Consumer Reports lists several factors to consider when comparing tires, including safety, speed rating, traction and temperature scores, load index and tread wear rating. As these deal with safety and versatility, they are among the best means for judging tire quality. Consumer Reports also provides an overview of tire manufactures.
Safety considerations that tire buyers should take into account include a tire's resistance to hydroplaning, tread wear, noise and rolling, as well as its breaking and handling capabilities. Depending on where the buyer lives, a tire's winter driving abilities may also fall under consideration. Safety factors such as traction and temperature scores identify both a tire's resistance to heat, as well as its wet-stopping ability. Tread wear measures itself against a government-defined standard reference tire. Tires rated higher than this standard of 100 should last longer, and, other influences aside, the higher the rating the longer the tire should last.
Speed ratings identify the speeds under which the tire can perform. Winter tires excepted, a tire's speed rating should, at a minimum, correspond to the value on the vehicle's placard. Load index helps determine the amount of weight a vehicle (and, by extension, the tires) can carry. Once again, the tire load index should at a minimum correspond to the vehicle's load index.