LAST UPDATED: August 1, 2019
Best Summer Tires: Top Tires for Driving In Warm Weather
Experience better handling, precise braking, and responsive steering in warm weather with the best summer performance tires
The Review Team
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PUBLISHED ON August 1, 2019
Are you looking for a new set of summer tires for your vehicle? Our buying guide will help you select the best summer tires for any car, including powerful sports cars. Summer tires are designed to offer the best control of your vehicle in warm conditions and have similar levels of handling and grip to performance tires. Here's a deeper look into some of the best summer performance tires on the market.
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Why Buy the Best Summer Tires?
- Improved summer performance. While all-season tires are convenient because they don’t necessitate a tire change, they do not exhibit premium performance in a specific season. Instead, they meet the average performance needs of the vehicle. It’s better to have a summer tire that guarantees maximum performance during the warm season.
- Safety. Summer tires maintain a high grip level on roads even as the temperatures get hotter. The tires remain soft and flexible for easy movement on hot and dry roads. The tires are optimized to resist heat and can respond to brakes faster than all-season tires during the hotter months. That will result in enhanced stopping distance between you and the next vehicle to avoid a collision.
- Exclusive tread design. Summer tires have a summer-specific tread design, which isn’t common with most all-season tires. The tread design includes shallow tread depths that enhances the grip, control, and smooth handling of the vehicle, including wet traction.
Michelin is a multinational automotive tire brand founded by Edouard and Andre Michelin in 1889. The company is based in Clermont-Ferrand, France. It manufactures and distributes tires for passenger vehicles, motorcycles, scooters, bicycles, trucks, and travel guides. It’s famously known for its logo, the Michelin Man, which looks like a pile of tires shaped like a man. One of its best high-performance summer tires is the Michelin Pilot Sport 4 S Performance Radial Tire.
Hankook is a global tire manufacturer and distributor based in Seoul, South Korea. The company was originally branded as The Chosun Tire Company when it started 78 years ago but changed its name to Hankook in 1968. Currently, Hankook supplies original equipment tires to automakers and also sells brake pads, alloy wheels, and batteries. One of Hankook’s best summer tires for the money is the Hankook Ventus.
Continental is a famous German tire manufacturer that meets and exceeds safety and performance standards. The company was founded in 1871 and currently has other subsidiary industries under its wing, including the General Tire and ContiTech. It also specializes in manufacturing powertrain and chassis components, interior electronics, brake systems, and other automotive parts. One of its best max performance summer tires is the Continental ExtremeContact Sport.
BFGoodrich is a U.S.-based tire company that was initially run by the Goodrich Corporation before Michelin acquired it in 1988. Benjamin Goodrich founded the company in 1870, and it was the first American company to make radial tires and the tubeless tire. Its flagship tires that have attracted a large fan base are all-terrain and mud-terrain tires, and its best-selling summer tires are the BFGoodrich G-Force Sport Comp.
Best Summer Tires Pricing
- Under $200: The cheaper the tire, the shorter the tread life. It may be difficult to find a product with a tread life of more than 20,000 miles that are priced under $150. However, most products in this price range still deliver when it comes to dry weather traction. You should also note that you won't get a cheaper deal when buying summer tires during winter. The prices barely ever drop despite changes in demand.
- Over $200: Summer tires within this price range are pretty durable as most have a tread life of 30,000 miles. The tires are mostly premium tires designed for sports cars and luxury cars. They also have some of the best performance characteristics; they are controllable, precise, and exhibit excellent braking performance. However, be sure to read reviews to avoid spending money solely on brand names.
Summer tires have specialized tread patterns that are designed to improve traction and handling on the road. The treads have less grooving to allow maximum contact of the rubber with the road and to promote maximum grip. They also have shallow tread depths to maintain the vehicle’s stability at high speeds.
Check for the right tire size from your owner’s manual and ensure that the new tire matches the size specifications. If you don’t have time to go down to the auto shop and physically pick out your tires, you can use online search filters to look for the right tire for your vehicle’s year, make, and model.
- Speed Index: This refers to the maximum speed a tire can sustain. A letter on the sidewall of the tire denotes it. Tires with an S, T, H, or Z speed rating can maintain speeds of 112, 118, 130, and 149 mph, respectively.
- Wet Traction: Choose a summer tire that’s designed for enhanced performance in wet driving conditions. The treads should resist hydroplaning and help evacuate water for optimum wet traction.
Best Summer Tires Reviews & Recommendations 2020
The Michelin Pilot Sport Performance is a robust tire with an intelligent tread design and tread life warranty of 30,000 miles. The tire features a Twaron belt package and the Variable Contact Patch 2.0, which are technologies aimed at offering high-strength reinforcement and promoting long, even tread wear. The Michelin FAZ compound enhances the tire’s cornering capabilities, and the notched center ribs have an inboard compound for maximum performance at high speeds.
The tire takes an asymmetric tread design engineered from Michelin’s Bi-Compound tread rubber and includes an outer shoulder molded from a Le Mans-inspired dry compound. The internal structure includes Michelin’s latest generation of wet-oriented elastomers, which means that the tire can handle driving through a heavy downpour on the highway. Moreover, the tire is 10 percent more lightweight than most summer tires to improve handling and minimize road noise.
A major drawback of the product is that the tires aren’t designed with sufficient rim protectors. The rubber beam on its outer edge isn't large enough to prevent moisture, dirt, and other debris from damaging the rims. Also, the tires need to achieve a higher temperature of about 50-degrees Fahrenheit to get a proper grip. The tire sizes are mostly suited for performance sports cars and exotic cars.
The Hankook Ventus V12 is an affordable summer tire that offers traction, control, and comfort in warm, dry, and wet conditions. The tire compound maintains a directional tread design with notched shoulders and 3D intermediate ribs with a central continuous rib for maximum dry handling and traction. For efficient water evacuation and wet traction, the tire features circumferential and aqua jet lateral grooves that remove water from the tire’s central patch.
The tire’s construction includes a styrene polymer in its high-grip silica tread compound to lower the tire’s rolling resistance for enhanced fuel economy. The grooves on its intermediate blocks are designed with stealth technology and include a unique wingtip design to minimize road noise. When it comes to the inner structure, the tire features two, wide steel belts backed with two, spirally wrapped nylon for a high-strength design.
A major drawback of the tires is that they have an average tread life of only 10,000 miles. The tires also have poor sidewall stability, and you may notice some bulges over time. Also, when temperatures fall below 50-degrees Fahrenheit, you may notice that the tires start to lose traction and get slippery even on a dry road.
The Continental ExtremeContact Sport is a five-rib tire with an asymmetric tread design that offers all-around performance during summer. It has a continuous center rib that encourages maximum road-to-rubber contact for a smooth feel while driving, and water flows freely through the central patch due to its deep circumferential grooves. Its tread compound construction features Continental’s patented +Silane for maximum handling in dry conditions.
The tire has an optimized footprint that evenly distributes pressure along the tire surface to encourage even tread wear. The tread design includes Quickview Performance Indicators, which is a unique feature that gives you an at-a-glance view of the tire’s ability to handle dry or wet conditions. The tire has a two-ply sidewall construction, and the internal structure features a polyester-cord body casing that gives the tire a stiff construction without sacrificing riding comfort.
A downside of the tire is that you have to wait for the tires to attain a temperature of at least 40-degrees Fahrenheit before using them. If not, the tires may not roll well or won’t maintain sufficient air pressure to support your vehicle. Moreover, the tires are more expensive than most summer tires. Lastly, the two-ply sidewall feels soft and compromises on the steering feel.
These touring tires are designed to give you the feeling of rolling on luxury. The rubber compound and tread pattern are designed to work in a wide range of weather conditions. They are also durable for high mileage wear and are eco-friendly. The tread pattern features four wide circumferential grooves for effectively channeling large amounts of water away from the tire. There are also several smaller grooves for increased edges to grip.
What makes these tires stand out is the enhanced grip technology. This gives you a secure and stable connection with the road through the contact patch. You’ll especially feel it through the turns on both wet and dry surfaces. This is thanks to the tread blocks that are on the corner, wrapping around towards the sidewall.
One downside of these tires is that they aren’t the most responsive. This makes them not ideal for sportier or more aggressive driving. They’re also designed for more all-season driving and not summer driving, so they may not perform as well as true summer tires.
There are several vehicles that come with this tire as the OEM equipment. It’s most often found on sedans, coupes, and sports cars. The tire is designed to give you a smooth and reliable ride with steady handling. The tread pattern has several circumferential grooves and crisscross grooves to make triangle-shaped tread blocks.
What’s nice about these tires is how quiet they are. The unique interlocking triangular-shaped tread blocks excel at reducing road noise. The tires are also quite durable thanks to the spiral-wrapped cap ply and single belt edge strips. This gives the tire durability and stability.
Unfortunately, the traction for this tire noticeably reduces when the driving surface is anything other than warm and dry. The tread also tends to wear quickly and unevenly. They can also extend the stopping distance of your vehicle.
This ultra-high performance summer tire is specifically designed and developed for sports cars and performance sedans. It features Firestone’s race-inspired technology for dependable traction and handling on both wet and dry roads. The tire has three large circumferential grooves and proprietary Pulse Groove Technology for maximum water evacuation. The internal structure of the tire has high turnup polyester casing and twin high-tensile strength steel belts with nylon reinforcement.
What makes this tire stand out is the silica-enhanced rubber compound. It’s durable yet grippy enough to have you hugging the road through the turns. Combine this with the asymmetrical tread pattern and independent shoulder blocks, and you have the ultimate tire for aggressive handling.
Unfortunately, the performance of these tires declines significantly when the temperatures drop. They’re not meant for driving in near-freezing temperatures. They also don’t have the smoothest or quietest ride.
This tire is for the driver looking for a performance tire that handles well on both wet and dry roads. The rubber compound of this tire is a high dispersible micro silica that distributes the most amount of silica for a tire throughout its construction. This is then enhanced with a high-grip resin for more traction. The tire is constructed with a computer-simulated structure to give it even contact and pressure on the road.
You’ll like driving on this tire due to the direction tread pattern. It has a solid center rib for constant contact with the road and greater stability at high speeds. It also has a 3D dimple design that works to dissipate heat and minimize buildup. This helps the tire to be more durable and last longer than other summer performance tires.
The downside of this tire is that it’s not meant for driving in cold weather. Near-freezing temperatures will seriously decrease the tire’s performance abilities. This tire is also very loud. It starts out loud and only gets noisier with wear.
This summer tire features a curved shoulder design that has large shoulder blocks to enhance your cornering grip. You’ll feel more responsiveness and connection from the tires as you navigate the corners. It has two large circumferential grooves for channeling water and angled tread blocks for traction.
You’ll like driving on this tire because it feels more stable at both low and high speeds. It also has lower road noise than other tires due to the variable-pitched tread sequence. This unique tread pattern also contributes to the ride of the tire, making it smoother and more comfortable than other performance tires.
Unfortunately, this tire doesn’t perform as well as others when it comes to braking on wet roads. It also doesn’t have a long tread life, which means you’ll be replacing them sooner than comparable tires.
This is the second generation of the Eagle F1 Supercar tire. It’s an extreme performance summer tire that was originally created to be the OEM tire on the Chevy Camaro ZL1, Ford Mustang Shelby GT500, and as a part of the Ford SVT Performance Package. This tire is a blend of track performance with street functionality. Not only does it look aggressive, but it also delivers aggressive traction and handling.
If you drive a sports car then you’ll love these tires. The asymmetric design and race-inspired rubber compound will give you the stickiness you desire. The race aesthetic goes beyond the surface as the internal construction of the tire features twin high-tensile steel belts. They’re reinforced with spiral-wrapped nylon. Then the exterior sidewall has rim flange protectors.
The downside of this tire is that if it gets too cold, it will crack. This ruins the tire, and you’ll need to replace it. Cracking is not covered under the warranty. In driving conditions you’ll notice a decline in performance once temperatures dip below 75 degrees. This tire also produces a lot of road noise.
If you’re looking to add performance to your sedan or coupe, then this tire is a smart buy. This tire’s design improves your car’s performance by helping you to accelerate quicker, corner better, and come to a stop faster. The construction of the tire has twin high tensile steel belts that are reinforced by an Equal TEnsion Containment (ETEC) system. It also has G-Control sidewall technology that makes the sidewalls 40-percent stiffer than comparable tires.
This tire stands out because the silica compound is perfectly balanced to deliver wet and dry performance, while also extending the treadwear life. You’ll have powerful straight line stability and cornering balance thanks to the twin center ribs and intermediate G-Hook ribs.
The biggest drawback of this tire is that it isn’t meant for driving in cold weather. Its positive performance abilities are greatly reduced as the climate gets colder. They are also a challenge to get balanced, which results in uneven wear and a noisy driving experience.
- Store your summer tires in a cool and dry place when you change to snow tires during the winter season. Do not leave them outside in the cold as they may lose their shape and general structural integrity when the rubber freezes. The best place to store them is in the basement where there's a stable temperature.
- Check your tire’s tread depth to determine when they need to be replaced. Also, inspect the tires for wear, cracks, and tears. Check the sidewall for cracks that could result in tire leaks, bulges that could lead to blowouts, and unevenly worn-out treads that could reduce the tire’s dry and wet traction performance.
- If you are planning on using summer tires on heavy-duty vehicles, you should know that the tires may not last past 5,000 miles. If the tire is backed by a warranty, the manufacturer may only offer compensation after a thorough inspection of service records. You can either maintain proof that proper care was taken for the tires or simply switch to all-terrain tires that last longer and will save you money in tire replacements.
Q: Can you use summer tires in rainy weather?
A: Yes. In fact, summer tires offer better traction and handling in rainy weather than most all-season tires. However, they are not built to withstand freezing temperatures. You should switch to winter tires when the temperature drops for better grip on icy surfaces and deep snow.
Q: How long do summer tires last?
A: Summer tires have a shorter tread life in comparison to all-season and touring tires. They only last for a maximum of 30,000 miles. Majorly because the summer heat may take a toll on the quality of the rubber by draining it of its oils. The rubbers then lose its elasticity and develop cracks, tears, and poor traction.
Q: How do I check the tire’s manufacturing date?
A: The manufacturing date or the age code of the tire is used to estimate the expiration date of the tire or how long the tires can last on the road before they wear out. It could take about six months of everyday use or 30,000 miles for summer tires to wear out. The age code is indicated on the sidewall and is a four-digit number after the ‘DOT” mark. The first two digits tell of the manufacturing week and the last two tell of the manufacturing year. For instance, DOT 1616 means that the tire was manufactured on the 16th week of 2016.
Q: What is the recommended tire pressure for summer tires?
A: There is no standard pressure for any tire as it depends on the weight of your vehicle. You should use the tire pressure recommended by your car’s manufacturer. The recommended pressure is indicated inside the door jamb on your driver’s side. Do not deviate from that pressure as it may lead to faster wear of your treads, especially on the central part. However, slightly higher tire pressure may be recommended if you’re switching to larger tires.
Our top pick is the Michelin Pilot Sport Performance Radial Tire. It features the latest technologies that keep the tire heat resistant and offer longer treadwear.
If you are on a budget, you should go for the Hankook Ventus, which is a high-performance summer tire that’s also fuel-efficient.