If you only think about your car's tires when changing a flat, Consumer Reports offers this advice: Don't take them for granted.
Differences among tires can affect braking in snow and rain; and can impact your car's handling, noise, and even its fuel economy, according to the magazine, which tests and rates thousands of consumer products from cars to credit cards.
Tires range in price, so make sure to shop around and pay attention to factors like warranty and mounting costs before you make a purchase. Also, according to Consumer Reports, "Tires aren't like shoes. The bigger the size, the more you pay."
After testing more than 40 tire models, the magazine has released its rankings of the best tires for 2021.
Best all-season tire: Michelin Defender T+H
The Michelin Defender T+H delivers good dry braking and handling performance, resistance to hydroplaning, and snow traction, according to Consumer Reports. Its projected tread life is 85,000 miles.
Price range: $118 to $211 per tire
Best performance all-season tire: Michelin CrossClimate2
The Michelin CrossClimate2 is the best performing all-season tire with its "uncompromising" grip, Consumer Reports says. It's part of a group of all-weather tires that use unique tread designs and enhanced rubber compounds to increase traction across many temperatures. It has a projected 85,000-mile tread life. This tire does not need to be swapped for winter/snow tires unless you live in an extremely snowy area. One notable shortcoming is in rolling resistance – a test-based assessment of a tire’s impact on fuel economy.
Price range: $139 to $276 per tire
Best ultra-high-performance all-season tire: Goodyear Eagle Exhilarate
he Goodyear Eagle Exhilarate tire gets top marks for handling and hydroplaning resistance, and it has above-average braking performance on dry, wet, and ice surfaces. Shortcomings are rolling resistance and a stiff ride, two characteristics common among many of these tires.
Price range: $155 to $353 per tire
Best ultra-high-performance summer tire: Michelin Pilot Sport 4s
The Michelin Pilot Sport 4s is the standout, with excellent handling and braking. Other top performers are the Continental ExtremeContact Sport and General G-MAX RS, Consumer Reports says. All three offer a long tread life for the category and a quiet ride.
Price: $199 to $935 per tire
Best winter/snow tire: The Bridgestone Blizzak WS90
The Bridgestone Blizzak WS90 has excellent traction in the snow and braking in the ice, Consumer Reports says. Dry braking, resistance to hydroplaning, and ride comfort are all above average. The Michelin X-Ice Snow ties Bridgestone’s overall score. However, its handling score is below average, and it costs more.
Price: $95.00 to $233.00 per tire
Best performance winter/snow tire: The Vredestein Wintrac Pro
The Vredestein Wintrac Pro offers hydroplaning resistance, snow traction, and ice braking. It also is above average for dry braking, handling, and ride comfort. The concession for this stellar winter traction is a low score for rolling resistance.
Price: $133.58 to $343.19 per tire
Michelle Shen is a Money & Tech Digital Reporter for USA TODAY. Follow her work on Twitter @michelle_shen10.
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Car tires: Consumer Reports ranks best tires for cars based on seasons