A question a lot of enthusiasts often ask is “what tire is best for me?”. Unfortunately there is no simple answer, there are several types of tires and several different benefits to each. In this article we’ll go over what climates and situations are best tackled by each class of tire so you can make an informed decision next time you’re ready to buy a new set.
Let’s just get something clarified right away, All-Season Tires are not going to be your go-to tire for every situation. All-Season does not mean they are great for every season, it means that they will be decent in every season but not excel particularly in extreme weather, whether it be heat or cold. Also note that all-seasons tend to be pretty quiet when compared to a performance tire of the same size.
Now, the benefits of this type of tire is that, well, if you live in the right climate they will be decent in every situation you will encounter. The “right climate” we speak of is one that does not experience severe winters, leaning more towards hot summers and moderate winters. If temperatures pretty much always stay above freezing in your area and you rarely encounter snow these will work very well for you. The reason for this is that all-seasons have a rubber compound that stays very malleable from extreme heat all the way down until just above freezing temperatures.
The other benefit of All-Seasons is that they last a long time. Seriously these tires just keep going for tens of thousands of miles past the life of a typical performance tire. This is helped by all-seasons generally having a symmetrical tread pattern which allows for tire rotations which will even out wear between your front and back tires. Sure you won’t quite be getting the extreme g-forces and acceleration/braking grip of a summer tire, but you won’t be replacing your tires as often either, and sometimes that’s just what you need in life.
The name is pretty self explanatory, these tires thrive in winter. More specifically they thrive in freezing temperatures and snowy roads. If you start your winter days by de-icing your windshield and complaining that your neighbor used their fancy snow-blower to ruin your freshly shoveled driveway, these are the tires for you.
There are two types of winter tire: studded and studless. Studded tires have little metal cleats embedded in the rubber to give them extra grip on icy roads. Studless tires do not have these cleats (hence the name) but instead take advantage of advances in rubber compounds and tread design to give them their winter traction. Studless are the more common of the two due to the tendency of studded tires to tear up roads that are not sufficiently covered in ice. A lot of counties and states either limit or outright ban their use, so you’ll need to check your local laws if you’re dead-set on running studded. We would recommend studless tires for most people due to them being universally accepted and quieter overall.
The way studless winter tires achieve their superior traction on snow and ice is due to the chemical makeup of the tire and the structure of the treads. The tires are made of a compound that remains flexible in the extreme cold, meaning you’ll get better contact with the road thanks to a more consistent contact patch. The tread pattern used by winter tires is much more blocky than you’ll find on a normal all-season or summer tire. The reason for this is that the wide treads allow for softer snow to be packed into them, allowing the tread blocks to dig in an find more solid footing. All this is accentuated by the tiny micro-treads (called sipes) all around the tire that act as little teeth to grip the snow and ice even better. Basically if you’re driving in snow and ice, these are a no-brainer.
The name of these tires is actually a bit misleading, it does not have to be 90 degrees (32 celcius for those from civilized countries) outside and sunny for these to be at their best. They work very well in most weather you’ll see from Spring until Fall. However, “Spring-Summer-Fall Tires” sounds a bit funny so we’ll forgive that little misnomer. This does however mean that if you’re ever in the unfortunate situation where you encounter snow with these equipped you’d better call for a tow rather than try to get home with almost zero traction.
Summer tires are designed for performance, with cold weather flexibility and tread life being lesser (albeit not completely dismissed) priorities. The rubber compounds are softer than both winter and all-season tires, and the tread patterns are designed for a large contact patch while also channeling water away from the center of the tire. This means that if you live somewhere with no extreme winter conditions like us (we are based in California), you’ll pretty much be able to run summer tires all year round and not really encounter a situation where they don’t excel.
The downsides to this type of tire is that you’re going to be getting overall worse tire wear numbers than a normal all-season, and you’ll find it difficult to ever get your tires rotated due to most summer tires having a direction tread pattern. Furthermore, if you drive your car like a grandpa/ma then you are likely just costing yourself a lot of extra money you don’t need to. Sure if you drive spirited and hit up the canyons you want a set of summer tires, but if you are a bit older and more relaxed then a set of all seasons will do very well for you.
Finding the right tire for you:
If at this point you’re still kind of on the fence about what you need, we can make it pretty simple for you. Do you get moderate to heavy snow in the winter? You’re gonna need some winter tires, no question. Your only choice after that is whether you want to ride around on all-seasons the rest of the year or if you want to pony up the cash for a nice set of summer tires.
If you live in a more temperate climate you should reflect on your priorities before deciding if you want a set of all-seasons or summer tires for your car. Just to recap, all-seasons are going to generally be a bit quieter, last you a fair amount longer, and will be cheaper. Summer tires will give you more thrills but for more bills. Road holding, braking, and acceleration will all be better, but at the cost of faster wear and a higher price point. You can check out our full selection of tires on our website.
Still not quite sure? Give our team of Mod Experts a call. All our Mod Experts have years of experience in dealing with choosing the right tire for your needs, and can help you make an informed decision based off of your car, your wheels sizes, and your driving habits. To reach our team call (714) 582-3330 or email [email protected]. We also have live chat available at Modbargains.com during normal business hours.