Before you begin shopping for tires it’s important to make sure you’re buying the right type of tire for your vehicle.
Take a second and think about how and where you’ll be driving on a regular basis. Do you drive a pickup truck and need tires that will provide great traction in off-road conditions? Do you drive a sports car and need high-performance summer tires? Do you live in a city that gets a lot of snow? These are just some things to consider before selecting your tires.
We’ve listed the many different types of tires below. Use this guide to determine what type of tires are best for your vehicle.
Table of Contents
Different Types of Tires
Passenger Touring Tires
These type of tires are generally designed to provide a smooth and quiet ride, dependable all-season traction, with a lasting tread life. If you’re driving a luxury vehicle, you’ll be able to find luxury tire options in both grand-touring and all-season touring categories. While most cars on the market will fall into this class of tires, some vehicles may be modified for enhanced performance and will need additional performance from their tires.
These tires are designed to deliver great comfort and handling when driving on the highway, as well as dependable all-season traction. Don’t be fooled by the term “all-season”, if you live in a city that gets heavy snowfall during the winter you’ll definitely want to purchase a set of winter tires. The tread pattern on all-season tires generally features a symmetrical tread and circumferential groovers for extra grip in wet weather.
All-Season tires are available in two classes:
All-Season Touring Tires
- Lower noise
- Better handling
All-Season Passenger Tires
- Smoother ride
- Long lasting tread life
Summer tires are great if you’re driving a standard passenger sedan and are looking for performance in wet and dry conditions. The orbital grooves and detailed patterns are not designed for all-season traction. Summer tires have a dedicated rubber compound that delivers great grip and steady handling on dry and rainy roads in warmer conditions. They also have reduced rolling resistance which provides better fuel efficiency and a quieter ride.
Winter tires feature heavy siping and deep circumferential grooves that help reject snow and slush buildup from the contact patch. These tires contain more natural rubber so they don’t harden in colder temperatures (45 degrees Fahrenheit or 7 degrees Celsius). The rubber stays flexible and limber in colder climates to help reduce the stopping distance when braking. Winter tires are specifically engineered to provide the best possible traction in extreme cold weather conditions.
There are two types of winter tires:
- Features small metal studs that are designed to provide great traction on icy surfaces.
- Have all the features of studded tires minus the studs.
Touring tires, also known as Grand touring tires are engineered to deliver a comfortable ride with dependable all-season traction – with the added bonus of responsive handling. These tires typically have a higher speed rating and most times feature an asymmetrical tread pattern. They also have a wider tread and a larger contact patch with the road resulting in a “stickier” grip in the corners.
The wet surface traction is much better and the overall tread life can be longer for most models. These tires are typically meant for performance sport and sedan vehicles which require enhanced handling and a focus on performance over comfort.
Performance tires are engineered to provide owners of sports sedans and luxury vehicles with enhanced handling response and traction. They typically have a larger circumferential and lateral grooves for wet weather traction.
These tires also have moderately dense siping and silica enhanced tread compounds which provide better grip – regardless the conditions. They also have a higher speed rating than touring tires.
Run-flat tires are one of the greatest inventions since sliced bread. Why are they so great? Imagine yourself on a road trip with no town in a 100km radius and you drive over a something sharp. Boom, punctured tire. Normally, you would pull over and hope CAA doesn’t take their sweet time. With run-flat tires, the tire will remain fully operational so you can make your way home or to the nearest auto body shop.
The tire is designed with strong, thick reinforced sidewalls that can be driven up to 80km while punctured. One thing to remember is they are not repairable and you will need to replace it with a new tire.
Rarely used for daily driving, competition tires are designed to provide ultimate performance on the track. They are engineered to provide consistent road contact in dry conditions and features high-tech body and sidewall reinforcements made with kevlar or aramid.
Truck and SUV Tires
Truck and SUV tires are split up based on how you drive your vehicle. Do you have a work truck that sees a lot of highway driving? Do you have a 4×4 thats meant to go ripping on the trails with the boys? While most of these tires will be fine for both trucks and SUVs, if you’re looking for optimal performance, make sure you understand the different types of tires.
These tires have all-season tread patterns and are engineered to handle the heavier loads of a truck. They are designed to provide a smooth and comfortable ride on pavement. Most highway tires feature tough compounds and tread patterns that fight uneven wear to provide a lasting tread life. The tread pattern features siping for improved all-season traction.
If you’re looking for tires that can handle off-roading conditions, these are the tires you’re looking for. All-terrain or A/T tires feature a more aggressive tread pattern than highway or even trail tires. They typically have larger tread blocks and more voids which helps provide great traction in off-road conditions.
In most cases, all-terrain tires feature the Severe Weather Service symbol and they are designed to handle sand, gravel and light mud. While providing little discomfort on off-road conditions, they also provide great comfort and stability on the highway.
The main difference between A/T tires and M/T tires is their traction in soft terrains. Mud-terrain, or M/T tires have very aggressive tread patterns with large tread blocks which allows these tires to get more traction in deep mud and sand. The aggressive sidewall features provide enhanced traction in soft terrain while giving a rugged appearance. In most cases, the sidewalls are reinforced to resist punctures, abrasions, and tears that occur when off-road driving.
When driving on roads, mud-terrain tires are typically less comfortable and tend to be louder than the alternatives. These car tires are perfect for people looking for a tire equipped to handle off-road driving.
All-Purpose/ Trail Tires
All-Purpose, or A/P tires, or trail tires are a little more rugged than a normal highway tire. You can look at A/P tires as mild all-terrain tires.
A/P tires usually feature fewer sipes than a typical highway truck tire and the tread pattern includes overlapping blocks that provide modest off-road grip.
If you’re looking for a tire that provides unbeatable highway handling and long lasting tread life, ribbed tires are the best car tires for you. They typically have a solid rib tread design enhanced for stability even when supporting a heavy load. The tread design also enhances the traction in wet weather. These tires are perfect for commercial vehicles that see a lot of highway driving.
Sport Truck Tires
Very similar to highway tires, performance truck tires feature all-season tread patterns that are enhanced for a many weather conditions. They typically have sipes for enhanced traction – however, not as many as a highway tire. Sport truck tires also have higher speed ratings than regular highway tires, and some may feature an asymmetrical tread pattern.
There are two types of trailer tires available:
- Can carry more weight for longer periods of time
- Usually have irregular wear and a rougher ride
- Provide a smoother ride
- Better for highway driving
All-terrain-vehicle, or ATV tires are available in sand, mud, all-terrain, and racing variants. Most of these tires feature large individual tread blocks and large voids which deliver exceptional traction in mud, gravel, sand, and rocks.
The Top 5 Best Tire Brands
Michelin: Best Overall Tires
Michelin is one of the most popular tire brands in the U.S and globally. They sell some of the best car tires on the market in pretty much every category. From summer tires, to all-season tires to run-flat tires, Michelin ranks extremely high among reader satisfaction surveys, expert reviews and user reviews. Although they are not the cheapest tires on the market, their top rankings across multiple categories makes buying Michelin tires a good bet.
Michelin offers original equipment tires and replacement tires across their five major brands: Michelin Pilot, Primacy, X, Latitude and Energy – which have 38 different models of tire. Michelin offers an above average warranty length compared to other brands. On many of their models, they offer up to 80,000 mile coverage. They also offer a great limited warranty of up to six years if there are any manufacturer defects.
If you’re driving a sedan, SUV, light truck, or sports car, Michelin tires are a great option as their tire brands are designed to suit a range of climates.
Our Top Picks
Michelin Defender LTX
Michelin Premier LTX
Michelin Primacy MXM4
Goodyear: Best Tires for Durability
Goodyear is an icon in the tire industry dating back all the way to 1898. They are known as one of the top tire manufacturers in the industry, their substantial designs feature multiple technologies that are designed to build long-lasting, durable tires.
Goodyear tires range of technologies are nothing to scoff at – their Silent Armor and DuPont Kevlar technologies are designed to counter harsh terrain and provide long-lasting tires that are built to withstand wear, tear, and tire blowouts. Before releasing their tires to the market, they go through meticulous in-house testing and independent testing. A study done by Test World, a Finnish company, found that Goodyear tires outperformed competing brands in almost every category – including acceleration, braking, handling, ice, snow, rain, and dry roads.
This tire brand also offers an excellent tread life warranty with a limited warranty of up to six years, or a specific mileage, depending on the model.
Our Top Picks
Goodyear Eagle LS
Goodyear Ultra Grip Ice WRT
Goodyear Wrangler AT/S
Continental is the world’s oldest tire manufacturer and ranks very high in both consumer reports and expert reviews. Since being founded in 1871, they’ve been ahead of the curve in safety, innovation, and quality tires.
Continental tire company currently owns General, Uniroyal, Semperit, Barum, Viking, Mabor, Matador, and Sportiva brands. Owning this large lineup of tire companies means they can offer a full range of tires including passenger, light truck, SUV, high performance, all-terrain, and winter tires. Considering their wide range of models, they are highly rated by industry standards.
If you’re looking for an all-season driver that handles both dry and wet conditions well, then you’ll surely find a Continental tire that’ll satisfy you.
Our Top Picks
Continental TerrainContact A/T
Continental WinterContact SI
One of the world’s top tire manufacturers, Bridgestone, is composed of two different companies – Firestone, founded in 1900, and Bridgestone, founded in 1931. In 1988, the two companies merged forming the largest tire manufacturing company in the world!
Bridgestone has cemented its legacy as one of the best tire brands and one of the most innovative manufacturers in the market. Their superior innovation lead to them introducing radial tire construction and rayon cord tires.
Part of their lineup includes state-of-the-art run-flat tires for people looking for additional safety on their car. Run-flat tires are great because, according to Edmunds.com “they can support the weight of a vehicle for a short time, providing the driver with about 100 miles of range to find a repair shop.”
Our Top Picks
Bridgestone Driveguard RFT
Bridgestone Ecopia EP422
Bridgestone Blizzak WS80
Pirelli is one of the best tire brands for high-performance and ultra-high-performance tires. They are known for providing high-performance tires to exotic and luxury car manufacturers like Lamborghini, Audi, BMW and Porsche.
Although this tire company is known for their tire models designed for sports cars, they also make tires for your day-to-day sedans, trucks, and SUVs. However, high quality means you’re paying a higher price. If you’re looking to buy new tires designed for elite cornering and speed, it’ll cost you a pretty penny.
Our Top Picks
Pirelli P4 Four Seasons Plus
Pirelli Scorpion Verde
Pirelli Scorpion STR
Best Tire Brands: Honourable Mentions
Nexen: Best Budget Tires
Falken: Best Racing Tires
Tire Buying Guide
How much do tires cost?
So you’ve read about the best car tires for your vehicle and what the best tire brands are – but how much do tires actually cost? There are a couple different factors that go into the total cost of new tires including installation, tire disposal fees, warranty and the actual cost of the tires.
So, how much do they cost? As you probably guessed, tire prices vary depending on the style, brand, and tire size.
Here are some general pricing guidelines:
- Low-end, affordable tires will generally range from $50 – $150 each. However, if you’re purchasing tires on the lower end of that scale you’ll likely face issues with durability and poor rolling resistance.
- Mid-range tires will usually cost $100 – $300 each.
- High-end tires (ultra-high performance or speciality tires) can be $300 – $1,000 each.
When should you replace the tires on your vehicle?
According to tire manufacturers, you should change your vehicle tires every 6 years – regardless of wear and tear. Most tire models have a different tread life, so it’s important to check your tire brand & read the recommendations in your owner’s manual.
In most cases, if you visit an autobody shop your mechanic will check your tires and detect any signs of damage or wear. If there is something damaged, your mechanic will let you know and tell you that you need to replace your tires. If you’re inspecting your tires at home, here are some signs that your tires may need replacing:
Vibration: Do your tires vibrate noticeably when driving? If they do, this could be a sign of potential issues and could cause danger in the future.
Bulges & blisters: If your tires have a significant bulge or blister, this is a sign of a weak outer surface.
Sidewall cracks: If you notice any cuts or cracks in the sidewalls of the tire there is likely a leak.
Tread depth: A common way to test tread depth on a tire is to take a toonie and place it in a tread. If the tread reaches the paws of the bear – the tires are still in good shape. If the tread is covering half of the letters – then it’s time for new tires.
Note: When replacing your car tires it’s important you pick the type and size specifically designed for your car. Using different types of tires on your car can cause potential dangers down the road!
What does UTQG rating for a tire mean?
UTQG stands for Uniform Tire Quality Grading. This is a system designed by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), a division of the Department of Transportation, which helps informs consumers on the ratings for tread wear, traction, and temperature resistance.
The NHTSA provides the grading criteria but the tire manufacturers are responsible for conducting the studies.
Here’s how the grading and scoring system works to measure performance:
Traction: This rating measures how well your tires grip the road in wet conditions. Traction grades are rated highest to lowest using AA, A, B, or C. A strong rating usually falls into the A category.
Treadwear: This rating measures how long your tire will last. All tires are rated against a control tire which has a rating of 100. A tire with a 300 tread wear rating will last 3x longer than the control tire. Most best car tires are rated from 300 – 500.
Temperature: This rating is used to measure a tire’s heat resistance. They measure from highest to lowest using A, B, or C. Due to a tires makeup and how rapidly they spin, it’s important they are able to withstand high temperatures. Winter tires are not included in this testing.
All of these ratings will be on your tire’s sidewall. If you’re unsure how to read the sidewall, we’ve explain how to decipher the numbers below.
How do you read the sidewall of tires?
If you’re looking to purchase the best car tires for your vehicle, it’s important to understand the numbers on the sidewall of your tire.
Here is a breakdown of how to help you decipher the mysterious writing on the side of your tire.
P identifies the type of tire. In this case, P is or Passenger Tire. Here are the other types of tires:
- T = “temporary”
- ST = “special trailer”
- LT= “light truck”
The 225 indicates the width of the tire which is the distance from sidewall edge to sidewall edge. The bigger the number the wider the tire.
The 50 is the tire’s aspect ratio. The aspect ratio is the tire’s section height compared to the section width. A lower number means a short sidewall with better handling and steering.
The R is used to identify the internal construction of the tire. In this case, the R stands for Radial Construction which is industry standard for most tires on the market. You may also see D which means the tire is built with diagonal plies – called bias-constructed tires.
The 17 is the rim diameter, in inches, for when the tire is sized.
The 85 is the load index of the tire. The load index is a measurement of how much weight each tire is engineered to support. The higher the number, the higher the load capacity.
Lastly, H is the speed rating of the tire. An H speed rating is designed for speeds of up to 130mph.
How do you maintain tires?
Properly maintained tires are a vital part of road safety. Think about it, tires are the only thing between you and the road (minus the 2 tons of steel). Here are some tips on how to maintain your tires which can also help you save money in the long run.
Check tire pressure monthly
Did you know that tires can lose approximately one pound per square inch of air (PSI) per month? Even more in colder weather. Under-inflated and over-inflated car tires can lead to braking problems, so make sure you check your tire pressure at least once a month. If you’re driving a newer vehicle than you’ll likely have a built in system alerting you when your tire pressure is off.
Rotate your tires
In order to maintain even tread wear and to ensure you get the maximum life of your best tires, it’s important to rotate your tires every 6,000 to 8,000 miles. If you buy a set of new tires from a local store, they’ll probably throw in a free tire rotation.