The type of tires you have on your car affects everything from its performance to your comfort to your safety. It can be obvious, such as when you try to drive a car with chains on the tires across hot dry pavement. However, tires that don't fit the application or environment in other ways can cause problems. Let's take a look at the 5 kinds of tire on the market.
All Weather Tires
All weather tires, also called all-season tires, are a compromise between summer and winter tires. All weather tires have a tread depth that is in between summer and weather tires. They are made to be dependable in wet, dry and light snowy conditions. They cannot handle heavy snow. They are less than ideal for constantly raining climates like the Pacific Northwest.
If the snow is deep enough to prevent the tires from getting traction, you need snow tires, also called winter tires. The sipes in the rubber tread dramatically increase their traction. Summer tires do exist. They have excellent traction on hot roads, but they don't handle heavy rain or snow at all.
All Terrain Tires
All-terrain tires are designed to handle every type of road surface. They can handle a brief foray through the mud assuming it isn't so deep the tire is half-submerged. It can handle gravel and dirt roads without any problem, as long as you don't drive over tree branches or sharp rocks. All terrain tires are safe tires for traveling in a truck or RV that drives over rough roads or regularly parks on open ground.
If you're actually driving on rough trails every weekend or literally live off the beaten path, then mud tires may be a good idea.
These are the tires you see on ATVs and serious jeeps. They have large, aggressive tread. This allows them to handle heavy mud, sand, gravel and debris. They aren't made to handle the open road.
Low Profile Tires
Low profile tires are the low tires that you often see on fancy sports cars and race cars. They offer better handling and performance on clean, clear streets and race tracks. They do not handle long drives and off-road conditions.
Low profile tires are always performance tires, but performance tires are not always low profile tires. For example, you can find performance tires that give you excellent handling and better cornering that fit on the family minivan.
Truck tires differ from passenger vehicle tires in several ways. They have a stronger body and sidewalls so they can pull a much heavier load. Truck tires are generally labeled with an LT for light truck. Do not put passenger tires on a heavy duty truck.
There are several variations of truck tires. Highway truck tires are built to be tough and durable. They are made to resist uneven wear that can cause dangerous blowouts. They're made to go thousands of miles at high speed, but they do best on the highway in mild weather. Performance truck tires are built to stand higher speeds while supporting harder braking. They also handle well in all road conditions. These truck tires may be a good choice for those who alternate between long distance hauls on the interstate and city driving. They're ideal for traveling along wet or snowy hills with a heavy load.