The longest possible tread life? High performance all weather handling? A soft and quiet drive? A tire that improves your gas mileage? All of the above?
Sorry. Tires have come a long way, and they all do a good job across the board, but a single tire can’t give you “all of the above.” You still have to decide which of those attributes are most important when you buy tires.
How to buy tires? Here are some of the things that tire engineers consider when they design a tire:
Traction or Tread Life?
High traction tires are made with special tire compounds that help them really grab the road, with sharp cornering and fast stopping. Unfortunately, all that road grabbing means faster tread wear.
Millions of drivers consider long tread life to be the most important tire attribute when shopping for new tires. However, tires with long tread warranties have stiffer, less flexible tread, so they don’t grip the road like those high traction tires mentioned above.
Both tire styles are safe and well made. The decision depends upon what kind of driver you are and what kind of car you drive.
The Hankook OPTIMO H727 is an example of a tire that was engineered to have great tread life. It comes with a 100,000 mile warranty!
Precision Handling or a Smooth Ride?
Take your pick. Or compromise somewhere in between.
Handling becomes more precise when tire sidewalls are a bit stiff. Precision handling is of major importance to some drivers. However when sidewalls are less flexible, the ride becomes a little less smooth and road noise gets louder.
The ride is smoother and more quiet when tire sidewalls are more flexible. What you gain in comfort you lost in precision handling. Again, both kinds of tires are safe. Which tires you buy depends on the preferences of you, the driver.
High Performance vs. Fuel Efficiency
Low Rolling Resistance tires save fuel. One reason is that they are actually rounder than regular tires. The place where tires meet the road is called the “contact patch,” which is always flatter than the rest of the tire because of all of that pressure pushing down from the car. The contact patch is smaller on Low Rolling Resistance tires, which makes them more round. Therefore, they roll easier, which saves gas because it doesn’t take as much fuel to push them.
When the contact patch is smaller, there is less friction, which explains why they roll easier. However, as mentioned at the beginning of this article, if you’re looking for traction and enhanced performance, you need more friction. The bigger the patch, the better the performance, but the smaller the contact patch, the better the gas mileage.
The most important element when shopping for tires is understanding the features you need for the driver and driving conditions you face on the road. Matching these needs with the features that best support those conditions is the best way to ensure you are getting what you need for the best price.