Nowadays, going on vacation and escaping ‘city life’ is becoming more and more feasible since the pandemic has started. Even prior to that, lots of people across the globe have started exploring nearby areas and going off-roading.
Tires play an essential role for trips like these. Google can provide you with a lot of information and how best to find the right tires for your off-roading adventures. With that being said, here are a few tips on how to choose the best off-road tires for you and your vehicle’s needs.
Before we can dive into tire sizes, compounds, tread patterns, and type of rubber, and all that; let’s start with the basics:
Your destination is important, you need to ask the questions such as: Is it muddy? Are you going to the desert or the mountains? Perhaps dirt or snow? Not all off-road tires are created equal for every terrain, some tires are made really for muddy terrains, and some are really good for steep rocky hills. In case you didn’t know, there are 2 most common types of off-road tires:
The “all-terrain” (A/T) and the “mud-terrain” (M/T) tires, are the most commonly used. The difference with these 2 types of tires is that the “mud-terrain” is more optimized for off-road performance while the “all-terrain” dwells more for on-road performance. If you only go off-road occasionally, “all-terrain” should be your priority because again these are geared more with on-road performance, meaning more pavement than off-road scenarios. All-terrain tires perform better in the rain and wet pavements, with more grip, it is also better at debris ejection and lasts longer than standard “light-truck” tires. Mud-terrain tire tread wears faster because they are built more on softer compounds and have bulkier tread blocks. So, you should be honest with yourself, most off-road enthusiasts over buy tires. On the other hand, if your life is mainly 70% off-road and less pavement, then choosing a mud-terrain tire or a dedicated rock crawling tire would be a considerable move.
Another factor you should consider is weather. Environment temperatures can affect tire inflation or pressure, affecting traction and durability. If you find yourself mostly in rainy situations, then mud-terrain tires are the best for you. But when it comes to unpredictable weather conditions, and general off-road use all-terrain tires are a good fit. In case you did not know, some tires have indicators on them, is called tire rating, but not all tires have this rating. It is represented with letters such as “M” for “muddy” or “mud” and “S” for “snowy” or “snow”, which indicates which of these tires will perform best in these conditions. If you see both letters on your tire, therefore it is already best suited for such conditions. Did you know that if you use mud-terrain tires on the traditional paved road you will shorten its lifespan? That is why, if you travel more on paved roads, all-season or all-terrain is the best choice. In addition, all-terrain also is great for winter weather conditions, it has better tractions than the mud-terrain tires. If you would ask me which is better? If you leave in a place where mud is everywhere with less of a paved road, I would go with mud-terrain. But if you have the opposite then choose the all-terrain tires.
Tire tread pattern has a great impact on grip and noise. Most common passenger car tires have a straight tread closely spaced together which produces less noise but with less grip. Compared to off-road tires, it has a wider tread space with bigger biting edges resulting in improved and better debris ejection but on the downside, it produces more noise. Standard tires usually have 4-ply, giving enough traction, comfort, and good wheel control on pavements. But this type of tire can be easily punctured by any type of sharp object like rocks, gravel, or sticks in an off-road scenario. While most off-road tires have a 10-ply design making them thicker and stronger, providing more grip and working better on gravel, rocks, mud, and sometimes even deep snow. The problem of this though is that the thicker it gets, the more weight, and the heavier the tire, the more power it needs to roll, meaning an increase in rolling resistance resulting in to decrease in fuel efficiency. And of course, the bigger the tires you have, it will result to decrease wheel control. But I think, if you go slow and at a moderate speed, compromising a little wheel control wouldn’t be too much of an issue. And take note, bigger tires tend to produce more noise because of the deeper and wider tread when you are running it on a paved road.
Always ask an expert based on their personal experience. It could either be a close friend, relatives, a neighbor, or even your colleague who you know loves to go off-roading. Nothing beats a piece of personal advice on the things that they have already done or purchased before; this is a smart way to avoid what they call an “expensive mistake”. Lastly, “YOUTUBE”, yeah you heard it right, YouTube. Try to look for an expert who has less biased reviews.
Nick is a content writer and very much interested in new findings in the automobile industry.