Drifting can be cruel on ordinary tires. Let there be no doubt about it. Your standard set of tires simply doesn’t have what it takes to consistently enter and exit corners at high speeds with their tread intact. Only a few laps around the track will shred them to pieces.
That is precisely the reason why tire manufacturers have come up with dedicated drifting tires. The best tires for drifting feature bald tread patterns with strong mid-ribs, wide grooves, and a hard vulcanized rubber that lends them durability as well as strength.
Drifting tires usually come in V-shape with a noticeable sipe profile and wiped and deep grooves. Their midrib, which has to bear the brunt of pressure and stress that drifting subjects a tire to, is usually modified and immune to heat burning and damage.
These tires’ sidewall is usually reinforced to provide added strength and grip on the road. And the tires that actually drift, i.e., the ones at the back, typically have little or no tread at all. This is deliberately done to enhance maneuverability and reduce friction.
#1. Falken Azenis FK10 – Best Overall
Falken tires are usually the first choice of car drifters. Their tires form an overwhelming majority on almost every drifting event, with drivers aware that Falken tires, especially the performance ones, are capable of meeting the needs of this motorsport.
The Azenis FK10 is one of the most popular tires in the Falken drifting lineup. It belongs to the company’s ultra-high-performance family and, while pricey, will give you the best value for your money.
While ultra-high-performance tires tend to be responsive, the Azenis FK10 takes that concept to a whole new level. This enhances the overall road feedback you’ll get behind the wheel, especially when entering and exiting corners. So be ready for a thrilling drifting experience.
The best tires for drifting all retain their shape no matter how much abuse you subject them to. The Azenis FK10 isn’t an exception as its high-tension casing and high-tensile steel belts plus a couple of more features too mouthful to share here keep this tire from deforming.
Yet another way this tire sets itself apart from the competition is by being safe on the road. Its hydroplaning resistance is adequate for driving through rainy conditions, even though this tire is originally developed for driving in warm and dry weather.
There are two things about this tire that might disappoint you. The first of which is ride quality, which is extremely harsh and makes this model unsuitable for family cars. Also, unlike most extreme performance tires out there, the Azenis FK10 isn’t backed with a warranty.
- Controllable at the limit
- Brilliant wet handling and hydroplaning resistance
- Very quiet for an extreme performance tire
- Harsh ride
- Doesn’t come with a warranty
#2. Toyo Proxes R35 – Best for Summertime Drifting
Toyo is another tire company that is very popular in the drifting community. Mainly because they produce high-end extreme-performance tires at a lower price point than the likes of Michelin, Bridgestone and Pirelli. So that you can enjoy the thrill of drifting without having to blow a hole in your pocket.
The Toyo Proxes R35 is our choice for drifting, even though this tire wasn’t designed for the sport. It is the manner this tire lets you control it at the limit that makes it a reliable pick for casual street fun.
Most summer tires you see on the market perform best when temperatures are high, and the same can be said about the Proxes R35, which performs best when there is heat all around. Use this model in freezing conditions, and you might end up damaging it.
Professional drift racers could get high responsiveness, equally high levels of traction and grip and adequate high-speed stability out of the R35. A combo of stiff sidewalls and a sticky tread compound makes this tire a safe bet for drifting on the street.
The fact that this model isn’t designed for drifting goes in its favor when you’re driving in wet conditions. Since Toyo meant this tire to be used on sports cars and sport sedans, some of whom have the R35 as OEM, its hydroplaning resistance is good enough for a worry-free wet driving experience.
All of this isn’t to say that this tire doesn’t have any flaws. The absence of any treadwear warranty is a shortcoming you might find difficult to ignore.
Another is that this model isn’t available in many sizes, so if you own an exotic or any other unique car, finding your size might prove to be a challenge.
- Precise handling
- Very responsive sidewalls
- Great grip and traction
- Adequate wet performance
- No treadwear warranty
- Isn’t available in a lot of sizes
#3. Kumho Ecsta PS31
The Kumho Ecsta PS31 is one of the best tires for drifting. Apart from being controllable at the limit, this tire’s dry and wet traction are also above average. Its sidewall’s stiffness, rugged interior construction and responsiveness are also made for the street.
Kumho went for a high-tech summer tread compound with the PS31. What this compound does is improve this model’s cornering stability at high speeds.
The tread compound features micro-silica that expands the rubber upon coming into contact with the pavement, enhancing its grip and traction.
Cornering grip is an area where this tire excels. And not only in dry conditions, which is the case with most extreme-performance tires.
Even when there is water on the roads, you’d still be able to enter and exit corners without any trepidation. That is a massive achievement for a budget tire like this one.
Road noise would be negligible at the start. And while it would go up as the tire wears down, there won’t come a point when the tire’s road noise makes it unbearable for the driver.
High-speed driving stability can be taken as a given with this tire. The credit for that goes to three features – an aggressive, directional tread pattern; continuous center rib; and stylish yet functional lateral grooves. Together, all three features make this tire controllable at the limit.
What is more, this tire is backed with a limited tread warranty, a luxury both our top picks fail to offer.
Materials and workmanship costs are covered for six years during the first 2/32inches of the wear. If during this time the tire gets damaged beyond repair, you’ll get a free replacement.
- Pocket-friendly price
- Limited tread warranty
- High-speed stability
- Might get loud as it wears down
#4. Firestone Firehawk Indy 500
The Firestone Firehawk Indy 500 delivers two great news. The first is that it is an excellent pocket-friendly option for drivers who want to enjoy life on the track.
The second good news is that this tire’s compound is almost the same to what you get from Bridgestone, which is Firestone’s parent company.
Yet another impressive feature of this tire is that it is very responsive. As a driver, you won’t have any complaints about how it would communicate with you.
Grip and traction, two features are crucial for drifting, are also excellent. You could enter and exit corner at maximum speeds without the risk that the tire will spin out of control. Another benefit of supreme grip and traction is that they boost controllability at the limit.
Daily driving is another strong point of this tire. It boasts excellent hydroplaning resistance and would thus not allow water particles to stay in the tread area for long. This gives way to superb wet traction and braking, making for a confident wet driving experience.
Sadly, that is where the good news ends. Firestone hasn’t backed this model with a treadwear warranty, meaning you’ll be on your own if the Indy 500 wears down pretty quickly.
Road noise, though not the loudest, will still be audible in the cabin.
- Highly responsive
- Usable in rainy conditions
- Delivers value for money
- Doesn’t come with a treadwear warranty
#5. Goodyear Eagle F1 Asymmetric 2
The Goodyear Eagle F1 Asymmetric 2 has all the qualities of a high-end drifting tire. It is easy to control at the limit, enters and exits corners with maximum grip and traction, and is highly responsive. All in all, you’d have to try very hard to find any dirt on this tire.
An advanced tread compound featuring high molecular weight polymers is to credit for this model’s superb responsiveness. This is especially desirable when you are drifting, as it gives more control to the person sitting behind the wheel.
This tire’s internal construction inspires confidence about its ability to last a long time. Two steel belts, which are reinforced with a spiral polyamide cord, ensure better tread stability. They shield the tread from uneven wear, helping the tire last longer than competition.
Ride comfort is another area where this tire shines. The Asymmetric 2’s curved tread blocks do a marvelous job of absorbing road bumps and vibrations.
Plus, the firmness of the outboard shoulders improves grip and traction, resulting in more comfort for the driver.
When used for everyday driving, you’d be pleasantly surprised by this tire’s fuel consumption.
Its low rolling resistance would translate to less trips to the refilling station, making this tire an ideal choice for anyone who would use the same set of tires on the street and the road.
The only shortcoming of this tire is that it isn’t backed with a treadwear warranty.
However, this is the case with most high-performance tires, as you can scroll above to verify. But given its durable construction and excellent performance, this shouldn’t be a deal-breaker for most drivers.
- Gives more control to the driver
- Comfortable riding experience
- Low rolling resistance and fuel consumption
- Comes with noise-canceling technologies
- Available in a small number of sizes
#6. Michelin Pilot Sport 4S
Michelin has been in the tire-making business for over a century. Tires like the Pilot Sport 4S are one of the reasons why. This tire is universally acclaimed by newbie and professional racing drivers alike for its wet traction and grip, high-speed stability and steering response.
An asymmetric tread pattern will make you fall in love with this tire’s performance on the street. The pattern’s outer part, harder than the inner one, gives it the stiffness needed to remain stable in summer conditions. The inner part’s softness, meanwhile, gives way to better handling.
On the street, its unique V-shaped tread design provides precise steering response while maximizing lateral stability. An inner belt (made from nylon-and-aramid-fiber) doesn’t let the Pilot Sport 4S’s contact patch shrink in size when driving at high speeds, giving you full control over its movement.
Surprisingly for a UHP tire, the Pilot Sport 4S is fairly quiet. It also rolls fairly comfortably on the street, even when you’re driving close to the speed limit. And when you consider that this tire would help you win races, its noise level won’t bother you too much.
The Pilot Sport 4S is one of the few tires in this review that come with a warranty – 30,000-mile is considered above-average in this class.
All in all, if you can afford paying its asking price, this tire won’t give you many reasons for complaining.
- Traction on slippery roads couldn’t be any better
- Exceptional cornering grip and stability
- Better than expected treadlife
#7. Continental ContiSportContact 5
Maximum high-performance summer tires don’t get any better than this. The Continental ContiSportContact 5 offers high performance technology at a price that won’t cost you rob a bank. It will let you enjoy the thrills of drifting without blowing a hole in your pocket.
Continental has opted for its unique Black Chilli compound with this tire. It has provided the tread compound with an asymmetrical design that, together with the macro-block outboard shoulder, lets this tire easily adapt to any road surface you may drive it on.
High-speed controllability is outstanding with this drifting tire – the tread compound enhances traction and grip to ensure you always remain in full control while drifting. Responsiveness, too, is exemplary. The ContiSportContact 5 reacts extremely quickly to steering commands.
This tire is equally good for everyday driving. Four circumferential grooves in the tread area minimize the risk of hydroplaning, ensuring a safe driving experience, even in puddles of water. Noise is low and well, and comfort will be good on the highway.
However, as has become a norm with maximum performance tires, the ContiSportContact 5 doesn’t come with a treadwear warranty.
- Excellent responsiveness
- Excellent wet traction and grip
- Highly controllable at the limit
- Doesn’t come with a treadwear warranty
#8. Bridgestone Potenza RE-71R
The Bridgestone Potenza RE-71R offers the best of both worlds. This tire’s steering responsiveness and high-speed handling ability is what you expect to get from drifting tires. And it is available at a lower price point than most tires in this price point. Talk about performance at a budget-friendly price.
Its grip and traction are also second to none, which should give you the confidence needed to step harder on the gas. This is also one of the most controllable race tires out there, a feature that will help you make the most of its above-average speed rating on the street.
Bridgestone went for the low sidewall option when designing this tire. Add to the mix its wide footprint (which translates into a large contact area with the road), and what you get is a tire that is made for the street.
A directional tread design, together with a continuous center block and oversized shoulder blocks, is one of the defining features of this tire. As it maximizes this tire’s road contact in all conditions. This, in turn, leads to strong steering response and above-par cornering grip.
Pressing your hand against the sidewall will reveal that it is ultra-stiff.
That is extremely good news as the stiffer the sidewall, the higher a tire’s cornering power, and the better your drifting experience. However, the sidewall’s stiffness might hurt the ride quality.
This tire’s internal structure inspires confidence in its ability to outlast its warranty. Which isn’t an easy feat once you consider that Bridgestone backs the Potenza RE-71R with a 3-year workmanship and materials warranty. However, you don’t get any wear warranty.
- Brilliant dry traction and grip
- Above-average cornering and braking
- Demonstrates excellent hydroplaning resistance
- Surprisingly comfortable
- Comes with no wear warranty
Drifting Tires Buying Guide
Drifting puts a massive strain on a car and its tires. It is thus essential to choose a set of tires capable of handling extreme workload without getting damaged or burnt out in the process. In this section, we will discuss features that you should look for when choosing drifting tires.
All the best tires for drifting feature a summer rubber compound. Temperatures soar down there when the rubber gets in touch with tarmac at high speeds. Tires that aren’t designed for high temperatures will struggle to cope, leading to tire bursting or worse.
Summer tires won’t only withstand high temperatures. They will also perform at their best when the rubber’s temperature hits the 30*C (86*F) mark. Put simply, if you want a tire that sticks better to the road after you’ve drifted for a whole, opt for summer tires.
Most of you may know that drifting cars don’t have the same front and back tires. In most cases, the front tires have an aggressive and a wide tread pattern. They should be grippier than the rear tires as the front tires have to have more traction to enter and leave the corner safely.
As for the rear tires, which are the ones that will drift, they need to have as little tread as possible. This is necessary to enhance maneuverability. Also, since the tires at the back will be generating all the acceleration, the absence of tread would reduce friction and heat.
Here’s one thing every drift racer knows: Premium-quality drifting tires have a low profile and are wider in size than standard tires. The added width increases the tire’s contact area with the road, promoting better grip. Wider tires would thus keep your car stable and balanced.
And why low-profile? Smaller tires don’t need much torque from the engine to keep them spinning, offering a more exhilarating drift racing experience.
Types of Drifting Tires
Summer tires should be your first choice for drifting. These tires are designed to withstand high temperatures and won’t burst when things get heated. Summer tires also provide better grip in warm conditions, helping you pull off the perfect drift.
Remember, when we say summer tires, we’re referring to tires with a summer compound (as stated above). This means you can easily pick an ultra-high performance, extreme performance or even all-season tire for drifting. Just make sure that the compound inside was designed for summer.
However, all-season tires aren’t very good at very-high temperatures, which is often the case when you’re drifting. This makes them a poor choice for drifting on the track, where things often heat up very quickly. That is to say that all-season tires are only for drifting on the street.
High-performance tires are an excellent choice for drifting in the street. These tires have shorter braking distances than your normal passenger tires. Their handling and responsiveness is also top of the line. Plus, their ultra-stiff sidewalls let you easily control these tires at the limit.
All of this would be true as long as you stick to the street. The moment you take a turn toward the track, these tires’ performance would take a hit. If you’re going to showcase your skills on the track, better stick with dedicated summer tires. Or with anyone of the tires mentioned below.
Yet another excellent thing about these drifting tires is that you can use them for everyday driving. High-performance tires might give you thrills from time to time. But their considerable grip and traction on dry tarmac and superior hydroplaning resistance in rainy conditions make them usable as daily drivers.
Ultra-high-performance tires deliver the best of both worlds. They are the best choice for drifting on track as well as the street. The credit for this goes to their tread compound, which helps these tires offer extreme levels of grip and traction in most conditions.
When compared with high-performance tires, their sidewall is much stiffer, while the sticky compound inside provides superb control as you’re drifting. The only area where these tires fare a little worse, but not by that much, is their hydroplaning resistance.
Max Performance Tires
Max performance tires are an upgrade over UHP tires. They provide much better high-speed handling, a superior performance in wet and dry conditions, and excellent resistance against hydroplaning. Their grip in wet conditions is also exemplary.
As you might have guessed, all these features make them the ideal option for drifting, both on the track and on the street. In fact, due to their ability to withstand astronomical amounts of pressures and temperatures, these tires should be your first choice if you’re into serious drifting.
All of this notwithstanding, max-performance tires aren’t designed to tackle every condition. Their shallow tread grooves mean that these models lack the hydroplaning resistance necessary to keep your vehicle safe in puddles of water. Still, they are more than usable in light rain.
Extreme Performance Tires
Extreme performance tires stand out due to their ultra-stiff sidewalls and stickiest tread compound. Both of which help these tires give a phenomenal feedback and super-precise handling. In short, if you want to drift and want to drift at speed, extreme-performance tires deserve your attention.
With four extreme-performance tires under your car, you will be able to control it at the limit, and the road will convey much more information than with any of the tires mentioned before. You can count on these tires to help you pull-off the tightest angles possible.
Keep in mind, though, that these aren’t the best options for street driving. Some extreme performance tires we have reviewed aren’t even DOT-approved, meaning they’re illegal for road use. Even if you have a set of legal ones aboard, its hydroplaning resistance, especially in heavy rain, will be lack luster.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is drifting?
Drifting a car is when the driver deliberately oversteers, causing the tires at the back, or in some cases both the front and rear tires, to lose their grip on the road. This causes the car to spin sideways, letting the driver extract thrill from the entire experience.
Can you drift with an automatic car?
You can drift with any car as long as you put it in a state where the wheels’ spinning motion overpowers the road grip, forcing the car to spin sideways. However, in most cases, drifting an automatic car is much more difficult to pull off than drifting a manual car.
Why are manual cars better for drifting?
A manual car gives you more control over it as well as the gear selection, plus you can take help from the handbrake and clutch to pull off the drift. However, with an automatic vehicle, all you have is the accelerator and handbrake to help you drift.
Do you want soft or hard tires for drifting?
Hard tires are much better than soft tires for drifting. They let you drift straight away, unlike soft tires which will take some time to wear down, after which you can begin drifting.
Are wider tires better for drifting?
Yes. Wider tires are much better for drifting since they have better connection with the road, offering better grip than their narrow counterparts.
Selecting the wrong tire for drifting might not only risk your vehicle’s stability. It can also endanger your well-being if the tire explodes from excessive pressure or heat. That is why it is essential to select tires from a reputable brand offering safe designs for decades.
That is the reason why all tires you saw above come from trustworthy brands. Sure, some of them are cheaper than others. Some also lack treadwear warranties. However, none of them makes any compromises when it comes to design safety.