Obtaining excellent traction in wet conditions has always been the driving force when developing new tires. Sure, dry performance might be even more critical, because most of the time we drive on dry pavement. However, making a tire that’s good for dry conditions is easy, while making one that’s good for wet conditions is much harder. That’s why many cheap tires manage to be safe when the roads are dry, but very bad when the roads are wet. To help you find tires that will work flawlessly on wet roads, we’re going to talk about the best tires for rain here.
Of course, this means that we will make a list of the 10 best tires for rain, but not without explaining some things first. See, tires are divided into several different categories and certainly aren’t equal. A set of tires that work for others might not work for you. Several factors are at play here, but the most important ones are the type of vehicle, the climate, and the needs of the driver. To choose the best rain tires for your needs, you need to look through all the categories and see if they work for you.
Different Types of Climates, Different Rain Tires
It comes as no surprise, but when choosing a set of high-quality rain tires, you first need to think about the climate in your area. The reason is simple – summer tires are excellent in the rain, but only when the weather is warm. It’s the same with winter tires – they work only when the weather is cold. Even the best winter tire will struggle in wet and warm conditions, and vice versa.
The reason why this is the case is the temperature range of the tires. Summer tires are designed to operate in a specific temperature window, mostly over 68 °F. Below that, the tire becomes too brittle, and in turn, the wet performance suffers greatly. Winter tires, on the other hand, become incredibly soft at higher temperatures, which also hampers rain traction, grip, and braking.
That’s why people view all-season tires as the safest choice today. These tires are designed to operate in a broader temperature range. Thanks to that, they can offer excellent rain performance both in warm and cold conditions. However, we must note that summer tires are still much better for wet driving in warm conditions than all-season tires. It’s the same with winter tires. When you go with a specialized set of tires, other than an all-rounder, you’ll always get better performance for their intended use.
All-weather tires are an exciting proposition as well. They’re designed to operate at a slightly lower temperature range than all-season tires. In other words, they’re closer to winter tires than summer tires. This makes them a bit better in colder rainy days than all-season tires, but slightly worse during a summer rain.
Different Vehicles, Different Rain Tires
Naturally, tires are also divided into sizes, load ratings, and speed ratings. This means that not all tires will work on your car. For example, if you own an SUV or a truck, then you’ll need tires with higher load ratings and larger sidewalls. On the other end of the spectrum, if you own a sports car or coupe, you’ll need tires with higher speed ratings and smaller sidewalls. People that own passenger cars, such as minivans and sedans, might want something in the middle. Luckily, every serious tire manufacturer today states the types of vehicles their tires are intended to be used on, so it is straightforward to choose the right one.
Different Drivers, Different Rain Tires
Okay, so we’re finishing with this “different” thing here, we promise. For the last advice on different tire types, we left your driving habits and needs. Apart from all the specifications, tires are also designed to match the needs of different drivers.
For most people, touring, grand-touring, and highway tires offer the best combination of qualities. These tires are designed to offer balanced performance. More precisely, they offer enough rain traction and braking power, a quiet and comfortable driving experience, and long-lasting treadlife. The best grand-touring tires today can even be fitted to some sporty coupes, thanks to the advanced tread compounds that make them glued to the road, even when it rains.
However, if you want the best possible driving experience when it rains, you’ll need high-performance tires. These tires are designed to give you the best possible traction, grip, and braking in rainy conditions. That said, on the market, you will also find max-performance tires, ultra-high-performance tires, etc. These are more aimed towards dry grip and traction, and only work on damp roads. If you care about rain traction, then you should avoid those tires.
Light Rain vs. Heavy Rain
This is something that you perhaps didn’t know, but some tires are better in light rain, while others in heavy rain. For light-rain duties or damp streets, the tires need to have an advanced tread compound that will keep excellent contact with the road. These conditions are perhaps closer to dry then wet, which is why some high-performance tires with less tread might also work better.
However, in heavy rain, you’ll need a set of tires with specifically designed tread for hydroplaning resistance. Circumferential grooves and multiple sipes always help in this regard, making any tire much better in the rain. Premium tire manufacturers design the tread pattern on their tires after years of R&D, which means that there are some other things that help here as well. Nonetheless, circumferential grooves and sipes are the basis of a good heavy rain tire.
Naturally, the best rain tires should have both high-quality tread compound that will limit sliding on damp roads, and well-designed tread pattern for outstanding resistance to hydroplaning during very heavy rain.
Now, we can jump onto the list of the best tires for rain, divided into several categories. Let’s find out which are they!
Best Rain Tires for Slower Passenger Cars (Touring Tires)
1. Michelin Defender T+H
When it comes to rain traction in the touring category, few tires can match the mighty Defender T+H. Designed for compact cars, mid-size sedans, minivans, and compact crossovers, this Michelin masterpiece is the best tire in its category. The price might be higher than almost any other standard all-season tire on the market, but if you are in the hunt for the best rain tire, then this is the way to go.
The secret behind the excellent wet performance this tire provides lies in the IntelliSipe Technology of zigzag sipes that interlock below the surface. According to Michelin, this gives the tire much better rigidity without losing wet traction. And trust us, this also translates into the real world. The Defender T+H resists hydroplaning without any issue, even in deep puddles of water. It is also very good on damp roads, providing enough grip for fast and safe driving. Apart from the excellent wet qualities, this tire also offers outstanding traction, grip, and braking on dry pavement, and even in light snow.
There’s another reason why this tire is very popular on the market, and that is the 80,000-mile treadwear warranty, one of the best in the category.
2. Continental TrueContact
The Continental TrueContact is another touring tire that’s considered as being outstanding in rainy conditions. That doesn’t surprise us. To be honest – the German company is known for focusing on wet performance on all of their models. The TrueContact is cheaper than the Defender T+H, which makes it a better choice for owners of sub-compact and compact cars.
The Continental also comes with an even longer warranty – 90,000-miles for T & H-Speed Rated models and 80,000-miles for V-rated models. In other words, you might need to change your car before replacing these tires.
On wet roads, the TrueContact provides one of the best results in the category, especially when it comes to hydroplaning resistance. Traction and braking on damp roads are also top-notch – nothing bad to report here. You can thank the all-season tread compound made of Tg-F Polymers and +Silane additives, as well as the three circumferential grooves across the tread pattern.
The TrueContact is also very good on dry roads, with high levels of grip and traction. Comfort levels are also very good, on par with the best premium tires, and there isn’t a lot of noise on the highway. That said, snow traction and braking aren’t as good as on other tires in the category.
3. Goodyear Assurance TripleTred All-Season
Goodyear’s competitor in the standard touring category is specifically designed to tackle rainy conditions, and that shows into the real world. The directional tread design it comes with incorporates three different zones for dry, wet, and snowy conditions. The zone for dry conditions gets its job done – the Assurance TripleTred All-Season is one of the most responsive tires in its class.
However, as much as the dry performance is good, the wet might be even better. Thanks to the Water Zone with Aquachannel, the Assurance TripleTred resists hydroplaning better than almost every other tire in this category. With a set of these tires, you will benefit from excellent traction, grip, and braking in both damp and very wet conditions. If that’s important to you, the Goodyear also offers admirable light-snow traction and doesn’t lose all of the potency in very cold conditions.
Like most premium touring tires, the Assurance TripleTred comes with an excellent 80,000-mile treadwear warranty. It is also very comfortable over bumps, but it has one pretty big disadvantage as well. That disadvantage is noise, which is more prominent than in other touring tires.
Best Rain Tires for Faster Passenger Cars (Grand-Touring Tires)
4. Bridgestone Ecopia EP422 Plus
The Ecopia EP422 Plus is notable for offering excellent wet traction and braking, while still offering low-rolling resistance. That means that with a set of these tires, your car will have a better fuel economy. The difference will not be very big, but it will be there.
Thanks to the NanoPro-Tech compound, the Ecopia EP422 Plus offers very high levels of grip and traction, regardless of the temperature, while also offering low-rolling resistance. Wet performance is even more impressive, though. This is probably the best grand-touring tire in rainy conditions for the price. It has outstanding hydroplaning resistance for safe driving in very heavy rain, and impressive grip on damp roads.
If that wasn’t enough, the Bridgestone is also supremely quiet at high speeds and has a plush ride quality that goes hand-in-hand with minivans and sedans. The 70,000-mile treadwear warranty may not seem very high, but grand-touring tires come with shorter warranties than touring tires. They offer much better stability at higher speeds, though.
The only downside of the Ecopia is the slightly worse light-snow traction.
5. Falken Sincera SN250 A/S
Falken might not be a manufacturer that’s synonymous with wet performance, but their latest grand-touring tire surprised positively. Unlike its premium competitors, the Falken Sincera SN250 isn’t very expensive, which makes it a great choice for everybody that wants to save on new tires. It also comes with impressive 80,000-mile treadwear warranty for T-Speed rated models, and 75,000-mile warranty for H & V rated models, better than almost any other grand-touring tire on the market right now. It’s no coincidence that some car manufacturers install these tires from the factory.
Thanks to Dynamic Range Technology, the Sincera SN250 works very well both in warm and cold conditions. On dry roads it is very responsive and provides the driver with ample traction, grip, and braking performance for a completely safe driving experience. The Falken also achieves impressive results on damp tracks and resists hydroplaning in very heavy rain like the best tires out there. On top of that, the ride quality is impressive. That said, even though it is not loud, we would’ve liked the tire to be quieter at higher speeds.
Best Rain Tires for SUVs, Large Crossovers and Trucks (Highway Tires)
6. Continental CrossContact LX20 with EcoPlus Technology
It is no coincidence that Continental has another tire on our list. Their standard touring tire for SUVs and crossovers offers outstanding rain performance, without sacrificing in the other categories. It is also not very expensive, at least when you compare it to competitors from Michelin, Bridgestone, and Pirelli.
Behind the wheel, the LX20 is very responsive and provides the driver with high levels of grip and traction, as well as stopping power. Thanks to the advanced tread compound Tg-F Polymers and +Silane additives, the CrossContact LX20 drives excellently on damp track – there is no slipping whatsoever. The tire is also outstanding at resisting hydroplaning, thanks to the symmetric tread design with four circumferential grooves. Snow traction is pretty good, too, thanks to the Traction Grooves.
The Continental also has low-rolling resistance for better fuel economy, rides well, and is very quiet on the highway. That said, the 70,000-mile treadwear warranty is lower than other premium tires in this category.
7. Michelin Premier LTX
When it comes to rainy conditions, the best tire you can put on your SUV, crossover, or truck is the Michelin Premier LTX. Thanks to the Expanding Rain Grooves around the circumference and Emerging Grooves across the shoulders, the Premier LTX destroys the competition in very heavy rain. Hydroplaning resistance is better than almost any other tire we’ve tried. The Total Performance Technology takes care of damp conditions, where the Premier LTX shines, while still providing improvements to fuel economy.
The Michelin Premier LTX isn’t impressive only because it drives well in rainy conditions. It is also the most responsive tire in its category, closing the gap between grand-touring and high-performance tires. Grip and traction are also outstanding, as is stopping power. Like most Michelin tires, the Premier is also supremely quiet on the highway and provides its passengers with a plush ride, free of vibrations.
That said, the Premier LTX has two disadvantages that might bother some people. The 60,000-mile treadwear warranty is lower than all of its premium competitors, while the price is also higher.
Best Rain Tires for Winter (Winter Tires)
8. Bridgestone Blizzak WS90
The Blizzak WS90 is the newest addition to the lineup of winter tires from Bridgestone, and it again manages to beat almost all of its competitors in the passenger car category. That comes as no surprise – the previous model was also on top. This time, Bridgestone used the same Hydrophilic Coating that repels water, helped by the new EdgePerformance Technology Package, and bite particles in the compound. The compound itself is equipped with the Multi-Cell Technology.
All these improvements make the Blizzak WS90 the best winter tire when it comes to accelerating and braking in rainy weather. The Bridgestone is good both on damp pavement and very wet pavement. On top of that, it also provides the best dry performance in its class, and the best snow traction and braking. That said, the WS90 might be expensive for some, and it doesn’t come with any treadwear warranty.
9. Michelin Latitude X-Ice Xi2
What the Blizzak WS90 is for passenger cars, the Latitude X-Ice Xi2 is for SUVs and crossovers. Interestingly, the FleX-Ice silica-based winter tread rubber compound makes it usable in very cold, but also slightly warmer conditions. That means that you can enjoy its outstanding wet performance in warmer conditions than other winter tires. While we’re at it, the X-Ice Xi2 resists hydroplaning like a champion, even in very deep puddles of water. Grip and braking on a damp pavement are also excellent, beating almost any competitor out there.
Apart from the impressive wet performance, the Latitude works very well in dry conditions. Snow traction and braking are also outstanding, perhaps best-in-class. The Latitude X-Ice Xi2 even comes with a 40,000-mile treadwear warranty, something that most of its competitors lack entirely. On the negative side, the price is pretty steep.
Best Rain Tires for High-Performance Vehicles
10. Bridgestone Potenza RE980AS
When it comes to high-speed driving, there’s no better choice than a high-performance tire, or in this case, an ultra-high-performance one. The Potenza RE980AS is absolutely the best all-season tire for very powerful and fast cars right now. Interestingly, Bridgestone focused a lot on wet driving in this generation.
They say that the RE980AS has 20% more see-through void than its predecessor, which helps for hydroplaning resistance. What we know is that the Potenza RE980AS drives through puddles of water like the best rain tires out there, while retaining its mega impressive damp grip and braking. As expected, responsiveness is on another level compared to almost everything else.
Normally, the Potenza RE980AS is also one of the best when it comes to dry handling, and it even works in light snow. The 50,000-mile treadwear warranty is also very impressive for an ultra-high-performance tire. However, like most Potenza’s, the price of this one might be very high for some people.
As you can see on the list above, we only included tires from well-known manufacturers. Wet driving is no joke – there are many more car accidents in rainy weather. That’s why, if you live in area where it rains often, do yourself a favor and buy a high-quality set of rain tires. That way, you’ll ensure that you’re safe behind the wheel, but also your passengers and every other traffic participant.