Selecting the Right Tires for the Job
So you need a new set of tires for your off-road vehicle–where do you start? Before you go and buy the biggest baddest tires you can throw on your truck, let’s look at a few things to provide the best match to your driving style. Almost any aggressive set of tires is going to improve the look of your vehicle, but how about performance? There are many different tire styles available. Big tires serve one purpose–to get your vehicle more clearance to drive over obstacles. The kind of surfaces you drive on will dictate what types of tires you should be looking at. If you are mainly driving on road, with the occasional moments of kicking up the dust of a trail, then an All-Terrain tire would probably be what you need. However, if your ”off-roading” tends to be more often and on more extreme terrain, then a Mud or Rock-Crawling tire may fit the bill better.
“All-Terrain” tires are made with a moderate focus on what is necessary to address off-road needs and yet maintain a good ride and added wear characteristics for the street. They perform well in rain and snow and give a quieter ride than what you might expect. These still provide a rugged look, but allow for acceptable fuel mileage when driven with recommended tire pressures. Stepping up to extreme off-roading tires, such as Mud or Rock Crawling tires, the focus becomes maximum traction. Driving them on the street will give you more road noise, a much shorter tread life, less fuel economy and depending on the tread style, a considerably rougher ride. But they do the job they are intended for well, which is to get you around or through the rough stuff. They are designed so they can be used with varying amounts of air pressure–higher pressures for street driving and lower pressures for off-road use so they can conform to surfaces for increased traction. These extreme tires are typically made using a denser compound, which is more resistant to punctures.
Once you have decided on the type of tire you want, tire sizing needs to be considered. If you want to step up your tire size more than just one or two levels, then you may need to explore the different lift options for your vehicle to make sure you won’t have any clearance issues. You will also need to determine whether your vehicle is going to need further modifications to handle the heavier rolling mass of a larger tire choice. Gear ratios, axle strength and differential lockers are all things that should be considered before making your final choice on a new tire. Options to address a requirement for additional power include: power programmers, air intakes and exhaust. Doing your homework and planning ahead will give you a combination that not only looks good, but provides you with the performance you are looking for in an off-road vehicle.
Suggested Tire Brands and Styles:
Mickey Thompson Baja ATZ
The perfect all-terrain/mud-terrain “hybrid” tire. For those who are looking for the best in on-road comfort and off-road durability, look no further.
Mickey Thompson Baja MTZ
A great tire for the extreme off-roader who tends to spend a majority of their adventures plowing through mud or climbing rocks. With it’s great ride and handling, Power Ply(TM) 3-ply sidewalls, and self-cleaning high void lugs, it’s overall construction will be appreciated on and off road.
Andy Sheehan is a blogger, aspiring novelist, and relentless hoon. He plans to will his 2002 Subaru WRX Wagon to his firstborn, plans his daily commute around the swoop of its roads, and doesn’t plan to ever buy an automatic. A cool-car omnipath, he loves the common Mustang or Chevelle, but hunts for the weird and wonderful Velorexes and Cosmos of the autoverse. And when he can afford a garage, he’s going to turn an MX-5 into a race car.