Choosing the Right Tire
If you do not generally drive in snowy or muddy conditions then touring tires should rate at the top of your list. Touring tire design provides a smoother ride than snow tires or standard tires on the open road, and offers better control and handling. They sound quiet and if properly inflated give you a very comfortable ride.
Touring tires have a lower profile and wider tread than standard tires. These features give the tire its greater stability.
Touring tires vary most significantly in tread design. The first common type represents the summer tread, designed for dry roads and responsive handling at high speeds. These should not be driven on snowy or icy roads, however. For these winter conditions, rate the best touring type as an all-season tread. This variety trades some performance for better traction control on light snow.
If you live in a region where it rains 10% or more of the time then you should consider rain tires. Germany, for example, gets rain 170 days per year and in Seattle the reputation for wet weather is supported by the fact that it rained for 27 straight days in 2006. Obviously many regions have a very valid consumer demand and need for this type of tire. Indeed, these conditions require very specialized tires. In fact, rain tires were developed for race cars specifically for high performance in wet road conditions! Now, you won't have the advantage of having a pit crew on hand whenever rain starts to fall, but the good news is that tire manufacturers make consumer versions of the racing tires which can be used year-round if the weather dictates. Naturally, if winter changes from rain over to snow then you will want to change over to snow or mud and snow tires.
The typical rain tire has a softer tread with grooves that quickly channel water to the center, then out from the tire. They keep the water in the grove away from the road and tire surfaces which help prevent the car from hydroplaning. Additionally, these tires are made of softer rubber which results in better traction. A good rain tire should carry a minimum traction rating of "B" Consider too that rain often brings fog, water sheeting across your windshield, condensation that fogs up your windshield, and generally much poorer visibility that dictates the need for a well performing tire. It's under these circumstances that you most need a tire that allows you to navigate safely even when reaction times might be cut into fractions of those of dryer, clearer days.