If you are a new car owner and believe that buying tires is a simple job, then boy you’re in for a surprise.
Buying the right tires for your car is among the most important decisions you can take as multiple key parameters that determine your overall experience depend on the tire you have.
The Main Differences in Tires
Picture an ideal tire. It would have excellent traction on the road, will perform equally well in snow or pavement, could potentially outlast your car, will facilitate maneuvering, won’t put a dent on your budget, and do a thousand other jobs that you expect a perfect tire to do.
In reality, no single tire can achieve all that. Any tire you choose will have a combination of the aforementioned attributes and it’s your job to decide which attributes you want to prioritize.
For instance, if a tire you choose performs well in all conditions, gives great traction, and lasts a long time. You’ll probably have to compromise on the price and pay a premium on it.
Similarly, you might also find a lightweight tire that gives off a smooth ride and does not cost much, you’ll be compromising on control and durability.
As a user, you’ll be responsible for deciding which qualities are the most important for your use and proceed accordingly.
What is the Most Common Type of Tire in the Market?
Before we proceed with the different types of car tires available in the market. It’s better to discuss the most common option that works for almost everyone.
If you are not interested in spending too much time selecting the best car tire, then all-season tires are probably the safest course of action you can take. If they work for everyone, there must be something right.
Just like their name suggests, all-season tires are designed to give you good traction on almost all surfaces. Be it snow or pavement, your tire will give you adequate grip for balanced performance.
In all the other essential tire parameters, all-season tires are generally quite grounded and balanced. They are a perfect choice for regular use and can generally last between 60K to 100K miles depending on your use.
Overall, they are quite balanced and can deliver consistent and reliable performance.
List of All Tire Types
Tires are either characterized by their functionality or by the type of car. Functionality tires are used for special purposes only or are designed for emergencies.
For example, a spare tire will not focus on maneuverability, endurance, and other parameters as its job is to simply replace the damaged wheel until you reach a workshop.
In the below sections, we’ll take a look at all the tire classifications based on the car type and wheels. We’ll also shed some light on the most common specialty tires and learn about their characteristics.
Passenger Vehicles: Sedans, CUVs, and Minivans
As discussed before, all-season tires are designed to deliver a balanced performance and are a perfect choice for regular users. The treads feature a symmetrical pattern along with circumferential grooves that deliver consistent grip in most conditions and deliver excellent performance on highways.
Touring tires are another common variant that focuses more on a comfortable ride. It comes with most qualities of all-season tires but adds on to it with better control and handling. Touring tires, however, are not as durable and lose their treads sooner than their all-season counterparts.
As their name suggests, performance tires are more geared towards delivering precision and speed. The tire treads remain in constant contact with the road and facilitate high-speed maneuvering.
These tires are designed for warmer climates where you need tires that can sustain high pressures and temperatures. Generally, summer variants come with many features that allow you to get the best performance in both dry and wet conditions.
Compared to other variants, you’ll see more solid patches in summer tires and the grooves will also be not as deep.
5. Track and racing
These tires have only one job and focus. Speed! Track and racing cars are designed to sustain maximum friction and temperatures and provide constant contact with the road in dry conditions. You must have seen pit stops during car races and events.
They change the tires at every lap. That’s because race tires compromise on durability to gain more speed and maneuverability. While designed for extreme use, they can’t maintain their performance for a very long time.
Trucks and SUVs
These tires are the all-season equivalent for trucks and SUVs. Highway tires feature symmetrical treads and durable components that deliver reliable performance for a very long time. Highway tires will perform the best on pavements and highways as they have smaller treads that give you better control and a smoother ride in both wet/dry conditions.
The size, tread pattern, and overall looks. Everything about these tires gives off a dominating look. As their name suggests, these tires can handle gravel, sand, pavement, and anything else with no problem.
Even if you are driving on the road, you’ll find that these tires perform just as well on the pavement as the highway option. However, if you select these, you’ll have additional off-road capabilities.
While all-terrain tires can handle almost all off-roading areas you might encounter, some jobs still need a specialist. Mud-terrain tires are those specialists. Designed to perform exceptionally in deep mud, soft sand, and other tricky areas, these tires have an even more dominating presence with their large treads and reinforced sidewall.
You’ll also find that most mud-terrain tires are puncture-proof to deliver reliable performance in even tricky situations.
These tires are a cross between the highway and all-terrain tires. They’ll give the same excellent performance on paved roads that you can expect from a highway tire. Additionally, the tires also have moderate off-riding capabilities, so you’ll get the best of both worlds.
Not all trucks and SUVs are supposed to be used ruggedly. These tires are for performance SUVs that focus on control and speed. These tires have better performance ratings and come with all-seasoned treads for a year-long performance.
We have already covered summer tires. These are the exact opposite of that. Winter tires focus on providing a strong grip in snow and ice so you can maintain control. Winter tires generally have a lower speed rating.
However, you’ll find that they are exceptionally good at braking to minimize the chances of skids and other accidents.
Spares are like the temporary workhorse you get until the actual player joins the team again. Spares are often smaller and less durable than the actual tires. Their job is to only get you to the workshop/service station. For that, they are adequate.
Trailer tires have two distinguishing features. The first is that they can sustain a lot of weight for a very long time. Secondly, they are designed to regularly wear from all sides to maintain a consistent performance.
ATVs are used for various functions. From entertainment to actual fieldwork, you’ll find them being used in numerous conditions. The tires they have are suited for such use.
They feature large individual tire treads along with strong reinforced rubber that protects the tires from puncture and other issues during use.
Three Things You Must Consider While Buying a Tire
As discussed before, the correct tire for you depends on your intended use and the car you have. While the parameters you select are on you, there are three things you must make sure are according to the manufacturer’s specs.
It is always recommended to get the tire size recommended by your vehicle manufacturer. If you are unsure what it is, simply check the sticker on the driver’s side to know everything you need. Having larger or smaller tires than recommended not only affects the performance of your vehicle but also damages your car.
The speed rating is another parameter you should keep an eye on, especially if you are professionally racing on the track or in other controlled environments. Most passenger vehicle tires come with a high-speed rating that can’t be achieved during regular use. For races, however, that’s another story.
Even if they are unused, the tires you have will lose their internal integrity in 6 or 7 years. When purchasing a new one, always make sure that you are correctly checking the sidewall for information on the manufacturing date.