Best Tires for Rain: The Top Tires for Navigating Wet Roads
Keep safe in the rain with a good set of wet-weather tires.
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One underappreciated car part is the tire. While we tend to pay a lot of attention to engines for performance and rims for style, we often forget about how essential the actual rubber is for performance and safety. The right traction can be the determining factor for a race car, give you the stopping power to keep you safe, and help protect you in extreme weather. Here are the top picks for the best tires in wet conditions.
Carlisle Radial Trail Tire
Built tough, these tires are resistant to damage from rough roads. The radial design and ten-ply structure lends to sturdiness. Strong, even treads make the tires well-suited to rainy conditions
- Load capacity of 1,200 pounds
- Multiple rubber layers fortifies tire
- All-season tire design
- Balanced structure for ideal responsiveness
- 235/80R16 size has limited compatibility
- Tire walls are relatively weak
- Not designed for extreme cold or icy conditions
ITP Mud Lite ATV Tire
At an affordable price point, these ATV tires work well in wet and muddy conditions. Compatible with most modern ATVs, it has a 340-pound load capacity.
- Tread design structured to shed dirt and mud
- Deep grooves hold a good grip on wet surfaces
- Sturdy and thick tires not prone to losing pressure
- Only compatible with ATVs and off-road vehicles
- Deep tread wears down quickly if used on dry ground
Michelin All Season Radial Tire
Equipped to support up to 2,535 pounds, these 275/55R20 all-season tires have a T speed rating. They offer quality wet-surface traction on larger passenger vehicles.
- Fit on light trucks, SUVs, and crossovers
- Include manufacturer limited warranty
- Firm tire walls provide effective balance
- Won’t be effective in icy winter conditions
- Loses pressure due to extreme cold
- Typically only last for three years
Benefits of Tires for Rain
- Avoid hydroplaning. One of the scariest things that can happen when you drive is hydroplaning. The best way to avoid it is to have a tire that can effectively clear out water from underneath your treads.
- Long-lasting. The best wet-weather tires are made to evenly wear across the whole tread, which means they will ultimately last longer.
- Less expensive. Since summer tires and all-season tires are in high demand, there is a much larger selection and availability for rain tires. This results in a less expensive product overall.
Types of Tires
Summer tires are specifically designed to handle the hottest temperatures. When you drive, your tires heat up from friction and even stretch due to the air expanding. Summer tires are made to withstand the extreme heat and prevent any unwanted wear and tear. These are the best option for driving in the rain in areas where it is warm year-round.
All-season tires can be great for wet roads. The reason they're considered all-season is that they can perform in both hot and cold temperatures. They are not, however, made for harsh winter conditions. Instead, these are the right choice if you live in an area that has seasonal weather and rainstorms on cold days.
Winter tires are made to tackle unplowed roads after a snowstorm. While they do a great job in winter conditions, they’re not as good on rainy days. The treads are made to cut through slippery conditions but are not optimized for clearing rain from your tires at high speeds.
For the invention of vulcanized rubber in 1839, all drivers owe Charles Goodyear a debt of gratitude. It wasn’t until entrepreneurs Frank and Charles Seiberling capitalized on the invention in 1898 that Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company truly took off. After that time, the company may have changed hands, now a publicly-traded global enterprise, but it kept true to its creative roots. With innovations into tire manufacturing both in design and materials, Goodyear is known for its high-quality tires for all types of vehicles. For driving in the rain, the Goodyear Fortera HL Radial Tire is a solid pick.
Headquartered in France, the Michelin Group supplies tires to upwards of 170 countries, making it one of the best-known brands on the international market. Opening its doors in 1889, Michelin keeps true to its original mission of innovation and economic development. Known for creating the first radial tire, this company is synonymous with tires. Chances are you’ve seen Bibendum before, the iconic puffy mascot, a global symbol associated with all types of tires. When it comes to rainy conditions, Michelin All Season Radial Tire stands out as a worthy option.
Based in Milan, Italy, though the name is less prevalent than some brands, it actually predates most major tire companies. Opening in 1872, this company focuses on crafting tires to meet increasingly modern demand. Operating for over four decades in the consumer sector, Pirelli offers high-end tires for everything from bicycles to luxury cars. While the tires supplied are usually on the higher end of the pricing spectrum, the unique and effective designs keep drivers coming back. Amongst its best selections for rainy driving is the Pirelli P Zero High-Performance Tire.
Pricing for Rain Tires
- Under $120 (per tire): There are a lot of factors that affect tire prices. Inexpensive options include products that are rated for fewer miles before they need to be replaced and they are smaller-sized.
- $120-200 (per tire): Most new cars and smaller SUVs have 16- or 17-inch tires. A new set of all-season, brand-name tires this size will typically land in the $120-$200 per tire price range.
- Over $200 (per tire): Tire prices can get expensive if they are low profile, geared towards racing or off-roading, or have larger rim sizes. Large trucks and SUVs, and some sports cars will require these premium-priced tires.
The tread is one of the most important factors in how your vehicle performs. Snow tires are made explicitly with a tread that can get the best grip in snow and slush, and rain tires need a similar setup. For wet-weather performance, the tire's tread needs channels that will help keep the water out from under your tires while you drive.
On rainy days, your best tire option is either summer or all-season tires. Where you live can be the most significant factor in which is the best for you. Summer tires can be used year-round if you live in a warm climate area, and they tend to have excellent wet-weather traction. If you live in cooler regions, all-season tires perform well in colder temperatures and are your best choice.
If a tire only has good traction for the first month after purchase, then it's likely a waste of money. How long a tire lasts and how fast it wears down is crucial to finding the best tire for rain. You can sometimes judge a tire based on the length of its warranty, although the materials used to make the tire can also play an important role.
- Road Noise: You may not know that the loud noise cars sometimes produce when driving on the road is actually due to the type of tire they have. Tires have a big impact on the road noise you hear while driving.
- Comfort And Smoothness: Another factor to consider is how smooth of a ride you prefer. Tires can make for a comfortable ride or one that’s a little stiffer. This might be an important consideration depending on the shape of the roads near you and your type of car.
Best Tires for Rain Reviews & Recommendations 2021
Driving in the rain requires reliable tread and a well-balanced design, making the Carlisle Radial Trail Tire an easy pick overall. This 235/80R16 tire is compatible with a wide range of vehicles, boasting an impressive 1,200-pound capacity. Fitting with 16-inch rims, these tires are built to work during all seasons (even the rainy ones). The radial design and strong structure are ideal for use on trailers, largely due to their high responsiveness and overall strength. With a radial structure, this tire features 10 layers of rubber. These radials work together to fortify the tire overall, maintaining tread and structure over longer periods. These stand out for the ability to withstand high pressures for long periods, highlighting their ability to retain a balanced hold on slick roads. They can prevent hydroplaning, and, when used on a trailer, mitigate the risk of jack-knifing. Sturdy and secure, these are a worthy pick overall.
While these tires stand out in terms of durability and raw strength, they aren’t necessarily the best at handling icy roads. The structure of the tread makes it effective at shedding water, not gaining traction, so you’ll likely want to swap them out for the cold seasons.
In many situations, if the rain starts to kick up, car and truck drivers stay parked (if circumstances allow). However, that’s when off-roading vehicles shine and what makes the ITP Mud Lite ATV Tire such a quality selection. Designed to optimize the performance of your ATV when the rain falls and the ground gets muddy, it does more than make driving in rain tolerable — it makes rainy drives fun. Capable of supporting 340 pounds, these 25-inch tires have an 8-inch width and a 12-inch rim. They are compatible with the majority of modern off-road ATVs and feature a rugged, sporty structure. Built with protruding treads that form like arrows, channeling the mud off the tire, these 6-ply tires are ideal for muddy, rainy situations. At an affordable price and with an effective design, these off-road tires are a fantastic value pick.
The only downside is that the tires have such distinct, outward-facing tread. It’s great in the rain or mucky conditions, but it will quickly lose effect on dry, hard surfaces. Aim to limit your driving on pavement to preserve the lifespan of these tires.
Whether you drive an SUV, a light truck, or a crossover, the Michelin All-Season Radial Tire is a worthy candidate for safe driving on rainy roads. Featuring a radial design, these tires feature multidirectional tire tread designs that facilitate grip in all road conditions. Able to support up to 2,535 pounds, these 275/55R20 tires have a T speed rating. Effective on freeways and backroads alike, the firm sidewalls and thick structure lend to long-term use. The tires come with a 70,000-mile limited treadwear warranty through the manufacturer. Designed for excellent responsiveness, everything from the grip to the structure is meant to balance the vehicle’s weight. This results in smoother turns and optimal steering control, a particularly important tire feature when driving in the rain.
It’s worth noting that, while these tires are ideal for managing wet surfaces, they don’t hold up as well with icy roads. As with most all-season tires, if your area is prone to extreme winters, you will need to swap them out when winter returns.
Designed to fit anywhere on a UTV, the ITP 6P0809 Coyote Tire is a quality choice for those dealing with wet road conditions. It’s built to meet the demands of high-powered UTVs and side-by-sides. The angles on the tread angle cleverly, notching into a pattern that both wicks away water and sheds mud and debris. With equally impressive sidewalls, these Coyote tires incorporate eight layers of rubber. Each level of rubber is there to reinforce the others, leading to a very stable structure. Manufactured in the United States, these tires meet Department of Transportation standards. A universally compatible design, these tires perform with equal merit no matter what UTV you install them on. Safe and reliable, these tires fit on both the front and back of your ride.
The only notable downside is that these tires don’t come with rims, despite it improving their performance. While the tire design stands out for its high compatibility rating, you’ll need a well-balanced set of rims that are also suited towards rainy weather.
Standing out for its outstanding tread structure, the Kenda Bear Claw ATV Tire can chew through any terrain, wet or dry. Measuring at 24 x 11 x 10 inches, these tires are meant for smaller ATVs. Especially considering the handling ability of smaller ATVs in rainy conditions, these tires are particularly useful. The well-spaced, protruding grips extend significantly. With a clever pattern, this tire has a large enough tread to force water out, reducing issues with hydroplaning if you’re on a paved road. When handling off-road, the six layers of rubber reduce the risk of punctures while gripping to rugged terrain with ease. If you want to enjoy driving in the rain (without getting stuck in the mud), these tires are definitely worth considering.
It’s worth noting that these only have six layers of rubber, significantly fewer than many other models. While it’s not a major issue due to the limited weight of ATVs, it does mean that they are likely to wear down more quickly than thicker models.
A high-end tire brand, Pirelli P Zero High-Performance Tire lives up to the hype in terms of performance and design. With a load capacity of 2,094 pounds, these tires are capable of withstanding a lot of wear and tear. Handling smoothly on slick surfaces, the treads are built specifically to drain water efficiently. They stand out through the Y-pattern and broad grooves. It uses the movement of the wheels to force the water outwards. By shifting the water on the road, these tires gain traction in otherwise trying conditions. Featuring a bead wire, the frame of the tire balances weight and by controlling the angular force on the tires. The result — tires that can accommodate high speeds while remaining stable. The high-density belt made of nylon optimizes ground contact, so you can ride with ease regardless of the weather.
Unfortunately, this 275/40R20 tire does have limited compatibility. Common to BMWs, Lexuses, Porsche, and Mercedes-Benz vehicles, these tires are great for luxury rides, though less common among economy cars.
While motorcycles aren’t designed for use on wet roads, rain can come out of nowhere, and it helps to be prepared. The Dunlop D401 Harley-Davidson Series Tire is high-functioning as a regular tire, though has the added benefit of handling rain well. Built using a long-lasting formula, these tires are reinforced with a specialized compound that sits at the center of the tread. It extends the lifespan of the tire, a goal furthered by its compatibility with digital tread profiling to keep the tires in good condition. The tread itself is built to shed water, using angular grooves of different depths to enhance grip on the road. These tires are a next-gen version of an older model, advancing the tech used in the tread as well as the surrounding material. Because of these advances, you can analyze your tread over time, fostering continued safety when driving in the rain.
One issue worth mentioning is that, though these 150/80HB16 tires fit with many motorcycle models, the sidewall is branded with the Harley-Davidson tag. It’s great if you ride a Harley, but less than ideal if your motorcycle is from any other company.
When you get a set of tires, there are two main goals: performance and durability. The Michelin Defender All-Season Tire checks both boxes. Provided your ride is compatible with a 195/65R15 tire, you can reap the benefits of the well-balanced design. With precisely designed tread, each part of the tire is grooved to optimize your surface area while still letting you move at a proper speed. The tread forces the water out of the tires, reducing the risk of hydroplaning on slick surfaces. With an H speed rating, these powerful all-season tires come with an 80,000-mile treadwear warranty. An effective solution for many sedans and crossovers, these tires are excellent when traveling long distances. Whether you have a significant daily commute or are planning a road trip, these tires are a good way to go.
Keep in mind that, while these tires have an H-rating (up to 130 miles per hour), the benefits of handling in the rain diminish as you speed up. While the tread and balance are optimal, it doesn’t eliminate the need to drive according to road conditions.
During rain storms, traveling on grass can be tricky in an ATV with the build-up of mud and difficulties accelerating. The Kenda Scorpion ATV Tire is made to solve this issue. Available in multiple sizes, this tire features half-inch tread. More substantial than most other ATV tires, the placement of the somewhat hollow treads is where these tires stand out. Despite there being prominent tread protrusions across the tire, there is sufficient space between them to allow debris to fall off the tire. With a 340-pound load capacity, these tubeless tires are meant to help you navigate rough terrain. These well-balanced tires are able to improve the handling of your ATV, rain or shine.
Bear in mind that this tire comes as a single and without rims. You’ll need a strong, protective set of rims in order to reap all the advantages of these ATV tires.
The Firestone Destination LE2 Highway SUV Tire is a terrific choice for use on the highway. The radial design of these all-season tires enhances both the structural integrity and the traction. Capable of supporting up to 1,874 pounds, the tires are designed for use with select SUVs. Sized at 225/65R17, these tires are compatible with SUVs from just about every major manufacturer. Excelling as aftermarket tires, this T-rated model is able to stably reach speeds of 118 miles per hour. Complete with a 60,000 limited tread warranty, the manufacturer backs the performance value for the equivalent of five years. Working both on wet and dry solid surfaces, these tires function well in all types of weather. Though not ideal for snow, when it comes to rainy conditions, the durable tread and solid grip earn these tires an honorable mention.
It warrants a note that, though these tires are fantastic on highways, they are subpar on gravel or dirt roads. Consider the terrain you are most likely to face; and, if it’s city streets and freeways, these are an awesome pick.
- If you ever hydroplane while driving, the best thing to do is let off the gas and coast to a slower speed. Jamming on the breaks or turning will only make handling your car more difficult.
- Before searching for tires, determine what size you need. The size can be found on the sidewall of your current tires.
- Many tires are specifically intended for cars or SUVs/trucks. Pay attention to the recommended type of vehicle and weight suggested by the manufacturer.
- Tire pressure can have a significant impact on wet-weather performance. Under-inflated tires can allow water to build up and create hydroplaning.
- All-season tires are not the best choice for winter. While all-weather or all-season would make you think they’re fine for winter driving, they typically have worse snow traction than snow/winter tires.
Q: Are summer tires good in the rain?
A: Yes. Summer tires often have the best wet-weather performance. While you might think that all-season tires are better, they actually compromise performance in the rain to have good snow traction.
Q: Does tire wear affect wet traction?
A: Yes. The longer you drive on a set of tires, the less effective they'll be in wet conditions. That's why one of the most important things to consider is how long the treads last.
Q: What do the different tire patterns mean?
A: The tread of your tire is researched and designed specifically for a particular purpose. A good set of rain tires have grooves and channels to move the water from the road surface and keep you from hydroplaning.
Now that you’ve seen the best tires for rain on the market, you can find the perfect fit for your ride. It could be the powerful water-shedding of the Carlisle Radial Trail Tire or the affordability of ITP Mud Lite ATV Tire for your off-road adventures.
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