Choosing the Right Tire
Summer Performance Tires
When some people hear a tire rated as a Summer Tire they might just think that defines the tire as not being a snow tire. For the average driver the definition of rating a tire as a summer tire or what type of summer tire rating it comes with may never matter, and indentifying a summer tire as anything other than a snow tire or M+S ( Mud and Snow ) will suit them fine. People more concerned with speed and control on the road, especially those with sports cars need to at least learn about summer performance tires including what they are, how they react on the highway and understanding the rating classifications Ė Grand Touring Performance Summer Tire, High Performance Summer Tire, Ultra High Performance Summer Tire, Max Performance Summer Tire and Extreme Performance Summer Tire. In the final analysis educated drivers can decide on their own if summer performance tires rate as something they want on their car or something they want to make sure they steer clear from.
Letís start by understanding what makes these summer performance tires different from standard tires including where and when you might want them on your car. First and foremost summer performance tires represent much more than a name or a marketing ploy, the rubber chemistry stands apart from other tires providing the driver with much greater traction and handling capabilities. Certainly a part of what the driver feels in the car as better control on the road comes from the basic wide and short profile of the tire, which you might be more familiar with from the ratings on the tire sidewall , including the tireís width and height. In addition to summer performance tires rubber compounds, specific designs treads make you feel that you stick to the road better than a normal tire.
Before you think this all sounds great and run out to buy a set of summer performance tires you need to understand the downside or the trade off for the greater handling. Summer performance tires earned their name for a reason, yes performance, but they really mean summer. Standard manufacturers guidelines may state that you should not drive on these tires in the snow nor even in below freezing weather. I personally would go a step further; summer performance tires can start losing some of the sure grip characteristics as early as 50 degrees. By the time the temperature dips into the 20s your first mile on a dry road can seem like snow, real snow feels like ice and on ice make sure you have a tow truck on speed dial. Some cars echo a warning beep when it senses low outside temperature. While the original design intended to alert drivers to beware of ice on bridges and other general warnings no matter what tires you drive on, those with summer performance tires should take it as a special personal news flash that their tires entered a danger zone.
For some people the tradeoff between the great warm weather handling and poor cold performance gets solved by buying two sets of tires and switching at the right time between the snow tires and the summer tires. If you donít mind the price and drive a car that can take advantage of the outstanding traction and control, nothing beats a drive on a summer day on a twisty road feeling like you are glued to the pavement as you zip past the scenery.
Catagories Of Summer Performance Tires
Grand Touring Performance Summer Tire
Bought as tires for installation on sporty luxury coupes and sedans like a Mercedes Benz Sedan, Lexus 300 or 400, Infiniti G or M series or BMW 300, 500 or 700. Combines characteristics of touring tires and summer performance tires, appear to the eyes more like standard tires.
High Performance Summer Tire
Designed with a lower profile to look sporty as well as deliver good performance on the road. These usually come with tire speed ratings of H or V. Expect to find this class of performance tires on cars like a Mazda Miata.
Ultra High Performance Summer Tire
Performance summer tires with more emphasis on performance with speed ratings of Z or better. Look for these tires on cars like a Lexus SC400.
Max High Performance Summer Tire
Tires at this level may have been specifically designed to match a particular sports car. Examples of cars using this class of tire might include Corvettes, BMW Z4 or Porche and extending to exotic cars like a Ferrari or Lamborghini. Possibly the most popular type of summer performance tire for sports cars and most likely to be found as original equipment on high end coupes and convertibles.
Extreme High Performance Summer Tire
While technically in a class higher than Max High Performance summer tires, this group may be more limited in offerings with tires designed for particular low production models like the Ford Shelby Mustang. Drivers may find the tire characteristics to gain the control at these levels forces a loss of handling not only in cold weather but also in the rain. Those seated in the car may experience a rougher ride in general on these tires as the ability to feel the road around a sharp bend may mean you feel the road in your back and bottom as well.
Keep reading to learn about tires for trucks and SUVs.