As the only part of the vehicle that comes in contact with the road, your car's tires contribute to its overall safety. Tires come in a variety of tread patterns, and each one has its optimal application and road conditions. Using the proper tire tread can help you avoid accidents and even improve your car's fuel efficiency. What are your options? Here's a breakdown of common tread types and where they excel:

Seasonal Tires

  • All-season:Built to handle different types of road conditions, all-season tires come standard on many cars and SUVs. They offer an adequate performance year-round, but they may not be the safest answer for drivers dealing with snowy conditions.
  • Summer:Summer tires are similar to the all-season variety except they're not designed for use in snow. Summer tires feature less grooving in the tread to boost high-performance use, making them impractical in winter weather.
  • Winter:Sometimes referred to as snow tires, winter tires have traction-focused patterns designed to grip in freezing precipitation. The downside: Special compounds help rubber stay pliable in cooler temps, which can cause them to wear faster.

Terrain Tires
All-terrain and mud terrain tires are engineered to help when you're driving through rugged conditions. Large rubber blocks with small cuts known as siping and tread along the sidewall allow these tires to gain traction on unpaved roads.

Racing Slicks
Though their wide contact area and all-out traction make them ideal as dry-pavement racing slicks, these tires have far less traction in wet conditions. Because there's no tread to measure, drivers use holes to determine the tire's tread life and remaining rubber.

Tire tread may not be something you've given much thought to in the past, but it's a topic every driver should be aware of. Before you pick the best tire for your car, determine what kind of tread pattern works best for your environment.

Posted 12:00 AM  View Comments

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