While some drivers choose to stick with all-season tires for the majority of the year and swap over to snow or winter tires for a few months, there are many other options to consider. The same way we have different shoes for different occasions, our BMW 328i should also be able to slip into something more comfortable, enabling it to perform at its safest and best.
Before engines and suspensions, consider getting performance tires if you want to go faster and get better handling around corners. The rubber found in performance tires has stiffer sidewalls and a softer composition, which allows drivers to respond to the road better – be it stopping with ease or turning with precision.
Although performance tires will undoubtedly enhance your ride, they do wear out faster because of their low tread. Therefore, those tires are often recommended for high-end sports cars and sports sedans. However, there are several types of performance tires to note: Tires rated S or T are often categorized as performance tires just by their appearance and are generally designed for passenger cars and minivans; tires rated H or V are called performance touring tires and have the best all-season capability; and finally, there are the ultra-high performance sport tires, which are rated W, Y or Z, which are designed to enhance handling.
Because of the nature of performance tires, drivers would often own different sets, depending on the driving scenario.
Vehicles with large inventories and cargo towing responsibilities will require truck tires for better comfort and handling. Generally speaking, these vehicles are used to transport goods across long distances, which makes coping with highways easier. Truck tires are built to boost traction and diminish potential hydroplaning on slippery roads.
Although truck tires can handle many terrains, they do have some characteristics that separate them from off road and all-terrain tires. Most notably, truck tires lack the extra bite and will not grab the rocky, muddy roads as well as their rugged counterparts.
The key attributes of off-road tires are the large treads that grip the road, called lugs, and the deep spaces in-between the lugs that divert wetness on soft and soggy surfaces. Built with a reinforced sidewall and puncture-resistance material, off-road tires are all about traction and endurance and should be fully capable of taking you and your vehicle through the most beaten of paths.
All-terrain tires combine the open treads and superior traction of off-road tires with the functionality of all-season tires. They enable drivers to operate comfortably on both rocky, muddy roads and clean, smooth highways.
Some minor downsides of driving around in the city with all-terrain tires is that the ride will probably be a lot noisier than with all-season or truck tires. In addition, all-terrain tires are often designed with a softer type of rubber than off-road tires, which ultimately reduces their lifespan. So, it’s worth calculating: If you drive off-road more frequently, then perhaps you might want to consider off-road tires instead of all-terrain, just because of the longevity.
Low-profile tires refer to the size of the tire’s edge, which means a shorter sidewall height or the amount of rubber between the road and the rim of the wheel. Low-profile tires are attractive because they offer better handling, and their design enables manufacturers to offer bigger brakes.
Although some drivers find low-profile tires to appear more attractive aesthetically, the tire can often be described as stiffer, which causes jarring and agitating rides. Also because of the thinner edge, low-profile tires are more susceptible to deflation overtime.
If a smooth ride is what you are after, low-profile tires might not be your first choice. However, if you have your heart set, you may like to consider upgrading your vehicle in other aspects to accommodate the tires – such as implementing suspension hardware.
At last we arrive at all-season tires – the ones we are most familiar with. All-season tires are designed to handle most situations well – not great, but well – and for many drivers that’s fine, since dependability is what most car owners want.
Nevertheless, all-season tires have limitations and may fail to serve your car during snowy days, on gravel roads, and in the course of high-speed chases (not that we condone speeding). Like all things car-related, selecting tires for your vehicle is all about sensibility. Know your car, know your road and know which tires are best for you.