If you’ve ever tried to buy new tires for your vehicle, you’ll know how many different options you get presented with. Different manufacturers, different uses, and different sizes all mean that there isn’t one set just for your vehicle, and if you don’t know exactly what you’re looking for, it can feel like a minefield. Online tire sites offering quality tires brands like Pireli or Radar make it easier to find what you need by filtering available tires by vehicle or size, but did you know there are also different tires for different driving conditions? Depending on how you use your vehicle and where you drive it, you’re going to have to think about things like tread direction, rubber composition, and thickness.
Summer or Winter tires?
If you’re driving somewhere with hot temperatures, you are going to need to get some summer tires. The rubber compound in summer tires is softer and thinner to allow them to allow them to get a better grip on the road. This also gives you a much more comfortable ride over uneven surfaces and can even reduce noise.
But if you drive somewhere with sub zero temperatures and a lot of snow and ice, you need exactly the opposite. Winter tires are made with more grooves to give them a tighter grip on wet roads and helps prevent aquaplaning. They’re made with more natural rubber which means they won’t harden as temperatures drop, something which can cause splitting in softer rubber.
If you live somewhere with a moderate climate – somewhere where the highest and lowest temperatures aren’t extreme – then a good, all season tire will work for you. All season tires are moderately elastic, meaning they can cope with heat without melting and cold without splitting. However, if your summers are hot and your winters freezing, then you’ll be best off switching between sets every six months. This can be a pain – and twice as expensive – but is the safest way to keep your vehicle on the road.
Tire Treads Explained
The tread designs on a tyre aren’t just to make it distinctive, they have a set function which is to grip the road surface and cut through standing water. The number of grooves and the direction they flow in all impact how your vehicle handles.
These tires are good for all round driving over different surfaces. The tire treads feature multiple vertical patterns, but most importantly, they are symmetrical, meaning the inside and outside tread patterns are identical. This means that any tire can go on any wheel, as no matter how you rotate it, the tread patterns are always the same. It also makes it much simpler when just replacing one or two.
The tread on these tires has a clear inside and outside design, so you need to know whether you’re fitting left- or right-handed tires. The directional grooves improve tire performance in both wet and dry conditions; the outer tread features large tread blocks which provide a larger contact area with the road surface in dry conditions, and the inside tread features smaller tread blocks with more grooves to disperse water in wet conditions.
Directional tires feature an arrow pattern that is most effective at displacing water, but only if they are all fitted facing the same way. They’re the best choice for driving in wet conditions and will give you the best grip on difficult surfaces, however they are the most expensive option.
There are a number of different tire options for each situation and, depending on your budget, you can get different types of performance. So, while there’s no definitive right answers, there is often a clear wrong choice when it comes to the most appropriate tire. Pay close attention to the type of climate and weather conditions you’ll be driving in or you could end up with splitting rubber and reduced grip.