Driving can get pretty tricky if you don’t have the right tires.
Most people pick out a car and drive away without putting too much thought into the type of tires they’re using. However, that can be a mistake and we usually find out why when the snow comes. All of a sudden the roads are clogged by stranded cars which can’t cope with a little bit of ice.
The reason, of course, is their tires. In much the same way as you wouldn’t wear slippers to go hiking, it’s important to make sure your car is driving on the right tread.
There are four basic types of tires you can use:
• Summer: These tires are designed to cope with regular driving in the warmest weather. That means a rubber compound designed to cope with high temperatures and to offer excellent grip and smooth running at high speeds. Come rain or shine these will provide good grip and a healthy lifespan. Problems, though, might come when conditions deteriorate.
• Winter: These have a wide block design with grooves that are wide and deep. Some will even have small spikes. As the name suggests, these are the best tires to use when temperatures plunge and the roads get slippery. They are designed with a compound which works well in cold temperatures offering the optimum friction when driving. Those wide blocks bite into the ice and keep you going in the toughest conditions.
• All-weather: You might want to take a best of both worlds approach and go for an all-weather tire. These might not perform as well on the ice as the winter tires, but they’re a whole lot better than summer tires. Equally, they won’t have quite the same performance as summer tires in good driving conditions. They have a much more complex tread design which bites into the surface and can provide more grip in difficult conditions.
• Light truck tires: These are most likely to be found on vans, commercial vehicles and small pick-up trucks. They have a reinforced casing to withstand prolonged use and heavy loads, but are also designed to offer the comfort and ride of passenger car tires. At this grade they are working in both directions to provide something that is hard wearing but comfortable and long lasting.
In addition, you might also find yourself drawn to some of the more premium tire types. One of the more recent innovations is known as the run flat tires. These often come as standard on more expensive models and as the name suggests are designed to continue running even if they have a puncture. They are constructed of a compound which will still withstand a car’s weight even if it has zero air pressure. However, you’ll still have to repair the tire. Just because it can run flat doesn’t mean it repairs the puncture for you.
For those who want to go off the beaten track, a good off-road tire might be a good idea. These have a much deeper block tread design which channels away water and bites through the mud. These come at various levels from hybrid tires which can run well on tarmac and mud to the extreme off-road tyres capable of withstanding the most brutal of conditions.
Your choice of tires will depend on where you live, how you intend to use the car and how much you’re willing to spend. For example, buying specialty tires for all occasions can be expensive and take time changing between the two. Equally, choosing an all-weather tire might give you good driving, but it can also become stuck in some of the harsher conditions. In the end, the choice is