Why Having the Right Types of Tires on Your Vehicle Matters
Having the right kinds of tires on your vehicle can make all the difference in the world when it comes to better gas mileage, better performance, increased handling and, of course, getting your money's worth from your investment. While there might be over a dozen different tires to choose from, there are only two types of tire treads to start to narrow down your decision: radially arranged and circumferentially arranged treads.
Circumferentially arranged tread blocks provide a smoother ride with decent traction and are generally meant for dry or wet roads. Radially arranged tread blocks offer enhanced traction to better grip slippery winter roads. It's common for your ride to be less smooth when driving radial tire options. Still, you'll enjoy improved sidewall flexibility that can boost your handling when snowy or icy weather conditions hit your area.
Tire Types Explained
As we mentioned, there are dozens of tire types available for purchase — especially when shopping online. We can't get to all of them, but we've covered some of the most popular types of car tires you can find that will benefit your vehicle and its performance. The easiest way to group your tire options is to start with the kind of vehicle you drive. After determining which tire types are available in your vehicle class, you can decide which is best based on your driving needs, style and location.
Sedan, Minivan & CUV Tire Types
The tire options in this class are generally designed for a smooth and quiet ride, all-season traction and long-lasting tread life.
Touring tires can deliver a comfortable and quiet ride while maintaining high performance and handling qualities. Generally, touring tires have wider treads that can provide a bigger contact area on the road. This extra-wide design helps drivers grip corners far better while enjoying a smooth ride. Touring tires also tend to have increased speed ratings, allowing them to endure higher speeds while still offering the driver security and control of their vehicle. It's safe to say that most touring tire options are geared towards performance.
With all their speed and performance capabilities, touring tires are usually an excellent option for any sedan, minivan or CUV. However, they do come with one disadvantage. Touring tires have a reduced ability to handle snowy or icy road conditions. For those who frequently drive on highways and don't have to fear the winter months, touring tires are some of the best tire types you can find.
Even though touring tires are geared towards performance, make sure you don't confuse them with actual performance tires. These types of car tires typically have a much higher speed rating than their touring cousins. Still, they're engineered to support drivers of all kinds of different weather conditions — especially wet weather.
Performance tires have larger circumferential and lateral grooves, which help with wet weather traction. They also feature fairly dense siping and silica-enriched tread compounds for better grip to stay safe in all types of weather conditions.
Sometimes called "three-season" tires, summer tires are made for optimal performance in all seasons (except for winter). These tire options perform well with high-performance vehicles with the capability of reaching speeds over 100 mph. Summer tires provide unique tread compounds that improve your traction and grip when driving at higher speeds.
However, just like the name implies, summer tire treads tend to lose all their pliability in cold weather, leaving drivers at risk for seriously reduced traction on both dry and wet roads. If you take a chance and keep your summer tires on for the winter, odds are you may end up in a ditch five minutes into your drive to Fred's house to watch the game. You can find summer tires in a wide variety of grades, such as touring summer tire options and extreme performance summer tires.
If you live in a warm and sunny climate and like to drive fast, these are the tire types for you. Or, if you have your dedicated winter tires on hand and always change them out accordingly, they can be an excellent choice for the warmer months.
All-season tires are radial tread tires suited for most weather conditions, but don't let the name fool you. The difference between all-season tires, summer tires and winter tires is that all-seasons don't excel in good or bad road conditions — they work the same all year round. For example, all-season tires work well on wet roads or roads with an inch or less of snow, but they won't perform as well under severe weather conditions as winter tires can.
All-season tires perform as they should year-round, have tread patterns that allow for a reasonably quiet ride, are wear-resistant, offer good fuel economy and are pretty affordable. People who live in regions with fairly mild winters might want to consider all-season tires — but if your winters include getting out of bed at 6 a.m. to shovel the driveway, you may want to consider different tires for your ride.
Truck & SUV Tire Options
Truck and SUV tires are generally divided by how you use your vehicle. You may need tire options that can handle a journey in the wilderness when the pavement ends, or you may do a lot of driving on the highway. Either way, if you drive a truck or SUV, you have plenty of different tires that meet your needs.
If you crave the dirty and muddy paths of the backroads, all-terrain tires can help you navigate off-road environments with ease. These types of tires provide drivers with security while handling the various driving conditions you'll find when driving off-road.
All-terrain tires are outfitted with a more aggressive tread pattern than most tire types. The larger tread blocks and increased voids provide excellent traction to handle terrain of all kinds — from gravel to sand and light mud. Most all-terrain tires can achieve off-road action with little to no on-road discomfort to drivers, so the path to your favorite off-roading destination will be just as stable and comfortable as when you arrive. Many drivers enjoy all-terrain tires because of their aggressive appearance and minimal sacrifice in noise, longevity and comfort.
Highway tires are outfitted with all-season tread patterns and can handle the heavier weight of driving a heavier vehicle. As you probably guessed, these tire types are very comfortable on the pavement. Highway tire options also have durable compounds and tread patterns that can resist uneven wear to deliver a longer-lasting tread life for your truck or SUV.
Specialty tires can also be categorized as miscellaneous tire options. Consider them the ones you don't think about 24/7.
Also referred to as snow tires, winter tires are designed with the sole goal of performing at peak performance during cold, winter conditions that bring snowy and icy roads. If you live in an area with terrible winters, winter tires are your best friend. However, you always have to remember to change them once the season has died down. If you drive winter tires during the summer, they can rapidly wear out on the hot pavement and increase your chances of skidding your way into an accident.
Just like the name suggests, competition tires are explicitly built for race cars and similar high-speed vehicles to dominate on the track. Competition tires are also referred to as "slicks," "drag tires" or "drag slicks."