Can Upgrading to New Tires Really Improve Your Drive Quality?

Are you considering installing new tires? If you are, you might be wondering about the effects of doing so. Specifically, do new wheels make a smoother ride?

Yes, changing wheels leads to several changes and one of these is that you’ll have a better ride

New tires are quieter and they provide better traction and shock absorption. All of these factors combined make your ride feel smoother. More on this below:

Do New Tires Impact the Ride Quality?

The short answer to this is a resounding yes

Tires are the only part that allows your vehicle to be in contact with the road surface. As a result, they have a direct impact on ride quality. 

More specifically, they dictate your car’s handling and determine how well the rider is cushioned from vibrations

What Defines Great Tire Ride Quality?

Tire ride quality is described as the ability of the tires to reduce road irregularities; hence, allowing passengers to have a more comfortable ride. 

It’s gauged using three different factors:

  • Tire noise
  • Tire vibration 

How Do These Characteristics Affect Ride Quality?

Tire noise

Tire noise is not an unusual phenomenon. It stems from the constant interaction of the tire’s rubber with the road. 

However, too much tire noise can affect your ride quality. 

Tire Vibration

Like tire noise, vibrations also stem from the tire’s rubber coming into contact with the road. The more the vibrations produced, the more uncomfortable you’ll feel. 

Oftentimes, the amount of noise and vibrations produced depends on the type of tires

For instance, touring tires are the quietest. Since they have less rubber in contact with the road, there’s less noise generated. 

Conversely, snow tires and off-road tires are not only the noisiest but they also produce the most vibrations. 

Such tires have more rubber that contacts the road surface, helping to increase traction. Unfortunately, this usually comes at the expense of noise and vibrations. 

Tire designs aside, certain aspects of the tire can also impact the ride quality and this brings us to our next point. 

How Do Tires Affect Ride Quality?

Want to improve your ride quality? If you do, there are a few things you should pay attention to when choosing new tires, namely:

Tire Material 

The material used in the tire’s construction has a considerable impact on your ride quality. Tires are typically made of either a soft rubber compound or a hard one. 

The kind of rubber used determines the tires’ ability to absorb shock and reduce road noise. 

In terms of absorbing shock, tires with a softer compound perform better. This means you’ll have a more comfortable ride than if the tires were made of the hard compound. 

What’s more, tires made of softer compounds do a better job of reducing road noise. They’re able to absorb most of the vibrations produced, leading to a more quiet ride. 

Tire Size

The size of the tire has a direct correlation to the amount of noise it produces and its ability in absorbing shock.

Bigger, wider tires generate more noise than small, narrow tires

This is because there’s a larger portion of rubber that’s in contact with the road surface. On the plus side, they’re able to absorb shock more efficiently; hence, providing a smooth ride. 

Meanwhile, smaller and wider tires have less contact with the road. 

While this reduces the overall noise produced, it also compromises their shock-absorbing capability; leading to a rougher ride. 

This doesn’t necessarily mean that larger wheels are better. In fact, bigger wheels add a ton of weight and this can affect your vehicle’s performance

To be a little more specific, they can reduce your car’s ability to accelerate and increase its fuel economy.

So before you install bigger tires in your new car, be sure to consult a tire expert. They’ll be able to recommend the right tires that hit that sweet spot between size and ride comfort. 

Tread Pattern

The tire’s tread can also determine how comfortable or uncomfortable your car feels. 

More aggressive tread patterns – which are characterized by bigger tread blocks and wider channels – lead to a bumpier ride. However, they provide the best traction.

In contrast, tires with less aggressive tread patterns – smaller blocks and narrower channels – provide a less bumpy ride at the expense of traction. 

Can Old Tires Cause Rough Ride?

Yes, they can. Driving on aged tires not only compromises the quality of your ride but also puts you at risk. 

With regards to ride quality, aged tires are less efficient at absorbing shocks and this then causes your ride to be bumpy. 

And in terms of safety, an old tire faces a higher risk of tread separation. Tread separation is when the tread detaches from the tire’s casing. So replacing worn-out tires not only leads to better traction and a more comfy ride but also enhances your safety. 

How do I Make My Car Ride Smoothest?

Identify the cause of the rough ride

If you’ve been experiencing a rough ride, the first thing you should do is identify the underlying cause.

Does the ride feel bumpy because you’re driving on unbalanced tires? Or is it the fact that you’ve been using the same tires for the past decade? 

If the wheels aren’t balanced, the number one sign entails vibrations experienced at high speeds of 50 mph+

These vibrations are felt on the steering wheel, seat, and even the floorboard.

However, if the culprit is a set of aged tires, you should be able to tell from visual cues like cracks in the sidewall,  bulges, and uneven tread wear. Once you’ve identified the cause, it will be easier to find a solution. 

Break in your new tires

Sure, replacing old tires with new ones significantly improves your vehicle’s handling and rider’s comfort. 

But, you’ll need to break in the new tires as you would a new pair of shoes.

Here’s the deal, your new tires won’t perform well from the get-go. There are several factors why these tires perform a bit differently initially, namely:

  • Lubricant – a tire manufacturer may have used a lubricant to release the tire from its mold. If it’s not completely worn off, it can minimize the tire’s traction.
  • Tread depth – the fresh tread in new tires can be a little bit too stiff and smooth. It’s not until you’ve driven the car for several miles that the tread roughs up, and performs as intended. 

For these reasons, breaking in your new tires is necessary. 

To achieve this, stick to gentle driving techniques like gradual acceleration, slow braking, and cornering; at least for the initial 500 miles or so. 

Inspect the suspension system regularly

While the tires are the most responsible for your car’s ride quality, the suspension system also affects the smoothness of the ride.

Shocks, struts, and springs all play a role in how your vehicle feels. The shocks and struts are responsible for absorbing any road bumps while the springs keep your car properly aligned and level.

If any of these elements are worn or wrecked, this can lead to a less comfortable ride. This is why you should have a mechanic inspect the suspension occasionally. 


If you’ve ever wondered whether new tires provide a smoother ride, the answer is yes

These tires are able to absorb shocks more efficiently and grip the road better, making your ride feel more comfortable. 

That said, you should break in your new tires to enjoy these benefits in the long run. So for the first few miles, consider accelerating gradually, and avoid braking too hard or making fast turns.


Dean Alvarez, TireForge Head Author

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