Here is some general information to help you choose the right tire for your particular car, track and racing style. Like all things in this hobby, choosing the best tire depends on many factors. There is no one best slot car, track, or tire.
Tires that come on your slot car are generally natural rubber tires. Aftermarket tires (tires not made by the car manufacturer) come in two types of compounds: urethane (similar to rubber but straight out of the laboratory) or silicone. Stock rubber tires may be all you need. Remember, one key to competitive racing can be that everyone races on the same type of tires. Aftermarket rubber tires are made by Slot.It, NSR, Super Tires (Yellow Dogs - urethane) are a better quality rubber tire.
Let's discuss the main difference between urethane tires and silicone tires.
Silicone tires work best on super clean tracks. They are dust magnets. If you don't wipe your track off almost every time you race, you may see your silicone tires lose traction and your cars may start fishtailing. Silicone tires tend to have the best grip on very clean plastic tracks, better than urethane or rubber tires.
Note: In general, don't plan on sanding silicone tires. If you have a slot car where the manufacturer hasn't specifically recommended a tire for it, you would be wise to consider an after market urethane or rubber tire for your car, as you may need to do some sanding on it. A tip to improving your urethane tires: sand urethane tires true, round the edges, and polish them smooth with very fine sandpaper.
Urethane tires can be somewhat less grippy on a clean surface and more forgiving on a slightly dirtier surface. If you have a "normal" slot car track that you don't keep super clean, urethane or rubber tires would work better for you. Urethane tires also allow you to true the tire on an "untrue" wheel. Wheels are supposed to be round, right? Plastic wheels are often not perfectly round, which is the reason people often replace plastic rims with aftermarket metal wheels.
New rounded sidewall tires by Super Tires- This is taken straight from Super tires themselves, "Since Super Tires were originally introduced, one of the biggest criticisms was the "square" sidewalls. While many racers were primarily interested in performance (and cared very little about appearance), there are also a lot of racers who are concerned about a tire's appearance. From their viewpoint, real tires have rounded sidewalls so scale tires should too. Super Tires with rounded sidewalls are designed to look more realistic while retaining the original performance characteristics they are famous for.
The rounded outer sidewall requires minimal "profiling" (rounding) compared to the original Super Tires who had the "square" edges. Profiling silicone tires was a time-consuming task. Serious racers will still want to profile the inner sidewall; however, doing so only requires half the effort of profiling both sidewalls. Rounded edges allow the tire to corner (slide) more predictably than non-rounded edges which tend to "grab" the track unpredictably during cornering.
Profiling the original Super Tires reduced, ever so slightly, the width of the contact patch. The contact patch width is not affected with the new rounded outer sidewall design.
The rounded outer sidewall is less likely to interfere with fender wells than the original "square" design. In some cases, it will let you fit a slightly wider tire under the body if desired.
Certain types of cars don't need as much grip as others. For maximum speed and lower lap times with many cars, you need to slide the rear for best cornering. Tall cars like NASCAR and other sedan-style bodies have a tendency to roll with too much grip. Short, high powered sidewinders can be difficult to keep in the slot if they have too much grip due to front end lift. Urethane tires would be a good choice with cars like these.
As you can see, you need to try different tires to see what fits with your particular car, track and your racing style the best.
One last thought: urethane and rubber tires tend to lay down a small amount of rubber on your track. The more you race these cars the better grip you will get. Silicone tires, tend to take this rubber compound off your track. In general, racers tend to race only one type of tire compound during a race, as they can work against each other's performance.
Try these ideas to keep your tires clean: Alcohol or water on a rag works well on the urethane/rubber tires. A rag soaked lightly with rubbing alcohol works great for cleaning both your track and silicone tires. It is well worth the time to clean them both frequently. You can also run the silicones on a sponge sprayed with Simple Green, or clean your tires every few laps by rolling them over duct tape. Besides cleaning the tires, this will also condition the track so that you can go a longer time between cleaning sessions.
We make choosing the right silicone tires for your easy. All of our brands of silicone tires are divided by car brands. If you know the brand and the product number of the car you need tires for, just read the description and the MORE INFO for the car you are looking for. If you don't see your car mentioned in the description, chances are there is not a tire made for your car yet. But keep checking, as we get info on new uses for existing tires, or get new tires in stock, we update our tire list accordingly.