Types Of Tires And When You Might Need Them

row of tiresThere may be more to your tires than you think—and it goes well beyond seasonality and vehicle type. Today’s consumer has a lot of options and many factors to consider beyond the happy-go-lucky summer tire. We talk to Jim Davis, tire expert and Goodyear® public relations manager, to shed some light on the subject of types of tires.

“Tires really matter—the four tires on a vehicle are the only points that touch the road surface. A tire has to transmit grip, traction, cornering performance, braking and ride—in any weather.” So, it’s worth the investment.

All-Season Tires

This jack-of-all-trades tire may or may not be right for you. “The decision to use winter tires versus summer or all-season tires is a personal decision,” Davis says. “A consultation with a local tire retailer is a good idea. Much of the decision is dependent upon the expected weather conditions a driver will face and the level of driving confidence he or she feels when driving in inclement weather, especially severe winter conditions.”

Winter Tires

Snow, slush, ice—even just cold, dry streets—are all enemies of traction. The tread compound in winter tires is made to remain pliable in temperatures below 45°F, and grooves are widened for heightened grip in the slipperiest of conditions. “Regions that typically get a lot of snow and ice, or high elevation areas, can be good prospects for winter tire use. Also, many drivers with rear-wheel drive cars, especially sporty cars with summer ultra-high performance tires, may want to consider using winter tires,” Davis says.

All-Terrain Tires

Not meant for city slickers, all-terrain tires are best suited for pickups and SUVs, Davis says, even those that spend most of their time on the highway. “[They give] the driver the ability to go off-road at times—perhaps for camping, hunting, etc. These are typically tires that feature more open space in the traction lugs and grooves of the tread, and are ideal for operating in rugged terrain on occasion.”

Run-Flat Tires

Want to lose that spare tire in your trunk? Consider run-flat tires, designed to keep on rolling far enough to get you to a service station or safe place if you run low on tire pressure. “Run-flat tires typically have a reinforced sidewall, meaning it can support the weight of the vehicle even with zero air pressure. This feature allows the driver, in most cases, to continue driving for a limited distance at a moderate speed,” Davis says.

Sport Performance Tires

If you like speed and precision, and you’ve got the sporty or touring car to match—which likely came with sport performance tires originally—look into these beauts. “These tires match the car’s focus on driving features such as steering response, excellent grip and cornering precision,” Davis tells us.

Fuel Efficient Tires

Owning a hybrid is not the only way to cut back on fuel costs. “Tires identified as ‘fuel-efficient’ typically have tread compounds that help them to achieve lower rolling resistance,” Davis says, which means they use less energy. Basically, you cover more ground without burning more fuel. Here’s Davis’s tip: “Keeping your tires properly inflated is one of the fastest, easiest and least expensive ways to improve your vehicle’s fuel efficiency.”

All these features, in most cases, can be mixed and matched among types of tires—summer sport performance tires that are run-flats, for example. It’s about finding the right balance. “A tire store salesperson can provide recommendations based on the type of vehicle, the driving behaviors of the consumer and the various features desired (maximum grip, long tread wear, fuel efficiency, etc.), but in the end the purchase decision is up to the buyer.”

Think you need new tires? Here are five signs to consider.

Originally published January 2015

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  1. Zach Potter says

    Thanks for the driving and tyres guide. My wife and I just bought four brand new tyres the other week after fixing the alignment on our truck and want to be sure that they are taken care of. I also didn’t know about the fuel efficient tyres, I will have to look more into them.

  2. Norman W. Krastel says

    When a car looks like it needs a waxing, try this suggestion. Wash your and then clean the car with peroxide. You will make your “hidden” wax shine like new. It will not harm your car all

  3. Steve Holt says

    I’ve heard of many different types of tires, but I’ve never heard of fuel efficient tires. I liked how you said that owning a hybrid isn’t the only way to cut down on my fuel costs. It’s interesting how tires with lower rolling resistance can help me save money on gas. I’ll have to check those out to see how they will help my car save on gas. Thanks for the tips!

  4. Chi Chu says

    Tires are very inportant,if you live in a cold climate.Because summer tires are well uses for summer seasons only,never good idea for winter seasons,winter tires should work very well in summer times too.

  5. Chase Wilson says

    Thank you so much! I just moved to an area that I have never been in before, but I have heard that the winters here are brutal, so I’ll have to get some winter tires! I have a feeling I’ll need some new tires anyways! If I change my summer tires out, will I have to get rid of them completely, or can I just have them re-installed in the spring?

  6. Susan Hirst says

    Thank you for providing all this information on tires. I really appreciate you addressing all season tires and winter tires. I’m moving to a place with very cold, snowy winters, and I wasn’t sure if all season tires would cut it. Your information was very helpful. I’ll be sure to remember it.

  7. sean says

    I like that you found someone from a local tire store to comment on all-season tires. Many people use all all-season tires all year thinking that is the easiest and most convenient way to do things. However, if you are planning on facing harsh winter conditions, all-season tires might not offer the traction you need.

  8. Stephanie Rodgers says

    They continue to develop and release some really amazing products. I didn’t know there was such a thing as a fuel efficient tire. The science behind making a tire have less rolling resistance which requires less energy to move forward is a great innovation to have in tires. I mean, who doesn’t want to save on gas costs?

  9. Stanley polchinski says

    GEICO is the best in my book . No other company will do for me , I will stay with GEICO till my last driving days . Thank you GEICO.

  10. Diane Harper says

    I feel that GEUCO has the friendlist telephone staff. They are always so very helpful, too.

    I wish you would “share” some of your articles with AARP. They are always so helpful and informative.