Source: By Éric Descarries via auto123.com, March 28, 2019.
Spring is just around the corner; in fact in your corner of the country it might already be here. And just about anywhere in Canada, whoever has winter tires on their car is looking forward to putting their summer tires back on, in many cases because these tires are mounted on their original wheels that certainly look a lot better than those sorry-looking winter wheels (sometimes, half-rusted steel wheels). For others, it might also be because their original tires are beginning to show too much wear.
When is it time to buy new summer tires?
Today’s cars and light trucks require much less maintenance than before. Even checking air pressure in the tires can be handled by the vehicle’s computer that will warn the driver in case of low pressure. Nonetheless, nothing will tell you about tire wear other than a visual inspection. You might not be a tire expert, but you still can tell if a tire is wearing out.
If in doubt, there’s no better adviser than your local tire dealer. In this case, it’s probably wise to consult a professional tire dealer, though a technician at one of those megastores might be able to handle your call for help.
So you say you’re still seeing treads on your tires? That does not necessarily mean they’re still safe. In many areas, the law requires that you change your tires if there’s only 1/16th (2/32nd) of an inch of depth left of the grooves. But don’t take that to mean you can keep riding on yours! Some tires with about 5/32nd of an inch could still look good, but they’ll be dangerous in heavy rain, as many motorists have discovered when their vehicle started aquaplaning in such circumstances. In short, if a technician tells you your tires have to be changed, best pay heed and do it!
Before you change tires
No matter how old your vehicle is, before mounting new tires on your car or light truck, it’s a good idea to have the front end inspected and repaired or corrected if need be. Depending where in Canada you live, you might have put your ride through a rough winter; deep potholes (especially in cities) can easily have screwed up your wheel alignment. Irregularly worn tires are tell-tale signs of this issue!
Which is the best tire for your car?
Obviously, in most cases, you should go for the same tire the car came with – but that depends what it came with. Sometimes a superior tire is preferable, and this is where the real work begins.
To make sure we got all our facts straight, we went to a well-known tire dealer in the Montreal area to find out which tires could be considered the best available on the market. Obviously this is one question that cannot be answered simply. Simply because, nowadays, there are too many applications. Imagine the more-than-1,000 sizes found in manufacturers’ catalogs (which can be read only by computer since there are so many!).
Before making a choice, consult an expert. Of course, you’ll be looking for the least expensive tire possible. But there’s a nuance to that: you should be looking for the best quality for the price! A cheaper tire is always possible but if that’s your sole criteria, you’re likely to lose in terms of comfort, road-handling and durability.
It’s important to understand that most cars require a specific type of tire that might not always correspond to the price you expected/hoped to pay! For example, so many cars come from the manufacturer with so-called “performance’ tires with the Z speed index.
The speed index refers to the maximum speed a tire is rated to sustain for a pre-set amount of time. The letter identifying it can be found on the sidewall of a tire, after the size of a tire.
For example, a tire size of 205/55 R16 means the tire has a tread surface that’s 205 mm wide, while the sidewall measures 55% of that width. The R indicates it’s a radial tire while the 16 is in inches to identify the circumference of the wheel on which it’s to be mounted. Then follow digits like 94Z. What’s most important is the letter. In this case, the Z means the tire can sustain a speed of 149 mph (240 km/h).
Nowadays, standard tires will come with S, T, H or Z ratings meaning sustained top speeds of 112 mph (180 km/h), 118 mph (190 km/h), 130 mph (210 km/h) and 149 mph (240 km/h). It’s always best not to go for lower indexes, though many dealers will offer H-rated tires that are more comfortable and ensure a smoother ride than Z-rated tires can deliver.
The last remark also applies to “Run-Flat” tires found on many new cars. Often criticized for their hard ride, they tend to be overlooked by motorists in favour of smoother tires. They are a viable option but be aware that your vehicle then probably doesn’t carry a spare tire.
All-season and Green Tires
It’s far less common these days to talk about “summer” tires. These are tires with little tread and aimed mostly at very high-performance automobiles. Today, most vehicles are sold with “all season” tires and that’s what most people should be looking for when buying tires. This type of tire has treads designed to evacuate as much water as possible on wet pavement. They’re also designed for light snowfalls (except in Quebec from December 1 to March 15, when they’re not permitted).
What’s more, many popular-size tires are available in a “Green” design. Green tires are made of different (and sometimes harder) rubbers that reduce road friction, hence improving fuel economy. They are considered to be more eco-friendly, but keep in mind that what they gain in fuel economy, they might lose in road grip, especially on wet pavement.
By the way, it’s possible to order most car tire tires online. That said, if your knowledge of tires is limited, we do recommend that you visit a professional tire centre and speak with a qualified expert.
So, what now?
Depending on where you live in Canada, what follows are recommendations for the best all-season and summer tires available on the market in 2019. Note that this is only a sample since there are so many makes and models out there. But as mentioned, keep in mind that you should choose a tire based on its quality first, and its price second!
1. Michelin Premier A/S
This most recent product from French tiremaker Michelin is slightly more expensive than most competing products but it is available for cars, minivans and even smaller SUVs and CUVs (crossovers). Its main characteristics are grooves that expand as the tire wears out. This helps the Premier A/S remain a great tire on wet pavement even as it begins wears, yielding better braking capabilities than any other tire on the market. The Premier also lasts much longer.
2. Pirelli Cinturato P7 AS+
This tire from Italian manufacturer Pirelli can be fitted on many sedans and coupes like the Camry and Fusion, as well as on minivans and small SUVs and CUVs. It is of the “green” category, with low rolling resistance. And it’s also available in more affordable H-speed index or higher-performance V-speed index for faster cars like mid-sized BMWs. Pirelli P4s can also be considered for similar applications.
3. Goodyear Assurance All Season
The All Season is an evolution of the Assurance family of tires. This type of tire is for regular sedans and coupes, minivans and some SUVs and CUVs. Providing good fuel economy, it’s also very capable on wet pavement and light snow. What’s more, it’s quite affordable and is available in H- and V-speed index.
If you own a performance vehicle, you might consider the Eagle line of Goodyear tires available for Grand Touring to ultra-high-performance vehicle, made in many formats and mainly for all seasons.
4. Bridgestone Turanza
It’s almost impossible to describe all the tires offered by Bridgestone (including its Firestone brand of affordable products). But if you’re looking for a comfort-focused tire, the Turanza line of products is worth checking out. It’s available in H-and V-speed index. On the other hand, if you drive a performance sedan or coupe, you might be interested by the Potenza line of tires though there are too many models to be enumerated here.
Bridgestone has a complete line or Ecopia low-resistance summer tires specially designed for vehicles like the Toyota RAV4 Hybrid to maximize fuel economy. These tires are mostly available with T-speed rating (118 mph or 190 km/h).
5. Toyo Extensa A/S
If you really want another made-in-Japan quality tire, why not have a look at Toyo’s products, particularly the Extensa A/S or else the more-expensive but more-durable Versado Noir; both are available in the most popular sizes.
6. Nokian zLine A/S
Here’s a nice one for you. Suppose you really like your Nokian winter tires. Did you know the Finnish tiremaker also makes a line of quality summer products? For instance there’s the zLine A/S available in the 2.0 version that’s rated “green”.
7. GT Radial Champiro
Surprisingly, many Chinese brands of tires are showing up on the market and earning a reputation as being increasingly reliable and efficient. However, there’s an Indonesian brand available that really stands out for its low price and high quality, and that is GT Radials. Its Champiro A/S for cars and minivans or Savero SUV products are beginning to show up as quality tires that are more and more appreciated by motorists.
8. Nexen and Kumho
Nexen is a South Korean tire brand that comes in an H-rated Aria series, much sought-after by owners of smaller cars. Note that there are other Korean tires that offer similar quality at a reasonable price, for example Kumho with its Solus line of tires.
9. Cooper Evolution
Let’s not forget Cooper, an American tiremaker that’s been producing a wide range of different types of tires for more than 100 years. Many of its products are sold under different name brands, but its Evolution Tour and Evolution H/T could very well be the answer to many of your needs for your car or SUV, and they come at a very reasonable price.
10. Continental ProContact
You’ve possibly noticed that many European cars, especially German-made ones, are delivered out of the factory with Continental tires. No surprise there, since Continental is itself a German brand. This manufacturer offers a big array of tires for all applications but for the majority of motorists, its ProContact line of tires fills most needs.
By the way, Continental even produces a tire model featuring the ContiSeal technology that can plug any small holes in the tire, which could be reassuring for drivers fearing flats or slow leaks!
As you can see there’s a huge range of products to choose from, but whatever you do try to get a quality product, one that should last three to four summers. Remember that your life and that of your passengers relies upon four small contact patches on the pavement, patches that are not much bigger than the size of your palm. And that, at speeds of more than 100 km/h! So always keep an eye on your tire pressure even if you have a monitor in your dashboard.
(The author would like to thank Stéphane Parenteau of Pneus Premier Choix in Laval for his technical help)
Source: By Éric Descarries via auto123.com, March 28, 2019.