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You will find information regarding types of tires, their differences, their performance abilities and more as you read below.
As you would be knowing there is an ever growing list of tire companies, each producing a variety of tires for different purposes and claiming that there product is the best. Generally, there are three types of tires available – for car, for truck and for winter. Each type branches out to several categories.
The car tires are divided into All-Season, Ultra Performance and Performance All-Season categories.
As the name suggests, the All-Season tires are manufactured to provide you traction 365 days a year, a solid tread wear life and a comfortable journey. The tires can fit into small cars and light trucks. They are not tires you would race due a lack of accurate handling and grip, with maximum safe speeds of 112 mph (S) and 118 mph (T).
Ultra Performance tires are manufactured with precise handling and sensitive steering in mind, to allow performance under dry or wet conditions.
You probably have to give up the comfortable ride experience and tread wear as a result. You need to keep in mind that the summer UP tires will not work well in winter (snow) conditions. You can also get All Season UP tires, however they are a compromise between summer and winter UP versions and not the best for either conditions. These are best for high end sedans and sportster cars.
Performance All-Season tires have greater handling and braking capabilities, and allow you to run on high speeds (130 mph S and 150 mph T) compared to the ordinary all-season category mentioned above. These tires are normally more expensive, and are found in most of the new cars.
Truck tires meanwhile are different in their size, strength, and dynamics and are usually found in SUVs / Trucks. Since they are special in their functioning, it is advised by most manufacturers that you should stick with the tires your vehicle came in with. Your vehicle manual will also have details regarding this.
The truck tires are mainly available labelled as all-season or all-terrain.
While the all-season version is good for driving on the road, with better grip and handling even under wet / dry conditions, the all-terrain tires allow driving on and off the road (weight limit varies), with traction on snowy and graveled surfaces.
Winter tires meanwhile allow you to drive in winter (snow or ice) as you would have imagined. They have better gripping and braking on snow, with quick tread wear, designed for biting into snow / ice, and rubber manufactured to stay flexible even at subzero temperatures. However, under normal conditions the winter tires will brake to stop, taking more time. You can recognize a winter tire with the snowflake / mountain stamped on its sidewall, which means they are officially certified for use.
Note: It is imperative that you know that the M&S rated tires and winter tires are different. M&S tires are unable to work in heavy snow and can prove to be dangerous to use. If you use a Performance All-Season tire, you can get a Performance Winter tire which is available for all cars which can use a PAS tire.
After you have decided which tire type suits your need the most, now you need to check if it is actually available for your vehicle model and is practical or not.
You will usually find the tire size, along with the max load and speed rating in your vehicle manual or as a sticker on your door jamb. To know how the tire sizing system can be understood take the case of P240/80R16 108T. The P stands for passenger car tire (LT for light truck), 240 for the width of the cross section in mm, 80 is the ration of the aforementioned width to the sidewall height, R means radial ply and the 16 goes for the diameter of wheel in inches. You should go with the specifications recommended by your vehicle company as it is the most optimized and safe sizing.
The maximum weight your tire can endure depends on your vehicle size. As mentioned in the last point, you can find the load index in your manual. In the P240/80R16 108T, the 108 is the load index which depicts the maximum weight you can carry safely. According to the index, a tire each can carry 1000 kg. You should never get a tire which is below the specified load index found in your manual.
The letter T in P240/80R16 108T gives you the max safe speed. The letter can also be replaced by S. S rated tires have max speed of 112 mph while T rated tires have max speed of 118 mph. You may also uncommonly see ratings such as Q, H, V and Z.
You need to choose a tire which have a rating at least the same as your recommended specifications. For a winter tire it is optimum to get one with the speed rate same to your original tire.
The Department of Transportation (DOT) is printed on the sidewall. The numbers deduce the week and year of manufacturing for the tire. You should never get tires which are two or more years old.
Each tire has an air pressure limit. You should always inflate your tire quite below its max pressure point. Pressure is measured in lbs. in sq. inch. You will find the max pressure listed in your manual.
The sidewall is the vertical face of your tire. It has all the important information mentioned above printed on it.
Traction / Temperature:
To know your tires wet braking capability and its temperature endurance, you can check the ratings on the side wall. For traction the rating goes in the order AA to C, from best to worst. While for temperature it ranges from A to C, from best to worst.
Rating of Tread Wear:
Tread wear is rating used to compare how fast the tire will wear out. It is assigned by the manufacturers. The higher the tread wear the longer your product will last.
There is also some common knowledge with should be utilized while purchasing your tire. You should always keep your safety first (not look for cheap tires!) and before you pay for your tire, make sure you read the fine print which comes with the tire. Remember to always buy the freshest tire you can get and look around different stores to find the most recent one, if needed.