Best Tires for Wet-Weather Performance

    The truth about stopping in the rain and which tires do it best

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    2019Wet Tire TestingPhotographer: John “JP” Powers Consumer Reports

    Stopping a car in the rain can be a harrowing experience, especially if you’re driving through a significant amount of standing water and your tires are worn. A wet surface makes it a challenge for tires to gain grip; you may risk hydroplaning—when tires skim across the surface of the water because the tread cannot route it to the sides quickly enough.

    The lack of grip can cause stops under hard braking to be longer, and you might risk losing control of your vehicle. We have found in our tests that the difference in stopping distance between a fresh tire and one worn down to 4/32-inch (2/32-inch is when it must be replaced) can be between 14 and 31 feet, depending on the model. That is a huge variation. We have also seen that among new tires, wet braking distances in a segment can differ by almost 50 feet—or about three car lengths—from the best- to the worst-performing models.

    If you drive in rainy weather, choosing a tire with good wet braking and resistance to hydroplaning is a smart move.

    More on Tires

    “Being able to react confidently to an unexpected situation is vital to car safety,” says Gene Petersen, Consumer Reports’ tire program manager. “And being able to rapidly reduce speed can mean the difference between a spilled coffee and a hospital visit.”

    Our tire team analyzed the data from testing hundreds of tires to find the wet-weather standouts in several key segments, including all-season, all-season truck, all-season SUV, performance all-season, ultra-high-performance all-season and summer, winter/snow, performance winter/snow, and all-terrain.

    For these selections, we focused on the scores for wet braking, hydroplaning resistance, and wet handling.

    Due to the coronavirus pandemic, some shoppers might want to consider mobile installation—when technicians come to your home or business to replace tires. Tire Rack’s website lists mobile install services among its independent recommended installers. (Learn more about how to determine whether you need tires and how to address car maintenance during the pandemic.)

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    We investigate, research, and test so you can choose with confidence.