Do you struggle to find your way through the vast range of tyres sold by online retailers? Well, if you do you’re not alone! There are several different categories of tyres, designed to match different vehicles and driving conditions. In this guide we take you through some of the main types...

By Published On: 1 June 2021Categories: Choosing and comparing tyres1016 words5.5 min read
Different tyre types
Different tyre types are adapted to different seasons and vehicles ©

Tyre types for different seasons

First of all, tyres are adapted to the climate and driving conditions …

Summer tyres

Summer tyres are designed to be driven at ambient temperatures above 7°C. They provide:

  • flexibility
  • optimum grip
  • precise handling, especially in dry conditions if the tyre tread is stiff, whereas a heavily siped tread design will be more efficient in wet conditions.

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Winter tyres

Winter tyres have a rubber compound designed to remain flexible at low temperatures (below 7°C). They have a more pronounced tread pattern and deeper grooves to quickly disperse water and snow. Winter tyres are not a legal requirement in the UK but are strongly recommended in difficult-to-access rural areas, or if you’re planning to drive to a ski resort.

  • traction
  • braking

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Nordic tyres

These tyres are suitable for use in temperatures below -10°C and provide maximum grip on roads which are snow-covered and icy for several months of the year. There are two main types:

  • Unstudded Nordic tyre: tyre for extremely cold conditions without metallic inserts (studs).                
  • Studded (or studdable) Nordic tyre: tyre fitted with metal studs. Please check local legislation before fitting this type of tyre since it is not approved for use in all regions of Europe.

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All season tyres

As the name suggests, all-season or all-weather tyres can be used in both summer and winter conditions. However, they won’t perform as well as summer tyres in summer nor as winter tyres in winter.  The all season is a compromise tyre, suitable for areas with mild winters.

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Tyre types for different vehicles

Passenger car tyres

‘Eco’ tyres

Eco tyres for passenger car tyres
© rezulteo

For low to medium powered cars (city cars, saloons and MPVs) and for urban and/or motorway use, these tyres offer:  

  • long life
  • safety
  • reduced fuel consumption (“green tyres” have a low rolling resistance)

‘Performance’ tyres

Performance tyres for premium vehicles
© rezulteo

Designed for premium and sporty vehicles:

  • can withstand more acceleration forces
  • braking
  • comfort (especially with high sidewalls)
  • fast driving (especially with  narrow sidewalls)

‘High performance’ tyres

High performance tyre for powerful vehicles and sport cars
© rezulteo

“High performance” tyres are specifically designed to withstand V, W, Y and Z speed ratings (from 150 to 185 mph) and are suitable for powerful vehicles, high performance saloons and sports cars. These tyres, directly derived from motorsport technology, deliver exceptional performance at high speed:

  • precision
  • responsiveness
  • grip
  • cornering stability in dry and wet conditions

Semi-slicks tyres

Semi-slick tyres for sport cars and track performance
© rezulteo

Semi-slicks tyres are approved for use on both the road and track, and therefore suitable for experienced sports drivers who don’t want to change tyres between their transport and leisure activity.

  • pure performance
  • high level of grip except in wet conditions
  • noisier and shorter tyre life

4×4 and SUV tyres

On-road and high performance tyres for 4x4s et SUVs
© rezulteo

Mainly built for on-road use, ‘on-road’ and ‘high performance’ tyres with the H/T marking (Highway terrain) are designed for 4x4s and SUVs. They deliver performance similar to that of passenger car tyres and also have a high load index:

  • good road holding at high speed
  • adequate handling in wet conditions.
  • ride comfort
  • long-lasting
  • off-road capacity < 20%

‘Mixed’ tyres

Mixed tyres for 4x4s
© rezulteo

‘Mixed’ tyres, usually marked A/T (All Terrain) are the most versatile: they have to be effective both on and off-road, whether for leisure or professional use:

  • adequate road handling
  • sufficient traction on soft ground and gravel
  • reinforced structure to support the weight of the vehicle
  • off-road capacity < 50 % (“on-road” and “off-road” performance varies depending on the model)

‘Off-road’ tyres

Off-road tyres for 4x4 vehicles
© rezulteo

‘Off-road’ tyres marked M/T (Mud Terrain), concern all-terrain 4×4 vehicles designed to be driven through mud, on rocky ground and steep rugged terrain. Originally designed for professionals working in harsh environments, they are also used by trail and raid enthusiasts.

  • outstanding traction
  • durability
  • reinforced structure to support the weight of the vehicle and offer a high resistance to punctures and any tread tearing or chunking
  • limited on-road use
  • limited handling performance
  • noisy
  • off-road capacity < 80 %

Van, light truck or motorhome tyres

Van, light truck or motorhome tyres
© rezulteo

This category of tyres covers light commercial vehicles, small trucks and camping-cars. Some tyres in this range can be recognised by the letter C marked on the sidewall meaning that, thanks to a higher load index, the tyre can withstand more weight.

  • safety
  • ride comfort
  • long life
  • adequate handling in wet and dry conditions
  • durability

Tyre types with special features

The following tyres make use of specific technology.

Runflat tyres

Self-supporting tyres that can be driven when flat. The sidewalls are reinforced to support the tyres if they lose pressure. In the event of a puncture, this option reduces the risk of you losing control of your vehicle and allows you to continue driving for up to 50 miles at 50 mph.

Most leading brands offer runflat tyres in their product ranges, and the performance characteristics of these tyres can vary depending on the technology used by the manufacturer. The table below shows tyre manufacturer markings for runflat tyres, which are stamped on the sidewall:

Runflat marking Brand
EMT, SST Dunlop
EMT, ROF Goodyear
SSR Continental
Run on Flat Pirelli
RFT Bridgestone
ZP Michelin
MOE Mercedes

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Reinforced tyres

These tyres can withstand more weight thanks to a higher load index and are suitable for family cars, large saloons, SUVs or small vans. This type of tyre can be recognised thanks to a marking on the sidewall, which differs from one tyre to another (even if the tyre brand is the same): XL, RF, Extra Load or Reinforced.

Self-sealing tyres

Standard tyres with a product that seals the hole caused by the puncture and prevents air loss.

Temporary use tyres

Here we are referring to the spare tyre, also known as the “donut”, which you may have in your boot. In the event of a puncture, fitting the spare tyre will give you time to get to a garage, though this tyre’s noisy tread reminds the driver that it can only be used for a short period of time, for no more than 50 miles at a maximum speed of 50 mph.

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