Tire quality plays a huge part in vehicle performance, and there are different types of tires for different vehicle needs. If you have a family sedan and you live in a four-season region, you’ll need all-season tires. If you simply want to improve the speed of your car, you need to get high performance tires which are designed for that. Whether you’re training to be an automotive technician or you just want to improve your ride, this basic tire comparison will help you figure out which tires may be right for your vehicle.
All-season tires tend to be middle-of-the-road performers, not particularly good or bad during any weather condition or on any type of road. With all-season tires, you’re basically giving up road grip for a little more traction during below-freezing temperature times. These tires don’t have super traction on normal roads, so you won’t feel the sudden jerk of 0-60 MPH like with a sports car. Due to rolling resistance (how much the tire resists rolling), all-season tires don’t help with gas mileage, but that improves as their tread wears down. There’s no standard way to determine if a given tire’s rolling resistance is better or worse than another’s.
If you want speed, don’t install all-season tires, even those labeled “ultra-high-performance.” Regular high-performance tires are made from rubber compounds, which are softer than all-seasons, so they get lower tread wear ratings and a shorter lifespan. High-performance tires offer less road grip, which means more stress on the engine, especially when taking corners and acceleration. But they can improve the car’s engine horsepower. Their minimal tread has grooves intended to shed water and prevent hydroplaning, but the main goal of high-performance tire design is to maximize the surface area that contacts the pavement.
Be prepared to spend a lot of money for speed. Tire companies usually spend around $1 million per year trying to create tires that mimic race tires. Note that tires built for speed aren’t built for anything else; turning radius, handling and urban driving in general are all sacrificed for speed.
The Tire Market
The latest technologies offer a kind of speed hybrid tire with “summer” or “three-season” tires. To make it more complicated, there are now ultra-high as well as high-performance summer tires, all-season performance tires and winter performance tires. The capabilities of all-season tires now stretch well into performance levels once known only to winter and summer tires. Be aware that there are few standards in the tire industry, so tire companies self-rate their products; ratings are subjective.