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In an effort to improve tire performance, manufacturers test the capabilities of their tires in every way possible and under every condition. These tests are conducted on every tire manufactured, whether designed for wet weather performance or designed to provide a sports car with the feel and responsiveness of professional grade tires. One of the tests done on new tires is stopping distance.
Stopping distance is just what the name suggests. The stopping distance is the length of road that it takes for a vehicle to come to a complete stop. Most often these tests are done at various highway speeds ranging from 0-60 mph and under different road conditions. These tests are conducted by tire manufacturers, as well as third party, independent testers, such as various publications like Car & Driver and Consumer Reports.
Stopping Distance and Tires
The stopping distance of a tire varies based on several factors, including the vehicle it's fitted on, the materials used in its construction, and its tread patterns. Of course, depending on the vehicle the tires are mounted on there are additional variables based on braking systems, transmission assists, and vehicle weight. When tire manufacturers test their tires for stopping power, they're all put through the same test with the same set of variables. This allows for the most consistent method of testing as well as the most consistent data gathered from the results.
Stopping distance is often calculated by running a vehicle at a predetermined speed and then trigger the vehicle's braking mechanism. Tires which are geared toward high performance are generally made with softer compounds that are more capable of gripping the road. The tread patterns of these high performance tires can also decrease their stopping distances.
Stopping distance tests are carried out under several different conditions that are meant to replicate the various weather and road conditions that the tires may face over their lifetime.
Stopping Distance Applied to Passenger Vehicle Tires
As already mentioned, high performance tires will most often possess the tire design and construction that will lead to greater stopping power and road traction. This is based on the softer compounds used in performance tire construction. Such a compound enables more precise maneuvering, as well as more efficient acceleration and braking. This performance capability also generally equates to a loss of tread life. The tread will wear out sooner than that of a typical passenger or touring tire that is made for simple driving habits of getting from point A to point B.
There are tires offered by many tire manufacturers that combine performance tire characteristics with the longer tread life that comes with passenger tires. Such tires are very useful in city environments where traffic is heavy, stop-and-go driving dominates a lot of travel time, and the need for performance may help to avoid accidents. Stopping distance on these tires is more than adequate for the average driver and especially for the skilled driver who is defensive and alert to potential hazards on the road.