Tires with high tread wear ratings and
high performance tires are usually made
with harder rubber, so they’re far more
responsive to minor steering changes—especially at higher speeds. But the
tradeoff is you’ll have a harsher ride. If
you don’t mind losing an occasional
dental filling, go for those tires.
Otherwise, pick a tire that
provides a more comfortable
You want the most
aggressive tread design for
best performance in snow. But
that same aggressive design will
make more noise at highway speeds.
If you do a lot of highway driving and noise bothers you, shop for a “Touring” style tire. They’re designed for a quieter ride.
This rating tells you how fast
the tire can run under load while
still dissipating heat at an acceptable
level. It’s a pretty worthless
rating for most consumers. An “A”
tire will cost more and won’t get
you any better performance under
normal street driving conditions.
“B” or “C” tires work
fine for most drivers.
The traction rating tells you
how well the tire’s rubber compound
generates traction on wet
pavement. The ratings are AA, A, B, C.
“AA” is the best traction. “C” is the worst.
Buy an “AA” tire if you drive in the rain or
on snow or ice. If money is tight, drop
down to an “A.” If you rarely encounter
those conditions or want to spend
less, drop down to a “B.” Only buy a
“C” tire if you drive full time on
The tread wear rating gives you a rough idea of how long the tread will last when compared to a test track “base” tire. So a tire rated “400” should last four times longer than the “100” base tire. But each manufacturer uses its own formula to extrapolate tread wear from the test. So use tread wear ratings to compare different tire models from a single manufacturer. But don’t compare tread wear ratings across manufacturers. If you just need
new rubber on your commuter clunker and
don’t expect the vehicle to last long, you can
save money by buying a “100” tire. But if
you have the cash and want the
maximum tread life, buy a
“500” (or greater) tire.