Which Tires Should I Buy?

    Considering last night’s winter snow storm, and the accidents that followed, it feels like a good time to educate on what types of tires are available for safe driving. Just because you have all-season tires that doesn’t mean they are optimized for driving in harsh weather conditions. “But Short Shift, I have all wheel-drive-so it shouldn’t matter what type of tire I have.” Wrong! All-wheel-drive only helps you accelerate easier in thick snow and rain, it doesn’t help you turn or, more importantly, stop.

    There are 5 main types of tires on the market:

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    All Season TireAll-Season Tires

    All-season tires are more like three-season tires. They are designed to be practical in most any condition and to last a very long time. They have specialized grooves and ridges to wick away rain water and enough grip to get you going on every road. They also are designed for maximum noise reduction while driving at high speeds. When it comes to heavy snow or tough off-road terrain, they don’t match up to more specialized tires. The all-season tire is the best all-around tire and usually comes standard with your vehicle.

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    winter-tireWinter-Use Tires

    Winter-use tires are made for cold weather and heavy snow. They are made from softer rubber that heats up while driving in the cold for improved grip on snow and ice. They will also have thicker tread patterns that will help “bite” the snow better while driving. These also come in studded models for extreme weather conditions. It is highly recommended to get a set of winter-use tires for the winter months and store them during the summer months so they last longer.

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    All-Terrain-TireAll-Terrain Tires

    All-terrain tires are used primarily on small trucks and SUVs. Since trucks and SUV’s tend to tow and go off road more frequently, there is added puncture resistance and more rigid sidewalls. They also have larger tread patterns to improve grip on gravel and mud.

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    Performance-TirePerformance Tires

    When summer arrives, you want to put these bad boys on your sports car. These are the tires you choose when you want to maximize grip on the pavement. They are designed for aggressive drivers so the are made of a softer rubber, which increases traction and improves cornering, and have lower profiles to reduce flexing under stress.

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    Off-RoadOff-Road Tires

    Off-road tires are for just that, off-road. They feature giant tread blocks for going through the toughest mud and snow. They wear down quickly on pavement/highway driving, but they will get you up and down those recreational trails. Highly recommended for trail driving and mud driving.

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    *Top photo from Bishop David’s Blog

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    Chris Berke
    Chris Berke
    I am the founder and editor of Short Shift. My obsession with wanting to drive every car ever made me build a website so I could share my experiences with the world. I love cars, traveling, and my cats, Henry and Winston.


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