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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BY Bryan Long / LAST UPDATED ON August 3, 2019
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.
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
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
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
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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.
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- 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.