Types of Tires: Which is Right For Me?

Choosing a new set of tires can be an overwhelming decision for many vehicle owners. With the massive variations in price, size, tread pattern, and brands, it can be difficult to weed through all of the options and choose the optimal tire for your vehicle.

In this article, we’ll go over the factors that set each type of tire apart, and what you should be looking for when picking out a new set of kicks for your vehicle. 

Tire Types


As the name implies, all-season tires are generally built to run year-round in most types of weather, combining attributes of winter and summer-specific tires. These tires are designed for a comfortable ride and solid traction on dry and wet surfaces. As the jack of all trades, all seasons do many things well but fall short in a few areas that may be of importance to you.

While able to handle basic inclement weather conditions, such as light rain or the occasional dusting of snow. For those living in areas with heavy snow and ice accumulation, however, all seasons won’t be the best choice for keeping you safe and in control during moderate to severe snowfall. 

All-season tires use a symmetrical tread pattern, giving you many options for rotations that extend the life of your tires. These are great options for those who need a dependable tire that is suited for the majority of weather types. 

Performance/Summer Tires

Performance tires use tread with tight siping (grooves within the tread) and a softer material designed for maximum traction in wet or dry. Their shallow and directional tread brings increased grip when taking corners. Summer tires also tend to have higher speed ratings, allowing you to push your vehicle without worry of tire failure or losing traction. 

Due to the focus on enhanced traction, performance/summer tires aren’t as durable as their counterparts. The softer rubber compound used on performance/summer tires tends to wear out faster than other varieties.

 It’s also important to note that while they do perform well in occasional light rain, performance tires are designed for generally warm and dry climates during the summer season specifically. In near-freezing temperatures, the material of summer tires becomes brittle and can pose an extreme safety risk.

Summer tires are best for those who enjoy spirited driving, especially in cars built for performance and handling. 

Performance tire on white Lexus

Winter Tires

The polar opposite of summer tires, winter tires are designed with soft material and aggressive tread and/or studs that keep the vehicle moving through considerable snowfall and on icy roads. Winter tires come in two variations: studded and studless. 

Studded tires utilize many small metal studs to grab onto the ice. These are best for extreme conditions where snow and ice are abundant, and the absolute maximum traction is required. The studs do bring complications though. You can expect a considerable increase in tire noise as the studs impact the road surface, and the metal will wear away quickly on any road conditions that aren’t ice-covered. Studded tires are also required by law to be removed after winter is over in many places since the studs can damage pavement.

Studless tires solve those issues, forgoing metal studs for an aggressive tread pattern that provides similar (but not equal) traction on icy surfaces, all while mitigating road noise and excess wear in non-extreme conditions. 

Either way you go though, winter tires are not suited for non-winter driving. Even with studless tires, the soft material (which is much softer than summer tires) and flexible tread will degrade quickly over warm and dry surfaces. Winter tires will also decrease the handling capabilities of your vehicle in dry conditions.

Close-up of winter tire on snowy surface

Touring Tires

Touring tires combine characteristics of both all-season and summer tires to provide something in-between. These are a prime choice for long road trips and regular distant drives where both performance and comfort are desired. Like summer tires, they provide a higher speed rating and improved handling for a responsive driving feel. 

Touring options can keep you safe in most light weather conditions while providing dry traction superior to all seasons. The trade-off, however, is durability as the asymmetrical tread and shallower siping lead to quicker degradation than all-season options.

Other Tire Types

While we’ve covered the most common types of tires on the road, there are specialty options for vehicles with a specific use case.

All-terrain tires, for instance, use deep and aggressive tread to provide great traction in off-road conditions like snow, gravel, and rock. These are commonly found on 4×4 vehicles like Jeep Wranglers and Toyota 4Runners, as they allow for off-road performance without sacrificing too much in the noise, durability, and comfort departments. 

Competition and race tires are designed for maximum traction on dry surfaces for vehicles that primarily see the track. With this focus on pure performance comes a lack of wet weather performance and quick degradation, as the minimal and shallow siping provides little water dispersion and decreased tread life. Track-focused tires can be extremely expensive, especially when you consider how short of a life they have.

Tire Services at Toledo Tire & Auto Care

If you’re in the market for a new set of tires, trust your vehicle with the experts at Toledo Tire & Auto Care! Give our friendly service advisors a call to discuss the right tire choice for you and your vehicle. Our team has extensive experience providing quality tire services on all makes and models.