To most of those who do not require winter tires, the circular-shaped rubber-made items on our cars are commonly referred to as 4-season and summer tires. When shopping for new tires, it is important to purchase the right ones for the job.
It is with this in mind that we’ve devised this shopping guide for all-season and summer tires.
Type of vehicle
The type of vehicle you drive determines a great deal where tires are concerned. Tires that are fit for a Toyota Yaris are not fit for a Ford F150.
Tire size is the first consideration however the real element to consider is load ratings. Without going into details, tires are designed to support a specific amount of weight. Clearly, an F150 tires can tackle a considerable amount of weight more than the Yaris’.
Compact and midsize cars have lower gross vehicle weight ratings than CUVs, SUVs and minivans so their tires are certainly not interchangeable. Then there are commercial applications...
When selecting a replacement tire, use is an important consideration. Somewhat like winter tires for the cold season, selecting a tire that matches typical driving conditions will ensure optimal performance and satisfaction.
For example, someone that works on the road, racking up mile after mile... should consider a tire with a stiffer sidewall for increased stability without forgetting that a durable compound will take the driver further. Finally, although the stereo system might be good, a quiet tire will make life far more pleasant.
Performance is a relative term. It can refer to high speed stability as well as comfort. This is closely tied in with the expected typical use.
Also, desired performance is closely related to the type of tire. Think truck tire. They are designed for a specific purpose. Their squared off shoulders and larger footprint will affect fuel consumption through more rolling resistance but there’s no way around them if you own a full-size pickup. Tires destined for a Honda Fit will simply not work.
Performance will also come from tread design. A unidirectional tire is capable of displacing up to 30% more water than regular non-directional tires. Obviously, dry traction is not overlooked. A solid ban of rubber down the middle of the tire helps improve highway stability
This point pertains mostly to tread-wear and, specifically, to value.
Treadwear is established by each manufacturer and therefore can be skewed. In a nutshell, a tire with a treadwear rating of 500 should last 5 times longer than a tire of 100. Long-lasting tires can represent a good long-term investment and should often be considered.
Do realize that high treadwear ratings can have a direct impact on all-out performance. H, V and higher speed rated tires typically carry lower speed ratings. This will tie into what the end user requires from their tires.
Tip: The best way to determine the life span of the tires you are considering is by the manufacturer’s mileage warranty. These warranties essentially level the playing field between tire manufacturers. It could be considered more accurate.
Water evacuation / rain traction
This ties into desired performance. Regions will normally determine needs such as water evacuation.
For example, those who reside on the West Coast should seriously contemplate a tire that is designed and apt at siphoning water from the contact patch, preventing or limiting hydroplaning. Ultra-high performance tires with low treadwear generally do not excel at water evacuation.
Once more, this is related to performance. Noisy and stiff tires are common sources of complaints and so a Touring tire, if available for the vehicle, with its softer sidewalls, will smoothen out the driving experience.
Tip: Moving to a T rated tire from an H or V can and will influence the vehicle’s overall performance. Steering, braking and acceleration may all be negatively affected. However, if well informed, the purchaser may appreciate the quieter and smoother ride.
The almighty dollar determines first and foremost quality. There are some low to mid priced tires available on the market however long-term durability, safety and performance may be compromised.
Tip: As with any purchase, we always get what we pay for. An inexpensive tire purchase my make sense for as a short term investment however for the medium and long haul, these tires may need replacing more often, effectively costing more in the long run.
More comments and tips
For the vast majority of those who along the edges of the snow belt on up, the best thing to do remains to have a set of good winter and summer tires. By doing so, you will not only maximise the life of your tires, you also will benefit from maximum traction, safety and performance in every condition.
Always keep an eye on your tire pressure; checking it as little as once a month can prevent blow outs, excessive wear and even increased fuel consumption.