Most people give very little consideration to the tires that are on their car. The car had tires on when they bought it, and they replace them as required, either with the same type of tire, or one that’s more agreeable to their budget. But tires are one of the most important safety factors on your car. Having sufficient grip in each condition means you have control, whether that is when braking, or just taking a corner.
Normal (Summer) Tires
Your standard tire which most people traditionally have on their car is designated a summer tire. As such it’s designed to work best in dry conditions. But it’s also meant to be used all year round, and so the necessary tread and tracks are put in to ensure you maintain grip in wet conditions as well. These tires will provide superior grip in dry conditions, and are not suitable for off-road or snow use.
All-season (M+S) Tires
What is becoming ever more popular these days, especially with the number of SUVs and pickups being sold, is an all-season tire, also designated a mud and snow (M+S) tire. They work perfectly well in normal dry conditions, but offer improved traction in less ideal muddy or snowy conditions. Depending on local laws, they may be used in snowy conditions without the requirement of chains.
Winter (Snow) Tires
If you live in an area which frequently gets snow, you should ensure that you fit proper snow tires. All-season tires are an improvement on summer tires, but in a proper snow, winter tires can’t be beat. They operate fine in dry conditions, but will wear quicker than other tires, so if you live in a snowy region, it’s advised to have both a set of winter and summer (or all-season) tires that you can switch between as the seasons change.
Track (Performance) Tires
If you ever want to compete with your car, then track specific tires are a necessity. They will often not be legal for road use, although you may find some high-performance summer tires which are suitable for the track and the road. The tires are extremely soft and usually do not have a tread pattern (garnering the name slicks). This lets them provide far more grip than other tires, but they are not appropriate in any kind of inclement weather and will wear faster than general use tires.
You may have often heard the term, but don’t know what it means. Tires are given a specification that relates to the ratio between the tire’s width and the height of a tire’s sidewall. The smaller the wall in relation to its width, the more likely it is to be given the title low-profile. Low-profile tires are common on many up-market and sports vehicles, and traditionally offer better handling, but compromised ride comfort. The type of tire you buy is limited by the wheels you have, so this may not be a choice for your vehicle.
The tire types that we’ve listed here are not your only choice when it comes to tires. Whenever getting a new set of tires, consider the environment and conditions you need your tires to work best in. Always consult with a professional to get the best advice, and don’t be afraid to ask questions. Tire choice can even affect your car’s fuel economy. If you’re ever concerned about the condition of your tires, take them to your closest dealer and have them checked out.