If you're a car enthusiast who loves to take spirited drives on twisty roads, you've probably considered numerous aftermarket upgrades to make your car handle better. Upgrading your car's suspension with performance shocks and lowering springs is perhaps the most common handling upgrade that enthusiasts perform. Other common suspension modifications include aftermarket anti-sway bars, frame ties, and control arms.
All of those modifications will indeed make your car corner better while also increasing road feedback. However, the most effective handling upgrade you can perform is installing a set of quality performance summer tires. After all, your tires are what allow your car to grip the asphalt when you're weaving your way down a twisty road. All of the suspension upgrades in the world won't make a difference when your tires lose grip and start to slide, so a set of grippy performance tires are the most effective way to increase your cornering speed.
Rubber Compounds: All-Season vs. Summer Tires
All-season tires are designed to be used year round, so they are built with a rubber compound that offers adequate performance in all temperatures. In contrast, summer tires are built with softer, more flexible rubber that maximizes grip in warm temperatures. The soft compound allows the treads to flex and maximize the surface area of the tire against the road.
The downside is that summer tires don't perform as well as all-season tires in cold weather. If the temperature drops below 40 degrees Fahrenheit, the rubber compound becomes too hard to properly grip the road. In extremely cold temperatures the rubber can even become prone to cracking. If you live in an area that experiences extreme winters, your best bet is to swap out your summer tires for specialized winter tires when the temperature begins to drop.
Performance Tread Patterns
Summer tires also have specialized tread patterns that are fine-tuned for maximum grip. The treads aren't as deep or wide as the treads on all-season tires, so there's more rubber holding your car on the road. The downside is that shallower treads are less effective at displacing water, so high-performance summer tires generally provide less grip than all-season tires in extremely wet conditions.
Which Tire Is Right for You?
If you live in a climate that generally stays above 40 degrees Fahrenheit, you can run performance summer tires all year without an issue. Just be aware of the reduced grip when the temperatures drop and drive extra cautiously.
If your area experiences harsh winters, you can still get maximum performance out of your tires year round by swapping to winter tires when the cold weather hits. However, installing and removing tires from your wheels multiple times will weaken the side walls, so your best bet is to buy an extra set of wheels for your winter tires so you can swap them out without compromising the tires' structural integrity.
If an extra set of wheels is out of your budget, you can instead opt for a set of high-performance all-season tires. They won't offer the maximum grip of summer tires when it's warm out, nor will they offer as much grip in icy conditions as a set of dedicated winter tires. However, they will still help your car handle much better than generic all-season tires without the hassle of swapping out your wheels when the seasons change. Check out tires for sale to find what you need.