Why do different cars need different tires?

Why do different cars need different tires?

The naïve answer is yes – if by “different” you mean a sedan vs. a lorry truck vs. an EV. Manufacturers provide you with the specification of the tires for make and models. It is unlikely they will mention any particular brand. It is unless they have any kind of business collaboration. The primary reasons are trim level, weight, car size, the make/model, and suspension tech. Let me elaborate.

As an example, let’s take the highest selling sedan – the Toyota RAV 4 for example. According to their manual, Toyota offers the following types as compatible.

Note: Here the middle number is the diameter, and the last number is the width.

- LE 225/65/17

- Limited 235/55/19

- XLE 225/65/17 or 235/55/19

- XLE Premium 235/55/19

- Adventure 235/55/19

Now you may choose any brand to buy but some things to consider are:

Tread life warranty: It is positively correlated with your peace of mind.

Pricing: You want the best bang for the buck but still not skimp on quality.

Grip: The grip measure is how much it holds onto the road. It depends on the terrain you usually drive on.

Climate resistance: Depends on what kind of weather your car needs to persevere

Rolling resistance: This correlates to fuel economy and the lower it is, the more fuel it consumes.

Then there’s a question of mixing and matching tires. If your car needs four cars, is having three Bridgestone and one Goodyear a good idea? No. Every manufacturer will recommend against it. However, it will work if the specification/trim size is the same. But the parameters would be different on the points mentioned above.

Lastly, another new paradigm that deserves a discussion is electric vehicles (EVs). EVs always need special tires that are unlikely to work with fuel-powered cars. EV tires carry more weight compared to regular cars. They also have to provide higher torque when moving from a stationary position. EV tires also demand lower rolling resistance over fuel cars as noted by an article by Green Car Reports.

These are the primary reasons why tires are different on different modern cars. For a deep dive into the history of car tires, a great resource is recommended.

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