# Tire Basics

Tire types

Know the difference between the various tire types

Fast facts

Different types of tire

  • Summer tires have a dedicated rubber compound that delivers excellent grip and handling on both dry and wet roads in warmer conditions.
  • Winter tires provide outstanding grip on road surfaces covered with snow and ice, as well as wet roads in cold conditions.
  • All-season tires combine characteristics of both summer and winter tires into a hybrid solution with the benefits of both.
  • 4x4 tires have better traction on tough terrains like mud, grass, and snow without the tread area becoming clogged.

The tire is so much more than an air-filled ring of rubber. It’s a complex piece of engineering that comes in many shapes and forms and is designed to tackle a myriad of challenges. Here’s where we run through the different types of tire on the market and the specific advantages they can offer your vehicle.

Car Tires Rack. Brand New Tires for Compact Vehicles on the Metal Display.

There are two key areas where one type is distinguishable from another – the rubber compound and the tread pattern. These, in turn, are determined by the environment and conditions where the tire is in use. As long as the right tire technology is applied, you can rest assured that the wheels of your car or truck will have superior handling and traction.

Summer tires

Summer tires have a dedicated rubber compound that delivers excellent grip and handling on both dry and wet roads in warmer conditions. They also have reduced rolling resistance and therefore provide greater fuel efficiency and generate less road noise.

The tread pattern on a summer tire is more streamlined than a winter tire, with fewer grooves for water clearance, maximizing the contact patch with the road. Consequently, the vehicle has superior traction and braking during dry summer months.

However, these same characteristics – the unique rubber compound and simple tread design – make summer tires unsuitable for winter driving conditions. When the temperature drops below 45 degrees Fahrenheit (7 degrees Celsius), the compound becomes hard and brittle, and the tread design can’t adequately handle snow or ice.

Winter tires

Winter tires provide outstanding grip on road surfaces covered with snow and ice, as well as wet roads in cold conditions.

The tread compound of a winter tire contains more natural rubber, so it doesn’t harden when the temperature drops below 45 degrees Fahrenheit (7 degrees Celsius). Instead, it stays flexible and limber in cold climates to reduce the stopping distance when braking.

The tread design has deeper blocks that will dig into snow and ice to provide more grip. The winter tire also has a lot of sipes, which are excellent for clearing water and slush from the path of the car and mitigating the risk of hydroplaning.

Winter tires shouldn't be used for the summer season, however. The compound is far too soft for dry asphalt, meaning it will wear out quicker. Moreover, the increased rolling resistance will lead to higher fuel consumption and road buzz.

Three Continental tires on black background.

All-season tires

An all-season tire combines characteristics of both summer and winter tires, offering a hybrid solution with the benefits of both. For drivers, living in regions with mild winter conditions (temperatures rarely drop below freezing), all-season tires can be an alternative. Continental all-season tires offer safety and premium performance. In addition, drivers can save money and time, and reduce the effort required for seasonal tire changes . But always remember that summer and winter tires are specifically tailored to the relevant conditions.

If you are unsure about the right tire choice, please contact your local dealer for personal advice.

Run-flat tires

Run-flat tires are one of the greatest inventions in the automotive industry since the advent of the pneumatic tire or the transition from bias-ply to radial tires. Why is it so revolutionary? In the event of a puncture, or a sudden drop in inflation pressure, a run-flat tire will remain fully operational until the driver can make it home or to the nearest garage safely.

The functionality of a run-flat tire is provided by strong and thick reinforced sidewalls so that they can be driven on temporarily after a puncture. In general, you should be able to travel up to 80 kilometers (50 miles) on a punctured run-flat tire. But keep in mind that they’re not repairable, and you must replace it with a new tire as soon as possible.

4x4 tires

4x4 tires feature a more widely spaced tread design than conventional car tires, chiefly a larger tread block and deeper tire grooves. Standard tires perform poorly on surfaces like muddy ground because the tread quickly fills with mud and the wheel begins to spin uselessly, digging the tire deeper and deeper into a hole. By comparison, 4x4 truck tires have better traction on tough terrains like mud, grass, and snow without the tread area becoming clogged.

Related content

  • Wide tires
    • #Tire Basics
    Wide tires In our high-performance-tire segment, Continental offers wide tires for high-performance vehicles, medium and luxury-class cars, and SUVs. Read more
  • Off-road tires
    • #Tire Basics
    Off-road tires If you're planning on driving off the trail with your car, truck or SUV, you need tires which are appropriate for a whole new set of challenges. Read more
  • Tire approvals
    • #Tire Basics
    Tire approvals Are you allowed to fit any tire to your car if it has the same diameter as the rims? The process is a bit more complicated than that. Find out if they have tire approval. Read more