We often mistakenly think that tires are all the same on the inside, varying only on diameter and width. However, there are several major categories of tires. Let's learn more about the various kinds of tires so that you can find the right one your vehicle, given the road and weather conditions you regularly drive through.
All Season Tires
All-season tires are designed to work equally well in all weather conditions. Then you don't have to switch tires to have good traction on cold, icy roads. All season tires have a grooved pattern that works well on wet roads, somewhat icy roads and dry roads. The only thing it can't do is handle deep snow or ice. They're designed to give you a smooth, quiet ride on roads. However, they're not designed to handle off-road conditions.
Performance tires are generally designed to handle wet, slippery surfaces. This is made possible by having larger circumferential grooves. They typically have denser treads due to silica or siping added to the tread. This gives them better grip no matter the weather. They often have a higher speed rating than even touring tires.
Touring tires are similar to all-season tires in that they work in almost all kinds of weather. However, they're designed to give you more responsive handling. That allows you to drive at higher speeds. They may achieve this by having an asymmetrical tread pattern. They may or may not have a reinforced body or sidewall.
Highway / Truck Tires
Highway or truck tires differ from passenger car tires in that they're designed to handle the heavy load of a truck or SUV. Yet they have a similar tread pattern to all-season tires. Siping is commonly used to give them good traction. They typically have more durable tire treads, too.
LT or light truck tires have extra material in the sidewall and tread to protect the tire from damage. For example, there is often thicker rubber in the sidewall. They often have an extra steel belt in them, as well.
All-terrain tires or A/T tiers have much thicker, motley trade. The deep groves and larger tread blocks gives it much better traction off pavement. They can handle sand, gravel and light mud. Most models of all-terrain tires can provide a comfortable drive on pavement, too. They generally give you stability on the highway. In fact, some people put all-terrain tires on their cars to have a sporty or "aggressive" look though they aren't actually going to go driving on a dirt road.
Mud-terrain or MT tires have even larger trade blocks with more voids. This allows the tire to get more traction in sand or deep mud. The sidewalls are far stronger than even all-terrain tires, because no one wants to be stranded in the wilderness with one or more flat tires. These tires are best for vehicles like jeeps that are regularly taken off-road, though they might be put on other vehicles for a more sporty appearance.
R/T or rugged terrain tires are reliable open country tires. They'll provide excellent performance off the road, but they perform well on the highway, too. Then you don't have to worry about your truck's grip on the road as you leave muddy roads for wet pavement. Note that open country tires may be qualified for snowy conditions. Check the ratings before you buy them.
These are the opposite of winter tires or standard tires with chains on the bottom to give you traction on the ice. They are designed to handle high temperatures. They often have wide solid patches. They have modest grooves so they can handle well on wet patches instead of hydroplaning. They tend to have little or no siping. Summer tires are an excellent choice if you live in perpetually hot areas like Arizona or Florida.