Tire testing is no easy task and is virtually impossible for the everyday driver. Therefore, it's necessary to rely on tire testing offered by manufacturers, tire dealers, and third-party consumer organizations to find the tire that's best for your vehicle, your needs, and your driving style. Tire testing isn't merely a walk around a tire shop or taking a look at the specifications of various tires for specific types of cars. Tire testing is putting a tire to the test, on the road, off the road, and under various other driving conditions such as different weather.
Tire testing will be the first clue as to whether a performance tire will offer you the handling capability that you're hoping for or if a winter tire will actually "cut through" snow, sleet, and rain as they're designed to do. There are many third-party publications that specialize in a variety of tire testing from Consumer Reports to Car & Driver, as well as many companies that test tires in a variety of ways for tire manufacturers.
What is Tire Testing?
Tires are quite complex. They might look like simple pieces of rubber but that couldn't be further from the truth. The inner workings of modern tires are incredibly complex and becoming more so with every new generation of tires.
There's a vast amount of materials used in sidewall and tread pattern production including steel, polyester, rayon, and more. In addition, there are a variety of different rubber compounds used to produce different heat ratings, speed ratings, and load limits. To learn more about tires, what they are made of, how they work, and why tire safety is important, refer to the Rubber Manufacturers Association (RMA), a national trade association for tire manufacturers.
The process of tire testing is complex and is based on an ever-evolving industry attempting to make automotive tires as efficient, performance-specific, and safe as possible. One look at tread patterns on today's performance tires and it's obvious that the science behind tire design is quite complex.
How Tire Testing Works
Generally, tire testing is performed on a group of tires with similar characteristics. For example, a group of high-performance tires will likely be tested together. With each new test, the tires will be mounted onto the same vehicle and undergo the same tests in order to offer consistency to the testing process. By conducting the same tests, it's possible to test how different variables affect a particular tire as compared to other tires.
There are several tests that address everything from braking on dry and wet surfaces, handling at low and high speeds, and handling during acceleration. For off-road and winter tires, tests will most likely include handling and capability in mud, snow, and on various other off-road terrains such as grass, gravel, and even slick rock. A tire test will yield results that allow consumers to compare tires on much more than just the cost of the tire. They'll be able to find tires that are perfect for their vehicle as well as their driving habits.
Tire testing offers excellent insight for the average driver who drives predominately on paved surfaces and experiences a significant change in weather throughout the year. Instead of opting for great all-round tires, use the results of all the testing out there to find a tire that suits your specific needs.
Think about where you drive, what your drive, how you drive, and how often you drive then examine tire test results to find the tires that match. If you use all the tire testing data out there to find an ideal set of tires, your vehicle will be safer, your ride will be more comfortable, and you'll get exactly what you want out of your vehicle.
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