Selecting the Right Tire
Wearing sandals in the snow is not appropriate. Running shoes for a formal occasion would be very out of place. Just as proper footwear is important to your comfort and correct body alignment, appropriate tires are vital to affecting the overall performance and handling of your vehicle.
An inappropriate tire provides little benefit to the vehicle it supports. A sporty sedan offers little excitement if not supported by properly designed and fitted tires. It makes no sense if you are seeking optimum performance to purchase inexpensive tires, just as it makes little sense to wear the wrong size shoes.
When choosing tires, just like shoes, look for the proper fit. Understanding tire markings can help you select the right tire for the right job. With the on-going popularity of light trucks and SUVs, tire manufacturers have worked diligently to offer many tire options.
A tire marked “A/T” is designed for all-terrain use but also performs well on the highway. An all-terrain tread has many independent blocks separated by large grooves for off-road traction. Varied sizes and shapes of tread blocks minimize highway noise. The A/T could be compared to a tennis shoe: comfortable and dependable, but only able to handle mildly rugged conditions.
An A/T tire might offer options that an off-road enthusiast would enjoy, but it is not as aggressive as the M/T tire. A tire designated with “M/T” is used for “Max-Traction.” These dutiful soldiers easily handle muddy and rocky surfaces frequented by the serious adventurer. The M/T tire is the “hiking boot” of tires. Rugged tread elements with large tread voids offer excellent traction to handle the most severe driving conditions.
An A/S denotes all-season tires which are dependable for many road conditions. For severe snow conditions, a mountain snowflake pictograph with M+S represents the industry’s standard for tires, much like snow boots designed for wintry conditions.
When selecting tires, don’t be intimidated by the choices. Think of it as a chance to shop for shoes – but for your vehicle. Search for comfort, style and performance to suit your personal driving habits.
Size up options by visiting your local tire dealer or retailer, the professionals who want to help you “put your best foot forward.”