Tires are the foundation for a safe driving experience. If you have worn tires, tires that are the wrong size or the wrong kind for the conditions, you can compromise your safety. But with so many different tires out there it can be overwhelming to choose the best tires for your vehicle and situation.

Types of Tires

First off, you need to know what size tires your vehicle requires. If your car still has the original tires, then this is simple. Just check out the information conveniently found on the sidewalls of the tire. Write down the info on the sidewall or check out the owner’s guide for the car. If they are not original, then you can look up what size is recommended for your make, model, and year on various websites, including on tire shop sites.

All-season tires: These tires are often the best tires for general purposes. They can be left on the car year-round, so they do pretty well in most weather situations. They have grip for both dry and wet conditions, and even for moderate snowy, icy conditions. Are they the best for extreme winter driving? No, all-season tires won’t get you through heavy winters in Minnesota, for instance. But for much of the country, all-season tires will be sufficient for the conditions through the changing of seasons.

  • Winter/snow tires: Should you live in an area where winter weather is more extreme and you expect to be driving regularly in heavy snow and in icy conditions, an all-season tire might not be sufficient for your driving needs. Their tread is designed to bite into the ice and snow, and the rubber used is made for winter weather specifically.

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  • Summer/three Season tires: Lesser known are summer tires, that only are designed for driving in temperatures above 40 degrees Fahrenheit. In cooler temperatures, they will slip and lose grip as if in slick or icy conditions, even when driving on dry roads.  
  • There are other tires that are specific to the type of vehicle, such as truck or all-terrain tires. Performance tires are meant for more intense driving, such as with sports cars and the like. They lend themselves well to better braking and handling. All-season performance tires are available for these situations.

Advantages of All-Season Tires

Of course, one of the most obvious reasons to go with all-season tires over summer or winter ones is the convenience and savings. You don’t have to switch from one type of tire to the next when you are riding on all-season tires. You also don’t have to shell out for two different complete sets of tires.

They are meant to be good overall, despite the driving conditions or terrain. This, of course, is within reason. You won’t go off-roading with buddies using all-season tires or head out fearlessly in a blizzard with all-season tires.

What to Look for When Choosing All-Season Tires

According to Consumer Reports, two important factors to consider when picking out all-season tires are the tread-wear ratings and the tire mileage warranty. These two issues are crucial to the consumer when finding the right tire for a vehicle.

Tread-wear ratings can be found on the tire itself, with the other info on the sidewall. It’s not too tough to find, even for the tire novice, as it appears after the word “Treadwear.” The higher the number, the better the longevity of the tire. Or at least it’s a decent indication. However, testing on treadwear isn’t precise so neither are these ratings. But they can give you a range to help you have at least some idea of the life expectancy of the tire. Consumer Reports does its own test on treadwear and rates brands, but you’ll need to be a member to access the info.

The Uniform Tire Quality Grade or UTQG is supposed to indicate how long you can expect the tires to last, so if a tire has a UTQG of 400, it should last twice as long with one rated at 200. However, it’s not a precise science, so you can’t rely on that alone. This is because while the rating is required by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the NHTSA doesn’t do the testing, but rather requires the manufacturers to do their own testing. Thus the rating is more helpful when comparing tires from the same company, rather than comparing tires from different companies.

A more reliable measurement of longevity is the manufacturer’s warranty. The rule of thumb is that 75% of drivers will have that warranty be accurate and will not have their tires wear out before the warranty does. It’s not absolute, as the expected 25% of drivers would tell you. But many companies will prorate an amount towards your next set of tires should they wear out before the warranty is up.

Upgrade or Replace

When shopping for all-season tires, you can simply replace your worn tires with the same size and type, or you can go with a wider or more low-profile type of tire. You need to realize that going in this direction can affect more than the look of your car’s stance. It can make your ride rougher or noisier, as well. They may also be more prone to damage and lessen their life expectancy, too. Should you decide to go with a different type of tire than originally on your vehicle, you’d do best to go to a tire retailer instead of going it alone and purchasing online. Get some insight into how the tire will perform on your car under typical driving experience and conditions specific to you.