Choosing the Right Off-Road Tires
Looking to buy some new off-road truck tires? Hold it right there. If you’re just looking to grab the biggest, most wicked-looking truck tires available, there are a few things you should probably know before you buy.
The Truth about Off-Road Truck Tires
Whether you’re in a sand dune, rock-crawling, mud-plowing or whatever other off-road activities conceivable, it’s important to understand precisely why you need a set of off-road truck tires.
A common misconception is that you need truck tire for improved traction on rugged terrain, and naturally, the general consensus suggests that larger tires give you more traction. While this assumption makes sense, it’s not entirely accurate.
True, the right off-road truck tires can provide some additional traction in off-road conditions, but there are better, more efficient ways to improve traction than simply bulking up the rubber. If traction is your primary concern, a differential locker with stock truck tires is more beneficial for your rig than just adding a set of taller, more aggressive truck tires.
The point is larger truck tires are meant first and foremost to raise the height and ground clearance of your rig to enable steeper ascent and descent in off-road terrain. Simply put, when driving over boulders, slogging through mud, coasting across the desert or even just making your way through the occasional forest trail, higher ground clearance facilitates negotiating certain obstacles.
Not to downplay the traction aspect of off-road truck tires, as a set of mud terrain bias tires will most definitely perform better in the mud than a set of all-season radials. Rather, improved traction is more of a secondary function that still bears importance, but is not the sole consideration when it comes to buying truck tires.
Back to TopAre you ready for taller Off-Road truck tires?
Purchasing a set of taller truck tires for your 4x4 is like making a marriage work; it involves sometimes drastic changes, sacrifices, and commitment, along with constant care and maintenance but without the nagging or anniversaries issues.
The first thing to keep in mind is that upgrading to taller truck tires could mean upgrading a number of other components in your vehicle as well. Additional inches of vehicle clearance are needed for the truck tires to fit without rubbing against the vehicle fenders or frame. A suspension lift, body lift or a combination of both can provide those additional inches. For off-road purposes, a suspension lift is preferable to increase wheel travel ability, whereas a body lift simply allows for the fitment of larger tires.
Larger truck tires also mean that your vehicle will be working harder to tote additional weight, which can strain your axles, shocks and also feel like you have altered the gear ratio. To compensate for these changes, new ring and pinion gears and performance shocks (many complete lift kits typically include shocks) are strongly recommended. To counteract the additional weight and loss in performance, custom intakes, exhausts, computer programmer or any other performance-enhancing components are also advised.
Any driver will tell you that radial truck tires have many advantages over bias ply ones. In fact, the tire industry has almost completely abandoned manufacturing bias truck tires, with a few exceptions. Even though bias truck tires have a number of disadvantages, they still have their advantages when it comes to off-road conditions.
The Case for Radial Truck Tires
Although bias truck tires are ideal for the extreme off-road enthusiast, radial truck tires can be effective on harsh terrain. The latest radial truck tires perform quite well off-road and are designed with versatility in mind to produce better road handling characteristics, even at high speeds.
When you’re choosing the right lift kit, accessories and modifications to make, off-road magazines, internet message boards, manufacturer’s guides, and a number of other resources are available to assist you.
Before plunging headfirst into the sea of off-road truck tires and coming out with the meanest, most intimidating monsters you can find, you have to know what type of monsters will best suit your needs. Questions to ask include: What type of off-road activities will I be doing the most? How much on-road and off-road driving will I do? What qualities in particular am I most concerned with -- durability, performance, traction, appearance, ride quality? How much am I willing to spend? Taking some time to consider these important questions can help narrow down what type of truck tires are best for you.
All Season Tires
All season truck tires usually have no business going off-road, as their composition and tread designs are not built to handle beatings from harsher conditions. They do provide long-lasting tread that excels on wet or dry paved roads and offers tremendous longevity. Most stock vehicles come equipped with all-season tires. For vehicle enthusiasts adding larger truck tires just for show, all-season truck tires are likely the most efficient way to go. You won’t get that aggressive look that’s currently popular, but that may be a small price to pay for tires that will last you tens of thousands of miles longer than more aggressive ones.
All Terrain Truck Tires
Versatility is the name of the game when it comes to all terrain truck tires, which typically makes them a jack of all trades, but a master of none. A broad range of all-terrain truck tires are available, based on whether a tire’s focus is on or off-road performance. Typically, all terrain truck tires are built with off-road standards in mind and then are modified in certain areas to improve street performance. The end result is tires capable of handling everyday driving, along with light to moderate off-road conditions. For the most extreme performance, all-terrains won’t perform as well as specialized off-road truck tires, but on the road, they offer peerless longevity, even wear and excellent durability.
Extreme (Rock Crawling/Mud Terrain/Sand/Deep Snow) Truck Tires
Designed for extreme off-road conditions and little else, rock crawling and mud terrain truck tires employ aggressive tread designs that extend to the sidewalls and giant lugs with deep voids. They also have reinforced sidewall construction that will grip any surface and remain durable. Extreme terrain truck tires typically carry many of the same features, so many mud terrain tires make excellent rock crawling tires and vice versa. Extreme terrain truck tires come in either radial or bias ply, but do their job best in a low air pressure bias ply, which allows the tread to conform to surfaces for increased traction. Despite that extreme, terrain tires are composed of durable, cut and puncture resistant compounds. They usually do not produce very much mileage when driven on the street, particularly at high speeds. In addition, due to the wild tread designs and huge lugs, extreme terrain tires can cause a bumpy ride and can be quite noisy on the road.
Getting new truck tires can be a complicated process if you don’t know how to go about it. It’s strongly recommended that you do some research and take advantage of the many available resources before making a purchase. If you still have doubts, the best way to determine the right tires and modifications for your vehicle is to consult a 4 Wheel Parts professional.