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Are Summer Tires Safe in Wet Weather?
So, is it safe to run summer tires in wet weather? The answer is complicated—it depends primarily on the temperature. In warm weather, summer tires can handle rain and wet roads pretty well. Most summer tires have a void space or channel that runs the length of the tire. This void space helps the tire shed water and prevents hydroplaning.
When the temperature drops, the use of summer tires becomes much more perilous. The rubber compounds used to make summer tires are designed only for warm weather, and they stiffen when it's cold out. You'd think that a stiff tire would be better, but it's not. Stiff tires can't conform to the shape of the road and thus reduce road contact and traction.
All in all, summer tires are safe to use in wet weather where it's warm. These places include Florida, South Texas, and certain desert climates. That said, summer tires aren't the safest option for rain, even in summer weather.
Best Tire Type for Wet Roads
The best type of tire for wet roads is the good old all-season (A/S) highway tire. All-season tires are designed with a supple tread compound that works in hot or cold weather, and they have medium-sized tread voids for shedding water.
As a result, all-season tires are the most popular kind on cars and trucks across the country. They're versatile and safe to use in wet weather, sleet, and light snowfall. They're also great in snowmelt when the road is warm but still covered in a layer of slushy water.
Top 5 Tires for Wet Weather Conditions
We found five of the best tires for wet weather conditions and rated them in descending order. To make our list, each tire had to be affordable and safe to use in both warm and cold wet weather conditions. Here are our top wet weather tires for cars and trucks.
1. Bridgestone Ecopia Series A/S Tires
Bridgestone is known for being on the cutting edge of tire development, and they offer some of the most affordable and highest quality all-season tires on the market. Bridgestone Ecopia tires handle great in wet weather, and they're also useful for driving in light snowfall.
Bridgestone categorizes its Ecopia series as a Grand Touring A/S tire. These tires are designed primarily for a long, low-maintenance lifespan and great highway handling. They're designed for your commutes, road trips, and other daily driving tasks.
But what makes the Bridgestone Ecopia handle so well in wet weather? The secret is in the tread compound, which the company calls NanoPro-Tech. This technology allows the rubber to remain sticky and maintain traction in wet conditions, and adapt to varying road surfaces with ease.
Bridgestone Ecopia tires also utilize specialized notches and intermediate ribs, which help the tire bite confidently in light snow and slush. This is a vast improvement over most summer tires, which slide around hopelessly during the smallest snowfall.
Bridgestone Ecopia tire prices vary between sizes, but you can pick up a set for around $117 per tire on Tire Rack.
The Bridgestone Ecopia is a dependable, long-lasting, and high-quality all-season tire that's a great OEM replacement for commuter vehicles.
2. Firestone Weathergrip Series A/S Tires
Firestone is another well-known and respected tire manufacturer that's built a reputation for quality. The Firestone Weathergrip is a Grand Touring A/S tire designed specifically for exceptional wet weather handling on the highway. It's good for all four seasons, and it's a safety improvement over stock summer tires on most vehicles.
Firestone Weathergrip tires have a slightly directional tread pattern. Performance studies have shown that directional tread is a superior design, especially for cars with lots of power. It can shed water effectively in wet weather, and these tires are also great for stability.
The Firestone Weathergrip tire is designed for passenger cars and family vehicles. It places a premium on safe design, and it's highly rated by owners thanks to its superior performance on wet roads. These tires also use a rounded design, which helps cut through standing water and reduce the risk of an accident.
The Firestone Weathergrip is a radial tire constructed using twin steel belts and single-ply rubber, which helps prevent puncture and deformation. They're also rated with the snowflake symbol for snow and winter driving, which makes them a great choice for the northern states.
Firestone Weathergrip tires are available in lots of sizes and prices vary, but you can purchase them for around $113 per tire on Tire Rack.
Firestone Weathergrip tires are affordable and reliable, with a long lifespan and great handling for passenger cars.
3. Michelin Premier Series A/S Tires
Michelin tires are some of the most popular on the market, and they're known for their excellent all-season and wet weather options. The Michelin Premier A/S is a top choice for rainy days and wet roads, thanks to its superior tread compound and excellent traction.
The tread surface of the Michelin Premier tire isn't as blocky as you'd initially expect. But don't let appearances fool you—this tire has a few wet weather tricks up its sleeve. Michelin utilized expanding rain grooves to help eject water from the tire, which actually gets wider as the tire ages. This helps increase performance over the life of the tire and keeps drivers safer for longer.
Michelin Premier tires are also designed to improve fuel economy, regardless of the weather. They can be used in hot weather, cold weather, and everything in between—wet or otherwise. Additionally, the intermediate ribs of the tread help maximize responsiveness and performance on dry pavement during ideal conditions.
The Michelin Premier is a tire that should suffer from trade offs—but doesn't. This tire is a great all-around choice for a wide range of cars, and it's functional and effective in all kinds of wet weather conditions. The tire is reinforced with twin steel belts and polyamide ply for longevity and puncture resistance.
You can purchase a set of Michelin Premier A/S tires from Tire Rack. Prices vary based on size and load rating, but the average is around $180 to $200.
The Michelin Premier is a medium to high-end all-season tire that provides great handling on wet and dry pavement.
4. Pirelli P4 Series A/S Tires
Pirelli tires are also an extremely popular choice for drivers and OEM automakers. The Pirelli P4 is one of the leading all-season tires available today, and it's known for wet weather safety and dry pavement performance. These top-quality tires are a great choice for your daily driver.
Silica is the secret to Pirelli's wet weather rubber compound. The silica-infused tread compound helps retain traction on wet pavement and shed water without sacrificing performance. It also allows the tire to utilize higher-performing tread, which provides a better driving experience.
The tread pattern on the Pirelli P4 series is unusual at first glance, but it's easy to see how it works to improve wet weather traction. The center of the contact surface features two wide grooves, which help shed water on wet days. Additionally, Pirelli used computerized systems to perfect the design of the tread sipes to increase wet weather traction.
Overall, the Pirelli P4 represents the latest advancements in wet weather tire design. It's a high-quality tire that many drivers rely on in summer and winter weather conditions. It's durable, too—these tires are engineered with twin steel belts and woven nylon reinforcements.
Pirelli P4 All-Season tires are available on Tire Rack in a variety of sizes, and you can get a typical set for between $100 and $200 per tire.
The Pirelli P4 all-season is a great wet weather tire at a super affordable price, and it's also useable in light snow and cold weather.
5. Bridgestone Turanza Series A/S Tire
Bridgestone makes our list once again with its popular Turanza series. These robust all-season tires are available in nearly a dozen varieties and virtually all common sizes. Here, we'll focus on the highly-rated Turanza QuietTrack.
The Bridgestone Turanza QuietTrack is one of the leading tires in the series, and it's known for its comfortable and quiet ride in almost all weather conditions. Turanza tires utilize a combination of wet weather tread and rubber compound to achieve their excellent performance.
The tread pattern on the Turanza QuietTrack is easy to compare to a studless winter tire. In fact, the untrained eye would have a hard time distinguishing it. The excellent wet weather traction comes from the carefully cut tread grooves and the deep water-shedding channels that run the length of the tire.
Upon closer inspection, we can see that the Turanza's circumferential grooves can help reduce the risk of hydroplaning by cutting through and ejecting standing water, as opposed to plowing into it and sliding across. Additionally, the biting edges along the edge of the tire cut into snow and provide superior stopping and starting traction.
You can purchase a set of Bridgestone Turanza QuietTrack tires from Tire Rack. Prices vary between sizes, but they're usually between $110 and $190 per tire. Bridgestone also offers several other Turanza varieties for different vehicle types.
The Bridgestone Turanza QuietTrack is the perfect wet weather tire for luxury cars and long-distance commuters.
About The Author
I've spent many years selling cars, working with auto detailers, mechanics, dealership service teams, quoting and researching car insurance, modding my own cars, and much more.Read More About Charles Redding