Highway driving can mean different things to different people. Road surfaces are as vastly different depending on which part of the country you are in, as are the weather conditions. Some major factors to consider for highway driving are:
Whether your climate is mainly sunny and arid or if there are large amounts of precipitation.
Whether your climate is prone to freezing temperatures for extended periods.
If the highways you travel are smooth, well-paved roads or rough and choppy.
If you experience freezing temperatures with frequent snowfall, you should check into tires with a mud and snow (M&S) designation, or dedicated winter tires for the safest handling. These are made of a rubber compound with higher silica content to keep them softer and more flexible in cold weather, although they don’t wear as well.
For summer driving or for areas with little to no snow and cold weather, here are a few tips for selecting the best tire for highway driving:
Look for a tire with independent tread blocks: The tread blocks provide the best traction for cornering, accelerating, and braking. Independent tread blocks have the deepest channels between the blocks which allows for the most rubber flexibility that actually grips the road.
Find a tire with multiple sipes around the tire: Sipes are the deep lines or grooves that run around the tires. These circumferential sipes channel precipitation away, allowing the optimum contact with the road in all situations. There also need to be sipes running horizontally along the tire to channel water out from under the tire.
Look for a tire with irregular tread block patterns: A tire with a regular tread block pattern will perform the same as one with an irregular pattern, though it will be much noisier. An irregular tread block pattern minimizes the harmonics you can experience when driving, which will provide a much quieter ride.
Use tires with low rolling resistance: Tires with low rolling resistance (LRR) are designed to minimize wasted energy as they roll. They have tread patterns specially designed to roll more easily down the road. This leads to greater efficiency from your engine, and better gas milage.
A few excellent choices for highway tires include:
- Yokohama Advan Sport
- Michelin Pilot Super Sport
- Bridgestone Potenza
- Bridgestone Driveguard
When you are shopping for new tires, ask a tire expert for the best choices for your vehicle. Not all tire makes come in the size you require for your car. Regardless of your choice, always make sure your tires are inflated to the correct pressure – it's a quick and easy way to improve your car's handling, comfort, and fuel economy.
This article originally appeared on YourMechanic.com as Which Tires Are the Best for Highway Driving? and was authored by Jason Unrau.