Common types and styles of tyres, their uses and benefits
Automotive Parts, Tyres--Retail
There seem to be as many types and styles of tyres available as there are vehicles on the road, and it can be a daunting experience for those unfamiliar with the tyre options when it comes time to choose the right tyre for their vehicle.
- Performance tyres
- All round tyres
- Wet-weather tyres
- Winter or snow tyres
- All terrain tyres
- Truck or van tyres
Performance tyres are designed for grip and driving performance rather than longevity, and use softer rubber compounds. The tread pattern utilised in performance tyres will often utilise an asymmetric pattern, as the outside tread pattern is designed to channel water away and the inside pattern offers better handling. Performance tyres are often wider than the normal tyre and are often used on larger rim size wheels.
All round tyres are found on most cars and are designed to handle most of the weather and road conditions that motorists will encounter except for the extremes such as snow, ice, mud and dirt. All-round tyres will often have either a rib pattern or a block pattern. A rib pattern has groves that run from the centre to the outside of the tyre aiding faster water drainage and therefore giving good traction on wet roads. Tyres with rib patterns can be used on only one side of the car and cannot be used on the other side of the car without removing the tyre from the rim and refitting it. Tyres with rib patterns have higher speed ratings than block pattern tyres. A block pattern is used on cheaper tyres and is interchangeable on both sides of the vehicle. The block pattern is very common on passenger cars.
Wet weather tyres are especially designed for driving in wet conditions. The tread pattern is deep and designed to more water away from the tyre. The rubber compound is even softer than performance tyres and is designed to heat up quickly and provide more grip on the road.
Snow tyres are designed for roads with regular snow and ice. The tread pattern is much larger than normal tyres and as a result is much noisier. Snow tyres should only be used in snow and ice conditions as the tyres wear quickly on dry roads and damage the road surface.
All terrain tyres are used on 4WD vehicles and are designed for handling a wide range of on-road and off-road conditions. They have stiffer sidewalls and large tread patterns. All terrain tyres fall into two main groups – soft off-road and off-road tyres. Soft off road tyres are designed primarily to be used on sealed roads, with the tread patterns resembling normal car tyres. They are engineered to be quieter on sealed roads but are able to handle some off-road conditions like gravel, dirt and sand. Off-road tyres are designed to handle unsealed roads and off-the-beaten track environments. The downside is that off-road tyes are noisy and wear more quickly on dry, sealed roads.
Truck or van tyres
Tyres used in commercial vehicles will often employ a classic zig zag pattern and are designed to offer low rolling resistance and low heat generation, which makes them ideal for the long distances that commercial vans and trucks travel. The disadvantages of the zig zag pattern include poor cornering and a lack of grip in wet conditions.
Once popular, retreads are now exclusively used in truck fleets on the running wheels of the trailers. Retreads involve removing the worn tread and replacing it with a new tread pattern. Retreads are illegal on cars in Australia but can still be used on trucks. Retreads have a danger of failing without warning.
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To get advice on which tyre style is best suited to your vehicle, speak to your local tyre dealer or motor mechanic.
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