A Quick Tire Buying Guide
July 8th, 2016
The good news is, the selection of tire designs has expanded greatly in the last 30 years. The bad news is, that can become a little confusing if you're not sure what kind of tires you really need. It doesn't have to be, though.
It all comes down to your driving style, your vehicle, the road conditions and climate where you live and your budget. Here's a quick breakdown:
All-season tires, like the name implies, are designed for good performance in a variety of weather conditions. For most drivers of cars, minivans, light trucks and SUVs, all-season tires are a great choice, with a forgiving ride, low road noise and decent handling properties and road manners. Like the name implies, though, they're also a compromise and don't offer the precise handling of performance tires, or the snowy-weather traction of winter tires.
Performance all-season tires are designed with a more aggressive tread pattern and more "grippy" rubber compound for better all-around performance, while still keeping the smooth ride and good road manners of all-season tires. They may come at a bit of a price premium, however. These are more in the category of what used to be called "touring tires" or "grand touring tires."
Ultra-high performance tires are designed for sports sedans and coupes, with outstanding steering response and cornering properties. While they offer great traction and performance, they're also made with a softer, stickier rubber formulation that usually means a shorter tread life. Summer UHP tires have a very soft tread that hardens in colder temperatures, and shouldn't be used when temperatures are below 45 degrees.
Winter tires aren't the heavy, noisy "snow tires" of 40 years ago. They now offer a ride quality and handling that rivals the best all-season tires, but with a tread design and rubber formulation that are designed for excellent traction on snow. While winter tires will stay soft and pliable in cold temperatures, they will wear very quickly in warmer weather and shouldn't be used when temperatures rive above 40-45 degrees. Winter tires are also available in performance and light truck designs.
Light truck tires are now available in all-season and all-terrain designs, depending on how you intend to use your vehicle. All-season light truck tires rival the best passenger tires in ride quality and noise level, but are engineered for heavier load capacity. All-terrain and mud-terrain variations feature a more aggressive, blocky tread pattern that can go off-pavement for confident traction in mud and soft surfaces, but often are noisier on the highway.
A word about price...
Granted, prices on many designs of tires, across the board, have come down considerably. Bear in mind, though, that to a great extent you still get what you pay for with tires. Many manufacturers offer "sub-brand" tires that are part of that manufacturer's family, offering a great value and generous tread wear warranties. A little research or consultation with your dealer will point you in the right direction on these tires, but beware of truly "off-brand" tires at a low, low price. Often these tires are really inferior all the way around and will never deliver the kind of ride quality, handling, noise level and (most importantly) tire wear you're looking for.
If you think it might be time for tires or if you've got any questions about what tires are going to be a good fit for your vehicle, make an appointment with us at Goodyear of Buckhead or browse our inventory online. We're part of the Goodyear/Dunlop/Kelly tire network, with the reputation for service, warranty coverage, protection and integrity that goes along with these great names in tires!