It’s spring at last, well, in the northern hemisphere at least. This means the icy grip of winter is finally softening, giving way to warmer temperatures across vast swaths of the globe.
Of course depending on where you live this time of year can still be plenty damp and cool but that’s far better than the alternative. And best of all summer is just around the decreasing-radius corner, awaiting another turn or two of the calendar.
If you’re a savvy motorist and live in a region that experiences the fury of all four seasons chances are you’ve pulled the trigger on a nice set of snow tires. Running the appropriate rubber is critical and can make the difference between getting to work on time or sliding into a ditch.
With the mercury rising it also makes sense to have a good set of summer tires. On both wet and dry roads they grip better in warmer temperatures compared to snow or all-season rubber. It’s a question of having the right tool for the job. Could you pound nails with the handle of a screwdriver? Of course, but doesn’t it make more sense to use a hammer?
SEE ALSO: Should You Buy Summer Tires?
Summer tires are designed for hot conditions and are practically guaranteed to make your car steer, stop and accelerate better. Not only does this improve safety but it makes driving more fun. Here are some of the top tire brands you should consider.
1. Pirelli P Zero
If you’re looking for maximum summertime traction it’s hard to beat Pirelli’s P Zero. These fair-weather tires come with a tread-wear rating of 220, which means they’re nice and soft for maximum grip. Traction is graded AA and temperature is A, the highest in each category. The P Zero is available for rims spanning between 17 and 22 inches. Widths range from 205 millimeters to 355. Run-flat models are also offered for extra peace of mind.
2. Michelin Pilot Super Sport
Pirelli is an Italian company but giving them a run for their money is Michelin. This French firm’s answer to their rival’s P Zero is the Pilot Super Sport, a similarly gummy tire that should dig into the road and not let go. Their tread-wear rating is 300. As with the Pirellis they’re offered in diameters ranging from 17 to 22 inches; widths vary from 205 to 345 millimeters. Likewise this tire aces traction and temperature tests. Additionally, Michelin offers a 30,000 mile tread-life guarantee as well as a six-year warranty covering any defects in materials or workmanship.
3. Bridgestone Potenza RE-11
With an even stickier rubber compound than the two previously mentioned tires Bridgestone’s Potenza RE-11 is a serious piece of engineering. Its wear-rating is a gooey 200, while it’s traction and temperature scores are both A. Clearly this is a tire designed for ultra high-performance driving. The Potenza RE-11 is made to fit wheels that range in diameter from 16 to 19 inches, so their range is a little more limited than the P Zeros and Pilot Super Sports. Depending on model, the width spans from 205 millimeters to 325.
4. Firestone Wide Oval Indy 500
Stepping back from some of the most extreme summer tires on the market today is the Firestone Wide Oval Indy 500. While its temperature and traction ratings are both A, this rubber’s tread-wear score is a more livable 320. Remember, the higher the number the longer a tire should last since the compound it’s made of is tougher. The tradeoff for this is, of course, slightly less grip. Wide Oval Indy 500s are engineered for rims between 15 and 20 inches in diameter in widths from 195 to 275 millimeters.
5. Goodyear Eagle F1 Supercar G: 2
For extreme summer grip the folks at Goodyear have a tire for you, the Eagle F1 Supercar G: 2. This racing-grade piece of engineering features a tread-wear rating of just 220 along with AA and A grades for traction and temperature, respectively. One look at the pattern on this tire and you know it’s all about maximum grip and automakers have noticed. This tire is standard equipment on the Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 and Ford Shelby Mustang GT500. Eagle F1 Supercar G: 2s are offered in 19- and 20-inch diameters and widths from 265 to 305 millimeters.
6. Continental ExtremeContact DW
Continental’s ExtremeContact DW is a more mainstream summer-only option than the above-mentioned Goodyear. These tires have a much more livable wear rating of 340 along with AA traction and a temperature score of A. They should perform well in both wet and dry conditions (hence the D and W in the name). ExtremeContact DW tires are made for rims measuring between 16 and 21 inches and in widths ranging from 205 to 325 millimeters. These tires look cool and shouldn’t blow your budget like harder-core models can.
SEE ALSO: What Does the Writing On My Tires Mean?
7. Toyo Proxes 1
Another maximum-performance summer tire is the Proxes 1 by Japanese firm Toyo. These black-rubber doughnuts feature a tread-wear rating of 240 for lots of grip on hot asphalt along with AA and A scores for both traction and temperature. If your performance car has 18- or 19-inch wheels you’d be smart to consider these tires. Widths range from 235 to 305 millimeters.
8. BF Goodrich g-Force Sport COMP-2
Naturally, not everyone that desires a dedicated summer tire needs something as aggressive as the Proxes 1 or Potenza RE-11. Some drivers want to carve canyon roads but are not racing on weekends. For motorists like these, there’s the BF Goodrich g-Force Sport COMP-2, a tire designed for wet and dry conditions. Traction and temperature still get straight A’s but the tread-wear rating is a respectable 340. Rim sizes range from 15 to 20 inches and widths from 195 to 285 millimeters, depending on wheel diameter.
9. Dunlop Direzza ZII
Dunlop’s extreme-performance summer tire is the Direzza ZII. With a super-aggressive pattern these babies carry a tread-ware rating of just 200, meaning they should stick to the road like melted caramel to your fillings. Traction and temperature both receive an A rating. Available rim sizes range from 14- to 19-inches while widths vary between 185 and 275 millimeters.
10. Yokohama Advan Sport
Yokohama’s Advan Sport earns straight A’s for traction and temperature and has a tread-wear rating of 180. These tires are available in rim sizes ranging from 17- to 21 inches. As for width, they span the gap between 205 and 295 millimeters.
11. Kumho Ecsta SPT XRP
So far we’ve covered tires produced by Italian, French, German, American and Japanese companies, but the Koreans make rubber as well. Kumho’s Ecsta SPT XRP is a high-performance design with a livable tread-wear rating of 340. Despite the harder compound formulation these tires still have an AA traction score and a temperature rating of A. Rim sizes range from 16 to 18 inches and widths from 195 to 255 millimeters. For extra peace of mind this tire line is offered exclusively in run-flat form, so feel free to drive over broken glass or sharp objects.
12. Hankook Ventus V12 evo K110
Hankook is another South Korean tire manufacturer and in case Kumho’s Ecsta SPT XRP wasn’t a laborious enough name they offer the Ventus V12 evo K110. These black rubber doughnuts provide ample hot-weather traction and offer a tread-wear rating of 280; traction and temperature are AA and A, respectively. As for rim sizes, they’re available in 17-, 19- and 20-inch spans in widths varying from 205 to 235 millimeters.