After you have determined how many tires you need and your correct tire size it’s now time to figure out what kind of conditions you are most likely to encounter when you drive. Do you drive a lot in the rain or snow? Do you drive truck on-or-off roads? Do you mostly drive in dry weather? All of these conditions are factors when choosing the right tire for your needs.

What you want to do is analyze your driving conditions. You want to think of your worst possible driving conditions and balance them out with your typical driving conditions.

Worse possible driving conditions

If you use more than one set of tires and wheels; for example summer tires for summer and snow tires for the winter, you can select tires that will exactly meet your needs. However, if you use just one set for every season, you may get great performance under certain conditions but comprise on performance during other conditions. So it is important for you to match your tires based on the worse possible conditions you may expect to encounter.

Typical driving conditions

If most of your driving is around town, almost any tire will work for you. But, if you drive a lot on congested city streets or expressways during rush hour, you may want to get a tire that is more responsive and has better braking abilities. If you really only drive on interstates, than you will probably want a quiet, smooth-riding, long-wearing tire. If you drive on winding roads, you want to look for a better handling tire.

Balance the worse and the typical

If both conditions seem very similar, one set of tires is all you need. If you infrequently encounter snowy or hazardous conditions, you may want to select an all-season tire. If your worse conditions appear more frequently you may want to consider two sets of tires.

Types of Tires

What you want to do first, is identify the kind of vehicle you are buying tires for. Or if you are in need of winter tires. Then you will want to choose a tire that best suits your needs.

Passenger Car/Minivan

These tires typically have taller sidewalls and emphasize benefits such as long-tread life, comfort, and dependability in a variety of weather conditions. Some of these tires are speed rated. Usually they range from S (up to 112mph) to T (up to 118mph). What you will want to do is compare the speed ratings to what is most important to your driving conditions. Remember the higher the speed rating, the better performance and handling a tire has.

Passenger tires are the most cost-effective tires available. They have all the main attributes one could look for in a tire; smooth ride, long wear, low noise, etc. However if you are looking for something a little better, but still not as pricey as a sport/luxury car tire, you can opt for a Touring Tire. These tires offer enhanced performance combined with excellent ride quality. They usually have a slightly lower profile and wider tread than an equivalent passenger tire, which helps the Touring Tire to handle and perform better at higher speeds.

Sport/Luxury Car

These tires are designed to provide confident handling and stability at higher speeds to maximize performance of sport/luxury cars where handling is very important. These tires are often used to enhance the look of just about any vehicle. They are available in lower profiles, larger wheel sizes, wider treads and stiffer sidewalls to improve cornering response and stability.

Tires in this category are most like classified as performance, high-performance and ultra high-performance tires. All these tires are speed rated. They typically range from H (up to 130mph) to Z (up to 149mph). Remember, ultra high-performance tires must be matched with ultra high-performance vehicle suspensions in order for you to appreciate the benefit of the tire. These tires are usually the priciest of all tires.


These tires usually have a higher load capacity than other tires. Load capacity is controlled by how much air is in the tire, and at what pressure. Tire sizes that begin with a “P” (Passenger) are meant to operate at lower pressures and loads than that of the same size that begins with “LT” (Light Truck). The “P” will have a better ride, but the “LT” will be able to haul a larger load.

The best way to decide which SUV/Truck tire you need is to figure out what you plan on driving on the most: on-highway, on/off highway (all-terrain) and off-highway (off road). On-highway tires have more of a rib tread design and off-highway tires have more of an aggressive blocks or chucks tread design. Make sure you pay attention to load index and speed rating when you choose the tire the best suits your needs.

All-Purpose (AP) Tires

These tires come factory installed on many of today’s vehicles due to their smooth highway ride and good all-season traction.

Sport Truck Tires

These tires offer sport car handling for trucks and SUVs, yet can handle the suspensions and load-carrying capacities of trucks. The all-season tread emphasize street handling and traction year-round.

All-Terrain Tires

This is a step up in off-road traction compared to all-purpose tires. Most drivers are willing to accept the worse performance on highways in order to get the additional traction.

Winter Tires

The days of studded winter tires seem to be over. So if you drive in winter conditions, you will want a tire that can handle a wide range of winter conditions such as snow, ice, slush, rain to freezing rain, and of course dry highways. Winter tires utilize tread compounds that remain soft and pliable in the cold for reliable snow and ice traction without the need for studs. Please remember that winter tires should be purchased in sets of four.