also produces some of the highest quality tires available today. Their tires boast cutting edge designs and offer an exceptional life expectancy.