Tires are easy to forget about, but it's important to remember that they're the only thing between your vehicle and the road. There are many different tire brands, sizes, and styles available, but how do you know which one is right for your needs? You'll want to consider your driving habits and what you're looking for on your set of tires. Do you want maximum performance in the snow? Or, do you need something that'll help you get the most fuel economy? Depending on your answer, the exact set of tires you need could vary.
Up until I bought my first car, I never worried too much about tires because I was fortunate enough to have my parents maintain the car for me. So, when it was time for a new set when I was on my own, I found myself confused with the different abbreviations and numbers. Fortunately, I'm going to clear some of those things up for you today to help make your tire search easier.
What Do the Numbers On Your Tire Mean?
There may be many different numbers on your tires but there are three main numbers you should understand before browsing from your favorite tire retailer. I'm going to be using tiresize.com today to demonstrate what the numbers on your tire mean.
So, let's use 265/65R18 for example:
The first number, 265, is how wide your tires are. You can see in this particular example, that the tire is 10.4 inches wide, or 265 mm wide.
The next number is 65. The middle number represents the profile of your tires. So 65 mm offers 6.8 inches of profile.
Finally, 18. The last number is the size of your wheel. In this case, the wheel is 18 inches.
This is more common in the off-road community, but you'll often hear people talking about running 35s or 37s on their rig. What they're referring to is the overall size of the tire and wheel that they're using. In this case, if you were using 265/65/R18 tires, you're technically running 31.6-inch tires.
Popular Tire Types
Now that you know what tire size you want to use on your car, how do you know which tire type to pick? There are three main tire types that I think many of you will choose between. They include:
If you're driving a sedan or crossover, it's likely that you're using an A/S tire or all seasons. All seasons are the jack of all trades, master of none. They often provide decent performance if you regularly have mild weather. With that being said, I'm in the midwest where we get pretty cold weather. I've run all-season tires on all of my cars and I have been fine. However, I do take things really slow and avoid going outside if possible.
Do you need a true winter tire? It's highly suggested that you use a winter tire for maximum traction. In the Chicagoland area where I'm located, winter tires can not be studded, but if you're in an area that allows for studded winter tires, that's a great option for icy roads. You'll want to avoid using a summer tire in the winter because summer tires are made up of a compound that'll freeze and get hard when temperatures drop. Meaning, you'll have no traction in the winter – think of it as a frozen hockey puck.
Summer tires are fantastic for when you need the most amount of traction on a hot summer day. They're made of a soft rubber compound and provide intense grip since they can almost become sticky as long as temperatures allow it. If you've got a RWD sports car that you like to throw around corners or take to the track, summer tires are a good choice.
It really depends on your driving habits and what you're looking for in a tire. Ideally, you'd switch between a summer and winter tire if you're in a climate that gets extreme seasons. But, I know that's not always ideal. Personally, most of my vehicles have been AWD or FWD, so I've been able to get away with a quality all-season tire.
I don't track or drive my cars hard so I don't need a performance summer tire during the hot season. But like I said, if the winters are bad enough, I'll outright avoid going out in the snow or icy weather. If I must go out during the winter, I'll do so extremely carefully and watch my speed. Remember, this is just my opinion and you should use caution when driving at any temperature. I'd like to know your thoughts, do you use a dedicated winter/summer setup? Or do you use an all-season? Let me know!