Tire Buyers Guide

Find the right tires for your vehicle with in-depth research and testing for every style of driving.

Categories

  • Best Tires For Me
  • Tire Care

Tires: What You Need To Know

Before you start reviewing the best tires and best tire brands, you’ll need to answer a few simple questions:

  • What size tire do you need? Don’t waste time and money purchasing the wrong size tire that won’t fit on your vehicle, check out our tire size calculator to ensure you buy the right size.
  • Where are you driving? If you’re buying tires for your next track day, what you need will greatly vary from what a truck driver who wants to hit some back country roads will need.
  • What’s the weather like? While summer tires will perform as expected on a hot summer day in July, they’d be scary to drive in deep snow.

UTQG Standards

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is the governing body that enforces federal safety standards for all tires sold in the United States. The NHTSA created the UTQG standards to allow customers to make more informed purchasing decisions. Specific categories of UTQG ratings include:

  • Treadwear: This compares a tire’s tread against that of a control tire’s tread. A score of 100 indicates that the tested tire’s treads last as long as the control tire’s, 200 indicates that the tire lasts twice as long, and so on.
  • Traction: Graded on a scale of AA, A, B, and C, this rating is based on a tire’s braking g-force.
  • Temperature: Graded on a scale of A, B, or C, this tests a tire’s ability to withstand running at high speeds.

How To Read A Tire’s Sidewall

The myriad of markings and numbers on a tire’s sidewall can make it difficult to find information by simply looking at a tire. Below is an explanation of the types of information you can find from your tire’s sidewall:

  • Tire size: Otherwise known as the width of the tire, this is the first set of numbers on the sidewall. Tire size is expressed in millimeters.
  • Type of tire: You can identify which type of tire you have by the letters included before the size of the tire. A tire without letters or with a “P” before the tire size is a passenger tire with a standard load (a four-ply rating).
  • Weight capacity: Tires with the letters “XL” after the tire size have a higher weight capacity than a standard load, but not higher than an “LT” tire. Tires with “LT” or “ST” before the tire size have a higher weight capacity, as “LT” stands for light truck and “ST” stands for special trailer.
  • Aspect ratio: The second set of numbers on a tire’s sidewall indicates the aspect ratio. This is expressed in a percentage, which is ultimately calculated by dividing the tire’s height measured from the rim to the tread by the tire’s width.
  • Type of construction: The type of construction is indicated directly after the aspect ratio on a tire’s sidewall. “R” stands for radial, which is the most common type of tire, “B” stands for bias, and “D” stands for diagonal. Plies run perpendicular to the tread in radial tires, while in bias and diagonal tires, plies overlap diagonally.
  • Rim diameter: Following the type of construction is where the diameter of the rim is typically indicated. Rim diameter is expressed in inches.

Taking Care Of Your Tires

Regardless of your tire’s brand or price, if you don’t take care of your tires then you’ll end up spending a lot more than you need to. Below are three simple steps you can take to get the best out of your tires:

  1. Wheel alignment: Wheels that are improperly aligned will cause your tires to wear unevenly. A proper wheel alignment can drastically improve the lifespan of your car’s tires.
  2. Tire rotation: Regularly rotating your tires, either by the recommendation made by your vehicle manufacturer or every 5,000 miles, will reduce the likelihood of uneven treadwear.
  3. Balance: Outside of unevenly worn tires, wheels that aren’t properly balanced can cause vibrations that make it unsafe to drive. Checking your wheels’ balance can ensure your tire lasts for its full life cycle.

Types Of Tires

In order to find the best tires for your vehicle, you need to know which type of tire you’re looking for:

  • All-season tires: The most versatile tire type, all-season tires are designed to perform well in all four seasons and all weather conditions. Depending on where you live, however, you might need a more specific type of tire.
  • All-season performance tires: Like the previous entry, these tires work in all weather conditions, but they offer higher performance standards than regular all-season tires.
  • Summer tires: With shallower grooves and continuous ribs, these tires are designed for tight turns, smooth acceleration, and less hydroplaning. If you drive a high-performance vehicle or live somewhere with consistent warm weather, these tires will get the job done.
  • Winter tires: Obviously, winter tires are designed for cold, heavy-snow environments. Between their larger tread grooves and hydrophilic rubber, there are numerous reasons why these tires outperform the rest in dangerous winter driving conditions.
  • All-terrain tires: Enjoy off-roading or live down a long, dirt driveway? Then all-terrain tires might be your best solution for smooth transitions between on- and off-roading.
  • Spare tires: Everybody has to have a spare tire ready to go for emergencies. While these tires are never going to be as good as your other three, investing in a decent spare will ensure that your trip to the shop isn’t a treacherous one.
  • Trailer tires: These tires are often basic, like a spare tire. But that doesn’t mean they should be ignored. Prevent a blowout by purchasing well-made, affordable trailer tires.

Best Tire Brands

In no particular order, here is a list of some of the best tire brands:

  1. Continental
  2. Goodyear Tires
  3. Michelin
  4. BFGoodrich
  5. Firestone Tire and Rubber Co.
  6. Pirelli
  7. Yokohama Rubber Co.
  8. Toyo Tires
  9. Nitto Tire
  10. Hankook Tire
  11. Falken Tires
  12. Sumitomo Group
  13. Dunlop
  14. Nexen Tire
  15. General Tire
  16. Bridgestone
  17. Kumho Tire
  18. Cooper Tire & Rubber Co.

Our Methodology

Our team prides itself on sharing accurate information on everything related to auto products. We verify each product’s quality through our hands-on research, and our team follows an in-depth testing process for products we review in person. We try to perform in-house testing on real vehicles whenever possible before making our recommendations. This ensures that only products we are passionate about appear in our guides, so you can buy with confidence.

Our Research Process

We start by searching retailers like Tire Rack and Discount Tire for top products, looking at factors such as tread patterns, siping, customer ratings, and prices.

Our independent tire tester, Jonathan Benson of TyreReviews.com, orders tires from all of the best tire brands on the market. He is internationally renowned for performing some of the most involved and thorough testing in the industry.

Benson tests each tire on a variety of different vehicles on a range of terrain. Testing takes place all over the world, with tests ranging from ice handling on frozen lakes to dirt handling around a muddy track.

Our tire testing consists of a number of timed laps averaged out. Throughout testing, Benson utilizes control tires to benchmark the track’s surface evolution and ultimately calculate each tire’s rating in individual testing categories. Benson takes note of each tire’s wet handling, dry handling, dirt handling, gravel handling, snow handling, and ice handling depending on the type of tire he’s testing. Overall comfort and road noise are judged throughout.

Each tire is given a rating out of 10.0 based on some or all of these criteria.

Why Trust Us

Each year, we test over 350 auto products on vehicles and in our testing lab. Our team of product testers thoroughly researches top products, unboxes and puts our hands on each component, and tests the items on real vehicles before making recommendations to readers.

We publish hundreds of product and service reviews to bring car enthusiasts detailed guides on automotive tools, detailing kits, car seats, pet products, and much more. For more information on our testing methodology and how we evaluate every product, check out our methodology page here.

Because our testing expertise is centered around aftermarket car products and accessories, we decided to leave tire testing in the hands of a true tire expert. That’s why we reached out to Jonathan Benson who has more than 15 years of experience. His insight and hands-on testing, combined with our extensive knowledge of aftermarket car products have been a perfect match.