Every car owner has to deal with this question. It seems like there are more types of specialized tires than ever before. The fact that there are so many choices doesn’t make it any easier. So what is the right tire for your car?
The answer depends on several factors:
- What type of vehicle do you drive?
- What are the driving conditions where you live or travel?
- How do like your car to handle? (Maybe you didn’t even know you had a choice in the matter…)
What kind of tires should I buy?
Let’s discuss the different types of tires available.
All-season tires are aptly named: they work well in all types of driving conditions. Because of their deeper tread depth, they often last longer than summer tires. You can get all-season tires for any type of car.
An important advantage of all-season tires is the fact that you can leave them on your car year-round. You can put them on and not worry about them too much. (Of course, you need to get new all-season tires when they wear out.)
Are All-Season Tires Safe In Wintry Conditions?
If your all-season tires say M+S on the side, it means the Rubber Manufacturer’s Association (RMA) rates them for use in mud and snow. Tire manufacturers rate all-season tires for “light” snow. That term is a bit subjective, but we recommend erring on the side of caution. Also notice that M+S doesn’t say anything about ice.
Winter tires have a deeper tread depth than both all-season and summer tires. They also have different tread patterns that improve traction. In addition, the rubber is engineered to stay softer and more flexible in cold temperatures.
Studded Snow Tires
Some winter tires can be ordered with studs for extra traction. If you live where there is heavy snow but don’t want to drive a 4-wheel-drive, consider studded tires in the winter months. They will allow you to climb snow-packed hills and stop on ice. A front-wheel drive vehicle with studded tires is a good winter solution for many drivers.
Be aware that you need to pay attention to the patchwork of laws that regulate the use of studded tires. Some states allow drivers to use studded tires during the winter months. In other places, they are banned throughout the year. A few states even have laws that differ by county. Currently, there are no restrictions on studded tires in North Carolina. Make sure you understand the laws in the states you visit or travel through.
Should You Swap Your All-Season Tires For Snow Tires?
In the fall, you may wonder if you should change to a tire designed for more extreme winter conditions. If you are going to be driving in heavy snow, you should consider snow tires, also called winter tires. Your service advisor can discuss this with you in depth.
Summer tires are built for high performance driving in mild conditions. They are designed for rain but not for snow. North Carolina sports car drivers often pick summer tires. Summer tires are grippy and responsive in handling.
What If I Have The Wrong Tires For The Season?
While driving with winter tires in the summer isn’t recommended, the opposite is more dangerous. It is worse to drive with summer tires in winter. If you are driving in ice, snow, or freezing temperatures, your tire choice is critical. We already discussed why all-seasons and summer tires aren’t the safest choice for heavy snow and ice.
Driving on snow tires in the summer creates other problems. Your car won’t handle like it’s supposed to. And winter tires wear out faster in the heat.
There are also sub-specialties in each of the tire categories we have discussed. These include high performance, passenger, and off-road.
Choosing The Right Tire Is Important
The type of tires you have on your vehicle influences your fuel efficiency, safety, and ease of driving. Tires are a big-ticket purchase for most people. Choosing the right tire for your vehicle, location, and driving habits ensures that you derive the maximum value from your tire purchase.
You can rely on the tire specialists at Chapel Hill Tire to help you choose wisely.
We have answers to the most common tire questions:
- When should I replace my tires?
- What size of tire do I need?
- Which tires are best suited for my automobile?
- How do I determine if I am getting the best value in tires?
- What do all the codes on the sidewall mean?