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Best Summer Tires: Your Responsive Warm-Weather Must-Have

When temperatures heat up, your car needs a set of these top summer tires.

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BYHeather Fishel/ LAST UPDATED ON July 15, 2022

The days are longer, the weather is warmer, and it’s time to upgrade your car’s tires. While all-season tires have their place in some climates, summer days in most instances mean you need to swap out your cooler-weather tires or all-season set for a set that’s built for hotter road surfaces. Built with a particular rubber compound that’s more suitable in hot weather, summer tires can make your vehicle more responsive, better at braking, and great at handling across the board. And they’re even helpful when summer rain storms happen. If you want to equip your car with the best gear possible, you’ve got to discover the perks of driving with a set of summer tires. Discover why switching to summer tires is worthwhile, and how you can identify the best options available for your car.

Best Overall

Michelin Pilot Sport 4S

Summary
When it comes for performance and responsiveness, these summer tires are a standout pick that will please any driver.
Pros
  • Dynamic Response Technology
  • 10 percent better tread life
  • Deep rim protectors prevent wheel damage
Cons
  • Somewhat limited warranty
Best Value

Toyo Tire Proxies Sport

Summary
With an affordable price and top-tier performance for sports cars, this summer tire is ready to adapt to slick, speedy driving.
Pros
  • Rapid steering response
  • Dynamic Taper Design for increased stability
  • Open shoulders for improved grip
Cons
  • Best for sports cars
  • Limited 25,000-mile warranty
Honorable Mention

Bridgestone Potenza S007

Summary
If you’re looking for durability and performance at high speeds, this summer tire is built with your needs in mind.
Pros
  • Asymmetric tread, wide outside shoulders
  • Stable at high speeds
  • Reinforced with steel belts and spiral-wrapped nylon
Cons
  • Less grippy than competitors’ tires
  • Not the most responsive
Best Summer Tires: Your Responsive Warm-Weather Must-Have

Summary List 

Honorable Mention: Bridgestone Potenza S007

Best Rigid: Nitto NT555 G2

Best Durable: Michelin Primacy 3

Why Trust Us

Our reviews are driven by a combination of hands-on testing, expert input, “wisdom of the crowd” assessments from actual buyers, and our own expertise. We always aim to offer genuine, accurate guides to help you find the best picks.

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Our Methodology

I chose the best summer tires by seeking out the newest seasonal tires from the best names in the field. These tires include well-known, highly reputable brands like Michelin and Bridgestone, which have demonstrated reliability and on-road performance in their tire lineups. To determine which tires offered the best in durability, performance, and warm weather responsiveness or handling, I specifically looked for tires rated for summer weather, with added perks like shallow tread and solid water evacuation to prevent hydroplaning and slipping in wet weather. All of these tires also came highly rated and well-reviewed from users online.  

Best Summer Tire Reviews & Recommendations

Specs

  • Tread Depth: 9 to 10 in
  • Speed Rating: Y (up to 186 mph)
  • Tire Weight: 19 to 36 lbs

Pros

  • Dynamic Response Technology for adaptive steering
  • 10 percent better treadlife than previous models
  • Deep rim protectors prevent wheel damage
  • Lightweight

Cons

  • Only warrantied for 30,000 miles

When we’re talking about the best of the best summer tires, you can’t overlook the Michelin Pilot Sport 4S. An upgrade over the original Pilot Sport, this Michelin tire just might be one of the best performance tires available – and it’s made for warm weather. Lightweight and made with high-tech construction elements, this tire is both premium and value-rich. It features velvet sidewall lettering and sleek design, with key design cues like deep rim protector to prevent damage to your wheels. Best of all, though, is Michelin’s Dynamic Response Technology, which provides adaptive steering input and can handle various driving conditions. This tech also helps provide 10 percent longer treadlife. And you’ll love the Variable Contact Patch 3.0 on these tires, which better distributes vehicle weight (even for hard cornering) to make them last longer. User reviews online have no complaints about these tires. The only slight drawback is the warranty covers these tires up to 30,000 miles. That’s pretty standard, and a little bit lower than those offered by some competitors who top 35,000 miles or more.

Specs

  • Tread Depth: 9 to 10 in
  • Speed Rating: W or Y (up to 186 mph)
  • Tire Weight: 18 to 41 lbs Pros

Pros

  • Rapid steering response on dry and wet roads
  • Dynamic Taper Design for increased stability
  • Two-ply sidewall with two steel belts
  • Open shoulders for improved grip

Cons

  • Best for sports cars
  • Limited 25,000-mile warranty

You don’t have to shell out for premium tires if you’re hoping for premium performance – the Toyo Tire Proxies Sport is the perfect combo of both. Designed for maximum performance on warm, dry roads, this high-performance tire is built for sports cars. Featuring a sticky rubber compound and strong grip, you’ll get strong and responsive handling plus great traction on the road. Plus, this sport summer tire delivers quick cornering, controlled braking (both on dry and wet surfaces), and rapid steering responsiveness. Each tire is constructed with Toyo’s Dynamic Taper Design, which includes better road contact and increased block stiffness for added stability. The tread pattern varies in width, with an extra center rib for increased road contact. And the tire is built with two-ply sidewalls and two wide steel belts inside for durability even at higher speeds. Just keep in mind that you’ll get the best performance out of this summer tire by installing it on a sports car. It’s not necessarily going to deliver the same level of performance on your basic sedan. Additionally, the warranty is shorter than competitors at just 25,000 miles total.

Specs

  • Tread Depth: 8 to 10 in
  • Speed Rating: W or Y (up to 186 mph)
  • Tire Weight: 23 to 32 lbs

Pros

  • Asymmetric tread with wide outside shoulders
  • Notched ribs for enhanced steering
  • Stable at high speeds and in sports performance settings
  • Reinforced with twin steel belts and spiral-wrapped nylon

Cons

  • Not the grippiest tires
  • Not the most responsive

Built with top-tier speeds and unprecedented performance in mind, the Bridgestone Potenza S007 is a summer tire that’s made for speed. Bridgestone specifically created this tire for high-speed vehicles and sports performance, and it was inspired by Ferrari’s speed specs. Suitable in both dry and wet conditions, this tire is as aerodynamic as it is ready for highway driving. Featuring a compound made from carbon, silica, and rubber, it can reduce rolling resistance and improve fuel efficiency. Each tire is covered in asymmetric tread with wide outside shoulders, and there are wide circumferential grooves to keep your traction when rain happens. Inside, twin steel belts are paired with an extra level of reinforcement in the form of spirally-wrapped nylon. And the design is fine-tuned for better cornering at high speeds. There are a couple of potential drawbacks to this summer tire, however. Users note that the tires don’t offer the highest level of grip, and while they perform well, the grip isn’t equal to higher-caliber competitors’ tires. Additionally, this tire isn’t the most responsive, though they are easy to control.

Specs

  • Tread Depth: 10 in
  • Speed Rating: W or Y (up to 186 mph)
  • Tire Weight: 17 to 36 lbs

Pros

  • Maximum grip for cornering and braking
  • Increased shoulder stiffness
  • Responsive in wet and dry conditions
  • Optimized tread pattern and contact footprint

Cons

  • Will slide in cold weather conditions

If you’re looking for top-tier road contact and plenty of grip, the Continental Extreme Contact Sport tire is a great option. This tire is made to give you extra contact with both wet and dry roads, improving both your handling in summer weather and giving you increased responsiveness. These tires feature a special summer-only rubber compound to deliver ultra-high performance, with perks like precision handling, wet road traction, and enhanced wear for all-around even wear. Plus, the tread helps you get more grip while applying the brakes and cornering thanks to its improved shoulder stiffness. And the pressure of your vehicle is distributed evenly on the tire and road for an optimized contact footprint and even, reasonable wear. While these summer tires provide plenty of road contact and grip in warm weather, you definitely won’t get the same result when winter arrives. These tires will firm up and slide on wintry road conditions, causing slippage and sliding in ice and slush.

Specs

  • Tread Depth: 9 to 11 in
  • Speed Rating: W (up to 168 mph)
  • Tire Weight: 23 to 37 lbs

Pros

  • Wide twin center ribs for extra stability
  • Large, tapered tread blocks for increased dry traction
  • 4 wide circumferential grooves evacuate water
  • Silica-enhanced, high-stiff tread compound

Cons

  • Can generate road noise

The Nitto NT555 G2 is a tire that’s extra rigid and extra stable, particularly when it comes to cornering and dry road traction. Constructed with a silica-enhanced rubber compound, this summer tire is built for performance and high speeds. It doesn’t slack when it comes to handling, both in hot weather and seasonal rainstorms. A set of twin wide center ribs on each tire enhances stability, and the addition of four circumferential grooves enhances the tire’s performance on wet roads by evacuating water. Plus, a series of large tapered tread blocks adds an extra layer of stability, particularly when hitting tight corners. The wider, staggered tread also helps provide extra road contact patches. Complaints about this summer tire are pretty rare, but it does have one potential downside: It can generate a bit of road noise. For some drivers, it’s a bit too noisy on the road.

Specs

  • Tread Depth: 9 in
  • Speed Rating: H or Y (Up to 186 mph)
  • Tire Weight: 19 to 36 lbs

Pros

  • Abrasion-resistant tire compound
  • Optimized road contact patches for even heat and pressure
  • Run-flat tire
  • Precision manufactured for less noise and vibration

Cons

  • Weak wet traction
  • Not the strongest at cornering

The Michelin Primacy 3 is both a great pick for luxury vehicle drivers and those who are looking for a tough, long-lasting tire. As the OE replacement tire pick for vehicles like the BMW 5 and 7 Series and the Audi A6, it’s a high-performance option for high-end coupes, sedans, and even crossovers. But where this summer tire particularly shines is in its durability. Made with a rubber compound that’s abrasion-resistant, you don’t have to worry about wear leaving this tire damaged or deflated. In fact, it’s a run-flat tire that can be driven on for up to 50 miles if it starts losing air. Plus, extra perks like optimized contact patches for even pressure and heat distribution and innovative siping tech help improve handling on dry roads. There’s even the added bonus of precision, computer-optimized design to lessen road noise and vibrations. There are, however, two areas in which this tire doesn’t shine: cornering and wet traction. Users note that cornering is somewhat lacking compared to other summer tires, and when you’re caught in the rain, water evacuation and road traction isn’t as good on dry roads.

Our Verdict

As one of the best performance tires available right now, the Michelin Pilot Sport 4S can’t be beat as a summer tire. It’s responsive yet stable, grippy yet durable in hot temperatures, and able to prevent hydroplaning and slipping in rainy weather. If you’re looking for an affordable alternative, the Toyo Tire Proxies Sport is another performance-focused tire that fits within budgets and offers long-term value. 

Things to Consider Before Buying Summer Tires

If you’ve ever wondered what makes summer tires different from alternate options, like high-performance tires or all-season tires, here’s what you need to know. These key details can help you find the best summer tires for your car and your region’s summer road conditions. 

How Summer Tires Differ From Other Types

While all-season tires might get a lot of attention because they’re built for year-round versatility, winter and summer tires have their place on the road, too. And if you’re unsure what makes summer tires different from the available alternatives, here’s what makes these more specifically suited for warm weather – or even the heat of the warmest months of the year.

Summer tires are performance tires, built for maximum handling and responsiveness on dry roads. They’re also designed to increase your car’s grip on dry roads, providing the right rubber compound for hot days and road surfaces. Typically, summer tires feature a wide, continuous center channel for stability, plus parallel shallow grooves to evacuate water and prevent hydroplaning when wet weather strikes. At the outermost edge of these tires, you’ll find a larger contact area for increased grip while cornering and turning. Summer tires also feel more responsive while you drive.

Summer tires, overall, are the stickiest choice. Their rubber is built for temperatures over 40 degrees Fahrenheit, and their sticky nature makes them grippy on warm days. But if you use these tires in cooler weather, their rubber can harden and become slick and prone to skids. 

In comparison, winter tires – which are specifically built for snow, ice, and slush – have stiffer rubber compounds and thicker, deeper tread to keep grip even when road contact is limited. And all-season tires blend the features of both summer and winter tires into one, but they’re really a moderate pick; they aren’t meant for extreme heat or extreme cold. 

Key Features of Summer Tires

Shallower, Straighter Tread

Tread is also a critical consideration when you’re picking out tires, and this is true for summer tires, too. However, while you might want deep tread grooves and sturdy, thick tread blocks on winter tires, you want the opposite in warm weather. Look for shallower, straighter tread patterns as you’re picking out summer tires. Shallower, straighter tread will put more of the tires’ rubber in contact with the road for the grip you need in hot or wet conditions. 

Speed Rating

To make sure you’re picking out a true summer tire, look at the speed rating. Summer tires (along with ultra-high-performance tires, a different kind of summer tire) come in three speed ratings: ZR-, W-, and Y-speed ratings. You should also make sure that the tires you’re considering do not have an M&S label on their sidewalls. That’s a Mud & Snow designation, which helps identify winter tires as well as all-season tires that offer a different rubber compound and tread type for tougher weather conditions. 

Wet Traction

While you likely don’t think about wet weather when you’re shopping for summer tires, you should. One of the key hallmarks of summer tires is their strong performance on wet roads; they’re built for summer thunderstorms and surprise showers. So, you’ll want to make sure you choose summer tires with design features that help you keep grip in wet conditions and prevent hydroplaning; check tire product descriptions to determine how they’ll handle slick roads. 

Summer Tires Pricing 

Summer tires are available at a wide variety of price points. You can find budget options priced between $100 and $200 per tire, for a total of $400 to $800 for a complete set. Within this price range, you’ll find both budget picks and mid-range tires that offer great performance and longevity. If you’re looking for top-tier or more premium performance tires, you can expect to spend about $225 to $275 per summer tire. 

FAQs 

You’ve got questions. The Drive has answers.

Q: Do summer tires make a difference?

A: Putting summer tires on your car can absolutely make a difference. With specialized dry weather tread patterns and different rubber compounds than all-season or winter tires, summer tires improve your precision on the road. They can also increase your car’s responsiveness, cornering, and braking.

Q: How long should summer tires last?

A: Summer tires do have a shorter lifespan than other varieties. On average, you can expect a set of summer tires to last you anywhere from 20,000 to 40,000 miles.

Q: Are summer tires good on the highway?

A: As performance tires, these seasonal picks are definitely great on the highway. The increased responsiveness of summer tires lends well to higher speeds, and the increased braking can also be beneficial for highway driving.

Q: What temperature is too cold for summer tires?

A: It’s safe to ride on summer tires when the temperature hits 45 degrees Fahrenheit or higher. Anything below 45 degrees is too cold.

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