Tires are an absolutely essential part of any car, truck, or SUV. Compounds can create unique handling experiences suited for any type of vehicle, and they can even make a car much more fun to drive.
It’s also a common saying that wider tires provide more grip. In the interest of science, Jason Fenske of Engineering Explained has tackled the question in a new video. With 27 different trucks and SUVs, Jason is able to give us an answer: Wider tires don’t automatically mean more grip. Instead, the type of tire is a much more important factor.
Looking at tire width and the load on each tire (pounds per millimeter of tire), it’s clear that while there is some correlation between a wider tire and grip, other factors are more important. Oddly, just because a vehicle is heavier doesn’t mean it stops better or worse either. The Nissan Armada was a consistent outlier in Jason’s tests and data collection—for its heavy weight, it stopped better than many other trucks and SUVs.
Instead, the type of tire provides a far better correlation when looking at data. Summer tires provide the best grip on pavement, while wide all-terrain tires perform poorly. Flip it around, and wide summer tires perform poorly off road, but the all-terrain tires do great things off the beaten path. Furthermore, specific compounds can even make a difference as well.
The moral of the story? Slapping on a set of ultra wide tires may not provide all the grip a driver is expecting. Carefully choosing compounds and understanding what the tire will be asked to do is much more important.