Tire types or classifications are used on a regular basis but are we fully aware of what the terms mean?
All-season, Touring, 3-season, summer, performance, what do they all stand for?
Fact: Only in North America do we have an “All-Season” designation for tires. As per its definition, the A/S tire is a compromise and the trick is to manage the compromise
The following describes in some detail the types of tires that make up or fall under the “summer tire” moniker.
4-season (all-season or touring) tire
A 4-season tire is expected to perform well in all road conditions. Be that as it may, they remain a compromise. The fact is that no 4-season tire will ever be able to provide as much grip as a pure winter tire
as required in very cold conditions.
Commonly referred to as a Touring all-season, they are:
- Are of a harder compound with softer sidewalls
- Typically quieter than any type of performance tire
- Designed to last a long time
- Designed to be used on wet, dry and, to a lesser extent, snow covered road surfaces.
- Expected to have an good ability for water evacuation
- Typically sport a “T” speed rating
A softer sidewall will not transmit as many road imperfections and will tend to flex more when turning hard or taking a curve.
The 4-season tire is destined to those looking for value and a sufficient level of performance. They are currently some of the least expensive tires on the market and generally only available in smaller sizes.
3-season (summer) tire
- The other type of all-season tires is commonly referred to as Performance all-season or a 3-season tire. By comparison to the first, they are:
- Built with a soft and grippy rubber compound that provides superior handling in various types of driving conditions
- In most instances, will become nearly useless near or at the freezing point
- They will be noisier
- Recognized by its H or V speed rating and typically more aggressive tread pattern
- They also expected to expertly disperse deep water
This type of tire is becoming increasingly popular on the North American market as even the most benign Hyundai Accent can be equipped H rated tires (top speed of 130 mph 210 km/h).
These tires are on average slightly more expensive than an equivalent sized all-season tire. The trade off is better handling in dry and wet conditions thanks in part to more aggressive shoulders which has a direct impact on stability.
This type of tire is conceived for the utmost levels of grip in warmer temperatures. Summer or performance tires:
- Will excel in both wet and dry conditions.
- Are characterised by very stiff sidewalls for better cornering abilities and crisper handling.
- Will not work in cold weather because their compound is designed to work at higher temperatures.
- Will wear out much faster because they are intended to be stickier and will be noisier
- Improve directional stability
Performance tires, like 3-season tires, are becoming the norm on many midsize sedans and other types of family vehicles. There are many levels of performance to choose from and not to mention speed ratings. These classifications have a direct impact on price.