Which Tires Are Right for My Car?
Not all tires are the same, as you might have guessed. After all, why would there be so many different brands, styles, sizes and categories if they were?
But just because you know that not all tires are created equally doesn’t mean you necessarily know the difference between all the tires. You might know the basics – all-season, snow or winter tires, and mud tires for adventurous folks – but you might not know which are best for your car. P.S. there are many more types of tires than those four!
Before you begin on your tire purchasing process, check out our handy guide to tires below. We’ve listed the basics for each, which will help you make an informed decision.
Different Types of Tires
- Suitable for: all types of vehicles
All-season tires are generally what you’d find on a car as soon as it came out of the factory. They offer decent performance on a variety of conditions – from wet roads to occasionally snowy ones. For residents of the midwest, these are often what you’d find on cars during spring, summer, and fall. They’re on the cheaper side, which makes them ideal for people who don’t need to change their tires very often, or for anyone who lives in a part of the country that rarely gets winter conditions.
Summer Tires or Performance Tires
- Suitable for: Smaller cars and compact SUVs
Summer tires can be marketed as such, or you might see them sold as “performance tires.” Either way, these softer-rubber tires are designed to provide the best performance in warm and dry weather. They have shallower but broader grooves than all-season tires, which allow them the best grip on the pavement during hot weather and rain. They also provide more accessible braking capability and more speed and maneuverability.
Although they do superbly in wet weather, they are not suitable for snow. So, if you live in a place like Kansas or Oklahoma and still have summer tires on your car, it’s time to switch them out. Additionally, their softer rubber does not make them suitable for heavier cars. They wear a lot more quickly than other tire types and therefore don’t last long on trucks and large SUVs.
Snow Tires or Winter Tires
- Suitable for: All types of vehicles
Snow tires work to keep your car on the road by pushing the slush that would get caught in large-grooved tires out the side while simultaneously keeping hard snow in. Smaller grooves give you better traction over ice and snow. The rubber is formulated to provide a better grip on cold pavement, and the edge of the tire is ribbed for better traction. All in all, when the temperature starts to dip, and you live in a place where snow stays around for a few months, it’s in your best interest to get winter tires.
- Suitable for: All types of vehicles
Going on a long trip and can’t stand the sound of a loud tire? Then touring tires are for you. These types of tires are for driving in a car in predictable conditions, like summer conditions, without as much noise as your average car. These would be ideal for convertibles or classic cars that don’t get as much drive time but are meant for luxury.
- Suitable for: Larger trucks and SUVs
All-terrain tires, as the name would suggest, are tires that can be used on a variety of surfaces, including pavement and off-road conditions. More significant, knobbier tires do not handle well on the pavement – such as on the highway or in town. They feature an open-tread design, which makes for a noisier, clunkier ride.
An all-terrain tire, on the other hand, has the same open-tread design that a mud tire or off-roading tire might have, but with better handling when not in those situations. They also have reinforced sidewalls like other off-roading trucks, which is suitable for heavier vehicles, vehicles that off-road a lot, and vehicles that might do a lot of towing on unpredictable roads. They do have a softer tread, and though not quite as smooth as a summer tire, it does mean that you will likely go through these tires quicker than you might other tires.
- Suitable for: Trucks and SUVs, especially those with lift kits or off-roading capability
Mud tires are meant for people who are serious about off-roading, or for people who might live on rough or unpredictable roads. Their knobby, tread blocks, and deep grooves give them superior traction in mud or on loose dirt, whereas their thickness keeps them protected from the elements – like sharp rocks or other things that might puncture a tire. They are not ideal for driving on pavement, which means if you put them on your daily driver, you had better hope you do most of your driving on other roads. Otherwise, the noise of the tires will let people know when you’re in town. Additionally, they tend to be a bit more expensive. So, unless you plan on mudding or getting off-road quite a bit, your investment might be better in a set of all-terrain tires.
All-Purpose (A/P) Tires
- Suitable for: Trucks and SUVs
All-purpose tires, or trail tires, are like the all-season tires that sedans use. They work well on pavement, on back roads, and light off-roading adventures. They offer some of the ruggedness of all-terrain tires without the noise and with better handling. These will generally get better handling on rough terrain than highway tires, but worse handling than all-terrain. People who live on dirt roads or who must travel down dirt roads are ideal for these types of tires. Otherwise, we suggest going with a set of all-terrain – they’re a bit more fun and will likely last longer.
Now that you’re a tire expert stop by one of our Zeck Auto locations and visit our tire center. We have the best prices in the area, and we sell to anyone regardless of whether they’re a first-time or long-standing customer. Scroll through our list of locations and find out whether our Purcell or Leavenworth locations are right for you.