If you have ever taken a close look at your car’s tires, you may have wondered what the series of numbers and letters on the side mean. It can be slightly confusing and may make you think that you need some kind of secret decoder to figure out what kind of tires you should get when your next set is due. Luckily, this code is easy to decipher and can give you some good insight into what tires will be the best fit for your car, whatever it may be.
What Do the Tire Numbers Mean?
The numbers and letters refer to the size of different areas of the tire. In our example of 215/55R17, it is as follows:
This number refers to the width of the tire itself in millimeters. The width is the measurement of the tire from the point closest to the middle to the outer edge. This will determine how much of a contact patch you will have with the road.
This number is the aspect ratio of your tires. What this means in our example is that the height of the sidewall is 55% of the width. The sidewall is the area of the tire that spans the outer edge of the rim to the very end of the tread blocks.
This letter tells you how your tires are constructed. In this case, it means that they are radial. Almost all modern tires are radial types, but the other options are Bias Belt and Diagonal. This letter will almost always be R unless you are looking for a specific type of tire construction.
This is the size of the rims that the tire was designed to be put on. In this case, the rims for this tire should be 17 inches. This is a fairly standard rim size for a coupe or midsize sedan, and is incredibly common.
Now that you know what these numbers and letters mean, you may be asking yourself what the best 215/55R17 tires are. Since this is a common size for many modern vehicles, it can be difficult to sort through all of them that are on the market. Luckily, we have put together a shortlist of the best 215/55R17 tires to help you get what you need based on your driving habits and weather in your area.
What Makes a Great 215/55R17 Tire?
When trying to figure out what makes a great 215/55R17 tire, what you really need to be asking yourself is what your needs are as a driver. We spoke to a tire specialist at Valley Tire who told us “that size is generally on crossovers, smaller SUVs and sedans, so it would be best to get some kind of all terrain tire that can handle different kinds of conditions. Something that’s rated for snow and ice would be a good idea. It might also be good to get a tire that looks kind of sporty, since that’s the main attraction of the crossover.”
Figure 2: The best 215/55R17 tires will be sufficient in all kinds of weather. Source: FalkenTire.com.
The best 215/55R17 tires will have the ability to perform in all kinds of conditions and give you good stopping and accelerating performance year round. This means that all season type tires are a good bet, since they are designed to be as versatile and sporty in winter as they are in summer. This is usually accomplished by additives of silica and other polymers in the tires’ rubber compound. These additives react to different weather conditions and temperatures to make sure that the best 215/55R17 tires are always the right consistency for the circumstances.
The best 215/55R17 tires will also have the Three-Peak Mountain Snowflake Symbol. This symbol means that they have been tested by the manufacturer in all moderate snow and ice conditions. This does not mean that they will be a sufficient replacement for snow tires. However, it does mean that they will be adequate and relatively safe should you happen upon some light to medium snow in your daily driving.
How Did We Pick the Best 215/55R17 Tires?
We took a look at the different models on the market and put together our shortlist for the best 215/55R17 tires available. On this list, we have highlighted some of the most versatile and high performing examples that will be a great choice for all kinds of drivers and weather conditions. By choosing from this list of the best 215/55R17 tires, you can be sure that you are getting a tire that will be able to serve you well no matter what type of terrain or weather you encounter on a daily basis.
Figure 3: All the 215/55R17 tires on our list are versatile and weather resistant. Source: TireBusiness.com.
All of the tires on our shortlist use additives and proprietary compounds to adapt to different weather conditions. This means that they will be just as effective on a sunny day with blazing hot asphalt as they will be on a cold day with snow and ice. This is incredibly important for SUV and crossover owners who have chosen their vehicles for their versatility in all kinds of conditions and weather situations.
Figure 4: The WeatherGrip by Firestone is great for crossovers and SUVs that see use in all kinds of weather. Source: TireRack.com.
The WeatherGrip by Firestone is an all-season tire specifically designed for SUVs and crossovers that are regularly driven in all kinds of weather. If you live in an area that gets a moderate amount of snow and ice, this could be a great alternative to a dedicated snow tire. Its versatility is perfect for all kinds of applications and that is what makes it one of the best 215/55R17 tires available on the market.
The tread compound used on the WeatherGrip is perfect for nearly any temperature or terrain. Using Firestone’s Hydro-Grip Technology, it allows for a wider contact patch on the road that wicks water out from under the SUV or crossover and prevents hydroplaning. This gives them a great advantage in nearly any type of rainy weather, especially if your SUV or crossover has 4-wheel drive.
It also uses a patented Snow Traction Claw technology to give a huge amount of biting edges along the center and outer edge. This gives superior grip in light to medium snow as well as ice and rain conditions. Along with its Three-Peak Mountain Snowflake Symbol, you would be hard pressed to find a tire that is more suited to an all-season application.
Michelin’s CrossClimate2 is an all-season tire that meets the requirements for use in severe snow and ice conditions. This means that no matter what type of climate you are usually driving in, there is a technology on this tire that is designed to deal with it. Michelin’s Thermal Adaptive compound reads the road and changes consistency based on the temperature and detritus it is rolling over. This allows it to keep from hardening, even in temperatures that are below freezing.
Unlike many tires rated for snow and ice, the CrossClimate2 is incredibly quiet and comfortable at higher speeds. Using PIANO Noise Reduction Tuning to cancel out repeating frequencies, this tire is able to provide a variation in timing when it comes to how the tread rolls along the highway. The result is a smooth, quiet ride that also won’t skimp when it comes to traction on a snowy or icy road.
To increase traction while braking, the CrossClimate2 uses 3D sipes and V Ramp chamfers on all sides of the tread blocks. These create edges that bite into the road and give you a solid contact patch no matter what the terrain is like.
Figure 6: The Uniroyal Tiger Paw is perfect for serious winter driving. Source: TireRack.com.
The Uniroyal Tiger Paw is one of the best 215/55R17 tires for specific use in ice and snow. Using a special winter compound, this tire remains flexible and malleable in cold weather, which keeps solid traction and steady balance, even at sub-zero temperatures, when most other tires would have hardened and become slippery.
Using lateral grooves and shoulder channels, the Tiger Paw removes slush and water from underneath the contact patch. Not only does this keep your SUV or crossover’s grip strong, it also prevents getting stuck in deeper snow by giving biting edges to hold onto.
A high concentration of sipes also prevents wheel spinning by locking the tread blocks together and moving in a uniform way and providing a lot of biting edges. They are also molded to work with tire studs if you live in an area with heavy snow where they are required. For people who live in places with serious winter conditions, the Tiger Paw is one of the best 215/55R17 tires available.