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Slick vs Semi-Slick Tyres: Differences & Benefits (Explained)

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Last Updated on: 7th September 2023, 12:41 am

There are many different types of tyres, slick and semi-slick tyres are two steps above regular sport tyres when it comes to grip.

However, they don’t come without their drawbacks and they can actually be very dangerous if you’re not careful.

In this article, we’ll explain the benefits and drawbacks of slick and semi-slick car tyres, and how they differ.

Slick Tyres

Slick tyres are created specifically for motorsport racing. It is illegal and potentially very dangerous to use on public roads.

A slick tyre’s surface is entirely tread-free for unrivalled grip in dry conditions. Using them on wet roads is very dangerous and irresponsible.

Aquaplaning on wet roads occurs instantly if slick tyres are used, almost always leading to complete loss of grip and control of the vehicle, causing a crash.

slick vs semi slick

Semi-Slick Tyres

A much safer alternative to slicks for grip and performance are semi-slick tyres.

These are similar to slicks in appearance, but with the addition of tread. As a result, traction on dry roads is less than slick tyres but is still better than regular sport tyres.

However, semi-slick tyres protect much better than slick tyres against aquaplaning. Semi-slick tyres are therefore legal for use on the road, at least in most places.


The advantage to using semi-slick and slick tyres is their increased grip compared to regular tyres.

Due to increased surface area, more rubber is in contact with the ground, increasing the contact patch of the tyre, improving grip.

Increased grip improves cornering ability, traction while accelerating, and enhances vehicle handling.


As mentioned, slick tyres will aquaplane instantly the moment it enters a standing body of water, such as a puddle. This will cause a complete loss of traction and control, usually resulting in a crash.

A semi-slick has much better wet condition performance than slick tyres, but they are still more dangerous and more likely to aquaplane than regular tyres will.

  • Andy Lewin

    Andy Lewin is a senior mechanic, ASE qualified master technician, and an experienced automotive engineer. He's passionate about serving the automotive community with the highest-quality and trustworthy information on all things automotive. He loves to write about car repairs, maintenance, car modifications and tuning, faults, and much more.

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