The Washington Times-Herald
---- — Drivers rarely think of the tires on their vehicles until they have a flat. But the type of tires on your vehicle can impact its performance. When choosing tires for their vehicles, drivers should consider a host of factors, including the terrain and driving conditions vehicles are likely to encounter.
Understanding tires and what makes some a better fit than others for certain vehicles can make for safe driving and improved handling.
The most common type of tire and arguably the best known is the standard all-season tire. Many vehicles come equipped with these tires, which are designed to be versatile enough to grip the road in various conditions. They are commonly made of a harder rubber that will not wear out quickly and will retain their tread. Most day-to-day driving can be done on all-season tires.
People who live in dry climates or drive sports and racing cars can benefit from high-performance tires. These tires are specifically designed to grip the road better and offer superior handling under higher speeds. Because high-performance tires are made of a softer rubber compared to standard tires, they will not last as long as all-season tires.
People who live in snowy, icy conditions will benefit from the use of snow tires. These tires are designed with special treads to offer more traction in slippery conditions. The rubber used to manufacture the tire can remain flexible even at extremely low temperatures. Winter tires are best reserved for extreme weather and not used all season long because they will wear out more quickly than others. They may not have the same level of traction on clear roads. In some cases, winter tires may have metal studs included to enhance traction in icy situations. People who do not want to switch tires when cold weather arrives sometimes invest in snow chains that improve traction on standard tires.
Muddy areas can be just as slippery as snowy conditions. Mud tires are designed similarly to snow tires but will have extra grooves and a tread pattern that facilitates movement of mud away from the tires and road. Mud tires may be wider than standard tires as well.
Drivers of trucks or sport-utility vehicles often need special truck tires. These tires can better handle the weight and size of a larger vehicle. Many drivers stick with the type of tire that originally came with their truck. Drivers who like to go off-roading may need an all-terrain tire to offer more traction when climbing hills or traversing different conditions.
It can be easy to overlook the importance of tires, but tires help vehicles remain on the road and can affect mileage, maneuverability and safety.