Types of Tires – Tread Design
In choosing tires, it is important to consider factors such as quality, brand and value, but it is also essential to select the right tires for your type of vehicle. It is also imperative that driving conditions be a major consideration in making a tire selection. Several types of tires are available to suit every kind of vehicle and all driving conditions.
- All-season tires are a widely used and most popular variety of tire, carrying "S" and "T" speed ratings. Sedans and minivans commonly have all-season tires as standard. All-season tires are developed to handle most conditions from dry pavement to wet weather and moderate snow. Characteristics of all-season tires include a comfortable and quiet ride, reliable handling, as well as long tread life. All-season tires are a good choice for most drivers, except where winters are severe. For year-round traction in most climates, all-season tires are an excellent choice.
- A tread with gripping edges for better handling on snow and ice distinguishes winter tires from all-season tires. Winter tires are also developed with softer tread rubber compounds that help the tries keep more grip in temperatures of extreme cold. Because of this, winter tires tend to wear more quickly. Winter tires should be used in sets of four for balanced handling and optimal grip for braking in snow and icy conditions.
- Drivers looking for the all-around best performing tires in mild climates and seasons will find summer tires offer a performance level above all-season tires. Summer tires, as the name implies, are not at all suited for driving in snow and ice, but on dry and wet roads in mild temperatures they offer solid handling. This is because the softer compounds used in summer tires, unlike those used in winter tires, become harder in colder temperatures. While the performance is enhanced with summer tires, they tend to have shorter life span and more rapid tread wear.
- Run-flat tires are a self-supporting type of tire that can be used on light trucks and passenger cars. Developed with much thicker sidewalls than conventional tires, run-flat tires are able to support the weight of the vehicle even when entirely deflated. Run-flat tires are capable of operating without air pressure for 50-200 miles at 50-55 M.P.H. (depending on the tire) while maintaining virtually the same level of ride comfort and handling. Since any loss of air pressure would not be detected by the driver, vehicles using run-flat tires must be equipped with a tire pressure monitoring system. If run-flat tires are driven too long without the proper tire pressure, they may become irreparably damaged.