Not all tires are the same. Some tires perform better in cold weather and snow, whereas others may be built better for the summer. While some tires perform well in ideal road conditions, other types are built more for off-road driving. Understanding the way in which you use your vehicle and what you need out of your tires, you can decide which of the different types of tires is right for you. 

The different types of tires and their purpose

The most common types of tires include all-season, grand touring, performance, winter, summer, all-terrain and all-purpose tires. Each serves a unique role. Depending on the type of vehicle you drive, where you live and the ways in which you use your vehicle, you may only need one type or you may benefit from using multiple tires and switching out depending on the season. 

All-season tires

All-season tires may be appropriate in climates where the weather is similar all year long. They handle both dry and wet roads well, although they do not perform as well in ice or snow. For those who live in an area where the winters are very cold, all-season tires are likely not a good idea. Nevertheless, all-season tires are designed to be used all year long without you having to change them based on the season. 

Grand touring tires

Grand touring tires are similar to all-season tires in the sense they can be used all year long. However, grand touring tires provide more traction and responsive handling than all-season tires. They work well for sedans and SUVs. While they may not handle snow and ice in the most ideal way, they perform relatively well in cold and wet conditions overall. These are for drivers that live in a stable climate and want increased traction and better handling than the traditional all-season tires. 

Performance tires

It is a misconception that performance tires are for fast sports cars. You can enjoy performance tires with your sports car, sedan, SUV, minivan or truck. They offer exceptional traction and work well in difficult conditions (i.e rain). There are different types of performance tires. Most notably, they include basic performance, high performance and competition tires. These are great for drivers that want a little more reliability while driving in difficult weather conditions and increased road traction. 

Winter tires

Winter tires, also called snow tires, are developed specifically to be used in climates that get below 45°F in the winter. They handle ice, snow and cold conditions well. The rubber compounds are engineered to remain soft, allowing for better braking when the weather is cold or freezing. They also provide excellent traction to reduce the risk of hydroplaning on icy roads. They can be switched out with summer tires (see below) or all-season tires when the weather warms in the spring. 

Summer tires

Summer tires provide the best dry road performance possible. However, they do not perform well in snow and rainy conditions or if the temperature is below 45°F. Therefore, they should only be used during the warmer or can possibly be used all year long if you live in a climate that does not go below 45°F during the winter months. Summer tires can perform well when there is some rain but are not ideal for driving when there is heavy rain, snow or ice.

All-terrain tires

All-terrain tires, also called A/T tires, are primarily for larger vehicles. They have a much more bold appearance and are generally bigger than all-season tires. The reason many choose all-terrain is due to their exceptional performance off-road, while still providing a comfortable and safe driving experience on-road as well. Therefore, they are recommended to those who often drive on dirt, gravel or muddy areas and drive a truck, SUV or another type of larger vehicle. 

All-purpose tires

All-purpose tires, also called trail tires, are more rugged than the traditional all-season tire. They are very similar to all-terrain tires, although they are not as capable off-road as all-terrain tires. However, all-purpose tires provide a look that is closer to all-season tires, whereas all-terrain tires are noticeably different. Subsequently, many enjoy the more traditional look and feel of all-purpose tires while still being able to go off-road when necessary. All-purpose tires are most commonly sued for trucks and SUVs. 

How to choose from different type of tires for your vehicle

With the various types of tire options available, it can be challenging to choose the one that is most appropriate for your vehicle. When deciding on the best type of tires, there are several key considerations that you should make, which include:

  • The climate
  • Road conditions
  • Elevation level
  • Amount of driving
  • Off-road driving
  • Type of vehicle
  • Personal preference

Certain tires are made for larger vehicles as well, such as all-terrain and all-purpose vehicles. In general, you should consider the climate and overall road conditions when choosing a tire. While choosing all-season tires is the safest and most convenient option for many, you may benefit more by utilizing several different tire types depending on the time of year, such as using both winter and summer tires depending on the seasons. 

When to consider replacing your tires

The general rule is you should replace your tires every six years. However, you may need to replace them more or less often depending on how much you drive, where you drive, etc. When deciding if you need new tires, check the tire tread. If the tread is worn down, then it will become more challenging to have adequate traction or brake. Outdated or worn-down tires can also lead to a louder and more bumpy ride as well.

The bottom line

After reviewing the different types of tires, you can decide which ones are right for you by considering where you live, how you use your vehicle and your personal preference. For example, if you live in a cold climate, then you may need snow tires during the colder months. If you use your vehicle off-road a lot, then all-terrain or all-purpose tires may be best.

Aaron Westbury
Aaron is a content writer with a passion for cars. He enjoys learning new things and loves to share what he learns with others. Aaron also has a Bachelor's in English and years of experience as a writer, and he constantly seeks to improve and make his writing more informative and helpful for readers. Although a writer by day, Aaron enjoys his free time by getting outdoors and staying active anyway he can.

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