A few weeks ago, I went for a drive and realized that I could hear a squeaking noise I hadn’t heard in years. After troubleshooting a bit, I came to the conclusion that the tire tread was all but gone, so I set out to find the best quiet tires I could.
If you’ve ever tried shopping for new tires, you know how tempting it can be just to drop your car off at your mechanic and have them take over from there. But you don’t have to succumb to that particular temptation. After all, you never know if they might overcharge you or put in tires you wouldn’t have chosen for yourself. Well, once I’m through with you, you’ll know exactly what kind of tires you’re looking for.
After the reviews, I’ll give you the lowdown on everything you need to know about shopping for tires. But for now, let’s briefly go over some of the things that make some tires quieter than others.
What Makes a Tire Particularly Noisy or Quiet?
To answer the most crucial question right off the bat, let’s see what makes some tires quieter than others. Basically, it’s all about the tread — the pattern and depth of the grooves in the rubber that comes into contact with the road.
The tread of a tire speaks volumes about the conditions it was made to handle. Winter tires tend to have the deepest and most aggressive tread, which also makes them the noisiest of the bunch.
If you’re looking for quiet ones, you’ll want to limit your search to touring tires with low rolling resistance. Manufacturers usually market these as highway or all-season tires. But just to be safe, you should avoid using them during blizzards. Even though winter tires are louder, they’re definitely safer during those cold months.
So why are touring tires so silent? It’s for the same reason that makes them roll so smoothly in dry and slightly wet conditions — their relatively shallow tread. It’s practically designed to dampen noise! The quietest tires have at least two channels running around the tire, which eliminate some of the road noise. Furthermore, there are other features that help the tires stay quiet — narrow tread voids, varying tread block sizes, and semi-closed shoulders.
Aside from the tread design, you should also pay attention to the width of the tire. As a rule of thumb, the wider the tire, the louder it gets. So SUV tires are louder than passenger car tires, while commercial truck tires are generally the loudest. If the tire is on the smaller side, a smaller surface will come into contact with the road. Consequently, there’s less air between it and the road, which would result in less noise.
Reviews of the Best Quiet Tires for Passenger Cars, Light Trucks, and SUVs
Now that we have a general idea of the kinds of tires we’re looking for, let’s see what they can look like. The first several products I’ve found are all passenger car tires, and most of them would fall into the category of touring tires. I’ve also included some products that would suit light trucks and SUVs. Even though those tires are typically louder simply because of their size and firm rubber, some of them can still be quieter than others.
Supermax TM-1 All-Season Radial Tire — 195/65r15 91t
The SUPERMAX TM-1 all-season radial tire is an oldie but a goodie. It’s perhaps the narrowest one on my list, at only 7.67 inches wide. As we know, that usually translates into low road noise. However, I’d like to note that most of these tires come in different sizes as well.
Of course, noise reduction in tires isn’t solely about the surface that’s coming in contact with the road. It’s also about the tread. In this case, we have a shallow, if a bit plain, symmetric pattern. The design isn’t anything special, though. The three raised lines in the center are pretty much standard, as are the semi-closed shoulders on the sides.
Weighing in at only 22.8 pounds, the tire itself can lift an impressive 1356 pounds. And that’s the lowest load capacity on my list! Furthermore, it can also reach speeds of up to 118 mph. That may not be the most impressive speed rating I’ve ever seen in a passenger car tire, but it’s completely acceptable.
- 7.67 inches wide with a 15-inch rim
- Symmetrical tread with three raised center lines
- Load capacity of 1356 pounds per tire
- Can reach speeds of up to 118 mph
Achilles Atr Sport Performance Radial Tire — 225/40r18 92w
The Achilles ATR radial tire is one that would be most suited to sports drivers. Its W speed rating signifies that it’s capable of reaching speeds of up to 168 miles per hour. The tire has a simple V-shaped directional tread, which would usually mean that it’s much louder than most. However, user reviews seem to indicate that these particular tires have managed to circumvent that curse.
According to the manufacturer, these tires have been designed with noise reduction in mind. They have a “db Silent Technology,” which is meant to reduce road noise even when traveling at high speeds. Even though the tread seems to be slightly deeper than we have seen on our previous pick, they seem to be equal in road noise.
I should note that this tire is wider than the previous one by about an inch, and it has a larger rim. If you’re unsure what the significance of that is, stick around after the reviews to learn how to pick the size you need for your vehicle. For now, I’ll just add that the increased size doesn’t mean much for the load capacity of these tires, as they’re only slightly stronger than the previous product. Each tire can carry 1389 pounds on its own.
- 8.85 inches wide with an 18-inch rim
- Directional tread with dB Silent Technology
- Load capacity of 1389 pounds per tire
- Can reach speeds of up to 168 mph
Michelin Premier A/S Radial Tire — 215/55r17 94v
I can’t make a tire recommendation section without at least mentioning a Michelin product. There’s a reason most Michelin tires are so expensive — their quality measures up to that price point. The Michelin Premier A/S tires are, obviously, meant for all-season driving.
Even when driving at speeds of up to 149 miles per hour, these babies maintain traction thanks to the silica content in the rubber. Furthermore, as the tire wears, the tread will widen to keep a good grip on the road. And, during winter months, the rubber should remain flexible thanks to the sunflower oil in the mix.
The smooth, symmetrical tread is even shallower than in the first product on this list, so it should be pretty quiet. However, these tires are slightly wider, at 8.46 inches, and they have a larger, 17-inch rim. These dimensions and peculiar composition come with a load index rating of 94, which means that these tires can hold 1477 pounds each.
- 8.46 inches wide with a 17-inch rim
- Smooth, symmetrical tread
- Load capacity of 1477 pounds per tire
- Can reach speeds of up to 149 mph
Vercelli Strada 2 All-Season Tire — 245/45r20 103w
Even though these Vercelli Strada 2 tires are technically passenger car tires, they have incredibly impressive speed and load index ratings. They can carry up to 1929 pounds of weight per tire and safely drive at 168 miles per hour. That alone means that they have the highest speed rating of all the products on my list!
But then, that’s not surprising, considering the detailed directional tread carved out of the 9.64-inch wide tires. And the tread isn’t only attractive — it’s functional as well. After all, this kind of V-shaped tread design has been shown to improve handling and contribute to a low rolling resistance, which usually makes tires quieter.
Basically, this tread gives you the silent performance of a shallow symmetrical design with the agility of a directional pattern. They’re classified as all-season tires, so they should handle all kinds of weather. The tread channels are particularly great at evacuating water while keeping a good grip on the road, thanks to the high silica content in the tread rubber.
- 9.64 inches wide with a 20-inch rim
- Vaguely directional tread but might as well be symmetrical
- Load capacity of 1929 pounds per tire
- Can reach speeds of up to 168 mph
Goodyear Wrangler Radial Tire — 235/75r15 105s
Now that we have seen a few quiet passenger car tires, let’s see what a light truck or SUV quiet tire might look like. To begin with, we have this aggressive-looking block tread radial tire from Goodyear.
These Goodyear Wrangler tires have a heavy-duty construction thatyou’ll notice from a mile away. You’d think that the depth of the tread and the open shoulders wouldn’t bode well if you wanted quiet performance. But according to the users, those features haven’t made the tires louder. They just make them capable of handling all kinds of weather.
Overall, the tires are 9.25 inches wide, and they have a 15-inch rim. They’re made of relatively sturdy rubber, so they have a load capacity of up to 2039 pounds per tire. However, like most of these large tires, they have a lower speed rating, which marks them as tires that can only travel at speeds of 112 miles per hour or less.
- 9.25 inches wide with a 15-inch rim
- Impressively quiet for a block tread tire
- Load capacity of 2039 pounds per tire
- Can reach speeds of up to 112 mph
Goodyear Wrangler MT/R Kevlar Radial — 35×12.50r15lt 113q
If you love pairing your vehicle with rugged, asymmetrical tires, look no further. The Goodyear Wrangler MT/R Kevlar tires have that aggressive deep tread that would look amazing on any pickup truck. However, as we have established, that kind of tread doesn’t seem to be conducive to quiet performance.
On top of that, these babies are 12.5 inches wide, which is a pretty big surface area that can potentially become incredibly noisy.
Well, according to users, these tires are pretty quiet, even if we take all of that into consideration. They’re definitely quieter than mud tires, which tend to have similarly chunky tread patterns.
Only one of these weighs as much as 66.8 pounds — that’s about three times the weight of the lighter passenger car tires I’ve reviewed! With that kind of bulk, it’s no wonder each of these can carry up to 2535 pounds. However, as I have previously mentioned, large tires aren’t capable of safely achieving extraordinary speeds. These ones could only go up to 100 miles per hour.
- 12.5 inches wide with a 15-inch rim
- Attractive and aggressive asymmetric tread design
- Load capacity of 2535 pounds per tire
- Can reach speeds of up to 100 mph
Nitto Trail Grappler M/T All-Season Radial Tire — 35×12.50r17/10 121q
Last but certainly not least, we have a true heavyweight champion on our hands. The Nitto Trail Grappler all-season radial tires have a load index rating of 121, which means that they can hold up to 3297 pounds of weight. And, remember, that number is for a single tire, which, on its own, weighs close to 80 pounds.
The Trail Grappler M/T tires are 12.5 inches wide and have a 17-inch rim. Like most light truck or SUV tires, these have a deep, blocky tread.
Unlike the previous product I’ve reviewed, this one has a symmetrical tread with tapered shoulders that are ideal for off-road driving.
Basically, these tires should be able to toss away anything you throw at them. They’re great at evacuating water, and they even have a stone ejector feature in the tread design. If they have one weakness, it’s that they can’t travel faster than 100 miles per hour. Other than that, they should be as quiet as these kinds of large tires can be.
- 12.5 inches wide with a 17-inch size
- Deep and blocky symmetric tread pattern
- Load capacity of 3297 pounds per tire
- Can reach speeds of up to 100 mph
How to Find the Best Quiet Tires at a Glance
Hopefully, you’ve found the tire of your dreams among the ones I’ve reviewed above. However, if you’re still not quite sure what you want that is on my list, let’s talk about the factors you should consider when shopping for tires on your own. These tips will help you find the perfect quiet tires for your vehicle at a glance.
Tread and Material
As I have explained before my reviews, the tread is the main reason some tires are quieter than others. However, the material a tire is made of can also be crucial. So let’s talk about why you’ll need to look out for these two features.
Naturally, the underlying construction of your tires will ensure their durability and longevity. It’s not just there as a buffer between your wheels and the road or to make your drive more comfortable. The exact formula of the rubber can significantly affect the amount of noise your tires make.
If you go to look at tires at your local store, you may even be able to feel which ones will be the noisiest. Softer rubber with a shallower tread indicates that the tire in question is probably pretty quiet. But you shouldn’t take that as a green light to buy the softest tire you find.
After all, soft rubber is usually reserved for summer tires. If you live in a place that gets a lot of snow, you’ll have to have winter tires as a backup. Or, you can simply purchase all-season tires, which have a medium softness to the rubber. So let’s talk about what all these seasonal designations really mean.
Summer, Winter, and All-Season Tires
The most obvious reason some tires have different tread than others is because of the driving conditions they’re made to handle. Generally, most tires are designed for one of three cases:
- Summer tires are best for driving on dry asphalt, which is not to say that they can’t handle a bit of rain. They improve the way your car handles and allow it to be faster and more agile when taking turns or braking. Generally, they tend to have a shallow, almost smooth tread, but they’ll still hold onto the road pretty well.
- Winter tires have a more aggressive tread with much deeper grooves, which allows you to drive over snow. Some of them even have metal studs in the tread to further improve traction, though that also makes them the noisiest tires you could possibly have. These kinds of tires can also damage the pavement, which is why they’re illegal in some states. Although, studless winter tires should give you all the traction you need unless the winter is too harsh.
- Lastly, all-season tires are a happy compromise between the former two types. They’re the tires you want to invest in if you don’t want to have to switch between the other two types. Because you’ll be using them all year long, you really want to get ones that are made of quality materials. You don’t want them to show signs of wear too quickly.
Ultimately, you’ll need to choose the tires that are the most appropriate for the climate you live in. If you live in an arid country, you can go for summer tires, which should also be the quietest option. But if you have frigid winters, you should go for all-season tires, at least.
Tread Pattern Design
Once you settle on the type of tire you’re looking for, you’ll see that all of them have different tread designs. There are three basic types of tread patterns:
- Symmetrical tread is the most common kind of pattern, and it’s pretty self-explanatory. These kinds of tires are great because you can rotate them in any way you want. And, if you’re buying a set of four with a spare tire, you can only get one additional tire.
- Asymmetrical tread is fantastic for driving in wet conditions because it maintains traction on the outer sides of the tire by pushing water inwards. Because of their asymmetrical design, the side of the tire that’s supposed to be facing outwards is always marked. Since there’s a clear difference between left and right tires, you’ll only be able to rotate them front to back. And if you need spares, you’ll have to buy one for each side of the vehicle.
- Directional tread has one or two central lines running down the middle of the tire, with V-shaped slashes that slope from the sides of the tires inwards. Tires with this type of tread tend to be really noisy, so you may want to avoid them. However, they do handle beautifully, which is why they’re sports drivers’ favorites. But then, noise isn’t something those drivers worry about.
All of these tread patterns can incorporate different design elements that serve various purposes. For example, a blocky design is found on all-terrain or mud tires, but that’s not something you should be looking for if you don’t need it. In any case, block tread is typically louder than symmetrical tread.
Most of the tires I’ve mentioned come in different sizes — but how can you find one that will fit your wheels?
As I have mentioned, the dimensions of a tire are an important feature when it comes to its noise-making capabilities. Smaller ones tend to be quieter, more fuel-efficient, and more affordable. However, if you have a Jeep, you can’t simply buy smaller tires to keep the noise and cost at a minimum. You don’t have much wiggle room to play with due to the size of your vehicle.
If you just want to get tires that are the same size as the ones you have, copy the numbers and letters on the sidewall. They should look something like this: “205/55R16.” Here’s a cheat sheet to help you read those symbols:
- The first number you’ll see is the width of the tire in millimeters. In this case, we have 205 mm, which is 8.07 inches.
- The next number there, after the forward-slash, tells you the aspect ratio between the sidewall and the width of the tire. So here, we see that the sidewall is 55% of the total width of the tire, so about 4.43 inches.
- The next symbol is the letter “R,” which refers to the radial construction of the tire. That’s just the most common type of tire, so it’s not particularly important to remember.
- Lastly, we have the number “16,” which represents the diameter of the wheel in inches. Knowing this number is particularly important since you’ll probably put your new tires over wheels you already own. So you’ll have to make sure that the wheel diameter is as big as your wheel or slightly smaller.
If you’re looking at these products on Amazon, you’ll find all these measurements and more in the product description.
Speed and Load Index Rating
After the sizing information, there are two other things embossed on the sidewall of all tires — their speed rating and load index number.
Speed ratings are essentially letter grades that tell you how fast a tire is capable of going. However, unlike letter grades, you don’t want to be anywhere near an A since A-rated tires can only go at speeds between 3 and 25 miles per hour. The lowest rating you might see on a passenger car tire is an S or a T rating, giving you a maximum speed of 112–118 miles per hour.
Because of their overall weight and size, truck tires have lower speed capabilities. Many light-truck and SUV tires have Q ratings, which means that the fastest they can go is 100 miles per hour.
On the other hand, tires also have a load index rating, which tells you how much weight they’re capable of carrying. The least a passenger car tire should be able to withstand is about 1356 pounds. That would earn it a load index rating of 91. However, some passenger car tires are capable of holding much greater burdens, with a 108 rating, which means they can carry 2205 pounds.
Of course, some light truck tires need to be able to carry a much greater load. I’ve even seen some that have load index ratings of 121 or more, which gives each tire the capacity to withstand 3297 pounds. So the total maximum carrying capacity of your vehicle will be that number multiplied by the number of tires you have.
When Is the Right Time to Change Your Tires?
Blowing out your tires or suddenly noticing a screeching noise are very dramatic ways to realize you need to get a new set. Needless to say, it doesn’t usually happen like that. If you’re a discerning and attentive vehicle owner, you should be able to tell that you need new tires simply by looking at your current ones.
If the tread is visibly worn and shallow, it will no longer grip the road like it used to. Some tires also have a tread indicator, which is a bump inside the tread ridge that lets you know it’s time to change your tires. If the surface of your tire wears down to the tread indicators, you can start looking for new ones.
I recommend starting your search as soon as you notice these telltale signs. That should give you plenty of time to wait for a sale instead of panicking and settling on a bad deal. And before I wrap this up, I’d also like to point out that most of the prices you’ll see online refer to a single tire. So if you need a full set and a spare, adjust your budget accordingly.
Ultimately, tires only last for about 3–4 years before they start breaking down. Even if you don’t regularly drive, they may start cracking from disuse. So make sure to switch them out every five years, at the very least.
Enjoy a Smooth and Soundless Ride
There are a few features that all reasonably quiet tires will share. They’ll be pretty pliable with a fairly shallow tread and at least semi-closed shoulders. As we have learned, soft rubber tends to produce less noise at high speeds than hard rubber. Most quiet tires are also on the narrow side.
But that doesn’t mean that everyone should look for these features when searching for the quiet tires of their dreams. After all, if you have a truck, you can’t really use passenger car tires on it and call it a day — as hilarious as that would look. Instead, I hope you’ll take the tips I’ve shown you today and find the quietest tires that would still suit your vehicle.
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Last update on 2020-02-24 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API