■ Metro Service / Contributed
Motorists spend hours behind the wheel and spend lots of money on maintenance to ensure their vehicles are in top working order. But tires are one area of maintenance that often goes unchecked, even by the most diligent automobile owners.
Tires undergo a lot of wear and tear, which only highlights the importance of proper tire maintenance. But many drivers do not give tires a passing thought until there is a problem, such as a flat or excessive wear. Also, some drivers think that all tires are the same, failing to realize that the kind of tires vehicles need depends on various factors. In addition to the size and type of vehicle, drivers should consider the type of driving they do and the driving conditions they routinely encounter before choosing tires for their vehicles.
Many vehicles come off the lot with all-season passenger tires because these tires are among the most versatile. However, if you live in a particular climate or do a lot of driving that requires specific traction or maneuverability, all-season tires may not be the best bet. The following are descriptions of common tire types and the conditions in which they might make the best fit.
All-season tires provide all-season versatility, good wear and ride comfort. They can be dependable tires and offer light snow traction as well.
All-season tires provide adequate protection in many conditions, but do not offer specific benefits in any one area. They’re likely to be satisfactory for a vast array of drivers. All-season tires are typically offered in touring and passenger types. Touring will provide lower road noise and better handling, while passenger varieties offer a smooth ride and longevity.
Summer tires are designed to offer traction and maneuverability in warm weather. Orbital grooves and complex treads maximize traction in hot, humid weather. If you live in an area where the temperature is consistently steamy, summer tires may be a good investment.
A safety precaution for many people who live where conditions often include snow, ice and cold weather, winter tires can be lifesavers. These tires are designed using several different types of rubber, and feature tread designs that maximize traction during inclement conditions. Winter tires also come in various subcategories. Studdable winter tires provide the extra security of added studs to enhance traction on ice. Performance winter tires offer better dry road handling, but traction on snow and ice may be compromised.
Performance tires offer a sports car feel. These are meant for drivers who want to feel the road and increase low-speed traction. The higher the level of performance, the increased level of handling and stability at high speeds.
Trucks, pickups and SUVs also have a variety of tire types. There are off-road varieties, which will offer an aggressive tread design for off-road traction and other obstacles. Light truck tires help provide durability and traction. Specially designed SUV tires may be large, but can still offer comfort-focused applications designed for on-road driving.
Drivers looking for better performance from their tires should speak with a tire retailer about the options available to them.