If it's time to replace your old, worn-out tires, then you may be looking for the cheapest option available. While there's no getting around the needs of your budget, it's important to understand the characteristics of different tires so that you can choose the best option that you can afford. In many cases, spending a few extra dollars may be the difference between safe, comfortable rides and harrowing journeys in inclement weather. Although the science and engineering behind modern tires are highly complex topics, this article will provide you with a primer on some of their essential characteristics.
Why Tires Matter
Not only are your tires the only part of your car in physical contact with the road surface, but at any given time, only a relatively small portion of each tire is providing grip. This section is known as the contact patch, and it is the final word in every aspect of your car's acceleration, handling, and braking. Without this tiny section of rubber, your car's engine would be unable to transmit power to the road and your car's brakes would do nothing to slow you down.
Contrary to popular belief, your smooth tires don't provide poor traction. In fact, smooth tires offer excellent grip, but only under perfectly ideal circumstances. In real-world conditions, uneven terrain or wet streets will drastically impact the ability of your tires to stay in contact with the road. The tread on your tires is designed to funnel water away from them and provide grip in the less-than-perfect conditions you experience every day.
Understanding Your Options
When it comes time to select between summer tires, snow tires, and all-season tires, it's crucial to understand that only all-season tires can effectively be used year-round. Summer tires are dangerously unsafe to use in cold or snowy conditions, while snow tires can become too soft in warmer weather. Unless you live in an area where the climate remains suitable for one of these tire types year-round, you will either need to keep two sets of tires or settle for all-season rubber.
Even after you have selected a category of tire, there are still drastic differences between brands and individual models. The formulation of rubber used in tires will vary depending on the characteristics the manufacturer is attempting to achieve. Some tires may be designed to achieve higher levels of grip, while others focus on comfort or tread life. When researching tires, be sure that you select an option that meets your specific needs and driving habits.
Choosing The Right Tire
Of course, choosing the right tire for your car is easier said than done. With so many options, how do you find the perfect tire? The simple answer is that you must understand your budget, your driving style, and your local conditions. Spending extra money for high-performance summer tires won't make much sense if you rarely drive in a spirited manner, but saving money on cheap all-seasons is a poor decision if you routinely drive through snowy winters.
If in doubt, speaking with an expert at a tire dealer is one of the best ways to find the perfect tire for your car. Be prepared to explain your budget and your typical driving style, and you will undoubtedly find a tire that is right for you.
To learn more, contact a tire dealer.