When you think of car accessories to boost the performance of your ride you might think of engine or exhaust modifications, but where the rubber meets the road are the tires. Modern auto tires are on the cutting edge of automotive parts technology, and it is the tires that put your horsepower to the ground and give you the grip to stick to the road.
There are three types of tires for cars:
Touring, or all season tires, are what you would find on a normal passenger vehicle. They are designed to provide versatility for all general driving and weather conditions, plus a comfortable ride and good durability.
Sport tires are the performance version of touring tires, still offering durability and a good ride, but with design features that enhance the sport performance of the tires.
Performance tires alter the balance of features to provide maximum grip in dry and wet driving conditions, but with a softer composition and stiffer sidewalls that result in faster wear and a less comfortable ride.
There are a number of components of a performance tire that work in harmony to give the combination of optimal wear, high performance, and safety. These include the plies, the sidewall, and the tread. The plies are layers of various materials such as metal, plastic, fabric, and rubber that are laid inside the tire to provide stability, durability, and structural integrity to the tire. The sidewall is the vertical portion of the tire between the tread and the wheel, with the height and thickness of the sidewall determining the traction and the stiffness of the ride. The tread is the main part of the tire that is in contact with the road, made of thick rubber with lugs designed to maximize traction on dry pavement, and grooves and voids to help move water out in wet weather conditions.
These components all work together to give the performance characteristics of the tire. For example, a tire with a low sidewall will have a stiffer ride, but that stiffness will provide additional traction to the tread and will not flex and roll as it would if the sidewall was taller. The plies are laid around a radial tire in a 90-degree angle to the center of the tire, offering better traction and high-speed handling. The tread is where the road surface meets the tire, and the tread pattern determines how much rubber is available to grip the road.
The tread pattern is a compromise between the need for traction and the need for all weather capability. For example, a tire on a racecar is flat for maximum traction, but a tire for a vehicle that will be driven in bad weather conditions such as rain or snow needs grooves to evacuate water and extend through the snow to stay in contact with the pavement.
Depending on the way you will be driving your car you can choose the sport tire for your needs. If you are looking for the best performance tires you will find the combination of a tire with a short, stiff sidewall, a soft rubber compound to stick to the road, and an aggressive tread pattern will give you maximum traction. To read more about tires, click here.