Deciding which tires to install on your car isn’t easy. There are many types of tires, and for those of us who don’t know what makes one tire better than another, it can be overwhelming trying to sort through the differences. Even the way some types of tires are named can be a little confusing. For example, why are there summer tires and winter tires, but also all-season tires? Is it okay to use all-season tires in the winter and the summer? Can I use the same tires on my truck that I use on my sedan? At the end of the day, each type of tire has its own unique features and benefits for different purposes, and we go through each one to give you a better idea of which tires are the best for you.

Summer Tires

You don’t need to think too hard about what these tires are made for; just take a look at the name. Summer tires are designed for use in, you guessed it, the summertime. They are optimized specifically to give your vehicle enhanced grip and handling during warm weather and in both wet and dry conditions. Made from a soft rubber compound, they are able to improve your cars’ grip and handling. Summer tires have adequate contact patches, almost no siping, and a tread pattern that makes them more resistant to hydroplaning when driving in wet conditions. Perfect for warmer climates, summer tires are a classic.

Winter Tires

On the other end of the seasonal spectrum, we have winter tires. Again, it’s no mystery what these tires are designed for. Capable of maintaining their effectiveness in temperatures as low as 45 degrees, winter tires give you the best traction possible in harsh winter weather. Winter tires have deep circumferential grooves and heavy siping, engineered to reduce the accumulation of slush and snow on the tires’ contact patch. Winter tires are made for a wide variety of vehicles.

Some winter tires are studded, meaning they have small metal studs, or pins, around the outer surface of the tires. The studs are designed to give the best traction on slippery winter surfaces like ice. Studded winter tires have a major drawback, though; they aren’t legal everywhere. The studs can damage roads much faster than non-studded tires, so some local governments do not allow studs on their streets. The next time you need to change winter tires, ask your tire service professional about studded options, but you most likely won’t need them unless you have some serious winter driving ahead of you.

All-Season Tires

All-season tires are designed to find a middle ground between summer and winter tires. They generally feature symmetrical tread patterns and circumferential grooves for enhanced grip. These tires are good for spring driving because you may be driving in dry 20 degree weather one week and snowy conditions the next depending on the climate where you live. Since they are designed to fit the middle ground between summer and winter, they provide adequate performance in most weather conditions. But compared to the specific purpose of summer and winter tires, the performance you get from all-season tires in either summer or winter conditions isn’t as optimized.

All-Weather Tires

All-weather tires are used as a middle ground between winter and all-season tires. The biggest benefit they provide is that they can still provide your vehicle with sufficient traction in very cold conditions, but you don’t need to change them when springtime arrives. But keep in mind, if you are driving in a climate with intense winters, all-weather tires don’t perform as well as your standard winter tire.

Highway Tires

Larger vehicles like SUVs or trucks that carry heavy loads might need a more specific tire designed for optimal handling on pavement. Highway tires have similar tread patterns as all-season tires but are generally made from more durable compounds, giving them longer lasting durability.

Energy Saving Tires

If you’re looking for tires that help reduce your fuel consumption, you’re in luck. Energy-saving or fuel efficient tires require less energy to roll because they have low rolling resistance. The tires are made with fewer materials and small tread pattern features to reduce the weight of the tires, and in turn, decrease their roll resistance.

The easier it is for a tire to roll, the less heat built up on it. The less heat there is, the less fuel is needed to propel the vehicle forward. That’s because the energy is going directly into making the wheels turn instead of losing extra energy as heat. Also known as “green tires” or “eco-tires”, energy saving tires reduce fuel consumption, decrease CO2 emissions, resulting in better fuel economy for drivers.

Performance Tires

Not all tires are designed for a specific season or weather condition; some are made for pure performance. Performance tires usually have bigger circumferential and lateral grooves for high performance in wet conditions and dense siping on the treads for optimal grip and handling. They are not typically used by average motorists heading to and from work but ask about performance tires at your tire service shop if speed is your thing.

All-Terrain Tires

All-terrain tires, designed to handle gravel, mud, sand and other off-road surfaces, are usually reserved for the adventurous among us. They feature much more significant tread patterns than your typical road tire, and there is more space between the tread blocks. Surprisingly, the aggressive tread pattern is barely noticeable when driving on pavement, making them suitable for road and highway driving even though that isn’t their primary function.

Tire Service & Brand Choice

Various brands with various product selections manufacture each type of tire we discussed above. The best way to find out which tires are best for your vehicle is to speak with the professionals at a tire service center like They will be able to take a look at your vehicle, ask you questions about the kind of driving you’re planning to do and help you make the right choice.

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