All-Season Tires for Handling Water

Friday, October 21, 2011 by Alex Mouroulis
With winter on its way, parts of the country will experience wet conditions instead of or on top of snow. When it comes to tires, it's important to understand that there are always compromises. A particular tire may have certain performance characteristics, however there are residual effects to those advantages. Tires that are directional offer excellent hydroplaning resistance and as a result of not being able to rotate side-to-side, they do tend to get noisier as they wear. Of the three tires listed below, only the Bridgestone Potenza RE970AS Pole Position is a directional tire.

Another feature that contributes to a tire's water handling capabilities is compounding. Silica is a common additive to tires to increase their grip levels in water. Silica infused rubber also resists getting firm in the last half of a tire's life. Hydroplaning is one of the last things we want to experience as drivers and to better understand how your tires affect your ability to drive in wet conditions, read "Hydroplaning: The Roles Tires Play."

Each time a tire is brought up to its operating temperature by driving is known as heat cycling. A heat cycle is completed when the vehicle has been parked after driving and the tires return back to a cooler temperature. As a tire ages and the amount of heat cycles increase, often times the rubber becomes firmer and less compliant as a result. Silica infused rubber resists the firming tendency due to heat cycling.

Below are a few of the all-season tires that have good wet handling capabilities:

Dunlop SP Sport Signature
Dunlop SP
Sport Signature
Michelin Primacy MXM4
Michelin Primacy
MXM4
Bridgestone Potenza RE970AS Pole Position
Bridgestone Potenza RE970AS Pole Position
 
We tested each tire on our closed track that was watered heavily by sprinklers to simulate standing water. All of our sales specialists tested the aforementioned tires by driving one of four identical BMW 3 Series test vehicles. To see how we test the tires that we recommend, check out "Tire Rack's Tire Testing Program."

And, if you're looking for all-season tire reviews, take a look at the Tire Test Results to see how each tire performed, then shop by vehicle to find the tire that works best for your vehicle.

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