As the temperatures rise, it’s time to swap your vehicle’s winter tires for a summer set. Whether you drive an SUV, crossover, camper van or a truck, you can find tires to help you tackle your summer adventures.
SUMMER TIRES VS. ALL-SEASON TIRES
Summer and all-season tires differ. The primary distinction is the tread: All-season treads are deeper than those on summer tires.
Shallow treads are the best in the rain. The reasons, according to Bridgestone: The tread improves the tires’ ability to grip the road, “evacuate water and resist hydroplaning.” And, summer tires also improve handling, braking and cornering stability.
That higher performance come at the expense of poor tread life. Summer tires tend to wear quickly. And they can’t always be easily rotated because of their asymmetrical tread pattern.
As the name implies, summer tires are not for winter roads. Although their stiffness allows them to keep their shape when it’s hot, it also creates unwanted rigidity in the cold.
All-season tires, by contrast, are meant to perform in all conditions. They have deep treads for driving through light snow and are flexible enough to maintain road grip when it’s freezing. And they have a long tread life.
Research before buying. Start with your vehicle’s owner’s manual for the correct tire size. Then shop with an eye to your own needs.
Tire Size and Load Capacity: Determine your vehicle’s optimal tire size and load capacity. The latter is important if you intend to carry a lot of weight. A tire with higher load capacity will weigh more.
Uniform Tire Quality Grade: The Uniform Tire Quality Grade rates tires’ durability. The Department of Transportation system uses a three-digit number rating followed by a letter grade.
The higher the number, the more durable the tire. The letter grade refers to a tire’s traction and temperature rating, and uses a scale of AA, A, B and C. AA is the highest.
Vehicle Requirements: Some vehicles may need performance tires. Examples include high-end crossovers and SUVs. If you don’t need such tires, look for a quality model with highly rated tread life, fuel economy and performance in slick conditions.
DO YOU NEED SUMMER TIRES?
Summer tires are best in areas with warmer year-round weather and a moderate amount of annual rain. People in colder climates are better off with all-season tires. If you decide summer tires are for you, consider these options:
COOPER DISCOVERER SRX
UTGQ Rating:</strongL 740 A/A & 740 A/B (depending on size)
Cooper’s Discoverer SRX is designed for crossovers. It rates highest in Cooper’s lineup in dry and wet performance and handling. Although it’s not the best off-road tire, its M+S rating means it’s capable in mud and snow.
The Discoverer SRX rates high on lack of noise when driving and tread life. In fact, Cooper backs the treadwear of each tire for up to 75,000 miles.
Cooper’s 3D Micro-Gauge siping boosts traction and grip. A visual indicator approximates tread life. The Discoverer SRX is available in a variety of sizes from 16 inches to 22 inches.
FOR SUVS AND LIGHT TRUCKS
HANKOOK VENTUS ST RH06
UTGQ Rating: 420 A/A
Hankook’s Ventus ST RH06 is a high-performance tire designed for trucks driving in multiple environments. The tire’s tread features a V-shape directional design that handles dry and wet conditions, including snow.
Hankook’s new dual depth pitch theory (DDPT) minimizes tread pattern noise, and its high bead filler increases steering response. Its jointless bead wire construction helps maintain stability.
The Ventus ST RH06 is available in sizes ranging from 17 inches to 22 inches. Hankook offers a 50,000-mile or six-year treadwear warranty.
FOR CAMPER VANS
KUMHO CRUGEN HT51
UTGQ Rating: 720 A/A
Kumho’s Crugen HT51 provides traction and handling for a variety of road conditions. But it isn’t rated for off-road trails, so if you have a larger camper van, RV or four-wheel-drive vehicle, you might want to look elsewhere.
The tire features a stiff center block designed to improve straight-line driving on highways and a symmetrical four-channel layout for better treadwear. Kumho’s 3D siping increases grip and stability on wet, dry or snowy roads.
The Crugen HT51 is available in sizes ranging from 15 inches to 22 inches.
FOR HEAVY-DUTY VEHICLES
MICHELIN DEFENDER LTX M/S
UTGQ Rating: 800 A/A
Michelin’s Defender LTX M/S is designed for heavy-duty vehicles. Thus, it can carry a heavy load. The tire features Michelin’s proprietary Evertread compound, which uses a symmetrical design of independent tread blocks to improve tread life.
Lateral grooves and open shoulder slots in the tread help with water evacuation in heavy rain. And the tire’s high-density 3D siping boosts traction in a variety of environments. The tire stands up to light off-roading.
The Defender LTX M/S provides improved stopping distances and grip in severe weather like heavy rain, snow or ice. It comes with a six-year, 70,000-mile treadwear warranty in sizes ranging from 15 inches to 22 inches.